The young soldier killed in Afghanistan while protecting his platoon from a bomb blast was a former King’s College student who will be “hugely missed” by the school community.

Lieutenant Paul Mervis, who studied at the Wimbledon school for 10 years until 2000, died following a roadside explosion during an operation near Sangin, northern Helmand province, on June 12.

The school’s flag remains at half mast in honour of the former student.

Paul, 27, was serving in the 2nd Rifle Battalion - known as 2 Rifles - and was on foot patrol in the northern part of Helmand - one of the most dangerous parts of the war-torn country.

A statement from the rifleman’s devastated family read: "Paul was a wonderful, loving son, brother and friend - generous and thoughtful, with an infectious sense of fun.

”Paul was killed doing the job he chose and loved. He was passionately committed to his men - far beyond mere duty. He had read widely about Afghanistan, and went with a genuine desire to help bring enough stability there to enable reconstruction to follow."

Lt Mervis - or Merv, as he was affectionately known - is the 31st British soldier to die in the province this year.

Andrew Halls, headmaster at King’s College school, said: “The loss of Paul Mervis is a tragic one and he will be hugely missed by all the King’s’ community. All colleagues who knew him speak extremely fondly of Paul.

“One of his teachers described him as ‘a fair minded, decisive, decent and bright boy who, with the perfect balance of single-mindedness, consideration and focus, had precisely the character required to be an excellent commanding officer in the high pressure situations of war’.”

Although the Ministry of Defence (MOD) has not detailed the incident, it is usually the responsibility of platoon leaders to carry out an initial investigation when a suspected improvised explosive device (IED) is detected.

They must confirm whether the object buried under the ground is a bomb.

Lt Mervis was killed as he tried to protect his platoon from the bomb, according to reports.

Lt Mervis was one of the first officers to be commissioned in the newly-formed Rifles Regiment and served in his first operational tour in Kosovo.

Lt Colonel Rob Thomson, commanding officer of 2 Rifles, said: "Lieutenant Paul Mervis was utterly irrepressible. There was no more committed officer in The Rifles and the Riflemen adored being under his command.”

Major Alastair Field, Commanding Officer C Company, added: "Paul Mervis was a one in a trillion. I have never met a more passionate and engaging young officer in my 12 years in the Army.”

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