COLLEAGUES of a Wirral soldier killed in Afghanistan told an inquest of their desperate bid to save him.
Trooper Phillip Lawrence, of the Light Dragoons, suffered multiple injuries after he was caught in an explosion in Lashkar Gah on July 27 last year.
The 22-year-old from Birkenhead was a driver in a convoy sent to take over a compound secured by soldiers from 3rd Battalion the Royal Regiment of Scotland.
An inquest at Wallasey Town Hall last week heard his vehicle struck an improvised explosive device which was detonated from a nearby orchard.
It exploded directly underneath the driver’s compartment of the Scimitar light armoured vehicle, flipping it onto its side and crushing him in his seat.
Two soldiers travelling with the father-of-one escaped but were unable to free him and he was pronounced dead at the scene.
Corporal Mark Bowman, who was in the three-man vehicle when it was hit, told the inquest: “It knocked me out for about 10 seconds and when I came round I heard screaming from my gunner. Everything else was completely silent.
“I could see Trooper Lawrence was unconscious. My main concern was getting him out of the vehicle but his seat was badly damaged. It had completely buckled.
“I was screaming, saying ‘We need to get him out, we need to get him out’.
“I was so gutted that I couldn’t physically get him out. It was my responsibility – I was in command of the vehicle.”
While other soldiers rushed to help Trooper Lawrence, a medic applied a tourniquet to his left arm.
He also suffered severe injuries to his legs but these could not be treated while he was still in the vehicle.
Sergeant Jamie Lawson said: “I made my way to the front of the convoy to try to get the seat down.
“The medic said there was nothing further he could do. He couldn’t apply any more first aid until we got him out.
“The seat had taken the brunt of the incident.”
Home Office Pathologist Dr Nicholas Hunt said the injuries were unsurvivable and he would have been rendered unconscious almost instantly.
Wirral Coroner Christopher Johnson recorded a verdict that he was unlawfully killed while on active service.
Trooper Lawrence, known as “Lenny” in his regiment, was the eldest of five brothers raised in Upton by mum Gaynor.
The former Ridgeway High School pupil was based in Norfolk with wife Amy and had a daughter Jessica, now 17 months.
Speaking after the inquest Gaynor said: “I wanted to know two things – that he never suffered and that he was never alone.
“And he was neither.
“The soldiers who were with my son never, ever gave up on him and they looked after him right to the end.”
His wife Amy said: “He died fighting for his country and he died trying to make a difference in another country.
“He absolutely loved being in the Army.
“I’ll always be proud of him.”