Afghanistan blast death soldier named as Pte John King

Pte John King
Image caption Pte King was deployed to Afghanistan in October

A soldier killed in an explosion in Afghanistan on Friday has been named as Pte John King, 19, from 1st Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment.

He was killed by an explosion on 30 December in the Nahr-e Saraj district of Helmand Province while taking part in a foot patrol.

Pte King, 19, from Darlington, joined the Army in 2009.

The number of UK personnel killed in Afghanistan since military operations there began in 2001 now stands at 394.

The soldier was killed by a bomb while supporting Afghan National Army members of the patrol who had come under fire from insurgents while searching compounds around the village of Llara Kalay.

Pte King, who was deployed to Afghanistan in October, leaves behind his mother Karen, father Barry, brothers Ian and Stephen, and girlfriend Kelly.

'Cheeky smile'

In a statement, his family said: "John was a tremendous son, brother and boyfriend. He was a devoted grandson, a loving family member, and a proud soldier who died doing a job he adored. He will be sadly missed by all his family, friends, and loyal German Shepherd dog Rex."

Lt Col Dan Bradbury, Commanding Officer, 1st Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment, said Pte King had only been with the regiment for 18 months, but it was one of the busiest periods in its recent history.

"From early on he was able to fit in quickly through a combination of hard work, grit, a willingness to endure difficult conditions and an irrepressible sense of humour.

"Always the first to volunteer for anything, he was one of B Company's characters: someone who could be found at the front at work or play, and was hugely popular as a result. His cheeky smile - no matter what we were doing - is the thing we will miss most of all.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with his comrades in Afghanistan - who will today be resuming their efforts to improve security - but most of all with his family in Darlington. We will remember him."