‘A solemn silence fell at a West London church as friends and family remembered a brave soldier killed in Afghanistan. Lance Corporal Tom Keogh of the Hallfield Estate, Paddington, died from a gunshot wound while fighting in Sangin, Helmand province. He was 24. His parents Lawrence and Marion, and his brothers Michael and Christopher, gathered with fellow soldiers at the Church of Our Lady of the Rosary, in Old Marylebone Road, to mark Mr Keogh’s funeral last Thursday.
In a statement, his parents said: ” Our family have been left devastated by Tom’s tragic death, but not a day will pass without us remembering the happiness he gave us.” Mr Keogh’s commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel Rupert Jones added: “As a man and a rifleman, he was a genuine legend, and I don’t use that word lightly. As a soldier, he was one of our very finest. He had a huge presence. And there are some very sad boys left behind. He jokingly told us that if he died, he wanted a statue erected in his honour in Trafalgar Square, but I’m not sure we can do that for him.”
One of his best friends in the army, Corporal Daniel Ord, said he saw Mr Keogh as part of a ‘close-knit family’. He added: “He was one of us. As a soldier, he was a natural. There are people who are born to be soldiers, and he was one of them.” Mr Keogh was serving with 4th Battalion The Rifles when he was killed. After enlisting in 2003, he served until 2008, including a tour of Iraq. He tried leaving the forces behind, but after a year’s break as a personal trainer, he found he could not stay away from the action and re-joined last year. During pre-deployment training at a junior non-commissioned officer cadre in Germany, Mr Keogh was given the top student award.
Many friends from his company were deployed to Afghanistan in June last year, but because of an injury, Mr Keogh could not join them at the time. However, he did not forget his comrades. Colour Sergeant Kevin Gaghan said: “During the period prior to Tom’s deployment, he kept the morale of our platoon up by sending various parcels with some suspect items enclosed, such as lads’ magazines and food. Tom only had a few gripes with the Army, one of which was the cost of living in first-class accommodation. “Others will remember him for his ‘Gringo’ moustache and 1960’s clothing, which he proudly described as ‘rock and roll’. Following the funeral, the cortege moved to West London Crematorium, in Kensal Green, for a private service of committal, followed by a wake for the family.’
Last month we heard the sad news that Acting Corporal David Barnsdale from 33 Engineer Regiment (Explosive Ordnance Disposal), had been killed clearing explosive devices in Afghanistan. He too, was only 24 and his parents laid a wreath in the centre circle before the Burnley home game.The following servicemen had at some time played for the R’s and also lost their lives serving their Country:
Albert Bonass: He joined QPR in 1938 and later became a reserve policeman before joining the RAF. Apparently he was something of a Ju-jitsu expert and between 1940 and 1945 he guested for Fulham, Aldershot, Brentford, Watford, Luton, Southampton and York. He was killed in August 1945 when his Stirling bomber crashed on a training flight.
Charlie Clark: He played six league games for QPR from 1936 to 1938 and was with Luton Town at the time of his death in March 1943.
Alan Fowler: Guested a few times for the R’s in 1940/41 and 1943/44, but was actually on Swindon’s books, but they did not compete between 1940-45. He lost his life in August 1944.
Evelyn Henry Lintott: Our first full England international of course who made 35 appearances for Rangers and was later killed leading his men of the 15th West Yorkshire Regiment on the first day of the Battle of the Somme.
Frank Cannon: Made 29 appearances in the Hoops before signing for West Ham. He was killed on the Western Front on 15th February 1916 and was buried in Potijze in Belgium.
Joseph Dines: Apart from winning more than 20 amateur caps for England, he also played in all three matches in the 1912 Olympics in Stockholm for the Great Britain team which won him a gold medal. He only made one appearance for the R’s and was one of three brothers to enlist, but only survived eleven days. He was cut down by machine gun fire on 27th September 1918.
Albert Edwards: Made 17 appearances for us and also played for Bristol City and Newport County. He lost his life in the Great War.
John H Pennifer: Arrived at QPR in 1913 and after just 3 appearances, he enlisted in 1914 and died at the Battle of the Somme.
John Tosswill: He made 3 appearances for the R’s before joining the Royal Engineers. He became a dispatch rider and returned home after being wounded, but died on the operating table in 1915.
Harry Vernon Thornton: 37 Rangers appearances and scored 10 goals. Like many other players, he joined the ‘Footballer’s Battalion’ and later died in France.
J.Butler: Dennis Signy mentions him in his book as ‘being a victim of the Great War’. Also, Gordon Macey refers to a player with that surname, but no initial who had made his debut against Arsenal on Boxing Day 1916. He went on to make 7 appearances for QPR.
WE WILL REMEMBER THEM
(My sources of reference include Reg Hayter’s 1948 history of the club, Dennis Signy’s 1969 book, John Marks’s superb ‘Heroes In Hoops’, Gordon Macey of course and lastly my thanks to Kenneth Westerberg}