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Last Updated: Sunday, 24 June 2007, 12:20 GMT 13:20 UK
UK soldier died on 24th birthday
Corporal John Rigby [Pic: MoD]
Corporal John Rigby was due to be promoted to Sergeant
A British soldier fatally injured by a roadside bomb in southern Iraq died on his 24th birthday.

Corporal John Rigby, of the 4th Battalion The Rifles, from Rye in East Sussex, died from his injuries after Friday morning's attack.

The blast hit a British forces patrol, which was returning to base in Basra in a Bulldog vehicle, the MoD said.

Lieutenant Colonel Patrick Sanders, Cpl Rigby's Commanding Officer said his battalion was "utterly heartbroken".

He said: "The death of any soldier is a tragedy and in death all are equal, but there are some whose loss is particularly hard to bear.

"The force of their personality, their personal and professional qualities and the love, respect and popularity they inspire set them apart. Corporal John Rigby was such a man.

"We are utterly heartbroken. But we are also unbowed, tough and determined: John would have it no other way."

Twin brother

Cpl Rigby's family issued a statement, in which they revealed his twin brother was at his side when he died on Friday.

"John was a cherished and devoted son and brother; a talented hardworking and successful soldier, popular with his peers and across all ranks alike.

"He was due to be promoted to Sergeant in September and had a very bright future ahead of him which included plans to undertake higher education.

"He will be accompanied back to England by his twin brother William who is also serving in Iraq with the Rifles, and who was with him at his bedside at Basra military hospital when he died."

Cpl Rigby's death takes the total number of UK troops killed in operations in Iraq since hostilities began in 2003 to 153.

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