Hundreds of mourners gathered at the West Croydon Baptist Church yesterday to honour one of the borough’s finest soldiers in a poignant funeral service.

Parts of St James’s Road and Whitehorse Road were closed off as police provided an escort for the body of Private Jonathan Monk.

His family, music teachers Diana and Peter Monk and psychology student sister Michaela followed just behind a military escort made up of Private Monk’s old platoon.

Pallbearers from the regiment carried his coffin, draped in the Union Jack, into the church as his family followed closely behind.

Members from the local British Legion branches formed a guard of honour outside the church.

The 25-year-old was killed by a home made bomb in Afghanistan on June 9.

He died protecting his colleagues while on foot patrol in the Upper Garesk Valley in Helmand Province on June 9.

Private Monk from 2nd Battalion The Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment was attached to 1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment.

In his Eulogy Reverend Rupert Lazar spoke about the warm and generous young man who would go out of his way to help his friends and family and was obsessed with pepperoni pizza.

He said: “Although he lived life in the fast lane he would do anything for anybody.

“Jon would be the first one to step up and buy a round of drinks.

“He always wanted to see the best in people. He was supportive and protective of his family.

“He was very fastidious about his personal appearance. It came as a huge surprise to the family that he was always untidy in the army and that he managed to get away with it.”

Rev Lazar said the soldier’s 21-year-old sister Michaela would miss her “great big brother” who was “fun to follow”.

He said: “He was the kind of person you could always look up to, forever the joker with a mischevious grin.”

Private Monk, who did tours of duty in Iraq in 2005 and Afghanistan in 2008, left the army after nine years in March and was waiting to join the fire service when he received a call from the MoD asking him to commit to one more tour of duty in Afghanistan.

Major R Goodwin spoke about the Jonathan Monk’s courage and the help he gave other soldiers on their first deployment in Afghanistan.

The Major read out a tribute by the soldier’s commanding officer Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Hadfield, 1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Cheshire). He said: “He will be missed by all who knew him. We will remember his ready smile, his quick wit and his cool head under fire.

“He stood firm and struck hard until his last breath.”

At the funeral Jonathan’s family were presented with a medal of honour by Lt Col Borthy of the Royal Danish Army, as he died in territory controlled by the Dutch.

The valiant soldier will also be honoured with the Elizabeth Cross which will be presented to his family at a future date.

The congregation sung the hymns Amazing Grace, and For All the Saints and listened to Jonathan’s favourite song’s Don’t Cry by Guns and Roses which Rev Lazar asked to be turned up because “it is a cardinal sin to listen to Guns and Roses quietly”.

The soldier’s former headmaster Richard Shakespeare of Stowford College read the poem He’s Gone by David Harkins.

The funeral procession left the church to a moving piece music written by his father Peter, called The New Heaven and the New Earth.