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There are no atheists in Scott's foxholes; HERO REV BAPTISES TROOP TRIO EXCLUSIVE.

Byline: Robert Kellaway

A Commando padre who used his water bottle to baptise soldiers on the battlefield has been awarded a gallantry medal for bravery.

Reverend Dr Scott Shackleton was asked to christen three young Royal Marines fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan.

The 47-year-old dad-of-two, who is based at RM Condor near Arbroath, Angus, was awarded the Queen's Commendation for Valuable Service for his work.

He said: "I can recall three occasions where I was asked to baptise people in the field, including one instance where I only had a water bottle.

"The temperature was boiling so it seemed appropriate. I blessed the bottle and poured the water over him. He was very grateful."

Padre Shackleton passed the tough Royal Marine Commando course in 1993 - minus the weapons training - and has completed three tours of Afghanistan.

His last tour has left him with more hope than previous visits.

He said: "I've not seen so many reasons to be positive as I saw then. There was a real feeling of exchange between the faiths. The Muslim elders called me their bald Mullah."

The padre was among 131 military personnel honoured for their service in Afghanistan between April 1 to September 31, 2011.

He baptised an 18-year-old gunner, from 29 Commando Regiment, Royal Artillery, in a patrol base near Nad E Ali last summer.

Padre Shackleton said: "The Afghans were astonished to see a 'holy man' patrolling with the soldiers but thought it was a good thing.

"I was chatting about all this with the boys back in the patrol base when this 18-year-old turned to me.

"He said his mum had never got around to baptising him as a kid and wanted to know if I could do it there.

"So I blessed a bottle of drinking water and poured it over his head. It was witnessed by two of his mates.

"Later on I think word must have got around because I was asked to conduct another couple of baptisms."

CAPTION(S):

SO BRAVE Soldiers on duty in Afghanistan PEACEMAKER Padre Shackleton at a meeting with Muslim elders in Afghanistan
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Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Geographic Code:9AFGH
Date:Apr 1, 2012
Words:350
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