The soldier killed in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan on Wednesday was 28-year-old Corporal Mike Gilyeat, who was on his first assignment as a ?news photographer?, the Ministry of Defence has confirmed.

Known to his colleagues as ?Gilly?, Cpl Gilyeat was working for the Royal Military Police media operations team.

He volunteered to deploy to Afghanistan, motivated by a desire to make a difference and to diversify into news photography, said the MoD.

He died with five US crew and a Canadian colleague when their helicopter crashed in Helmand province.

Paying tribute, his commanding officer Lieutenant Colonel Mike Smith described him as an ?eternally cheerful character?.

?Despite being an experienced and proud military policeman he was thriving in his first employment as a news photographer. He showed great flair and promise and had already produced several powerful images,? he said.

Defence Secretary Des Browne described Corporal Gilyeat as a ?talented, dedicated soldier and photographer?.

Lieutenant Colonel Mike Smith added: ?In the six weeks he had been in theatre, he had struck up a close friendship with his fellow photographer Master Corporal Priede with whom he enjoyed a constant stream of banter, usually centred on their friendly competitiveness over pictures.?

Master Corporal Priede was among those who died in the helicopter, which may have been shot down by the Taleban, according to press reports.

Cpl Gilyeat was on the aircraft to film the insertion of American troops as part of a wider piece he was producing on a major alliance operation around Kajaki, said the MoD in a statement.

Cpl Gilyeat followed his father into the army in 2002 and had served in Iraq and Northern Ireland.