Two British volunteers who travelled to Ukraine to help with humanitarian evacuations were confirmed dead last night, weeks after they disappeared close to the front lines.
Christopher Parry, 28, and Andrew Bagshaw, 48, are thought to have left the city of Kramatorsk and gone into Soledar, a small salt mining town near Bakhmut, which Russian forces were assaulting.
They were reported missing on Jan 7 and had not been heard from since.
One of their bodies was found by soldiers belonging to Russia’s Wagner mercenary group, which shared photographs appearing to show passports belonging to both of them.
On Tuesday, a statement issued on behalf of the family of Mr Parry confirmed that he had died.
“It is with great sadness we have to announce that our beloved Chrissy has been killed along with his colleague Andrew Bagshaw whilst attempting a humanitarian evacuation from Soledar, eastern Ukraine,” the statement said.
“His selfless determination in helping the old, young and disadvantaged there has made us and his larger family extremely proud.
“We never imagined we would be saying goodbye to Chris when he had such a full life ahead of him. He was a caring son, fantastic brother, a best friend to so many and a loving partner to Olga,” the family said, referring to Parry’s Ukrainian girlfriend.
“He found himself drawn to Ukraine in March in its darkest hour at the start of the Russian invasion and helped those most in need, saving over 400 lives plus many abandoned animals.
Parry, a running coach from Truro who arrived in the war-torn country on March 5 after becoming “obsessed” with helping “good against evil”, had originally planned to fight on the front line, despite promising his parents he would stay out of danger.
But after he was told he would be “more of a hindrance” without military experience, Parry began helping evacuate civilians from the most dangerous parts of the country.
Three days before Parry disappeared, he said he was “willing to go” where others would not to rescue desperate civilians.
Describing his role in Ukraine, he said: “As you get closer to the front you just speak to the Ukrainian soldiers and say ‘How far until things get a little bit too bad?'”
“They’ll say ‘Oh, 200 metres’ then you go ‘OK, I’ll leave the car here and I’ll go on foot for the rest’.”
He added: “A lot of volunteers won’t go anymore, but there are people there who want to get out, so I’m willing to go.”
In a separate statement on Tuesday, Bagshaw’s family also confirmed that their son had died.
“Andrew selflessly took many personal risks and saved many lives; we love him and are very proud indeed of what he did,” a statement said.
“We intend that his death shall not be in vain. We are amongst many parents who grieve the deaths of their sons and daughters.
“We urge the civilised countries of the world to stop this immoral war and to help the Ukrainians to rid their homeland of an aggressor.”
Bagshaw was born in Britain but emigrated to New Zealand.