Memorial service takes place to mark anniversary of former Topsham police officer’s death

COMRADES of a former Topsham police officer who was killed while serving with the Territorial Army attended an emotional ceremony marking the anniversary of his death.

Fellow servicemen joined friends and relatives of fallen soldier Mark Marshall at a private service in memory of the rifleman who died in Afghanistan on Valentine’s Day last year.

A wreath of white roses – an army tradition – was laid by servicemen at the ceremony held in the memorial garden at police headquarters at Middlemoor in Exeter this week.

Standing beside them were police officers who worked alongside Mark in his role as a PCSO in Topsham.

The 29-year-year-old was killed by an improvised explosive device while on routine foot patrol in Helmand Province. He was serving with Exeter’s TA regiment 6th Battalion The Rifles.

An inquest into the soldier’s death two weeks ago ruled that he was unlawfully killed while on active duty in the war zone.

A similar ceremony was also held at army barracks in Taunton where Mark did much of his training with TA comrades.

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His anniversary proved an emotional day for his family including mum, Lynn, sister, Jo and brother, Alex.

Paying tribute to the rifleman, Exeter Neighbourhood Police Inspector, Brent Davison, said: “Mark was an absolute gentleman who always surpassed expectations.

“He was an excellent PCSO and would have made a superb police officer which he aspired to.

“Mark was always smiling and particularly enjoyed helping and working with young people.

“I remember being present at a Duke of Edinburgh awards’ ceremony where the recipients were young people from his patch, who Mark and his colleagues had mentored.

“He made such a difference to those people and his legacy will go on with them.”

Lieutenant Colonel Nick Kitson, Commanding Officer, 3 RIFLES Battle Group, said:

“Rifleman Marshall was one of the willing band of volunteers who signed up to join the Battle Group on what they knew would be a most challenging tour.

“From the moment he arrived with his company he had the respect and friendship of them all.

“A policeman by day and talented soldier by night, he epitomised everything that is great about our reserve forces and the men and women who serve in them.

“He displayed all the characteristics I look for in a rifleman - courage, selflessness and humour - and for these things he was treasured by those who worked alongside him.

“The dedication he showed in protecting his fellow riflemen by diligently scouring the ground for devices, all the while working towards a better future for local Afghans, gives us great cause for pride and a real source of inspiration.”

Rifleman Antonio Couch, 7 Platoon, said: “Marshy was the daddy of the platoon.

“His maturity and knowledge, combined with enthusiasm and camaraderie, made him an exceptional squaddie to work with and I believe an outstanding friend. His character made him unique and approachable.”