One of our youngest soldiers who served in Afghanistan and survived the Taliban only to be murdered in his home town was laid to rest today (Thurs) with full military honours.
Around 800 mourners packed Truro Cathedral to pay their final respects to Rifleman Dave Curnow who died in a brutal attack outside his local kebab shop last month.
The brave soldier was posted to Helmand province in March 2013, days after turning 18, and survived a six-month tour that included several firefights with the enemy.
But he tragically lost his life at the age of 20 on a night out in his home town of Redruth, Cornwall.
The centre of the Cornish city came to a standstill as RFN Curnow, of 4 Rifles Battalion, was given an emotional send-off with full military honours.
Nine flag bearers from the Royal British Legion stood outside the entrance as his coffin, draped in the Union flag and topped by his beret, was borne by six military comrades.
The mourners were led by his devastated father Michael Curnow, stepmother June Curnow, girlfriend Kay Derry and sister Charley.
A big number 8 made from poppies – RFN Curnow’s favourite football position – was also put in front of the cathedral, with the words Live On in the centre.
The hour-long service heard tributes from family, friends and military officials.
Afterwards, the coffin left the cathedral to the sound of the Last Post as his grieving family looked on.
Speaking before the ceremony, dad Michael, 53, said the support from the local community had been a big help to the family.
He said: “It’s very difficult at the moment, but here have been so many touching tributes.
“The last time we saw him was the night before when he was preparing to go out, and we gave him a hug and said goodnight, and told him we would see him in the morning.
“Since he died we have been humbled and overwhelmed by the scale of the tributes towards David.
“He was a much loved son, and I’m very privileged to have been his dad for the last 20 years and six months.”
Michael, of Redruth, had told how his son had dreamed of joining the army from the age of 12.
He said: “I thought he would grow out of it, but he never did.
“He just felt he was doing the right thing and joined the army at 16, straight out of school, and was offered a place at Harrogate.
“When he was in Afghanistan I was constantly worried about him.
“But you never think anything like this will happen here.”
Those who attended the ceremony, conducted by the Dean of Truro, Rev Roger Bush, described it as a very fitting send-off.
Tom French, 72, an ex-paratrooper from West London, said: “The service was terrifi, a very moving tribute.
“You don’t expect a soldier to die on the streets and in the towns of their home country.”
Joe Tate, 62, from Devon, said: “I feel they will have some comfort from this today. It is just dreadful the way his life was taken.
“You have to pay your respects.”
Paying tribute, 4 Rifles commanding officer Lieutenant Colonel Carl Boswell, said: “Proud, determined and courageous, Rifleman Dave Curnow was the epitome of what it meant to be a ‘thinking, fighting man’.
“Professionally he displayed all the hallmarks of a young man destined for great things in The Rifles, and socially he was the centrepiece of morale and positivity amongst his brother Riflemen.
“Most recently selected by the Battalion football team as ‘Player of the Year’, his energy, humour and infectious joy of life will be sorely missed.”
Connor Hammond, 21, of, Redruth, and Liam Laing, 21, of Chacewater, Cornwall, have been charged with murder and remanded in custody.
In an emotional speech, Michael Curnow told mourners his son was “the best a father could ask for”.
He said: “In a short life he touched the hearts of many and was the best son, a loyal brother, a loving partner to Kay and still had time to be a best friend.
“He supplied a never ending supply of proud dad moments particularly in his sporting achievements such as scoring a penalty against a German team in Germany during an under 13s tournament.”
Mr Curnow added that he watched with pride as his son passed out and joined the Rifles in 2013.
“As a father of an 18-year-old who went on a combat tour I was incredibly worried but he returned unscathed in body and soul and played it down with comments like “you know it’s not training when they are firing live shots at you”. Daddy’s boy became a man.”
TV screens were set up throughout the cathedral and Snow Patrol’s Chasing Cars brought much of the congregation to tears.
Family friend and football coach Graeme Condie described Dave as “a wonderful man who affected the lives of many”.
He said: “He was a captain, a midfield dynamo and a leader on the pitch, a quality that transferred to every aspect of his life.
“He was handsome, fit, healthy and young man who matured into a fine individual.”
Captain A Perry, Mortars Platoon Commander from 4 Rifles said RFN Curnow was a popular soldier who excelled in his sporting endeavours.
He said: “Dave relished new challenges and was a hardworking, loyal man who could be relied on.
“He had a maturity beyond his years and was a key member of a close-knit platoon.”