Page last updated at 09:56 GMT, Thursday, 4 June 2009 10:56 UK

UK soldier killed in blast named

Cyrus Thatcher
His friends said he was "a great friend" who was "always there for people"

A 19-year-old British soldier who was killed in an explosion while on patrol in southern Afghanistan has been named by the Ministry of Defence.

Rifleman Cyrus Thatcher, from Reading, Berks, who was with the 2nd Battalion The Rifles, died after the blast near Gereshk in Helmand province on Tuesday.

His parents and brothers said they would "never recover" from his death.

A total of 166 British service personnel have been killed on operations in Afghanistan since 2001.

Rifleman Thatcher's parents, Robin and Helena, and brothers Zac and Steely, said in a statement: "Cyrus was a much-loved son and brother whose loss we will never recover from.

'The very best'

"He loved his job and was proud to serve his country. We will always be immensely proud of him. He will forever be in our hearts and minds."

Lt Col Rob Thomson, Commanding Officer 2nd Battalion The Rifles, described Rifleman Thatcher as "one of the very best - a real thinking Rifleman".

"As his commanding officer, I count it a privilege of the highest order to have known Rifleman Thatcher. His life was one of such promise and he is sorely missed," he said.

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Helena and Robin Thatcher: 'He has been a fantastic son'

"His family is right at the very centre of our prayers at this unimaginably difficult time."

The young men who fought along side him have also paid tribute to their dead friend.

Rifleman Stuart Elliot said Rifleman Thatcher was "a great friend" who "never failed to keep morale high" and was someone "you could count on" whenever times were hard.

Rifleman Francis Malou said: "I don't know where to start or what to say. You were always there when people felt down, you cared about people."

Defence Secretary John Hutton said: "His abilities, commitment and bravery are evident. This is a sad loss for the Armed Forces."



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