01/05/2013 17:26 BST | Updated 01/05/2013 17:32 BST

Tributes To Soldiers Killed In Afghanistan

Three British soldiers killed when an explosion hit their armoured vehicle in Afghanistan have been named.

They were Corporal William Savage and Fusilier Samuel Flint, both from The Royal Highland Fusiliers, 2nd Battalion The Royal Regiment Of Scotland, and Private Robert Hetherington, from 51st Highland, 7th Battalion The Royal Regiment Of Scotland.

Six other men were injured when the Mastiff they were in hit an improvised explosive device (IED) on a routine patrol in Nahr-e Saraj, Helmand Province, on Tuesday.

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Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said: "I was deeply saddened to learn of the deaths of these soldiers, each highly praised and respected by their colleagues and commanders.

"It is clear from the tributes paid to them that they were exceptional men who served their country with distinction.

"My thoughts go out to the families and friends of these brave men at this very difficult time."

Brigadier Rupert Jones MBE, Commander Task Force Helmand, said: "The loss of these three brave Scottish soldiers comes as a great blow to everyone in the Task Force, but leaves us all the more determined in our task to do justice to their memory.

"Their families are in our thoughts and I hope that they can draw a little comfort from the affection in which Corporal Savage, Fusilier Flint and Private Hetherington were held by their brothers in arms and from the courage they displayed."

Cpl Savage's wife Lyndsey, who is expecting their first child, paid tribute to the 30-year-old, known as "Sav", who she said "loved being a soldier".

corporal william thomas savage

Corporal William Savage

"I am completely devastated by this news but extremely proud of 'Sav' and everything that he has achieved," she said.

"He loved being a soldier!

"I have lost the love of my life and the father of our son. I know his life will live on through so many amazing memories that we shared together.

Lieutenant Colonel Robin Lindsay, Commanding Officer, The Royal Highland Fusiliers, 2nd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland, said the loss of Cpl Savage would be a "hammer blow" to the battalion and the regimental family.

He said: "We will remember Corporal William Savage as an exceptional soldier, a dedicated leader and a gentleman in the truest sense of the word."

Fusilier Flint, 21, from Blackpool, joined the army in November 2011 and was deployed to Afghanistan in March.

He was a motorsports enthusiast and avid Manchester City fan; he was described as the "life and soul of the party" in a statement from his family.

Lt Col Lindsay said Fusilier Flint was "brimming with skill and ability".

fusilier samuel flint

Fusilier Samuel Flint

"Perhaps more importantly, he was quick to form deep friendships with his fellow Jocks and he was always one to help others around him and to give of himself for the benefit of his Section and Platoon.

Pte Hetherington, 25, was born in the US but raised and educated in Scotland.

He enlisted in the Territorial Army in October 2006 and was mobilised to join The Royal Highland Fusiliers, 2nd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland, for Operation Herrick 18 on November 30.

private robert murray hetherington

Private Robert Hetherington

Lt Col Lindsay described him as epitomising "everything that is excellent about the reserve forces".

"Private Bobby Hetherington was a thoughtful and humorous soldier who was always quick to find the fun in Army life and to keep the chain of command on our toes with his sharp wit and insightful mind," he said.

"He was gregarious and open and this made him a much-liked and respected member of his platoon and the battalion."