Sergeant Michael Lockett mourned by family and friends


They brought him to Glasgow to be buried beside his "papa", so that the young, fallen soldier and his grandad could "go for a pint together when they feel like it".

Yesterday, as a piper played while his coffin was lowered into the earth, the family and friends of Sergeant Michael Lockett MC, who died in Afghanistan on 21 September, released 15 balloons into the autumn sky. They carried biodegradable white doves filled with wildflower seeds.

It was a funeral that brought the armed forces and civilians from all over the country to mourn the 29-year-old with the 2nd Battalion the Mercian Regiment, who was given the military cross by the Queen for his "unshakeable bravery".

At Cathcart Old Parish church were soldiers who fought alongside the father of three, known as Locky, on his three spells in Afghanistan, joined by his commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel Simon Buntan, and submariner Mark Butchart, an old friend from the age of 14.

Also there was Luke Cole, who served with the Mercian Regiment and whose life Lockett saved on the night they came under a fierce Taliban attack in 2007, and for which Lockett won the MC.

Cole, who was permanently disabled by his injuries, said: "It's a horrible thing to have to bury the man who saved your life. I am gutted and still can't believe it has happened. Locky was a legend. He was the most down to earth guy who you could have a laugh with and the ultimate soldier. It's a big loss to the regiment."

Private Sam Cooper, who suffered brain and other serious injuries and was also rescued by Lockett and his platoon, came with his parents from Chesterfield.

Captain Simon Cupples, who had battled alongside with Lockett in 2007 and in 2009, described how Lockett had been due to fly home last month, but had volunteered to stay on for a few extra days to hand over to the new British soldiers, and was killed by an improvised explosive device.

"He should have been back already, but Locky was the kind of guy who wanted to pass on his experience and knowledge. In those last few days you are praying that nothing happens to you," he said. "They found a suspect IED. Most blokes would be out of there, when they have a few days to go, but Locky was like 'if I teach the new guys the procedure, they will know what to do when they find one'. As he was going up to it, he stepped on the battery pack which acted as a detonator and it exploded."