Tributes have been paid to a “selfless” British soldier who died while off-duty in Kenya.

Major Kevin McCool, 32, died in the African country on November 29, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) confirmed on Saturday.

He was attacked while on a motorcycle trip away from base, the BBC reported.

The MoD said Maj McCool, who saw service in Europe, the Middle East, the Falklands and Africa, “thrived in the military environment”, adding that “he was at his best when deployed, and at his very best when the conditions were at their very worst”.

It said he had a “glittering operational record” and “aced many of the military’s hardest courses”, adding that his fitness levels were “legendary” – once beating a whole battalion in a two-mile run.

Maj McCool was commissioned from Sandhurst in August 2014 and the MoD said he had the “unwavering loyalty” of the recruits in his platoon and rifle company.

Maj McCool’s commanding officer said he will be missed “but never forgotten”.

They added: “Kevin McCool was living his best life, doing a job he loved, with people he loved. A man of the utmost integrity, he was fearless and oozed moral courage.

“I will never forget my final memory of him, which was on operations; he had just come off the ground having slept a handful of hours in as many days. We discussed the possibility of having to deploy another team into the operational furnace from which he had just come. He stopped me mid-sentence, fixed me with his piercing blue eyes, and simply said, ‘Send me’.

“A bright light has gone out amongst our ranks. He will be missed, but never forgotten.”

Maj McCool’s officer commanding said: “Kevin McCool’s eyes shone with his spirit of adventure and with his focussed, determined nature. He was a pilgrim soul in the truest sense.

“Intelligent, pro-active and selfless, he was at his best and at his happiest whilst serving others and whilst facing challenges ‘in the arena’.

“As a soldier, his courage and talent were proven on operations. As a leader, he had a compelling character and easy charm that all who met him warmed to. And as a man, he had a deep humility which displayed a wisdom beyond his years.

“Spotting opportunities, restless to serve and to seek out challenges, pushing himself to the frontiers, helping others; that is how we will remember him. He was the best of us.”

Defence Secretary Grant Shapps said: “It’s clear from the tributes of those who knew him that Maj McCool was an exceptional person and an exceptional soldier, loved and respected in equal measure, who served his country with distinction.

“My thoughts and sympathies are with his family, friends and colleagues currently coming to terms with this most tragic loss.”

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said: “My heart goes out to Maj McCool’s family, friends, and fellow soldiers today in the face of their tragic loss.

“The tributes pouring out for him show a man who served his country with pride, integrity and bravery.

“His service will not be forgotten.”

The British Army has a permanent training support unit based mainly in Nanyuki, 124 miles north of Nairobi, with a small element also based in Kenya’s capital.

It provides “demanding training to exercising units preparing to deploy on operations or assume high-readiness tasks”, according to the Army’s website.

The British Army Training Unit Kenya (Batuk) consists of around 100 permanent staff and a reinforcing short-tour cohort of another 280 personnel.

Under an agreement with the Kenyan government, up to six infantry battalions per year carry out eight-week exercises in Kenya.