The family of the Royal Marine killed in Afghanistan on Wednesday have said their world is a “bleaker place” without him.
Sergeant Steven William Darbyshire from 40 Commando Royal Marines was killed by small arms fire during a routine security patrol in Sangin, Helmand, two days ago.
The 35-year-old, from Wigan and a talented rugby league player, leaves behind his partner Kate and their two sons Ryan and Callum.
The family of Sergeant Darbyshire, who had been in the marines for 14 years, said: “Being a Royal Marine was Steven’s life and growing up it was all he wanted to do. He was proud to wear the uniform and served his country as the consummate professional. He died doing the job he so loved.
“He was strong, vibrant, generous, passionate, full of life and he certainly lived life to the full.
“Our world will be a bleaker place without him, his infectious laughter and fantastic sense of humour. Mere words do not begin to convey the deep grief and painful heartbreak his untimely death has brought to his shattered family and friends.
“Steven may have been a ‘hoofin’ bootneck’ to his colleagues but to his beautiful boys, Ryan and Callum, he was the very best daddy in the world. He will live on through his sons, and those who love him so much will never forget him and the sacrifice he made.”
The sergeant’s commanding officer Lieutenant Colonel Paul James added: “Sergeant Steven Darbyshire was one of life’s great characters. A proper Lancashire lad, he typically had the wit, the cunning and the tenacity down to a fine art.
“I knew him to be a charismatic, loyal, determined and dedicated sergeant with an irrepressible and infectious sense of humour.
“The last time I saw him he was covered in thick mud having just fallen into an irrigation ditch, but he gave me a beaming smile and, in the manner that only he could deliver, illuminatingly described his misfortune to all.
“He never took life too seriously, but he cared passionately for the lives of others. He was a selfless, honest and extraordinarily courageous leader who thrived in the role of Troop Sergeant.”
Lt Col James went on to say: “He tragically died on patrol in southern Sangin doing the job he loved, with the men he so ardently cared for. Our thoughts and prayers are with his partner Kate, his two young sons, his family and his friends.
“He was a great man and will be sorely missed by all in 40 Commando. Sergeant Steven Darbyshire was, and will always be, a Royal Marines Commando.”
Sergeant Darbyshire was the fourth marine from 40 Commando to die in as many days. Since then four soldiers have been killed in a car accident in Helmand, taking the UK death-toll in Afghanistan to 307.
The four most recent victims are expected to be named today.