A BARNSLEY soldier has been killed by an IED while serving in Afghanistan, the Ministry of Defence has confirmed.

Private Matthew Thornton, from 4th Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment (4 YORKS), was killed on Wednesday (November 9) after being deployed in October. He was part of a patrol that was sent out to engage with the Arghan people but it came under fire - it was while he was returning fire that he was caught in the blast of an improvised explosive device and killed.

Private Thornton - who celebrated his 28th birthday last week - went to Darton High School and went on to work at Premdor. He joined the army in 2004, left in 2007 but re-enlisted into D Company in September 2009. He was one of the first to volunteer his services for deployment in Afghanistan.

He leaves behind his father, Michael, his mother, Susan, his sister, Sarah, and his brother, Nathan.

Lieutenant Colonel Ian Crowley MC, Commanding Officer, said: "When the opportunity came to mobilise he was one of the first to put his hand up. There was never a doubt that he would be exactly the right man to deploy. He embraced the training he received, showing a professional attitude throughout some hard training in Wales and Germany. I know that his talent as a soldier, his willingness to assist anybody and his wacky dress sense, combined with strange dance moves ensured that he quickly integrated into his mobilised service with the platoon he joined in 1 YORKS.

"Private Matthew Thornton displayed that he had the volunteer ethos in spades. He was a fine soldier and an even finer man. 4 YORKS is a family and we have lost one of our own. He was a true Yorkshire Warrior.

"Private Matthew Thornton was a son and brother of whom his heartbroken family can feel justly proud. Our thoughts and prayers are with them at this difficult time. We will remember him."

Private Jeremy Robbins added: "Matthew Thornton was a most friendly and caring person who took great pride in being a Yorkshireman from Barnsley. A soldier of the Yorkshire Regiment, having always wanted to serve on tour in Afghanistan, he worked hard throughout his mobilisation and pre-deployment training with 1 YORKS in Germany. We worked together from the start both on patrol and at our checkpoint where he would always have a laugh with the lads and be counting down the days to his R&R when he could be home again with his family. Matt had just turned 28 a few days ago and he celebrated in the best way he could with a birthday cake his mother had sent which had arrived in one piece."

Tributes have been flooding in to our Facebook page for Private Thornton. His brother Nate Thornton wrote last night: "Would like to thank everyone for their messages and posts. My family appreciate it loads. Never forget he's not gone, he's still here within our hearts and mind of everyone he knew. He will live forever."