A BLACKBURN soldier who died in a training exercise will be buried today with full military honours.

Corporal Darren Nielson, 31, died in a live firing exercise with the Royal Tank regiment on June 14 in Pembrokeshire, Wales, along with Corporal Matthew Hatfield.

The funeral is being held at All Saints Church in Preston at 11:30am this morning.

He joined the army in 2004 and served with the 1st and 2nd Royal Tank regiments before they became the Royal Tank Regiment.

He became a Challenger 2 gunnery instructor and commander and spent large periods of time at the Salisbury Plain, training future tank commanders and conducting low-level training.

Married to Jemma, Cpl Neilson was originally from Blackburn and attended Ribblesdale High School, and had a daughter.

During his time as a solider, he was deployed in various operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Lieutenant Colonel Simon Ridgway, commanding officer of The Royal Tank Regiment, said: “He was a real character within his crew, troop, squadron and the regiment and he had the respect of all those he worked with due to his professionalism, easy going nature and natural leadership style.

“Because of his character ‘Daz’ was selected to be part of the Army Recruiting Team in Preston where a combination of his dry sense of humour and clear enthusiasm for being in the military played a key part in helping recruit soldiers.

“Being a real family man this was also a chance to spend quality time with them.”

His colleague Corporal Matthew Hatfield was also killed in the same incident and two others were injured.

Castlemartin Range is used for tanks and armoured units to carry out direct-fire live gunnery exercises.

Lt Cl Ridgway added: “His sudden loss is devastating and his family are in our thoughts and prayers at this incredibly difficult time.”