British Soldier Killed in Malawi
Death of Coldstream Guardsman Mathew Talbot on Op CORDED
The Ministry of Defence has confirmed the death of Guardsman Mathew Talbot of The 1st Battalion, Coldstream Guards, who was killed whilst on counter-poaching operations in Malawi (codenamed Operation CORDED) on 5 May 2019.
According to sources, Gdsm Talbot was killed by an elephant whilst on patrol. He was the only casualty during the incident. Officers and fellow soldiers who had known Gdsm Talbot immediately expressed their condolences.
Lt Col Ed Launders MBE Commanding Officer said: “I will always feel honoured to have served alongside Guardsman Mathew Talbot. He was a determined and big-hearted Coldstreamer who devoted his life to serving his country. It was typical of his character to volunteer for an important and challenging role in Malawi. He was hugely proud to of his work as a Counter-Poaching Operator, and tragically died doing great good. Mathew was loved by his brothers in arms in the Coldstream Guards. We will sorely miss his humour, selflessness and unbeatable spirit.”
After finishing military training at AFC Harrogate and then ITC Catterick, Gdsm Talbot was posted to Number 7 Company, Coldstream Guards, based in London. it was here that he spent the first, formative year of his career conducting State Ceremonial and Public Duties. Since then Gdsm Talbot has been serving with The 1st Battalion, Coldstream Guards, based in Windsor. This deployment to Malawi was his first operational deployment. Mathew took great pride in being a Counter Poaching Operator and in what he and the rest of the team was doing in Malawi.
Major Richard Wright, Company Commander said: “As his Company Commander I only had the pleasure of Commanding Gdsm Talbot for a short period of time, but in the little time that I did have, my abiding memory of Gdsm Talbot will be that he never failed to make me smile. A real character who was always full of wit and never short of a joke or two, he quickly and easily made lifelong friends in the team.”
Mathew is remembered as an exceptionally kind and friendly individual. In Malawi he was often to be found befriending the locals and learning their language, which he did remarkably quickly. He became good friends with the Gurkhas attached to the team and took time to try and learn Nepali.
Lt Hugo Cazalet, Platoon Commander, recalled a man with “an exceptional and unique personality, possessed of a quick and dry wit. He was a proud “Brummie” with an epic work ethic, he always worked hard for his mates and put the needs of the team before his own. He was a constant source of morale, even in the direst situations and his infectious humour ensured that his team were constantly smiling too.”
Mathew was a very keen photographer, documenting his time in the military with countless albums of his work. He particularly enjoyed capturing his time in Malawi. He loved music and his close friends will remember him as a big fan of Frank Sinatra. Mathew was an avid reader of military history and he was incredibly proud to serve in a regiment that had such a long an illustrious history.
LSgt Louis Bolton said: “It’s hard to find words at a time like this but I can honestly say he will truly be missed and remembered. Mathew was a unique character and genuine guy. Loved and trusted by all who cared for him. I can honestly say that no matter the time of day or situation he was in, he was always laughing and cracking jokes – we loved him for it.”
During his time in the Army he enjoyed the adventure of training overseas. This included a recent exercise in Kenya where he found himself training in a harsh and demanding environment. Shortly afterwards, he volunteered to mentor and partner the Malawian Ranger Force in their fight against the illegal wildlife trade.
Gdsm Talbot bravely gave his life whilst protecting endangered species. His commanding officer called him “A true Coldstreamer”.
The loss of Gdsm Talbot is felt throughout the Battalion, in particular by the soldiers and officers of OP CORDED and Number 2 Company, who knew him best.
Gdsm Talbot leaves behind his father Steven, his mother Michelle and sisters Aimee and Isabel and Olivia his girlfriend.
British soldiers deployed to two national parks in Malawi in 2018 in order to counter poaching. Deployments to Nkhotakota and Majete Wildlife Reserves began in May, following a successful pilot scheme in Liwonde National Park, involving the Grenadier Guards in 2017. This doubled the number of rangers mentored by British soldiers to 120. British soldiers train African Parks rangers in tracking, infantry skills, bushcraft and information analysis to improve the interception of poachers.
Source: MOD and other sources.
Image: Guardsman Mathew Talbot of The 1st Battalion, Coldstream Guards, on counter-poaching operations in Malawi (British Army, no date).