THE soldier killed by the two Islamists who attempted to behead and disembowel him was Drummer Lee Rigby, 25 years old, with a two year old son.
His family, friends and colleagues today spoke about their shock and sadness at the loss of a young man who “would help anyone if he could.”
Born in Crumpsall in Manchester, Drummer Rigby had joined 2nd Battalion, The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers in 2006 and was an enthusiastic and accomplished member of the Corps of Drums and, alongside his infantry duties, remained passionately interested in music with an equal passion for Manchester United.
Police were this afternoon guarding the 25-year-old serviceman's home in Middleton, Greater Manchester. His partner, who lives with their son, Jack was told of the death on yesterday evening and other members of his family have also been informed.
Drummer Rigby deployed on operations for the first time to Afghanistan in April 2009 where he served as a member of the Fire Support Group in Patrol Base Woqab. His friends say they find it difficult to accept that he survived that, at a time of often intense fighting, to meet his death in a London street.
He was later posted to Celle in Germany and then took up a recruitment post at the Regimental Headquarters in the Tower of London, a job to which he was particularly suited, it was considered, because of his sense of empathy and understanding.
Lieutenant Colonel Jim Taylor MBE, Commanding Officer Second Fusiliers, said today: “ He was a dedicated and professional soldier. He was a real character within the Second Fusiliers. Larger than life, he was at the heart of our Corps of Drums. An experienced and talented side drummer and machine gunner, he was a true warrior and served with distinction in Afghanistan, Germany and Cyprus. His ability, talent and personality made him a natural choice to work in the recruiting group. He will be sorely missed by everyone in the Second Fusiliers. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends at this incredibly difficult time. Once a Fusilier, Always a Fusilier.”
'A great character and always smiling': Friends and colleagues pay tribute to 'Riggers'
Captain Alan Williamson, Adjutant Second Fusiliers (and Drummer Rigby’s Platoon Commander 2010-2011), added: “ ‘Riggers’ as he was known within the Platoon was a cheeky and humorous man, always there with a joke to brighten the mood, he was an extremely popular member of the Fire Support Group (FSG). An excellent side drummer and highly competent machine gunner, he was always there to help out the younger members of the FSG whenever possible. His loss will be felt across the Battalion but this is nothing compared to how his family must be feeling at this difficult time, our thoughts and prayers are with them..”
Warrant Officer Class 1 Ned Miller, Regimental Sergeant Major Second Fusiliers, said: “Riggers is what every Battalion needs. He was one of the Battalion’s great characters always smiling and always ready to brighten the mood with his fellow Fusiliers. He was an excellent drummer and well respected within the Drums platoon. He was easily identified whilst on parade by the huge smile on his face and how proud he was to be a member of the Drums. He would always stop for a chat just to tell me Manchester United would win the league again. My thoughts are with his family and they will always be part of the Fusilier family. Once a Fusilier, always a Fusilier.”
Vicar Guy Jamieson, who married Drummer Rigby in 2007 to the wife whom he was separated from, at St Anne-in-the-Grove Church in Southowram, West Yorkshire, said : “When the news first came through yesterday I felt sickened. It's abhorrent. We hear a lot about military tragedies overseas but the fact that it was in the street in a city makes it more horrific.
“I remember his wedding well. He had already spoken to the chaplain at Catterick (Garrison) and came to me well prepared with lots of questions. The wedding day was wonderful. Because it was a military wedding it requires a lot of preparation. I remember sitting next to Lee on the front pew before everything started and reminding him what his first words to say were.”
Independent News Service
Even by the standards of amazing events caught on camera, it is quite stunning. An angry Islamic radical stands on a London street, with bloodied hands, and gives an interview to a passing camera about an axe attack, and near beheading, he has just made on a British soldier, as an act of vengeance for alleged atrocities committed against Muslims.