A serving soldier murdered in broad daylight in Woolwich on Wednesday is named as Drummer Lee Rigby, a 25-year-old soldier who had served in Afghanistan.

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The Ministry of Defence said on Thursday that it was "with great sadness that the Ministry of Defence must announce that the soldier killed in yesterday's incident in Woolwich, south east London, is believed to be Drummer Lee Rigby of 2nd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers."

The MoD said Rigby was "an extremely popular and witty soldier" with "a larger than life personality. "He was well known, liked and respected across the Second Fusiliers."

He was a true warrior and served with distinction in Afghanistan, Germany and Cyprus. Lieutenant Colonel Jim Taylor

Rigby was also a "loving father to his son Jack, aged two years", the MoD said. "He will be sorely missed by all who knew him."

'Larger than life'

Lieutenant Colonel Jim Taylor MBE, commanding officer of the Second Fusiliers, said: "Drummer Lee Rigby was a dedicated and professional soldier. He was a real character within the Second Fusiliers.

"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.

Riggers is what every battalion needs. He was one of the battalion’s great characters always smiling and always ready to brighten the mood with his fellow fusiliers. Warrant Officer Class 1 Ned Miller

"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. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends at this incredibly difficult time."

'Great character'

Warrant Officer Class 1 Ned Miller, regimental sergeant major of the Second Fusiliers, said: "Riggers is what every battalion needs. He was one of the battalion’s great characters always smiling and always ready to brighten the mood with his fellow fusiliers.

Woolwich attack: victim named as soldier Lee Rigby (picture: MoD)

"He was an excellent drummer and well respected within the Drums platoon. He was easily identified whilst on parade by the huge smile on his face and how proud he was to be a member of the Drums.

Drummer Rigby was a loving father, with a very bubbly character. Sergeant Barry Ward

"He would always stop for a chat just to tell me Manchester United would win the league again. My thoughts are with his family and they will always be part of the Fusilier family."

'Highly popular'

Sergeant Barry Ward, drum major in the Second Fusiliers, said: "Drummer Rigby was a loving father, with a very bubbly character. He was an excellent drummer, loved his job and was a highly popular member of the platoon.

"He had served in Afghanistan as an FSG Operator and was very diligent in his work. He was always around when needed and will be sorely missed by all members of the Second Fusiliers Corps of Drums."

He was a lovely boy, very pleasant, always laughing. Pamela Monaghan, neighbour

Rigby was born in July 1987 in Crumpsall, Manchester who joined the army in 2006. In April 2009 he was deployed in Afghanisatn where he served as a member of the Fire Support Group.

In 2011, he took up a recruiting post in London where he also assisted with duties at regimental headquarters in the Tower of London.

Pamela Monaghan, a neighbour of Rigby's childhood home, said: "He was a lovely boy, very pleasant, always laughing.

"I think it's terrible what's happened. I was really upset. I'm still shaking to tell the truth.

"The way it's happened is disgusting. There's no excuse for that. There's a chance of reprisals of course, but I'd hate to see that around here."