A STOURBRIDGE educated soldier who was killed in Afghanistan just weeks after becoming a first-time father died of bomb blast injuries, an inquest confirmed.

Captain Rupert Bowers, of the 2nd Battalion The Mercian Regiment (2 MERCIAN), died on March 21 2012 in an explosion while leading a patrol to tackle insurgents - just weeks after seeing his wife Vicky give birth to their son Hugo.

A verdict of death from blast injuries while on active service was recorded by the coroner for mid and north Shropshire, John Ellery, at the 24-year-old soldier’s inquest held at Wem Town Hall on February 20.

Capt Bowers, a former Old Swinford Hospital School student, was just weeks away from finishing his tour of duty and rejoining his family when tragedy struck.

Working as an advisor to the Afghan National Army while attached to the 2nd Battalion The Rifles, he was commanding a small team in the Mirmandab region of Nahr-e Saraj district in Helmand Province when he was caught in a blast from an improvised explosive device.

The decorated soldier, who was born in Wolverhampton, began his military career when he joined the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst after leaving Old Swinford Hospital School in 2005.

Just weeks after completing his training he bravely rescued wounded comrades after a fierce night-time battle in Helmand Province, earning himself the UK armed forces’ oldest accolade for gallantry - a Mention in Despatches.

Paying tribute to him after his death - Lieutenant Colonel Colin R Marks, Commanding Officer, Combined Force Burma, 2 MERCIAN, said Capt Bowers was a “gifted officer” and Old Swinford Hospital School headteacher Peter Jones described him as “a perfect role model for young people”.