Skip to main content

Soldier slain in London was a machine gunner, royal palaces drummer, father

By Michael Martinez, CNN
updated 5:05 AM EDT, Thu May 30, 2013
Lee Rigby
Lee Rigby "was a cheeky and humorous man, always there with a joke."
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Drummer Lee "Riggers" Rigby, 25, was a machine gunner who became a recruiter
  • "He was a real character" in the infantry, his commanding officer says
  • As a drummer, he stood outside the Royal Palaces
  • He was also the father of a 2-year-old son, Jack

(CNN) -- The British soldier slain in a gruesome cleaver attack in London was a well-liked infantryman and machine gunner who served in Afghanistan and Cyprus, and then became a military recruiter and ceremonial drummer outside the royal palaces, the military said Thursday.

Drummer Lee Rigby, 25, was part of the Regimental Recruiting Team in London, and as a machine gunner, he was part of the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers.

The Fusiliers, an infantry group, are known for the hackle, or feather plume, in their military headdress.

Rigby had a 2-year-old son, Jack, the UK Ministry of Defense said.

Witness: Attackers 'were just animals'

Fellow soldiers described him as having an engaging personality. He joined the army in 2006 and acquired the nickname "Riggers" in his platoon.

"He was a real character within the Second Fusiliers," Lt. Col. Jim Taylor, commanding officer of the 2nd Fusiliers, said in a statement. "Larger than life, he was at the heart of our Corps of Drums. An experienced and talented side drummer and machine gunner, he was a true warrior and served with distinction in Afghanistan, Germany and Cyprus."

Rigby also loved soccer's Manchester United, soldiers said.

"He was one of the Battalion's great characters, always smiling and always ready to brighten the mood with his fellow Fusiliers," Warrant Officer Ned Miller of the 2nd Fusiliers said in a statement. "He was easily identified whilst on parade by the huge smile on his face and how proud he was to be a member of the Drums. He would always stop for a chat just to tell me Manchester United would win the league again."

Rigby was born in Crumpsall, Manchester.

After joining the army, his first post was in Cyprus as a machine gunner in Dhekelia, the military said.

In 2008, he was assigned to Hounslow, West London, and became "an integral member of the Corps of Drums throughout the Battalion's time on public duties, the highlight of which was being a part of the Household Division's Beating the Retreat -- a real honour for a line infantry Corps of Drums," the ministry said.

London attack mirrors plot to behead Muslim soldier

In 2009, he deployed on operations "for the first time," sent to Afghanistan's Helmand province, where he was a member of a fire support group at Patrol Base Woqab.

He then returned to the UK and completed a second tour of public duties. Later, he followed the battalion to Celle, Germany.

In 2011, he became a recruiter at the Regimental Headquarters in the Tower of London.

London attack: Terrorist targeting soldiers at home again?

Rigby "was a cheeky and humorous man, always there with a joke to brighten the mood; he was an extremely popular member of the Fire Support Group," said Capt. Alan Williamson, who was Rigby's platoon commander from 2010 to 2011.

Rigby's death attracted worldwide attention because the slaying scene was captured on a cell phone camera.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 4:01 PM EDT, Mon September 22, 2014
The U.S. has promised to supply and train "acceptable" rebels in Syria to counter ISIS. But who are they and are can the strategy work?
updated 10:57 PM EDT, Mon September 22, 2014
Do the Chinese really like to mix their Bordeaux with Coca-Cola?
updated 8:08 AM EDT, Tue September 23, 2014
Al Qaeda's new Syrian branch, Khorasan, is seeking new ways to attack America and Europe, with a top U.S. intelligence official saying it has "aspirations for attacks on the homeland."
updated 8:39 PM EDT, Mon September 22, 2014
Branded an "extremist" by China's state-run media, Joshua Wong isn't even old enough to drive.
updated 2:55 AM EDT, Mon September 22, 2014
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi surprised political pundits with his rapid rise to power. CNN meets the man behind the enigma.
updated 7:44 AM EDT, Mon September 22, 2014
Liverpool's Italian forward Mario Balotelli reacts during the UEFA Champions League Group B match between Liverpool and Ludogorets Razgrad at the Anfield stadium in Liverpool on September 16, 2014.
British police launched an investigation into abusive tweets sent to Liverpool striker Mario Balotelli.
updated 7:44 PM EDT, Sun September 21, 2014
A woman who was texting her husband before he was killed reflects on the Westgate attack.
updated 11:54 AM EDT, Mon September 22, 2014
The real secret to a faster commute has been with us all along -- the bus.
updated 9:16 AM EDT, Mon September 22, 2014
13 brands retained their Top 20 status from last year, according to an annual survey.
updated 11:49 AM EDT, Mon September 22, 2014
Think your new tattoo is cool? Look at how our ancestors did it and think again.
updated 6:52 AM EDT, Tue September 23, 2014
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT