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Tribute to soldiers killed in crash

Tributes have been paid to two servicemen who died in a road accident, as it emerged one only recently became a father.

Private Jim Austin, 24, of 400 Troop Royal Logistics Corps, and Lance Sergeant David Gartland, 40, of the Grenadier Guards, died when the Army Land Rover they were in was involved in a crash with two HGVs on the A66 at Stainmore, Cumbria, on Thursday.

The Ministry of Defence said the men, both based at the Infantry Training Centre (ITC) at Catterick Garrison, North Yorkshire, were on their way back after a training exercise on the Warcop ranges in Cumbria.

The MoD said Pte Austin's death had come "just months" after he had achieved "one of his greatest ambitions" - becoming a father.

Captain Dominic Rogerson, Officer Commanding 400 Troop, said: "Private Austin's untimely death is a tragic loss to the Troop and his battalion.

"He was totally committed and an extremely hard-working soldier who was highly respected by his peers and chain of command alike. He was a quiet unassuming soldier but one who had a great sense of humour and exceptional loyalty.

"Private Austin's respect for others, professionalism and good humour were an example to us all. We and his friends will grieve his loss for a long time but our thoughts and prayers go to his family at this very sad time."

L/Sgt Gartland was described as a "stalwart" of the Infantry Training Centre Medical Team. Colonel Neal Gillespie, senior medical officer at the ITC in Catterick, said he was "utterly reliable and level-headed in a crisis", with an even temperament and good sense that made him ideally suited to the training environment.

Cumbria Police said investigations into the cause of the crash, which happened at about 1.40pm on Thursday on the eastbound carriageway of the A66 at Stainmore, are ongoing.

A spokesman said: "It is believed that one of the vehicles may have been emitting smoke prior to the collision which other motorists may have witnessed, and investigators are keen to speak to anyone who has seen any of the vehicles immediately prior to the collision."

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