Town falls silent as body of 'special soldier' comes home

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In life, he was a Tigger-like extrovert, but his return home yesterday passed in respectful silence. Staff Sergeant Olaf Schmid was the 224th British soldier to die in Afghanistan, killed by a roadside bomb he was trying to dismantle.

He was a bomb disposal specialist with the Royal Logistic Corps, who had defused 64 devices and was present at the discoveries of 11 bomb factories during five months in Afghanistan. When he died on Saturday, he was a week away from returning home on leave.

Yesterday, the High Street of Wootton Bassett in Wiltshire came to a silent standstill as his coffin, draped in a Union Jack, was paraded slowly past, on its way to Oxford's Radcliffe hospital, for a post-mortem examination. Hundreds lined the streets. Friends and family tossed red and white roses on to the vehicle's roof.

Fellow soldiers have paid tribute to the 30-year-old sergeant as a "legend" who "stared death in the face on a daily basis". His wife Christine said: "He was a unique and special man."