Afghanistan soldier's body returned home

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The body of a serviceman killed while clearing explosives in southern Afghanistan will be returned to Britain today.

Corporal David Barnsdale, from 33 Engineer Regiment (Explosive Ordnance), "embodied the finest traditions of a soldier", according to his commanding officer.

The 24-year-old, from Tring, Hertfordshire, died on October 19, during his second tour of Afghanistan.

Cpl Barnsdale, who joined the Royal Engineers in September 2002, was a search team commander responsible for the detection of improvised explosive devices in areas deemed to be high risk.

His search team was deployed in an area east of Gereshk, Helmand Province, and was working towards the construction of a new check point and patrol base when he was caught in the blast.

Lieutenant Colonel Mark Davis, commanding officer of Counter-IED, said: "He died leading his men in what must be one of the most dangerous tasks in the Armed Forces - that of deliberately searching for IEDs.

"He embodied the finest traditions of a soldier, constantly displaying bucket loads of grit and determination."

Cpl Barnsdale's body will be flown to RAF Lyneham in Wiltshire today.

A private service will be held at RAF Lyneham's chapel before the cortege passes through nearby Wootton Bassett.

Hundreds of people are expected to line the town's High Street in tribute.

The soldier's death took the total number of UK military personnel to have died since operations began in Afghanistan in 2001 to 341.