Hero soldier’s name added to Horndean’s war memorial

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IT IS a lasting memorial showing the ultimate sacrifice a hero soldier made for his country.

The name of Warrant Officer Class 1 Darren Chant, who was gunned down by a rogue policeman in Afghanistan in November 2009, has now been engraved into the stone of Horndean’s war memorial.

REMEMBERED The service at the memorial to mark the inscription in honour of Darren Chant

REMEMBERED The service at the memorial to mark the inscription in honour of Darren Chant

It is the first name to be added to the memorial since 1945 after several servicemen from the Horndean area died in the Second World War.

Mr Chant’s family, who live in Horndean, were there to see the engraving being unveiled.

In a fitting gesture, WO1 Chant’s son Adam stepped out from the crowd and offered to raise the Armed Forces Day flag.

It is the first time Horndean has held a ceremony to mark Armed Forces Day and almost 100 people gathered to watch the occasion.

Close friends of WO1 Chant said the memorial was a touching gesture from the people of Horndean.

Michael Cripps, 38, from Farlington, said: ‘It’s a fantastic statement to have a memorial to him.

‘It’s a very fitting tribute and shows the size of the achievement he made.’

As previously reported, Regimental Sergeant Major Chant was gunned down while he was unarmed, relaxing with his troops at a checkpoint in Helmand province.

The 40-year-old was one of five soldiers killed in the surprise attack by police officer Gulbuddin Mohammed, who was being mentored by WO1 Chant and his men from the Grenadier Guards.

On the same day WO1 Chant, a former Petersfield Town footballer, was due to be told his hard work had won him an officer’s commission.

At an inquest in May a coroner ruled that he had been unlawfully killed.

Guy Shepherd, the vice-chairman of Horndean Parish Council, said the council wanted to honour the contribution of WO1 Chant, whose ex-wife Connie and three children Connor, Adam and Victoria live in Lovage Way, Horndean.

He praised Adam for offering to raise the flag at the ceremony.

Cllr Shepherd said: ‘We wanted to find someone who had relatives serving in the armed forces.

‘We asked if anyone had family serving. No-one in the crowd came forward, but for Adam it was an excellent chance and a very poignant one. We were thrilled he was willing to do it. He was far more entitled to do it than anyone else there.’

Cllr Shepherd, whose sister Royal Navy Lieutenant Commander Fiona Shepherd recently returned from Afghanistan, said it was important that the heroics of the armed forces was recognised.

He said: ‘They are safeguarding our country, its security and its interests.

‘They can pay the ultimate price for that.

‘Whether or not you support the action in Afghanistan, we must support the troops who are there on behalf of the country and looking after its interests.

‘We are exceptionally proud of the work they do and we were pleased to be able to support that on the day.’

The parish council plans to repeat the Armed Forces Day ceremony next year.