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Last Updated: Saturday, 11 August 2007, 16:53 GMT 17:53 UK
Tributes to Helmand death soldier
Private Tony Rawson
Private Tony Rawson had previously served in Iraq
A British soldier killed on Friday after his patrol came under Taleban fire in Helmand province, Afghanistan, has been named as Private Tony Rawson.

The 27-year-old lived with his fiancee, who was pregnant and expecting their first child, in Dagenham, east London.

Colleagues in the 1st Battalion Royal Anglian Regiment have paid tribute to the comrade they nicknamed "Nicey".

A commanding officer said Pte Rawson was "good-natured even in the face of adversity, and courageous under fire".

Captain Dave Hicks, Second-In-Command of C (Essex) Company, added: "His loss will be felt deeply by all those who knew him."

Pte Rawson was shot shortly before 0600 hours local time as a patrol made its way to check on a local irrigation project in Jusyalay, north east of Sangin.

He was killed and another soldier was injured during the engagement and ensuing firefight, the Ministry of Defence said.

The death brings the total number of UK troops killed while on operations in Afghanistan since 2001 to 69.

'An inspiration'

The MoD said Pte Rawson entered the Army in July 2002. He gained the nickname 'Nicey' when he joined the battalion in March 2003 because of his nature, friendliness and willingness to go out of his way to do anything for his fellow soldiers.

He was a true Viking who we will never forget
Lt Col Stuart Carver

He had previously served in Iraq, where he was part of the All Arms Search Team.

His leadership and organisational ability had been identified and he was selected to attend the Battalion's Junior Non Commissioned Officer cadre.

But he was unable to complete the training after sustaining a knee injury.

Pte Rawson leaves his fiancee, Louise, and her daughter, Caitlin.

Lt Col Stuart Carver, commanding officer of the battalion, said Pte Rawson was "passionate about his job, with a big heart and a generous and trustworthy personality who died courageously in close combat...

"He was a true Viking who we will never forget."

Defence Secretary Des Browne said: "He and his colleagues were doing important work to support the local population and taking the fight to the enemy.

"His example is an inspiration to us all and his contribution to rebuilding Afghanistan will be remembered with honour."

Sgt Matthew Waters, Platoon Sergeant, 11 Platoon, C (Essex) Company, said Pte Rawson's devotion to his job and friends were second to none.

"I will always remember his ability to motivate the younger soldiers in the platoon and the way he consistently strove for excellence," he said.

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