The 25-year-old 'cheeky and humorous' serviceman - described as a 'loving father' to his two-year-old son Jack - was identified as police guarded his home in Middleton, Greater Manchester.
His family tonight paid tribute to 'a loving son, husband, father, brother and uncle', adding that 'he always wanted to be in the Army, live life and enjoy himself'.
Drummer Rigby, a keen football fan who followed Manchester United FC, was just starting his Army career and had recently fought in Afghanistan with the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers.
Fallen hero: Father Lee Rigby, 25, from Manchester, was described as 'cheeky and humorous' in tributes today. He was executed by two suspected Islamic terrorists in Woolwich yesterday afternoon
But as he walked towards the Royal Artillery Barracks in Woolwich, south-east London, yesterday afternoon, he was run down by a car on the pavement and hacked to death in a shocking attack.
Drummer Rigby was known to his comrades as 'Riggers', who said he was a 'popular' and 'very bubbly character'. He was 'one of the battalion's great characters, always smiling', friends said.
Tonight, U.S. President Barack Obama offered his support to Britain, saying: 'The United States stands resolute with the United Kingdom, our ally and friend, against violent extremism and terror.
Career: Drummer Rigby, 25, known as 'Riggers', was known as a brave soldier
'There can be absolutely no justification for such acts, and our thoughts and prayers are with the family of the victim, the police and security services responding to this horrific act and the communities they serve, and the British people.'
Announcing Drummer Rigby's death, the Ministry of Defence said in a statement: 'Drummer Lee Rigby, or ‘Riggers’ to his friends, was born in July 1987 in Crumpsall, Manchester.
'He joined the Army in 2006 and on successful completion of his infantry training course at Infantry Training Centre Catterick he was selected to be a member of the Corps of Drums and posted to 2nd Battalion, The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers.
'His first posting was as a machine gunner in Cyprus where the Battalion was serving as the resident Infantry Battalion in Dhekelia.
'Having performed a plethora of tasks while in Cyprus, he returned to the UK in the early part of 2008 to Hounslow, west London. Here, Drummer Rigby stood proudly outside the Royal Palaces as part of the Battalion’s public duties commitment.
'He was an integral member of the Corps of Drums throughout the Battalion’s time on public duties, the highlight of which was being a part of the Household Division’s Beating the Retreat – a real honour for a line infantry Corps of Drums.
'In April 2009 Drummer Rigby deployed on Operations for the first time to Helmand province, Afghanistan, where he served as a member of the Fire Support Group in Patrol Base Woqab.
'On returning to the UK he completed a second tour of public duties and then moved with the Battalion to Celle, Germany, to be held at a state of high readiness for contingency operations as part of the Small Scale Contingency Battle Group.
'When the news first came through I felt sickened. It's abhorrent'
Vicar Guy Jamieson, who married him
'In 2011 Drummer Rigby took up a Recruiting post in London where he also assisted with duties at Regimental Headquarters in the Tower of London.
'An extremely popular and witty soldier, Drummer Rigby was a larger than life personality within the Corps of Drums and was well known, liked and respected across the Second Fusiliers. He was a passionate and life-long Manchester United fan.
Happy day: Lee Rigby on his wedding day near Halifax, West Yorkshire, in 2007, which was held at St Anne-in-the-Grove church in Southowram
On guard: Police stand outside the family home of murdered Lee Rigby in Middleton, Greater Manchester
Moving scenes: Two boys lay flowers outside Woolwich Barracks as the press gather
Tears: It all appears too much for one man at the scene where flowers lay
Tribute: One mourner left this moving note at the scene which was placed among the floral tributes
Tributes: Three women lay flowers near the scene in Woolwich today after the serviceman was brutally stabbed to death
Community in grief: A group of women lay flowers outside the barracks today after the horrific murder
Wellwishers: Two police officers gather up flowers at the scene of the killing today which have been passed to them by members of the public
'A loving father to his son Jack, aged two years, he will be sorely missed by all who knew him. The regiment’s thoughts and prayers are with his family during this extremely difficult time. “Once a Fusilier, always a Fusilier.”'
Lieutenant Colonel Jim Taylor MBE, Second Fusiliers Commanding Officer, described Drummer Rigby as a ‘dedicated and professional soldier’ who was a ‘real character within the Second Fusiliers’.
Outside: Police officers were guarding Drummer Rigby's home in Greater Manchester
He added: ‘Larger than life, he was at the heart of our Corps of Drums. An experienced and talented side drummer and machine gunner, he was a true warrior and served with distinction in Afghanistan, Germany and Cyprus.
‘His ability, talent and personality made him a natural choice to work in the recruiting group. He will be sorely missed by everyone in the Second Fusiliers.’
Captain Alan Williamson, Drummer Rigby’s Platoon Commander from 2010 to 2011, added that he was ‘a cheeky and humorous man, always there with a joke to brighten the mood’.
Cpt Williamson said: ‘An excellent side drummer and highly competent machine gunner, he was always there to help out the younger members of the Fire Support Group whenever possible.
And Warrant Officer Class 1 Ned Miller, Regimental Sergeant Major Second Fusiliers, said: ‘Riggers is what every Battalion needs. He was one of the Battalion’s great characters, always smiling.’
Vicar Guy Jamieson, who married Drummer Rigby in 2007 to the wife whom he was separated from, at St Anne-in-the-Grove Church in Southowram, near Halifax, West Yorkshire, said it was an ‘absolute tragedy’.
He said: 'When the news first came through yesterday I felt sickened. It's abhorrent. We hear a lot about military tragedies overseas but the fact that it was in the street in a city makes it more horrific.
'I remember his wedding well. He had already spoken to the chaplain at Catterick (Garrison) and came to me well prepared with lots of questions. The wedding day was wonderful.
‘Because it was a military wedding it requires a lot of preparation. I remember sitting next to Lee on the front pew before everything started and reminding him what his first words to say were.’
Probe: A police officer carries an evidence bag containing a knife near the scene of the killing of a soldier
High security: An armed woman stands guard outside the Royal Artillery Barracks in Woolwich as security is stepped up at military bases across the country following yesterday's attack
Grief: William Pemberton takes flowers for the fallen soldier in Woolwich on behalf of his dead son Billy who died last year after apparently taking his own life
Military wives, police and members of the public were laying bouquets of flowers near the scene in honour of the murder victim today.
One note left said simply: 'So sorry. Our thoughts are with your family, friends and comrades.'
Another read: 'A true hero. May you rest in peace forever! Such a sad day and it disgusts me to think my son will have to grow up in a world like this full of violence. I never knew you but you'll forever be in my heart and thoughts.'
'Cheeky and humorous, always there with a joke to brighten the mood'
Captain Alan Williamson
A third person wrote: 'We never knew you, but fly high with the angels.'
Another said: 'To a hero taken from us too soon, may you rest in peace. Always in our hearts, Martin, Faye and Hope, fellow soldier family.'
A serving soldier lay flowers outside the barracks today wearing a Help for Heroes t-shirt, just like the victim.
'We feel a lot of anger. All I know is that he was a young guy. A soldier just starting out. It’s heartbreaking. The soldiers inside that barracks will really be feeling this,' he said.
'I grew up in this area and that’s why I wanted to come down here today and pay my respects. I’ve come wearing a Help for Heroes T-shirt to show that nobody can break us. I wanted to show solidarity for another soldier.
Father's tribute: Mr Pemberton hands over the bouquet of flowers to police for them to leave at the scene
Grief: Flowers pile up for the dead soldier who was murdered in Woolwich, south-east London, yesterday
Grief: Flowers are laid outside the barracks in south-east London today after the soldier was murdered
The dead soldier, who was wearing a Help for Heroes top, was hit by a Vauxhall Tigra on the pavement before two crazed men attacked him with knives in a suspected terror attack.
Witnesses said the suspects 'hacked and chopped' at his body and were shouting 'Allah Akbar!' - an Islamic phrase meaning 'God is great' - and yelling 'this is what God would have wanted.'
'He was one of the Battalion’s great characters, always smiling'
Warrant Officer Class 1 Ned Miller
One of the men was identified as Michael Adebolajo, 28, who ranted on camera with a clear south London accent saying 'you people will never be safe'.
The suspected killers were later shot by police and will be questioned by anti-terror officers once they have recovered.
Prime Minister David Cameron said the murder of a 'brave soldier' on the streets of London will bring the UK together and 'make us stronger'.
Speaking outside Downing Street after chairing a meeting of the Government's emergency Cobra committee, the Prime Minister said the attack 'sickens us all' and was a 'betrayal of Islam'.
Tribute: A handwritten note left with a bouquet of flowers near the scene of the killing in Woolwich
Note: A well wisher left flowers with a note that said: 'I never knew you, but you will stay in my heart forever'. They add: 'I pray you are at peace now'
'A true hero': Another wellwisher wrote: 'such a sad day and it disgusts me to think my son will have to grow up in a world like this full of violence'
'Fly high with the angels': A succinct note left with a bouquet of flowers at the scene in Woolwich, south-east London today
Honour: A Help for Heroes t-shirt which was left at the scene today. The soldier was wearing one of the charity's tops when he was brutally murdered
'The people who did this were trying to divide us. They should know something like this will only bring us together and make us stronger,' he said.
'This country will be absolutely resolute in its stand against violent extremism and terror. We will never give in to terror or terrorism in any of its forms.
DEAD SOLDIER WAS IN THE ROYAL REGIMENT OF FUSILIERS
The murdered soldier was in the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers.
Soldiers from the regiment are currently deployed in Helmand Province, Afghanistan.
Troops from the unit have often deployed in Northern Ireland, Cyprus and in the Middle East.
It was formed in 1968 when four old units in London, Lancashire, Warwickshire and Northumberland were brought together.
The Fusiliers now consists of two batallions, although one of them will be axed by 2020 in armed services cutbacks.
'This view is shared by every community in our country. This was not just an attack on Britain and on the British way of life; it was also a betrayal of Islam and of the Muslim communities who give so much to our country.'
Labour leader Ed Miliband said in a televised statement that the killing was an attempt to divide Britain which would fail.
'This was an appalling and horrific murder and all of my condolences are with the families and friends of the victim, and indeed with our troops because they serve incredibly bravely all around the world and they've seen one of their own murdered in an act of complete cowardice,' he said.
'There are people who try to divide us with acts like this. They've tried it before in London and they've failed and they will always fail.
'There will be people who try to use events like this to divide us and they will fail too.
'They will fail because the British people are united across different faiths, different religions, different backgrounds, in their abhorrence of this and in values of decency and tolerance.'
Members of the public were making special donations to the Help for Heroes charity today who assist wounded servicemen, as the victim was wearing one of their t-shirts.
Half mast: The Regimental flag is lowered outside the Royal Artillery Barracks today after the murder of the young serviceman
An anonymous donor on the charity's JustGiving website wrote: 'For the Woolwich Soldier - this was a cause you believed in and every donation in your memory shows that the British public will not be threatened.'
'He was a true warrior and served with distinction'
Lieutenant Colonel Jim Taylor MBE
A military wife said the soldier was attached to a battalion based at Woolwich barracks and had joined up to the army because he cared deeply about his country, the woman said.
The woman, who declined to be named, said families of the armed forces felt numb after the attack.
Speaking as she laid flowers at the scene, the woman said: 'We are all just numb at the moment, shaken up and in shock, it could have been anyone of our husbands.
'He was a young guy who cared very much about his country, like the rest of the soldiers. The atmosphere on the base is really quiet, very sad. It is just quiet, raw at the moment.
Mourning: A Sikh man passes a bouquet of flowers to the police officer to lay at the scene
Honouring the dead soldier: A woman and her two children lay a postcard on floral outside The Royal Artillery Barracks in Woolwich
Patrols: Two soldiers, one of them carrying a firearm, walk outside Woolwich Barracks today following the murder yesterday
Condemnation: David Cameron, pictured in Woolwich with local MP Nick Raynsford, today said the attack would bring the UK together and 'make us stronger'
Tribute: Prime Minister David Cameron, speaking outside Number 10, said the murder of a 'brave soldier' on the streets of London will bring the UK together and 'make us stronger'
Scene: Boris Johnson speaks to police officers today just yards from where the soldier was brutally murdered
Murder investigation: London Mayor Boris Johnson today walks past the police tape as he is taken to the scene of the killing
Community in shock: Mr Johnson (centre) addresses the media in Woolwich, south-east London, today
'A lot of our husbands left the country this morning to go to Kenya, I don't believe he was due to go. He was on attachment to our battalion, I believe he was in training to start off his life as a soldier.
People tonight took to Twitter in remembrance of Drummer Rigby after he was identified.
Celebrities such as presenters Fearne Cotton, 31, and Phillip Schofield, 51, used the hashtag: '#RememberingDrummerLeeRigby'.
Student Esther Newman, 21, also posted a message with the hashtag, saying: 'So upsetting. A young man with his whole life ahead of him and a little boy that will grow up without his dad.'
'It doesn't matter who it is, it could have been any person on the street, but for it to be someone serving, it makes us all feel like targets.'
She said she personally knew the soldier, but added it 'would not be fair' to identify him.
Last night the Muslim Council of Britain condemned the killers for their 'truly barbaric act'.
A spokesman said: 'This is a truly barbaric act that has no basis in Islam and we condemn this unreservedly. Our thoughts are with the victim and his family.
'We understand the victim is a serving member of the Armed Forces. Muslims have long served in this country’s Armed Forces, proudly and with honour.
'This attack on a member of the Armed Forces is dishonourable, and no cause justifies this murder.'
To donate to Help for Heroes yourself, go to www.justgiving.com/helpforheroes
TIMELINE: HOW BRUTAL SOLDIER MURDER UNFOLDED
Here is a timeline of events concerning the brutal murder of a soldier in broad daylight in Woolwich:
- 2.20pm - Police respond to a 'serious incident' in John Wilson Street in south-east London following reports of an assault. London Air Ambulance are also called to the scene.
- Pictures published on Twitter show a number of men lying on the floor at the scene alongside knives and blood stains.
- Eyewitness say two men have been shot by armed police after a man wearing a Help for Heroes t-shirt was attacked with a machete-style knife and dumped in the street.
- The incident happened some 200 yards from the Royal Artillery Barracks, adjacent to Woolwich Common, the historical home of the Royal Artillery.
- London Ambulance Service confirm a man was found dead at the scene, while two other men were taken to hospital, one of them in a serious condition.
- Woolwich and Greenwich MP Nick Raynsford says he understands that the victim is a serving soldier.
- Prime Minister David Cameron describes the killing as 'truly shocking' and asks the Home Secretary to chair a meeting of Cobra, the Government's emergency committee. He will cut short an official visit to Paris to return to the UK to co-ordinate the Government's response.
- Metropolitan Police Commander Simon Letchford confirms that the two attackers were shot by armed officers.
- Shocking footage emerges of a black man wielding a bloodied meat cleaver at the scene moments after the attack, saying: 'We swear by almighty Allah we will never stop fighting you.'
- The footage, filmed by an eyewitness and shown on ITV News, shows the man speaking with an English accent and apologising to members of the public who witnessed the horrific scenes before making a number of political statements.
- At a press conference in Paris alongside French president Francois Hollande, Mr Cameron says Britain has faced terror attacks such as the one in Woolwich before, adding: 'We will never buckle in the face of it.'
- The Cobra meeting is told there are strong indications that the attack was a terrorist incident, Downing Street confirms.
- The Muslim Council of Britain condemns the attack as a 'truly barbaric act' that has no basis in Islam.
- Around 50 supporters of the English Defence League (EDL) gather at Woolwich Arsenal train station near the scene and throw bottles at police.
- Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe says two men have been arrested in connection with the murder and the force's counter-terrorist unit are leading the investigation.
- The Daily Telegraph reports the story of a cub scout leader from Cornwall who confronted the Woolwich attackers, asking them to hand over their weapons.
- Ingrid Loyau-Kennett, 48, told the paper that one of the attackers said to her that they 'want to start a war in London tonight'.
- Two men are arrested after separate attacks on mosques in Gillingham, Kent and Braintree, in Essex.
- Sources say the Woolwich killers are of Nigerian background, who are most likely to be British citizens converted to a radical form of Islam.
- Troops in London are advised in the immediate aftermath of the attack not to wear their uniforms outside their bases.
- Police search the former home of a man called Michael Adebolajo in Lincolnshire in connection with the murder of a soldier in Woolwich.
- Anti-terror police prepare to question the two suspects who remain in separate hospitals under armed guard.
- Scotland Yard confirm that the man killed yesterday in Woolwich was a serving soldier who has yet to be formally identified.
- Mr Cameron makes a statement outside 10 Downing Street in which he declares that the brutal terrorist murder of a 'brave soldier' on the streets of London will bring the UK together and 'make us stronger'.
- Police raid a flat on a housing estate in east Greenwich, south-east London in a move thought to be linked to the Woolwich attack.
- It is confirmed the two men shot by police after the terrorist murder of a soldier were both known to security services.
- The Ministry of Defence names the victim of the Woolwich killing as Drummer Lee Rigby, of 2nd Battalion, Royal Regiment of Fusiliers.