England

Soldier dies in 'tragic diving incident' near Chepstow

L/Cpl George Partridge Image copyright MOD
Image caption L/Cpl George Partridge was described as an "exemplary soldier" by his commanding officer

A soldier has died in a "tragic" diving accident during the final week of his Army Diver Course.

L/Cpl George Partridge died on 26 March at the National Dive Centre in Gloucestershire, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) said.

The 27-year-old, whose wife is expecting their first child, was based with 26 Engineer Regiment in Wiltshire.

An MoD spokesman said "our thoughts are with his family and friends at this extremely difficult time".

Paying tribute, his commanding officer Lt Col Simon Doyle described him as "quietly determined, hard-working and immensely popular".

"Lance Corporal George Partridge was an exemplary soldier," he continued.

"Humble but hugely capable, he was always ready to lend a helping hand."

Image caption The National Diving and Activity Centre is a large flooded quarry at Tidenham, Gloucestershire

L/Cpl Partridge joined the Army in June 2010 at the age of 19.

His first years were spent at 21 Engineer Regiment in Ripon, north Yorkshire, where he qualified as a Class 1 Royal Engineer Driver and was deployed to Afghanistan.

He also served in Canada after being promoted to 26 Engineer Regiment.

The statement said L/Cpl Partridge had a long-held ambition to be an Army diver and had recently been selected for promotion to corporal.

Armed Forces Minister Mark Lancaster said: "It's clear from the testaments of his colleagues that he had a bright future in the Army and was held in the highest regard."

Cpl Anthony Matthews said his colleague was a "role model" who was "looked up to" and his peers "would come to him for advice".

"He was a family-orientated man who was looking forward to starting his family with wife Zoe. He was both a physically and mentally fit person who relished any challenge thrown in his direction," he added.

Image caption L/Cpl George Partridge was stationed at the Wiltshire-based 26 Engineer Regiment

The MoD said it was investigating how the "tragic diving incident" happened.

The National Diving and Activity Centre is a large flooded quarry at Tidenham in Gloucestershire, near Chepstow in Monmouthshire.

It was formerly Dayhouse Quarry, a source of limestone, which was flooded in 1996.

The diving centre, which opened in 2003, is described as an inland scuba diving site and is popular with technical and free divers due to the depths of up to 80m (260ft).

It has yet to comment on the soldier's death.

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