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Birkenshaw soldier hurt in blast that killed comrade
Military medics in Afghanistan have saved the legs of a badly-injured Birkenshaw soldier hurt in a bomb blast that claimed his friend’s life.
Private Matthew Light, son of Kirklees Council Tory leader Councillor Robert Light, was leading a patrol on foot in the Nahr-e Saraj district with the Afghan National Security Forces when he suffered shrapnel wounds in the explosion.
His friend Private John King, who was walking next to him, was killed outright by the Improvised Explosive Device which went off as the patrol came under fire from insurgents around the village of Llara Kalay.
Pte Light, 19, a former pupil at Dixons City Academy in Bradford, was flown 20 minutes by helicopter to Camp Bastion where he had emergency surgery.
He has since had another two operations to clear and clean shrapnel from his wounds but it is still not clear whether he will regain his hearing after being left deaf in one of his ears.
His father Coun Light has praised the team of medics at the Camp hospital: “Thanks to their expertise and all the equipment they have out there, they have so far managed to ensure he still has his limbs. We will have to wait for news about his hearing, it could be a few days yet.”
He said he had managed to speak to his son on the phone and added: “It was reassuring for us as a family to speak to him but also for him to hear a friendly voice from home.
“The experience of the blast has affected him greatly. It’s not just the physical injury it’s the psychological injury too. The tragedy was animated even more by the loss of a good friend and team-mate. They are all like brothers out there.”
Pte Light’s family expect him to be flown back to the UK later this week to be cared for at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham which specialises in battlefield injuries.
His left leg has been more seriously injured than the right. Coun Light said: “Medics had to keep his leg wounds open until they could be sure all the shrapnel was out and clean. They put horrid, disgusting things in these devices. Only once it’s all out can the wounds be closed.”
Pte Light was halfway through a six-month tour of Afghanistan with the 1st Battalion Yorkshire Regiment when it happened.
Being in the Army had been a childhood ambition for Pte Light who was in Batley Air Cadets as a teenager and joined the Army at just 16 after leaving Dixons Academy and going to Harrogate Army College. He was posted to Munster, Germany, two years ago.
Coun Light had been at home in his garden on Friday when a man from the Army came to the door with news of Matthew’s injuries.
He said: “It’s a sight that every parent or spouse with a loved one in the Army dreads but he told us straight what had happened, that there had been an explosion injuring both his legs but thankfully he still had them.
“Hopefully he will have full use of them again. We will be going to Birmingham to be with him as soon as they can fly him back.”