THE 26-year-old Nepalese soldier whose body will be repatriated today has been described as a “true Gurkha in in body and spirit”.

Lance Corporal Gajbahadur Gurung of the Royal Gurkha Rifles was shot and killed in Afghanistan during a patrol to disrupt insurgent activity last month.

His body will today be flown to RAF Brize Norton and then taken to the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford.

Known as ‘Gaj’, he has joined the Brigade of Gurkhas in 2004 and had been deployed to Afghanistan three times.

Lieutenant Colonel Dan Bradbury, commanding officer of 1st Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment with which he was serving with, paid tribute to him.

He said: “We knew him as an intelligent, charismatic and inquisitive natural leader of men.

“He died as he lived, in the heart of action, taking the fight to the enemy and resolute in the face of danger. He was a true Gurkha in body and spirit, and in everything he did.”

Jim Lewendon, chairman of Oxfordshire Royal British Legion, hoped many people would turn out to pay their respects.

He said: “It is important to show the Gurkhas they are appreciated. They are a very powerful fighting force in the British Army and are very popular within the services.”

L Cpl Gurung was born in Nepal and before joining the Army he studied maths and English in Pokhara.

In 2009 he was posted to C Company, 1st Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment in Munster, Germany.

When he was deployed to Afghanistan for the third time his company was tasked with holding the contested city of Gereshk in Helmand province.

On Friday, January 27 L Cpl Gurung’s patrol came under fire and in the short exchange of gunfire that followed he was fatally wounded.

Captain Hemkumar Tamang, second-in-command of his company, said: “He was very good at all sports. He was always cheerful, charming and approachable to his mates and commanders.”

He is survived by his wife Manisha, his father Gum Bahadur and his mother Lekh Maya as well as his brother and sister Buddha and Junu.

The plane carrying his body is expected to land at 2pm, passing the memorial garden in Carterton at 4pm and arriving at the John Radcliffe at 5pm.