Oxfordshire is preparing to honour the latest young soldier to be killed in Afghanistan.

The repatriation of Rifleman Vijay Rai (2nd Battalion, The Royal Gurkha Rifles) will take place tomorrow afternoon, with the soldier’s cortege making its way from RAF Brize Norton to the John Radcliffe Hospital, through streets lined with ex-service personnel, council officials, members of the Royal British Legion and the public.

Rifleman Rai, 31, died from a single gunshot wound on Saturday, October 15, just days before his tour of duty in Afghanistan was due to end.

A talented soldier, footballer and musician, the young soldier enlisted into the British Army aged just 18, following both his father and brother into the Gurkhas.

He was deployed to Afghanistan on his first operational tour of duty on April 22. On October 15, the checkpoint he was guarding was attacked with small arms fire, and Rifleman Rai was hit in the opening burst. He was given medical care on the ground and evacuated to Camp Bastion hospital by helicopter but died of his wounds.

The soldier’s family are expected to travel from Nepal to attend the repatriation.

In a statement they said: “Our family is shocked with the news of Vijay’s death. He was the youngest son. He followed his father’s and brother’s footsteps as his father and elder brother served as Indian Gurkhas and his middle brother is serving with Indian Gurkhas as a Sergeant.

“He was very proud to be a Gurkha, and died doing his chosen job. His father and family members are very proud of him.”

Former Gurkha, Chitra Thapa, 50, now lives in Rose, Hill, Oxford, but served with the same regiment as Rifleman Rai.

He said: “It is upsetting to hear of any soldier losing his life, but Rifleman Rai’s death is particularly upsetting for me because he was from my country and also served in my regiment.”

Father-of-four Mr Thapa left the Army in 1994 and now works as a security guard. He added: “He would have been very proud to have served with the Gurkhas, as we all were.

“This week, I and my fellow Gurkhas now living in Oxfordshire will be there to join the crowds and Rifleman Rai’s family in paying their respects to him.”

Mayor of Carterton, Norman McCrae, who will meet Rifleman Rai’s family at the town’s memorial garden said: “Three weeks have passed since the last repatriation and we hoped it would be the last, but sadly it’s not so.

“I feel terribly sad that I have to welcome Rifleman Rai’s family in these terrible circumstances.

“I pray to God that this all ends some day soon and I think everyone in this country feels the same way. But in the meantime I would like to say that everyone is welcome to attend the repatriation to pay their respects.”

Rifleman Rai’s cortege is due to reach the JR’s special armed service examination department at 5.15pm, where his body will undergo a post-mortem examination before being released.

The British military death toll in Afghanistan now stands at 383.