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My little girl's job was to go to Iraq to help innocents, not those we saw on TV holding up her helmet; TEARFUL MUM IN TRIBUTE TO 'BEAUTIFUL DAUGHTER'.

Byline: By RUPERT HAMER Defence Correspondent

THE devastated family of Basra bomb victim Private Eleanor Dlugosz told last night how their selfless daughter went to Iraq to help ordinary people.

Fighting back tears, mum Sally, said: "There are plenty of innocent people in Iraq and it was my little girl's job to go out there and help them."

Of the jeering Iraqis who brandished macabre souvenirs from the huge roadside blast that killed Eleanor and three comrades last week, she added: "She wasn't there to help the people we saw on television holding up her helmet."

Yesterday - flanked by 19-year-old Eleanor's distraught grandparents - hotel manager Sally, 41, paid tribute to her "beautiful" daughter who came top of her class during Army training. She said: "Eleanor was my beautiful girl, she was the best in every way. She was an extremely independent and determined young lady and excelled at everything she turned her hand to.

"She had many good friends and was loved and adored by everyone. She did a lot for her community. She was my star all the time, she loved her job and she was my action girl. Nothing could have stopped her from serving her country - she was doing exactly what she wanted and she had always dreamed of joining the army.

"She was selfless and loved being active, doing what she could to help other people and was very proud of what she was doing in Iraq.

"We are so proud of everything she achieved and this is a great loss to everyone."

Medic Eleanor was one of four British troops killed on Thursday after a massive "shaped charge" blew a hole in their Warrior Armoured Vehicle.

Others killed in the blast were 2nd lieutenant Joanna Dyer, 24, Corporal Kris O'Neill, 27, and Kingsman Adam Smith, 19. A fifth soldier was seriously injured and a Kuwaiti interpreter died.

Sally, who now uses her maiden name after splitting from Eleanor's father, said Eleanor excelled during military training at Winchester, Hants. She said: "She was the best rifle shot, taking the trophy and beating all the boys. There are lots of people around the world who need our help. If it's our job to help them that's what we should do."

Eleanor grew up with her mother and brother Andrew, 16, in the picturesque rural village of Swanmore near Southampton, Hants, where she attended primary school.

The family moved to Somerset when Eleanor was nine years old and she became actively involved in the Young Farmers, music and public speaking.

Sally said her daughter's main passion was riding horses and that she won several awards in show jumping, hunting and carriage driving. She added: "She was a devoted horsewoman and loved riding."

Yesterday grandmother Mary Veck, speaking at her four-bedroom farm cottage, wept as she described Eleanor as a "wonderful, wonderful girl".

She said: "She was a delightful girl. Eleanor was very, very special and loved to help others, that's what she hoped to do out there.

"I last saw her when we took her back up to Catterick, Yorkshire, in March. She had just passed her medic course with flying colours and was really looking forward to going back to Iraq where she had been before Christmas.

"She was well aware of the dangers but she was proud of what she was doing out there. I spoke to her only on Tuesday on the phone from Iraq.

"She had had a bad day but she was very proud of what she was doing over there.

"She was a devoted daughter and granddaughter and would phone every week to tell us about what she was doing." Eleanor, of the Royal Army Medical Corps, was known to her friends as 'Ella' or 'DZ'. She was first been deployed to Iraq in November last year when she was based at Shaibah Logistics Base, near Basra.

In January she had returned to the UK to complete her Class 1 Medics Course - something she enjoyed - and then returned to the war-torn country last month when it finished.

Pte Dlugosz's role was providing medical support to a Warrior patrol from 2nd Battalion Duke of Lancasters Battle Group when she was killed.

LAST night senior officers in Basra confirmed they were "reviewing tactics" in light of the attack because Warrior armoured vehicles had been thought robust enough to withstand "shaped charge" explosives.

rupert.hamer@sundaymirror.co.uk

COMMENT: Page 14

CAPTION(S):

Horse mad... Eleanor won showjumping prizes. Inset: at school aged 15; Eleanor, left, at wedding with brother, mum & gran; Heartbroken... mum and grandparents yesterday; Ghoulish... Iraqis with Eleanor's helmet; So happy... Eleanor smiles in a recent family picture, and right, proud in her Army uniform
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Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Apr 8, 2007
Words:783
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