A YOUNG soldier who was struggling to come to terms with the deaths of five comrades in an explosion in Afghanistan took his own life when he was on home leave, an inquest has heard.

Rifleman Allan Arnold was just 20 when he was found hanging from a tree on the edge of his home town of Cirencester.

A note was found on his body saying he could not cope any more and apologising to his mother.

Rifleman Arnold, of Ermin Place, Cirencester, who was serving with 2 Rifles based at Ballykinler barracks in Northern Ireland, was found dead on May 2 last year.

It was the last day of his leave and he had spent the previous night drinking heavily with friends, Gloucestershire Assistant Deputy Coroner Katy Skerrett was told last Thursday.

Sitting at Gloucester Coroners Court, she said she could not be sure that he intended to take his own life and she recorded an open verdict.

At the time of his death, said close friend Andy Higgins, Rifleman Arnold had been unable to cope with the loss of so many of his mates in Afghanistan.

Shortly before his death he had told a physiotherapist who was treating him for a shoulder injury at Ballykinler that he was having trouble coming to terms with the deaths.

Corporal Jonathan Horne and Riflemen William Aldridge, James Backhouse, Joseph Murphy and Daniel Simpson were all killed in a roadside blast, when an improvised explosive device was detonated in the Sangin region of Afghanistan on July 10, 2009.

Friend Jordan Baker spoke of how he had seen Allan the weekend before his death.

He said: "He went to all the people I was with and spoke to them. It was like he wanted to make peace with everyone."

Many of the young soldier's comrades and officers gave evidence in which most said he had not appeared any different in the weeks before his death.

But his platoon commander Lt James Amoore said the Rifleman had undergone treatment with the army mental health team following a previous tour in Afghanistan, which had been a particularly difficult time.

"He was struggling to come to terms with it but this was not in any way unusual," said Lt Amoore.

"He was coping as well as anyone in his position could be expected to cope.

He seemed happy when he stopped seeing the team and it was his choice to stop receiving help."

Mrs Skerrett said the decision to hang himself could have been taken on the spur of the moment and she therefore could not be sure he had a fixed intention to kill himself.

After the inquest, his sister Abigail Smith said Allan had been a happy-go-lucky young man and loved by all his friends and family.

She added: "He would have bent over backwards to give you the shirt off his back."