Death on duty in Malawi

It is with great sadness that the MOD must confirm the death of Guardsman (Gdsm) Mathew Talbot of 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards in Malawi on Sunday 5 May 2019. He was deployed as part of a counter poaching operation.

Gdsm Talbot enlisted in the Army in September 2013 and joined the 1st Battalion, The Coldstream Guards, quickly becoming a character within Number 7 Company undertaking ceremonial duties in London, and then later in Number 2 Company on deployment. With his keen interest in military history he was proud to have joined a Regiment with such a rich and long lineage.

Having attended Exercise Askari Storm in 2018 he was not unfamiliar with Africa and he volunteered to deploy in support of counter poaching in Malawi. His time in Africa allowed him to indulge his passion for photography and for languages experiencing situations far separated than those he would experience in the UK.


Guardsman Mathew Talbot


Lt Col Ed Launders MBE Commanding Officer said:

"I will always feel honoured to have served alongside Guardsman Mathew Talbot. He was a determined and big-hearted Coldstreamer who devoted his life to serving his country.  It was typical of his character to volunteer for an important and challenging role in Malawi. He was hugely proud to of his work as a Counter-Poaching Operator, and tragically died doing great good.

"Mathew was loved by his brothers in arms in the Coldstream Guards. We will sorely miss his humour, selflessness and unbeatable spirit.

"My deepest condolences go to his parents, family and loved-ones. My thoughts and prayers are with them at this desperately sad time."

Major Richard Wright, Company Commander said: 

"As his Company Commander, I only had the pleasure of Commanding Gdsm Talbot for a short period of time, but in the little time that I did have, my abiding memory of Gdsm Talbot will be that he never failed to make me smile.  A real character who was always full of wit and never short of a joke or two, he quickly and easily made lifelong friends in the team. 

"During his time in the Army he enjoyed the adventure of training overseas. This included a recent exercise in Kenya where he found himself training in a harsh and demanding environment. Shortly afterwards, he volunteered to mentor and partner the Malawian Ranger Force in their fight against the illegal wildlife trade. A true Coldstreamer, fit, energetic and full of selfless commitment, Gdsm Talbot bravely lost his life whilst ensuring that endangered species will be around for future generations to learn from and enjoy.

"The loss of Gdsm Talbot will be felt throughout the Battalion and in particular by the soldiers and officers of OP CORDED and Number 2 Company, who knew him best. It is with great sadness that he leaves behind, his father Steven, his mother Michelle and sisters Aimee and Isabel and Olivia his girlfriend."

Lt Hugo Cazalet, Platoon Commander said:

“Gdsm Talbot was an exceptional and unique personality, possessed of a quick and dry wit. He was a proud “brummie” with an epic work ethic, he always worked hard for his mates and put the needs of the team before his own. He was a constant source of morale, even in the direst situations and his infectious humour ensured that his team were constantly smiling too.”

LSgt Padgham (Patrol Leader) said:

“He was always a grafter and would always try his best and give 100%. He was a constant source of morale to his peers and it was a privilege to know him.” (LSgt Padgham was his patrolling partner throughout the deployment to Malawi and was his section commander on Askari Storm)."

LSgt Louis Bolton said:

“It’s hard to find words at a time like this but I can honestly say he will truly be missed and remembered. Mathew was a unique character and genuine guy. Loved and trusted by all who cared for him. I can honestly say that no matter the time of day or situation he was in, he was always laughing and cracking jokes - we loved him for it."

LCpl M Miller said:

“Mathew was someone whom many would have wanted to have been, he was soft-hearted, but would have worked to the bone if he needed to. He was always working to better himself, by working on his skills and finding strong role models in the regiment. He was a person who you would find befriending people from all walks of life, no matter the barriers or location.

"Laughing and joking was something he was never short of, no matter the situation, and he kept this attitude from the day I first met him, to his last moments. Matthew was a man I feel privileged to have worked alongside and watch develop into the soldier he was. He will be deeply missed and will always be remembered for the person he was.”

Gdsm Tyler Ashton said:

“Matt was a very close friend, with many good memories and he never failed to amuse me and make me laugh.”

Defence Secretary Penny Mordaunt said:

“I was deeply saddened to hear of the death of Guardsman Mathew Talbot, who died while carrying out vital counter-poaching work in Malawi. This tragic incident is a reminder of the danger our military faces as they protect some of the world’s most endangered species from those who seek to profit from the criminal slaughter of wildlife.

“Throughout his career with the Coldstream Guards, Guardsman Talbot served with great courage and professionalism, and our thoughts and prayers are with his family and loved ones at this terrible time.”