Tributes paid to Glastonbury soldier killed in Afghanistan
The family of a British soldier who died in Afghanistan on Friday have paid tribute to their "guardian angel and hero".
Captain James Anthony Townley, who grew up near Glastonbury, died at Camp Bastion in Helmand province from wounds sustained while serving at Forward Operating Base Shawqat.
Captain Townley's death came just a day before he was due to celebrate his 30th birthday.
He was born in Tunbridge Wells but grew up near Glastonbury in Somerset and attended school locally.
After working as a tax associate with PricewaterhouseCoopers, the Oxford graduate - known to friends and colleagues as 'JT' - attended the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst before being commissioned into the Corps of Royal Engineers.
Described today by the Ministry of Defence as "extremely popular with his fellow officers", Captain Townley leaves behind parents Peter and Jacqui, his brother Nick, and girlfriend Helen.
In a statement released today, 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. He touched every part of our lives and his loss has left a huge chasm that we can never fill.
"James will never be forgotten and always in our hearts and thoughts."
Lieutenant Colonel Chas Story, commanding officer of 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 - everyone knew him and it was impossible not to be drawn in by his passion and humour.
"He was on his third tour of Afghanistan and a volunteer for all three. He joined to be a soldier and he was determined to make the most of all the opportunities he could. The Regiment will be a poorer place without James.
"In this painful time our thoughts remain with his family, his girlfriend Helen and all his friends. He was an outstanding individual and throughout his life he has made a massive difference to all those he encountered. He will never be forgotten."
Captain Townley was an avid sportsman who rowed for his college at university, later representing the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst and his regiment.