Tributes To Dead Soldier

Friends and family have been paying tribute to a soldier from Worthing killed on patrol in Afghanistan just a month after arriving in the country.

Guardsman Michael Roland, 22, was shot during a patrol in the Nahr-e-Saraj North District of Helmand Province on Friday.

The father of twins was on the second day of a three-day operation to disrupt insurgent activity in a contested area in the north of the district when he was fatally wounded and he died later in Camp Bastion.

The Guardsman's family paid tribute to him in a statement, saying: "Michael was a loving and caring son loved by his huge extended family and friends who are devastated by their loss. We are still coming to terms with losing him.

"Michael always wanted to join the Army and was so proud to be part of Queen's Company Grenadier Guards. Michael loved us all so much; with us he was not big and tough, just gentle. We will miss him so much.''

Lieutenant Colonel James Bowder, Commanding Officer 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards, said: "Guardsman Roland's death is a tremendous loss to a close Battalion.

"Sparky, diligent and super-fit, he was a terrific soldier with a bright future. That he achieved so much in his short life is testament to his drive and ambition. He was an absolute pleasure to command and will be missed hugely by the Battalion and the regimental family as a whole.

"Our prayers are with his baby twins, his parents, girlfriend and broader family; we share their great sense of loss and will never forget this most extraordinary of Guardsmen.''

Major Piers Ashfield, Captain of The Queen's Company, said Guardsman Roland was one of the "leading lights of The Queen's Company.

"His stoic devotion to duty and the generous friendship he offered to all those he met epitomised the man for whom no hardship was worthy of complaint."

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said: "I was deeply saddened to hear of the death of Guardsman Michael Roland.

"It is clear that he was a brave man and highly professional soldier. The circumstances of his death by all accounts sum up his Army life: in the thick of the fight and looking out for his comrades.

"I can only endorse the tributes paid to him by his family, for whom he was a hero. They have my deepest sympathy.''