TRIBUTES have been paid to a Tidworth-based soldier who died while serving overseas.

Fusilier Sam Brownridge, of the First Battalion, Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, died of a non-battle injury while deployed on Operation Cabrit in Estonia on Sunday, July 5, the MOD has confirmed.

Now messages have flooded in for the 23-year-old father from friends and fellow soldiers.

Lieutenant Colonel Christopher Head, Commanding Officer, First Fusiliers Battlegroup, said: “Fusilier Brownridge was everything we want in a young infantry soldier.

"Fun loving and fiercely loyal to his mates, hardworking, determined and professional in everything he did, and always up for a new challenge, he was a Fusilier through and through.

"Throughout the Infantry, Mortarmen are well known as unfailingly tough soldiers, who work hard and play hard, relishing the tight knit community the Mortar Platoon offers. Fusilier Brownridge was the epitome of a Mortarman and wore his qualification badge with great pride.

"I am proud to have served with Fusilier Brownridge. He will be missed terribly, and this tragedy has shaken the First Fusiliers family to its core. At this most difficult time, my heartfelt condolences, thoughts and prayers are with Fusilier Brownridge, his family, friends and fellow soldiers. Once a Fusilier always a Fusilier.”

Captain Dave Davies, Officer Commanding Mortar Platoon, said: “Fusilier Sam Brownridge was the epitome of what it means to be a Mortarman. He was a solid pair of hands that took pride in learning and getting to grips with a highly specialised and unique skillset.

"He had been a member of the Platoon for almost two years and was part of the foundations on which the Platoon currently stands. He was a truly well-liked Fusilier, who brought laughs wherever he went.

"As a father, he often spoke of his daughter, Marcè, and she was the centre around which he conducted himself daily. He endeavoured to be the best father that he could.

"I believe that he had truly found his home within Mortar Platoon and leaves behind positive memories with all who he served with.”

Fusilier Ben Cribb, Mortarman, said: “Sam was the mate who was always there when I needed him and always had the right answer for any problems I had.

"He loved to talk about cars, Land Rovers and a home he hoped to buy in Wolverhampton. I’d spent almost every day with him on the tour.

"He was a good soldier, a mortarmen who always strived to do his best at his profession.”