Relatives of the Black Watch soldier killed during the deployment from Basra to an area near Baghdad said last night they were devastated at the news of his death.
Pte Kevin Thomas McHale of the 1st Battalion was the first fatality of the battlegroup's move to their new base, after a vehicle accident in the North Babil Province. The MoD said there was no enemy action involved.
Pte McHale, aged 27, from Fife had served for five years with the battalion as a Warrior armoured vehicle driver and was on his second tour of Iraq with the Black Watch, having served in active combat in 2003.
His aunt, Karen Cunningham, said he had not been scared of going to Iraq or to the new base in a US controlled area. "He just knew he had to go and was looking forward to coming home for Christmas," she said.