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PRIVATE RATU MANASA SILIBARAVI 23 PIONEER REGIMENT THE ROYAL LOGISTIC CORPS
Private Ratu Manasa Silibaravi deployed to Afghanistan on Operation HERRICK 16 on 11 March 2012 as a member of an Advanced Search Team in the Explosive Ordnance Disposal and Search Task Force. As an Advanced Searcher, Private Silibaravi and his team were responsible for the detection of Improvised Explosive Devices in areas deemed to be high risk.
On 18 April 2012 Private Silibaravi was deployed in support of 1st Battalion The Royal Welsh to the Nahr-e-Saraj district of Helmand province. His team had conducted a number of search operations to clear irrigation ditches and enhance the security of operating bases, as well as deploying to provide direct Counter Improvised Explosive Device support to patrolling troops. In doing this Private Silibaravi and his team not only ensured freedom of movement for International Security Assistance Forces and Afghan National Security Forces, but undoubtedly saved the lives of both Afghans and International personnel.
Private Silibaravi was 32 years old and was born in Fiji. He joined the British Army in 2002 and in 2003 he took up his post in 23 Pioneer Regiment The Royal Logistic
Corps based in Bicester, Oxfordshire. During a relatively short, yet busy career in the Army, Private Silibaravi had served in Iraq in 2003 and Afghanistan in 2006 and
2009. He has served in 23 Pioneer Regiment RLC and the Support Battalion, Headquarters Allied Rapid Reaction Corps. He also completed public duties at
Windsor Castle, Buckingham Palace, St James's Palace and the Tower of London in 2008. His enthusiasm and intelligence made him an ideal member of an Advanced
A consummate sportsman he was a member of the Regimental Rugby Team and was a promising candidate for the Royal Logistic Corps Rugby Team. He was a fine runner and represented the Regiment at athletics.
A popular Pioneer, Private Silibaravi leaves behind his parents, Meli and Merewalesi, his brother, Saimoni, and sister, Mereoni who all live in Fiji.
Lieutenant Colonel Simon Bell, Commanding Officer Explosive Ordnance Disposal and Search Task Force said:
"The terrible loss of Private Silibaravi has come as a shock to all of us in the Explosive Ordnance Disposal and Search Task Force and I know that it will affect his
parent unit, 23 Pioneer Regiment The Royal Logistic Corps in a similar manner. At this most difficult of times my thoughts and heartfelt condolences are with his
family and all of his friends.
"A quiet, yet determined and popular soldier, Private Silibaravi was a professional and committed individual. Strong and fit, he had an excellent work ethic, throwing
himself wholeheartedly at every challenge. The number of operational tours that he had successfully completed is testament to his dedication and professionalism.
"Quite new to the specialist role of an Advanced Searcher, Private Silibaravi was nonetheless showing significant potential and promise for the future. He had easily
taken on the skills required to add value to a team employed in the finding of deadly Improvised Explosive Devices in order that they can be safely disposed of. In
the harsh and demanding conditions faced here in Afghanistan, his quiet confidence and clear inner strength had a positive, calming effect on those around him.
"The Royal Logistic Corps, 23 Pioneer Regiment and the Explosive Ordnance Disposal and Search Task Force have lost a professional, reliable and popular soldier today.
He will be sadly missed by the members of the Task Force, but never forgotten. His family and friends are in our thoughts and prayers at this time."
Lieutenant Colonel Dom Fletcher RLC Commanding Officer 23 Pioneer Regiment RLC said:
"Private Ratu Silibaravi was one of my most experienced soldiers. Steadfast, redoubtable and brave, this soldier was a Pioneer to his core. A man of strong
belief and affable character, he was immensely popular in the Regiment and a highly valued member of his Search team. He took immense pride in his successful selection
and completion of the Advanced Search Course and his subsequent deployment with the Counter IED and Search Task Force on Op HERRICK 16. Trained to detect a wide range of insurgent Improvised Explosive Devices, he was attached to 1st Battalion The Royal Welsh Battlegroup, serving as part of Combined Force Burma in the northern
part of Nahr-e Saraj district.
"Private Ratu Silibaravi was a obvious choice when volunteers were required to train for the high risk role of Advanced Search in Afghanistan. With his broad
operational experience, and his superb soldiering skills, he quickly established himself as an invaluable member of his section. Intelligent and thoughtful by
nature, he was highly professional and always gave 100% to any task he was given. He died amongst his friends, on operations in a role that is vital to achieving
progress in Afghanistan and highly regarded by all deployed UK forces.
"He joined the Army in 2002 and saw operational service in Iraq and Afghanistan; this was his third Op HERRICK tour of duty. He served with the Allied Rapid
Reaction Corps as well as conducting public duties at Windsor Castle, Buckingham Palace, St James's Palace and the Tower of London in 2008. He was a soldier with
good promotion prospects. This man contributed a huge amount to Regimental life in 23 Pioneer Regiment. He was a strong individual who was an outstanding rugby player
and a talented all round sportsman. Typical of his warm personality, he was also an excellent coach and mentor to his junior soldiers. His loss will be felt by all of
us in our small Regimental family, but his memories will live on in all of us that had the pleasure of knowing him. He was the embodiment of a selfless and brave
soldier; he was in every sense a true Pioneer.
"He leaves behind his brother Saimoni and sister Mereoni. They are all in our thoughts and prayers at this most tragic time. "
Major Ben Hawkins, Officer Commanding Operations Squadron, Explosive Ordnance Disposal and Search Task Force said:
"Private Silibaravi, or 'Sili' as he was more commonly known, was a quiet, composed
and determined individual. As a Pioneer he was relatively new to the world of
Advanced Search but he grasped it with true Pioneer Spirit and became a master of
his trade. His exceptional Search skill meant he was an invaluable asset to his
team; his incredible strength set him out amongst his peers. Well respected by his
team and exceptionally level-headed Sili was truly a delight to be around. As a man
of few words, he knew how to make his presence felt with his actions speaking louder
than his words.
"The loss of Private Silibaravi will be felt deeply by my Squadron here in
Afghanistan, as well as within his Unit back in the UK. Our thoughts are with his
family and friends."
Major Derren Battersby RLC, Officer Commanding Operations Squadron, 23 Pioneer
Regiment RLC said:
"Private Silibaravi was killed in action whilst deployed in a dangerous and
unforgiving role. He was very much a 'soldier's soldier'. A cliché perhaps, but he
was a dedicated stalwart of the Squadron and of his community. He possessed
considerable presence and physical strength yet he was also a mentor and made
considerable efforts in bringing on the younger soldiers in the Squadron.
"He devoted considerable time and effort to the Fijian community. He was
instrumental in bringing together Fijian communities across the UK at the annual
Fijian Community Church Service. This was an immense feat and one that he was
fiercely proud of. A devoted Christian, he regularly attended Sunday Mass. He was
also a keen and talented singer and was a member of the community choir. Private
Silibaravi was highly respected by all he encountered in whatever endeavour.
"To lose one of our own in such circumstances is a tragic loss. Our condolences and
thoughts are with his family in Fiji and friends in the UK. He will be deeply
missed by all of us."
Captain Andy Shannon RLC, Squadron Second in Command, Operations Squadron, 23
Pioneer Regiment RLC said::
"Private Manasa 'Silli' Silibaravi was an immensely popular member of the Squadron,
well known for his happy attitude and entertaining antics. Hugely professional, he
would throw himself at any task, a true Pioneer in every respect. Passing the Search
Course was a very proud moment for Private Silibaravi and he was fiercely loyal to
his Team as well as the Regiment. A keen sportsman and extremely fit, it was rare to
see Private Silibaravi without a rugby ball in his hand or competing in some form of
athletics. The Regiment has lost one of its brightest and best. My heartfelt
condolences go out to his family. He will always be remembered."
Lieutenant Lee Rickards, Troop Commander, Operations Squadron, Explosive Ordnance
Disposal and Search Task Force said:
"Private Silibaravi was a strong minded, professional soldier, loyal to those he
served with. He had a passion for rugby and showed great skill representing the
Regiment in the Army Premiership. Private Silibaravi will be missed by all who met
him. I am particularly proud to have served with him. My thoughts go out to his
family and friends."
Lieutenant Damien Turner, Advanced Search Advisor, 23 Pioneer Regiment The Royal
Logistic Corps said:
"I know only too well the hole Sili will leave in our ranks. A very modest soldier,
his heart of gold was truly known to all. I never once saw him lose his patience and
he almost always had a smile to share. Despite his gentle nature, Sili was one of
the strongest soldiers I have had the pleasure to meet. Without a doubt, our
Regiment is a lesser place without his reassuring presence. He represented the best
of us, a Pioneer through and through."
Warrant Officer Class One Wayne Fuller RLC Regimental Sergeant Major 23 Pioneer
Regiment RLC said:
"Pte 'Prince' Silibaravi was a vibrant and popular member of the Regiment. A proud
Fijian he was fit and brave and threw himself into all aspects of his deployment.
He was a valued Advanced Search Team member; a pleasure for our NCOs to command and
with his experienced manner and ability to mentor junior Soldiers, he himself was on
the cusp of promotion.
"Back in barracks he was a talented sportsman, representing the Regiment at both
athletics and rugby. A committed Christian, Pte Silibaravi was a real character
within our local Fijian, and wider, Bicester community. He possessed a strength of
character that spread to all around him, coupled with his boundless energy. He was
a stalwart of our Regiment, one of our very best Soldiers and a true pioneer.
"To lose one of our most talented Soldiers on operations is a tragic loss, he will
be sorely missed and our small family Regiment and the wider Corps will grieve for
him immensely. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends at this
WO2 (SSM) Kevin Prevett, Squadron Sergeant Major, Operations Squadron, Explosive
Ordnance Disposal and Search Task Force said:
"Private Ratu Silibaravi or 'Sili' to the team was the 'Gentle Giant' who could be
relied upon in any situation. Coupled with his commanding presence was a shadow of
kindness and gentleness. Sili was a quiet soldier who continually showed a loud
infectious smile to those around him. My memorable moment with Sili was when I
asked him to aid in building a metal water storage container, he was using the palm
of his hand to thump in metal rods. When I showed him the hammer to use, he simply
said in his usual relaxed manner, 'Weak'. I and the rest of us that are left behind
will never forget him."
WO2 Kwan Cheung RLC, Squadron Sergeant Major Operations Squadron, 23 Pioneer
Regiment RLC said:
"Pte Silibaravi was a hugely popular and dedicated member of the Regiment. He
joined the Army in 2002 and brought with him all the very best that you would expect
from a fine Fijian Warrior.
"Pte Silibaravi is the kind of soldier that NCOs and Officers love to command;
hardworking, extremely fit and intelligent, he is one of the very best. Aside from
being a pleasure to command he inspires the younger soldiers, always giving them the
very best advice and delivering the type of leadership that only a senior Private
"Pte Silibaravi was a keen sportsman, an ever-present member of the Regimental Rugby
team and with that was always keen to try his hand at any physical challenge. Pte
Silibaravi had strong belief which gave him strength, something that he was always
prepared to share.
"Pte Silibaravi it is an honour to have known you for your entire career. You will
never be forgotten."
Lance Corporal Andrew 'Wildy' Wild, 23 Pioneer Regiment The Royal Logistic Corps said:
"Sili was a strong minded, hard faced and well respected member of the Pioneer
family. He kept himself to himself, but when needed you knew he was present! He
loved rugby and smashed up the opposition and the pitch in equal measure. He will
sorely be missed."
Private Cayah 'Robbo' Ware-Roberts, 23 Pioneer Regiment The Royal Logistic Corps said:
"Sili was an immensely strong character, everyone liked him, it's as simple as that!
He was always making fun for himself, either in the Squadron lines playing games,
or as I remember, being unhealthily obsessed with conkers! He was a big softie,
with a reassuringly calm nature. I consider it an absolute privilege and honour to
have served next to him. Strong as an ox, always smiling and a true friend, that's
how I'll remember you Sili."
Lance Corporal Cabemaikadavu, 9 Troop, Operations Squadron, 23 Pioneer Regiment RLC
"Pte Silibaravi was a character who everyone knew. He lived his life to the very
limit. Immensely compassionate, he was always loyal to those around him. He was a
keen sportsman who was extremely fit. He will be greatly missed when running the
rugby field without him. His happy character, good laughs and funny stories will be
sadly missed by the whole community.
"A Fijian born warrior, one of the finest and the best, who died as a true Pioneer.
We'll miss you brother and we will always remember you."
Lance Corporal Kuruvakadua, Operations Support Squadron, 23 Pioneer Regiment RLC said:
"'Isa Sili'... we could have a lifetime wish and one dream that could come true. We
could pray to God with all our hearts just to see and speak to you again, but a
thousand words won't bring you back. We know because we've tried and cried with a
million tears. You've left behind broken hearts and precious memories throughout our
military life. But we never wanted memories, we only wanted you.
"Thank you for everything that we've shared, being a dedicated, awesome and
wonderful brother. Your kind smile, your God gifted voice, your never ending jokes
and not forgetting your 'vakalutu vosa' style will be sorely missed.
"Isa RIP 'Taciqu'!
"Condolences and all our love are with your family. Your memories will forever be
cherished by your brothers in arms here at 23 Pioneer Regiment and most of all, your
Bicester Fijian Community."
Private Qalo, 10 Troop, Operations Squadron, 23 Pioneer Regiment RLC said:
"Pte Silibaravi was well known amongst his friends for a caring and good hearted
nature. I first met him during my Phase One Training in Pirbright, whilst he was
accommodated there for a charity event he had helped to organise. I went to
Afghanistan with him in 2006. He's the type that is always up to any challenge, who
will give his all for anyone. A comedian and an entertainer, everyone knew him in
the community. You will be deeply missed in our hearts and homes but never
forgotten. I'll remember the happy times we shared and we'll look forward to when we
meet again. The Pioneer Family never forgets."
Pte Ranatora, Operations Support Squadron, 23 Pioneer Regiment RLC said:
"One day I asked myself 'What would the best person look like?' A few months later
as I arrived into St David's Barracks, Bicester, I remembered that I came across the
person that answered that question.
"I have known Pte Silibaravi for 7 years. I admire his dedication to any endeavour.
'Sili' was a very kind hearted and generous person. His life revolves around the
people who need his help. He loves to help out a lot. A young junior soldier who
does not fully understand how things work would always find 'Sili' guiding him. A
lasting memory of 'Sili' is of us in Kenya last year, where he gave up his own
rations to give to the children who always visited the camp for food and water. At
all times I have found 'Sili' to be a very good leader and very responsible for his
age. Whether in the block, on exercise, or on operations, 'Sili' led from the front,
often doing the physical tasks himself that he could have left to others.
"Heavily involved in the Fijian community, everyone knew him and his Fijian brothers
and family recognised the selfless commitment he made to us in Ambrosden and at the
Church. He was a charming person; his sense of humour and light hearted nature will
be remembered by all. His love of a joke and being the centre of entertainment at
rugby or having a bowl of grog at the weekend will never leave us. I feel these
attributes demonstrate someone with exceptional character who is born with that. It
will not easily be forgotten by people who knew him.
"Naked came I out of my mothers womb and naked shall I return thither: The Lord gave
and the Lord hath taken away. Blessed be the name of God.
"May your soul rest in peace. 'Moce mada mataquile Sili'."