Lieutenant Neal Turkington 1 RGR
It is with great sadness that we record that Major James Joshua Bowman, Lieutenant Neal Turkington and Corporal Arjun Purja Pun from 1st Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles were killed in Afghanistan on Tuesday 13 July 2010.
The three soldiers, serving as part of Combined Force Nahr-e Saraj (South), were killed in a suspected premeditated attack by a member of the Afghan National Army. Lieutenant Neal Turkington Lieutenant Neal Turkington was born in Craigavon in Northern Ireland and was soon to celebrate his 27th birthday. After graduating from Imperial College London he attended the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst from 2007. He was commissioned into 1st Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles in August 2008 and went on successfully to complete the Platoon Commanders’ Battle Course in Brecon, South Wales.
His first appointment at regimental duty took him to Brunei where he quickly settled in at the helm of 2 Platoon within A (Delhi) Company. Lieutenant Turkington then continued his Gurkha education by attending the mandatory three months of language study in Pokhara, Western Nepal. A keen adventurer and traveller he found many similarities between the foothills of the Himalaya and the other parts of the world in which he had journeyed. At the end of the language training he conducted a memorable trek through Nepal in support of the Gurkha Welfare Trust and perfected the art of speaking Nepali with an Irish accent.
On returning to Brunei Lieutenant Turkington turned his attention back to a profession that he showed a real zeal for. The demanding jungle of Brunei was the perfect environment for this passionate infanteer. He had the highest expectations of himself and his platoon, to whom he dedicated himself wholeheartedly, and he relished the intellectual challenges of infantry command as much as the physical.
Ambitious for his platoon, he was constantly challenging accepted practices in order to improve himself and his team, a trait that bore real fruit in the initial three months in Afghanistan, where he was in his element as a junior commander and leader. The time and effort that he had dedicated to his soldiers over the previous two years was paying dividends every day in the toughest of environments. Under his command 2 Platoon had been playing a key role in the complex counter-insurgency campaign that A (Delhi) Company are engaged in. He understood it and he ensured that each of his soldiers did too. In the early stages of this operational tour he had shown himself to be a decisive leader with a strong will. The men followed him and would do so again and again through the most testing of situations.
Outside of his military life Lt Turkington had dedicated much time to other people. He was a humanitarian at heart – except in the boxing ring – and this was shown through a charity that he and friends had established in South America.