Birmingham & Black Country

Funeral for Birmingham bomb disposal soldier

Colleagues carry Staff Sgt Brett Linley's coffin into the church in Bournville
Image caption Colleagues carry Staff Sgt Brett Linley's coffin into the church in Bournville

The funeral of a soldier killed by an explosion in Afghanistan has taken place.

Bomb disposal expert Staff Sgt Brett Linley, 29, of Birmingham, died while trying to clear improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in Nahr-e-Saraj in July.

The theme of the funeral at St Francis of Assisi church, Bournville, was his favourite colour purple.

The service was led by Rev Jane Adams, who taught the soldier at primary school and is a family friend.

'Wry' smile

The funeral with full military honours was followed by a private burial at the Wythall Cemetery.

Staff Sgt Linley, who died on 17 July, enlisted into the Royal Logistic Corps in March 2001 and qualified as an ammunition technician in September 2002.

He completed three tours of duty in Northern Ireland, and was also deployed to the Falkland Islands and Canada.

Speaking ahead of the service, Lt Col Gareth Bex, commanding officer 11 Explosive Ordnance Disposal Regiment Royal Logistics Corps, said Staff Sgt Linley would be looking down on friends and family with a "wry" smile.

He said: "Staff Sgt Linley, in a note to his family, requested that his coffin be brought in to the Frog Chorus by Paul McCartney and that everyone wore purple.

"That was him, that was Brett Linley."

Staff Sgt Linley's coffin was decorated with flowers including a football in his favourite team Birmingham City's colours for the service.

Family and friends, including parents George and Anne Linley and partner Sgt Dominique Dudley, who is in the same regiment, all wore something purple for the occasion.

Lt Col Bex told the service, which was broadcast to mourners outside the church on a PA system, that Staff Sgt Linley "faced the IED threat daily, struggling to make the highways, alleyways and wadis of Helmand Province safe".

'Man of courage'

He said: "There is no doubt that during his tour of duty in Afghanistan Brett Linley's actions saved many lives, both Afghanistan and British."

Lt Col Bex said Staff Sgt Linley was "immensely proud" of his Midlands heritage and remembered his "broad Brummie accent and wonderfully dry sense of humour".

He said: "He was a warrior, a man of courage. He knew what it was to stand by your friends, to stand up for something in which you believe and to be counted."

Tributes were also paid by Warrant Officer Class 1 Marcus Dewstowe and Mike Fisher - both friends of the soldier.

WO Dewstowe said Staff Sgt Linley's wit would have "given Jasper Carrott a run for his money".

Mr Fisher, who met his "best mate" when they were 11, raised a laugh when he opened his tribute with: "I bet he is squirming in his boots at the thought of a few of his ex-girlfriends sitting under one roof."

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