TRIBUTES have been paid to an "exceptional" soldier who died during a training exercise on Salisbury Plain.

Second Lieutenant Max George, aged 26, died following a collision involving an armoured vehicle near Tidworth on June 21.

The Ministry of Defence said: “It is with immense sadness that the MOD confirms the death of Second Lieutenant Max George, of 5th Battalion The Rifles (5 RIFLES), in a non-operational training incident in Wiltshire on June 21. Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this tragic time."

2Lt Max George was commissioned into 5 RIFLES in December 2021, and was the Queen’s Medal winner.

Buoyed by reserve service in his University Officer Training Corps and with Z Company of the 5th Battalion The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, he completed the tactics phase of the Platoon Commander’s Battle, finishing in the top 10.

He joined his battalion early, having already gained his range qualifications through reserve service and took command of 13 Platoon, D Company, 5 RIFLES.

A statement issued by the MOD said that Max had a "glittering career in front of him" and described him as a "remarkable and talented young man who had so much to offer”. 

Lt Col Jim Hadfield OBE, Commanding Officer 5 RIFLES, said: “Max was a star that burned bright. Effortlessly impressive, he was a natural commander, who exuded fierce determination matched by selfless compassion. We loved him for it. He stood out, and still stands out; we are so much poorer for his loss."

Maj Joe Murray, Officer Commanding D Company, 5 RIFLES, added: "Max’s death will leave a gaping hole in 13 Platoon and the wider company, who have benefited enormously from the care and leadership he was so ably providing. Martin, Vivienne, Claudia and the wider family, our hearts go out to you.”

Lt Joe Hayes, Officer Commanding 14 Platoon, D Company, 5 RIFLES, said he was an “exceptional man” adding: “Max loved his job, and this was clear to see by all. Max’s drive and determination wore off on all within the chain of command around him; as a fellow Platoon Commander it was clear that 13 Platoon was in safe hands. He made me want to strive to be the best alongside him.”

The 13 Platoon Riflemen of D Company, 5 RIFLES, collectively said: “2Lt Max George had only been with 13 Platoon for a few months but in that time he made a lasting and profound impression on everyone he worked with.

"Right from the start it was clear that 2Lt George was a highly competent young officer. His rare talent was his interest and dedication to us; the Riflemen he commanded. He knew that he worked for us and not the other way round.

"This instantly inspired us as a platoon to want to constantly improve and grow, as soldiers and individuals. 2Lt George always put himself out, day and night, to help those around him. He put himself on the same level as those he commanded, never expecting extra treatment, and always repaying favours received.

"2Lt Max George wasn’t all work though. We had great social events, some that he organised such as our visit to the Regiment’s Sounding Retreat or evening trips to Sandhurst to check on the potential officers. We would say he was always ‘one of the blokes’, a proper Rifleman.”

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: “Max exemplified all the qualities the Army stands for and as the testimonies show, we have lost a bright and talented young man who will be sorely missed. My thoughts are with his family, his friends, and his regiment during this difficult time.”

Emergency services were called to an area of Salisbury Plain, just west of Tidworth, at around 10.45am on June 21 following a report that a man had been involved in a collision with a Warrior armoured fighting vehicle during a routine training exercise.

The 26-year-old man sustained significant head injuries and died at the scene.

An investigation into the collision is being led by Wiltshire Police alongside the Army and Health and Safety Executive.