Page last updated at 08:03 GMT, Sunday, 14 June 2009 09:03 UK

Tributes paid to dead UK soldier

Lieutenant Paul Mervis
Lieutenant Paul Mervis was killed while on foot patrol

A soldier killed in a blast in southern Afghanistan on Friday has been named by defence officials as Lieutenant Paul Mervis of 2nd Battalion, The Rifles.

The 27-year-old, from London, who died on foot patrol near Sangin, in Helmand, became the second man from his platoon to be killed in less than two weeks.

The Ministry of Defence said Lt Mervis had been a "rock" to his platoon in the days after his comrade's death.

Lt Mervis' family paid tribute to a "generous and thoughtful" man.

In a statement, his family said: "Paul was killed doing the job he chose and loved. He was passionately committed to his men - far beyond mere duty.

There was nothing he would not do for one of his riflemen
Lieutenant Colonel Rob Thomson

"He had read widely about Afghanistan, and went with a genuine desire to help bring enough stability there to enable reconstruction to follow."

Lieutenant Colonel Rob Thomson, commanding officer of 2nd Battalion, The Rifles, described Lt Mervis as "utterly irrepressible".

"He was one of those leaders who, out here, was always first onto the objective.

"He had taken the fight to the enemy at every turn and it had not been without a cost."

On 2 June, Rifleman Cyrus Thatcher, from Reading, Berkshire, died after a blast near Gereshk in Helmand province.

"It was a cost which hurt him to the core but it did not deter him," Lt Col Thomson went on.

"He adored platoon command and the richness of its challenge and there was nothing he would not do for one of his riflemen."

Lt Mervis' death came a day after Private Robert McLaren, from The Black Watch, 3rd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland, was killed by an explosion near Kandahar.

Since operations began in 2001, a total of 168 British service personnel have been killed in Afghanistan.

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