Rifleman Aminiasi Toge, 26, was killed in Afghanistan whilst on patrol on Thursday.

He is the 185th British soldier to be killed in the Afghanistan War.

Rugby fanatic Aminiasi was known as Togey by his friends, and was born in Fiji.

Sixteen British soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan so far this month as Nato forces step up operations against the Taliban.

Soldier killed in latest Afghanistan explosion named as Rifleman Aminiasi Toge

A British soldier killed in an explosion in southern Afghanistan has been named as Rifleman Aminiasi Toge from 2nd Battalion The Rifles.

17 Jul 2009
The Telegraph

Rifleman Aminiasi Toge of 2nd Battalion, The Rifles Photo: MOD

Rifleman Toge, who would have turned 27 on Sunday, died while on a foot patrol near Gereshk in central Helmand Province on Thursday afternoon, a spokesman for the Ministry of Defence said.

His death took the number of UK troops who have died in Afghanistan since the start of operations in October 2001 to 185, six more than the total death toll in the Iraq war.

Rifleman Toge, known as Togey by his friends, was born in Suva, Fiji, and leaves a twin brother, three sisters and his parents.

He was from the same battalion as the five soldiers - three of them aged just 18 - who were killed during a foot patrol near the town of Sangin in central Helmand on July 10.

Lieutenant Colonel Rob Thomson MBE, commanding officer of 2 Rifles, said Rifleman Toge was one of the toughest riflemen under his command and "was adored - heart-breakingly so - by all who had the privilege to encounter him".

He said Fijian riflemen gathered in small groups across the Upper Sangin Valley today to remember him and bid him farewell.

185 British soldiers have now been killed in Afghanistan.

Number of dead servicemen from each UK nation
England: 121
Scotland: 14
Wales: 7
Northern Ireland: 3
From abroad: 12
Not released: 28

Cause of death
Hostile: 70%
Accident: 14%
Friendly fire: 3%
Suicide: 1%
Other: 13%

19 and under: 8%
20-29: 67%
30-39: 18%
40+: 6%
Not released: 1%

Army: 74%
Royal Marines: 18%
RAF: 8%
Royal Navy: 0%

Officers: 11%
Other ranks: 83%
Not released: 6%

"Rifleman Toge was my fastest Fijian and was known as 'Lightning'," he said.

"He was smaller than most of my South Pacific heroes but no less robust, determined and wily with an oval ball under his arm.

"And that was when he was at his happiest - on our (usually wet) pitch in Northern Ireland or throwing the ball around his FOB in the dust."

He went on: "He had that uniquely infectious Fijian laugh and was a godly man who knew in whom he placed his trust.

"We have lost a courageous man of great stature - there was no truer moral compass in the Battle Group but there was mischief too, all very appropriate and full of fun.

"Rifleman Toge will be sorely missed and our first thoughts are with his family at this unimaginably difficult time."

Sixteen British soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan this month as Nato forces step up operations against the Taliban.

Many died taking part in Operation Panchai Palang, or Panther's Claw, a major assault against insurgents in Helmand ahead of next month's Afghan elections.

Some 3,000 troops are involved in the operation, which began on June 19 and has seen fierce fighting and significant casualties on both sides.

But Rifleman Toge was killed in an explosion while on foot patrol close to Forward Operating Base (FOB) Keenan, near Gereshk in central Helmand Province.

At the time of his death, his platoon were attached to C Squadron Light Dragoons as part of a Danish-led Battle Group, the MoD said.

Defence Secretary Bob Ainsworth said Rifleman Toge was "a strong, brave and popular soldier with a promising career ahead of him".

Major Sam Plant, the officer commanding C squadron group of the Light Dragoons, described him as "very much a key player within his platoon".

"He was a determined and skilful soldier who clearly enjoyed the trust and affection of his fellow men," he said.

"This approach inspired those around him and he was ever present whenever a comrade needed help. He was an all round inspiration.

"Forward Operating Base Keenan has lost a great man and a true team player."

Captain Andy Huxter, 11 Platoon Commander of 2 Rifles, described Rifleman Toge as a man who was a "pleasure to command" and who "faced everything, including the cold - which he hated - with the broadest and brightest of smiles".

"He was killed carrying his general purpose machine gun, the job he enjoyed most," he said.

"My lasting memories will be of him running around in the FOB in the heat of an Afghan summer trying to warm up because it was too cold in the FOB 'pool'."

Other senior officers described him as "a larger than life character who was forever lifting the spirits of his mates" and "a natural infantryman who was very proficient and professional".

His fellow riflemen said he was "the easiest bloke to make friends with" and was "always smiling".

Rifleman Robert Gatward said: "March to heaven and help guide us through these dark times. Never forget us as we shall never forget you."

Rifleman Toge was posted to the 2 Rifles, based in Ballykinler, County Down, after he passed out in April 2008 and served in Kosovo before returning to the UK to start pre-deployment training for Afghanistan.

He loved to travel, was a keen swimmer, and an outstanding rugby player who could open gaps in a defence with the deftest of steps before accelerating through with his extraordinary pace, the MoD said.

Other Fijian-born UK soldiers to be killed in Afghanistan include: Fusilier Petero "Pat" Suesue, 28, of 2nd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, who died in May this year; Trooper Ratu Babakobau, 29, of the Household Cavalry Regiment who died in May last year, and Ranger Anare Draiva, 27, of 1 Royal Irish Regiment who died in September 2006.

Thousands of people lined the streets of Wootton Bassett in Wiltshire on Tuesday to pay their respects as the bodies of eight soldiers killed in a bloody 24-hour period last week were brought back to the UK.

There has been intense controversy in recent weeks about whether the Government is providing enough resources for UK forces in Afghanistan.

In particular former defence chiefs and opposition politicians have warned that a shortage of helicopters in Afghanistan could be putting British lives at risk (the British Army has almost 700 helicopters but only a tiny fraction are in Afghanistan).

Prime Minister Gordon Brown insisted yesterday that UK troops were "properly equipped" and promised: "We will do whatever is necessary and what is right to equip our Armed Forces."

Last edited by Blackleaf; Jul 19th, 2009 at 12:24 PM..