Soldier Killed By Afghan Bomb Named

A British soldier killed by a bomb blast in Afghanistan on Sunday has been named as 20-year-old Rifleman Sheldon Steel.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) said he died after the explosion in Babaji, in the Lashkah Gah district.

Rifleman Steel, from Leeds, served with the 5th Battalion The Rifles and joined the Army in 2009.

His death takes the number of British troops who have died since operations in Afghanistan began in 2001 to 390.

The soldier's family said: "Sheldon was loving, caring and affectionate with his family and we all heard from him regularly.

"He loved being in the Army from when he was in the Army Cadets to joining 5
Rifles."

The tribute from his mother Victoria, younger brothers, Cody and Kamron, and younger sister Carys, added: "He had a good sense of humour and frequently joked with us all.

"He was a big lad - all 6ft 4in of him - with a big heart.

"Words cannot explain how much he will be missed by us all."

The MoD said Rifleman Steel developed into "a skilled, robust and intelligent soldier" during his training and was an excellent marksman.

Lieutenant Colonel Tom Copinger-Symes, commanding officer, 5th Battalion The Rifles, said he was "the essence of a Delta Dog", which is how members of his company are known.

He said: "As a club within a club, the Delta Dogs have a particularly special identity in our battalion and Rifleman Steel was immensely proud of that identity."

"And so he should have been, because he was, and will remain until next year, the Top Dog - which is to say the winner of D Company's annual competition to find their best Rifleman."

Major Matt Baker, officer commanding D Company, 5th Battalion The Rifles, said: "Rifleman Steel was quite genuinely the best Rifleman in my company and the one with the greatest potential.

"He excelled at everything he did. A proud Yorkshireman, he was forthright and independent, a real thinking Rifleman."