An Army captain who grew up in a village near Somerton has died in Afghanistan – the day before his 30th birthday.
Captain James Townley, of Barton St David, from the Royal Corps of Engineers, died on Friday, September 21, leaving behind his parents Peter and Jacqui, his brother Nick, and girlfriend Helen.
In a statement his family said: “James was a wonderful, loving and caring son and brother. He was devoted to his girlfriend, Helen. He was our guardian angel and our hero. We were so proud of him.
“His loss has left a huge chasm that we can never fill.”
The Union flag was flown at half-mast at County Hall this week as a mark of respect. Leader of the Council John Osman said: “Capt Townley was a brave man on his third tour of Afghanistan and I’m sure he will be deeply missed by his friends and family.”
Captain Townley died in Camp Bastion, Helmand province, from wounds sustained while serving at Forward Operating Base Shawqat.
He had attended Sexey’s School in Bruton, where head teacher Raymond McGovern said everyone was very saddened by the news.
He said: “James was a boarder at Sexey’s between 1994 and 2001. Those who knew him speak very highly of a young man who had a clear ambition to serve his country, which he did with pride and honour.
“As a community our thoughts and prayers go out to his family.
“As a mark of respect and in honour his name will be add to the school’s memorial boards which remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the service of their country.”
Captain Townley received a first-class degree from University College Oxford and worked for Price Waterhouse Coopers before attending the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in January 2007.
Lieutenant Colonel Chas Story, commanding officer, 28 Engineer Regiment, said: “James was an exceptional officer, a great character and unbelievably clever. The Regiment is devastated that such a bright light has gone out. It will be a poorer place without James.”