The bodies of seven British soldiers and Marines killed in 10 days of violence in Afghanistan were flown home yesterday.
The remains of Sergeant Steven Darbyshire, Lance Corporal Michael Taylor and Marine Paul Warren, all of 40 Commando Royal Marines, were repatriated at RAF Lyneham in Wiltshire. They were joined by the bodies of Lance Corporal David Ramsden, of 1st Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment, Colour Sergeant Martyn Horton, Private Alex Isaac and Private Douglas Halliday, all of 1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment.
A C-17 Globemaster transport aircraft touched down at RAF Lyneham at 3.05pm. The coffins, draped in Union flags, were carried to a private repatriation ceremony at the base before the cortège passed through the town of Wootton Bassett, where it has become a tradition for people to line the high street in respect.
Bill Baldam, 63, who served in the RAF for 12 years, said he had "lost count" of the number of repatriations he had attended, but seeing seven coffins pass was particularly difficult. "I'm here to pay respects to these young lads," he added. "When the mothers turn up with the children it hits you in the stomach."
Meanwhile, tributes were paid to a "hugely popular" and "well respected" bomb disposal expert killed in Afghanistan. Cpl Jamie Kirkpatrick, 32, of Llanelli, Carmarthenshire, died in a firefight with insurgents in the Nahr-e Saraj district of Helmand province on Sunday.
He leaves a wife, Heidi, and a 16-month-old daughter, Holly. His family said: "Jamie was a larger than life individual who was loved, loyal and loud.
"A wonderful son, he was a proud soldier, friend, brother, husband and daddy."