Remembering the Fallen: on this day in 2007, Corporal John Rigby, 4th Battalion, The Rifles, died in Iraq from injuries sustained in a roadside bomb attack in Basra.
His twin brother William was also serving in Iraq with the Rifles and was with Corporal Rigby as he passed away in the Basra military hospital. Corporal Rigby was due to be promoted to Sergeant within three months, and had planned to also continue with his education. His favourite quote was “Backs to the walls, every man will stand and fight and fall. No more retreating.” His colleagues remember him as an outstanding soldier and a gentleman; one referred to him thus: “He was to squadding what David Beckham is to football.”
Major John Wakelin said of him: “Corporal Rigby was quite simply unique. He was a free thinking, independent and bright young Corporal who approached life with vigour. Life was out there for the taking for Corporal Rigby and he was going to get all that he could from it. Professionally he stood out. His style of soldiering was not only about professionalism and getting the basics right, although he did. His approach was more human and his relationship with his men, and his love for them, defined him. He has blistered his way through the ranks and was recently awarded with early promotion to Sergeant. Typically there was little or no fanfare but a quiet knock at my door. ‘Sir’ he asked ‘I’m not sure about this, Section Commanding is where I want to be. I love my job and do not want to leave my boys just yet.’ Nobody interfered with Corporal Rigby’s section and they were brilliantly trained and utterly effective under his leadership….no stone was left unturned in his drive for excellence. He was the epitome of the thinking Rifleman and no operation or command would escape his scrutiny or the benefit of his fresh ideas. ‘His lads’ were saved from injury by their vehicle as he selflessly provided top cover from the vehicle hatch; it is typical of him that he died protecting his Riflemen.”
John, from Rye in Sussex, died on his 24th birthday.