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Rupert Hamer - 'You can’t report the war without going to the front line'


Image: Sunday Mirror/PA

We think many of you may have seen the report that Rupert Hamer, aged 39, Defence correspondent for the Sunday Mirror, was killed by an IED while travelling in an armoured vehicle in Afghanistan. Courageous and popular, a husband and the father of two sons and a daughter, Rupert had reported from the war zones of Iraq and Afghanistan since 2004. We were moved and informed by the recently published Mirror interview with injured colleague Phil Coburn and by the tribute from Sean Rayment, Defence Correspondent for the Sunday Telegraph - My friend died for the truth -

The shock of unexpected death is brutal and remorseless, leaving in its wake feelings of unrelenting anger and grief. For most of last week I simply could not comprehend that someone whom I had grown to trust more than anyone else outside of my immediate family was dead. In the six years that I had known Rupert we had become close friends. He was a charming, loyal, trusted, decent and brave ally.

What endeared Rupert to most people was not just his affable nature and his marvellous sense of humour, but also his humility. Rupert’s honesty was obvious even to the most suspicious of those in the Armed Forces, and so he was widely trusted. The rank and file, as well as the top brass, would open up to Rupert in a way that they wouldn’t to others, and he reaped the benefits by breaking dozens of stories for his newspaper.

. . .By 2008 the nature of the conflict began to change: the war went “asymmetric”, with the IED, or home-made bomb, becoming the insurgents’ weapon of choice. Thousands of IEDs, like the one that killed Rupert and severely injured Phil, were laid in a carpet across Helmand, turning large parts of the province into minefields.

. . .Rupert and I had many conversations about whether reporting from Afghanistan was worth the risk, especially for those of us who had families.

But Rupert was adamant. “You have to go, Sean,” he once told me when I expressed doubts. “You can’t report the war without going to the front line. You have to see it to write about it.” And he was, and is, right.

. . .without journalists such as Rupert willing to take the risk, the British public would have no comprehension of the life on the front line, of the successes and failures, the progress and the setbacks and also of the simple, raw courage of British troops.

Rupert Hamer's final despatch reported "on the eve of a surge which will determine the future of Afghanistan".

Rupert Hamer's passions were his young family and his work. He sometimes found time to enjoy fly-fishing. His family and his many friends cherished him.

Phil Coburn said, 'Inside the vehicle there was some joshing and joking, and at the centre of it, typically, was Rupert, and that was the final sound – laughter'.

Ave atque Vale.

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