A loving father, an Afghan hero and a fine soldier. The innocent drummer, 25, ‘butchered in the street by Muslim fanatics’ The murdered British soldier executed by two Islamist fanatics was today named as Lee Rigby. The 25-year-old ‘cheeky and humorous’ serviceman – described as a ‘loving father’ to his two-year-old son Jack – was identified as police guarded his home in Middleton, Greater Manchester. Drummer Rigby, a keen football fan who followed Manchester United FC, started his Army career in 2006, and had recently fought in Afghanistan with the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers.
But as he walked towards the Royal Artillery Barracks in Woolwich, South-East London, yesterday afternoon, he was run down by a car on the pavement and hacked to death in a shocking attack. Drummer Rigby was known to his comrades as ‘Riggers’, they said he was a “popular and very bubbly character”. He was “one of the battalion’s great characters, always smiling”.
Announcing his death tonight, the Ministry of Defence said in a statement: ‘Drummer Lee Rigby, or ‘Riggers’ to his friends, was born in July 1987 in Crumpsall, Manchester.
Drummer Rigby, 25, known as ‘Riggers’, was known as a brave soldier
‘He joined the Army in 2006 and on successful completion of his infantry training course at The Infantry Training Centre Catterick, he was selected to be a member of the Corps of Drums and posted to 2nd Battalion, The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers. ’His first posting was as a machine gunner in Cyprus where the Battalion was serving as the resident Infantry Battalion based in Dhekelia. ’Having performed a plethora of tasks while in Cyprus, he returned to the UK in the early part of 2008 to Hounslow, west London. Here, Drummer Rigby stood proudly outside the Royal Palaces as part of the Battalion’s public duties commitment. ’He was an integral member of the Corps of Drums throughout the Battalion’s time on public duties, the highlight of which was being a part of the Household Division’s Beating the Retreat – a real honour for a line infantry Corps of Drums.
‘In April 2009 Drummer Rigby deployed on Operations for the first time to Helmand province, Afghanistan, where he served as a member of the Fire Support Group in Patrol Base Woqab. ‘On returning to the UK he completed a second tour of public duties and then moved with the Battalion to Celle, Germany, to be held at a state of high readiness for contingency operations as part of the Small Scale Contingency Battle Group.
‘In 2011 Drummer Rigby took up a Recruiting post in London where he also assisted with duties at Regimental Headquarters in the Tower of London. ‘An extremely popular and witty soldier, Drummer Rigby was a larger than life personality within the Corps of Drums and was well known, liked and respected across the Second Fusiliers. He was a passionate and life-long Manchester United fan.
‘A loving father to his son Jack, aged two years, he will be sorely missed by all who knew him. The regiment’s thoughts and prayers are with his family during this extremely difficult time. “Once a Fusilier, always a Fusilier.”’
Lieutenant Colonel Jim Taylor MBE, Second Fusiliers Commanding Officer, described Drummer Rigby as a ‘dedicated and professional soldier’ who was a ‘real character within the Second Fusiliers’. He added: ‘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.’
Captain Alan Williamson, Drummer Rigby’s Platoon Commander from 2010 to 2011, added that he was ‘a cheeky and humorous man, always there with a joke to brighten the mood’. ‘An excellent side drummer and highly competent machine gunner, he was always there to help out the younger members of the Fire Support Group whenever possible.
And Warrant Officer 1st Class, 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’.