Once a Fusilier always a Fusilier

Fusilier David Lee Collins
2nd Bn The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers

with kind permission from Lisa Minott David's Mum


His Commanding Officer, Lt Colonel Mike Butterwick delivered the Eulogy:

“We are here today to celebrate the life of David. Over the course of this service, you will hear from David’s mates and his family and they will tell you about David as a friend, as a son, as a brother. As David’s Commanding Office, I would like to tell you a little bit about Fusilier David Collins – the soldier.

David was always destined for the Army. It was his childhood dream. He wore his beret and hackle for the first time as a Cadet, aged just 12. Whilst with his Cadet Detachment he learnt the skills, the values and standards needed by soldiers and like so many Cadets, he went on to choose the Army to be his career. He was selected to go first to the Army Foundation College at Harrogate. This route into the Army is designed only for those with real career potential – the future SNCOs and Warrant Officers of the Army. At Harrogate he excelled, his section commander is here today and he will tell you that David was a real character in his section, always smiling when times were tough and one who stood by his mates no matter what happened to him. He will tell you that if he had a section of Davids he would have been a happy man.

He went on from Harrogate to the Infantry Training Centre at Catterick, where he completed twelve gruelling weeks of training to become the toughest of all soldiers – an infantryman. It is the Infantryman who is the tip of the spear, in the thick of any battle, front line through and through. David was such a man and as his friends from Catterick will tell you, he displayed the qualities that all infantrymen must have – never giving up, working through pain and working for his mates.

He joined us in the Second Fusiliers late last year, joining 9 Platoon, C Company whilst we were serving in Germany. Then, we were just starting our build-up training for Afghanistan. This required David to adapt his skills that he had been taught at Harrogate and Catterick so that he could play his part in this most testing of campaigns. It was during this training that David’s ability as a soldier shone through. David was selected by his Platoon Commander to be the lead scout, meaning that he would be at the front of his Platoon, searching for IEDs, using the very latest technology. He volunteered for this and showed to me that he was the bravest of the brave, someone who was ready to risk his life for others. Not everyone can carry out this task. We need soldiers who are confident, reliable and who can trust their own instincts. As we all know, David was certainly confident and was quite confident and was quite prepared to stand tall for what he knew to be right.

David deployed on a series of exercises of ever-increasing complexity and each time David stepped up to the task. He had future leader written all over him and I am certain that his progress up the ranks would have been swift. He had character; a wicked sense of humour and an inner sense of confidence that made his mates trust him. He also loved to enjoy himself. He never appeared before me on disciplinary issues, but I’m sure he was not an angel – just very good at not being caught! He was at the centre of things and was in his element in Cyprus – living life to the full. It was at the very height of his soldiering in Cyprus, the very point at which he was about to deploy to Afghanistan to do his duty, that he tragically lost his life.

So what words could you use to describe David as a soldier? Some of the words and phrases I have heard these last few weeks are “always smiling”, “loved his job”, “cheeky lad”, “confident”, “always put his mates before himself”, “mad and daft”, “loyal”, “superbly fit”. I like to use one simple word – “professional”. David was the very best of us – a true Fusilier.

So we have lost a fellow Fusilier. A Brother in Arms. Someone we can all say we were proud to serve with and someone who we were all prepared to go to war with. When you look around this church, you see another family mourning David’s loss – the Fusilier family. Young and old, past, present and probably future Fusiliers are gathering to say farewell to one of us. We have a saying you will hear again and again – “Once a Fusilier, Always a Fusilier” It is at a time like this that sayings ring true. At a time like this our family stands shoulder to shoulder with yours at this tragic time and beyond”.

Fusilier David Collins – Once a Fusilier, Always a Fusilier. Rest in Peace.


Mail Online 24th November 2012

We are so Proud he's getting full military honours':
Mother's heartbreak at funeral of No age British soldier stabbed to death while partying with friends on Cyprus beach

David Collins killed less than 24 hours before he was due to fly out to Afghanistan
18 year-old soldier received a funeral with full military honours
Three teenagers from London are due to go on trial next year charged with manslaughter

By James Black

Tragic: Fellow soldiers say the death of David Collins will be felt by the entire armed forces community

The mother of a tragic fusilier stabbed to death while serving in Cyprus has said she 'couldn't be prouder' as her son received a full military funeral today.

David Collins, 18, Chorlton, Manchester, died less than 24 hours before he was due to fly out to Afghanistan with the 2nd Batallion Royal Regiment of Fusiliers.


Mr Collins was killed after a row with three Britons aged 17, 18 and 19 at the popular Black & White Club, in the resort of Ayia Napa earlier this month.

The infantryman was given first aid but was pronounced dead on arrival at Famagusta General Hospital in nearby Paralimni


A full turnout of fellow servicemen packed into St John's Church in Chorlton where David received full military honours.

Mum Lisa Minott, 37, said the service marked
a sad but proud day for her family.

She said: 'We're so proud he's getting full military honours and we're so proud of him.


'The Fusiliers were his brothers-in-arms and he loved serving with them. He lived for the Army and I'm so glad his colleagues are going to be there with us.


'It's been a very difficult time but the support his colleagues and the Army has given to us has been overwhelming.

'He always said the Army was like a family to him and now I understand what he meant.


'He was a fantastic soldier but he was also a fantastic person who knew how to make everyone smile.'

Mr Collins' coffin is carried from St John's Church, Chorlton, Manchester

Mr Collins was given full military honours at a funeral attended by 2nd Batallion Royal Regiment of Fusiliers

Mother said her son treated the army like his extended family

David's mother Lisa Minott, 37, said it was a proud moment for her family to witness the military ceremony

Mourners were invited to make a donation towards the David Collins Memorial Fund, which will be used to build a tribute near the Cyprus army base.
It will also help fund family-support services for the Fusiliers.
Fellow Fusilier Luke Smith, 19, said David's loss has been felt by the entire armed forces community.

He said: 'He loved his work and the boys he worked with, and we loved him in return.


'Proud': A floral tribute to Mr Collins from his mother

Family members left cards for Mr Collins who will be remembered as a 'fantastic person' as well as a soldier

Heartbreaking: Daughter Scarlett left her final words on this card

A loving note from both father and mother

There are currently 9,000 British troops and their dependants stationed in Cyprus.

The 2nd Battalion, Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, are currently the ‘theatre reserve battalion’ for Afghanistan.

Based at Camp Bastion, the battalion will undergo training to orientate troops for potential deployment into the field of combat.

In Cyprus the battalion is based in Dhekelia, one of two bases Britain retained after the former colony was granted independence in 1960.

The 2nd Battalion, Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, are currently the ‘theatre reserve battalion’ for Afghanistan.

Based at Camp Bastion, the battalion will undergo training to orientate troops for potential deployment into the field of combat.

In Cyprus the battalion is based in Dhekelia, one of two bases Britain retained after the former colony was granted independence in 1960.


These photos from the Manchester Evening News