It is with immense sadness and shock that the Haileybury community learnt of the death of Lt Richard Palmer in Iraq last Saturday.
Richard was in Edmonstone from 1992 to 1997 and is described by his former teachers as "one of the most popular boys in the school during that time".
He was the son of Brig John Palmer, who retired as bursar at Haileybury at the end of 2005, and his wife, Sue. He is also survived by his brother, David.
After leaving Haileybury, Richard went on to Durham University and then graduated from Sandhurst in 2004. He joined the Royal Scots Dragoon Regiment and was leading a joint patrol with the Iraqi Army when a bomb exploded near his vehicle outside the town of Ad Dayr.
A book of condolence has been opened in the Haileybury Chapel. Anyone wanting to express their condolences to the Palmer family is asked to do so via the Bursar’s Office, Haileybury, Hertfordshire, SG13 7NU.
The following statement was released by the Master, Stuart Westley: "The whole Haileybury community was immensely saddened to hear of the death of Lieutenant Richard Palmer of The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards in Southern Iraq on Saturday, 15 April 2006.
"Whilst on a joint patrol with the Iraqi Army in the vicinity of Ad Dayr, the vehicle which Richard Palmer was commanding was contacted by a roadside bomb. Despite the best efforts of Richard’s comrades and medical teams, he died of his wounds.
"Richard Palmer was born into an Army and a Haileybury family on 19 March 1979. Richard’s father served on attachment with The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards and it was from this attachment and the connections made during it that Richard decided that he wished to join the Regiment. Richard’s father and his paternal grandfather were both Army Officers and both attended Haileybury, like Richard. Richard’s maternal grandfather was also an Army Officer. Richard’s father, John Palmer, left the Army in 1997, in the rank of Brigadier. He was appointed Bursar of Haileybury in January 1998 and held that post until he retired in December 2005.
"Richard came to Haileybury from Feltonfleet School, Surrey in 1992 and enjoyed a highly successful school career. In his final year he was Head of his House, Edmonstone, and a College Prefect. Richard was a fine all-round games player, representing the school in his final two years at rugby, hockey, cricket and rackets. Subsequently he achieved the honour of representing the Combined Services at both hockey and rackets.
"Richard was a naturally enthusiastic young man who made and kept friends very easily. He had a well-developed sense of humour and concluded his time at Haileybury with excellent examination results which qualified him for entry to the University of Durham. At Durham, in addition to pursuing his many sporting interests, he achieved a good degree in Geography and was commissioned into The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards in August 2004 as a Troop Leader. During his Troop Leader’s training course he excelled, showing a relaxed and assured manner. He appeared to have a natural flair for tank commanding, always remaining calm under pressure and showing himself capable of dealing with all varieties of complications. He continued to show outstanding promise, both during his training year in Canada and while on operations in Iraq."
Richard’s Commanding Officer, Lt Col Ben Edwards, said of him: "Lieutenant Richard Palmer was one of my very best young Officers. He was an intelligent, charming, talented, yet incredibly modest, individual. Despite having only served with the Regiment for just under two years, he was widely regarded by solider and officer alike as a star of the future.
"Richard believed that he and his colleagues were making a tangible difference to the future of the people of Iraq. He was well aware of the risks involved in his service, being willing to put his life at risk as he endeavoured to improve the security situation within the country.
"Richard will be sorely missed by the very large number of people whose lives he touched. The thoughts of the whole Haileybury community are with Richard’s family and friends at this difficult time. The Palmers are a well-established and enormously respected Haileybury family."
A thanksgiving service will be held on 3 May in the Haileybury Chapel.