Tributes as soldier repatriated

The 100th British member of the armed forces to die this year after being deployed to Afghanistan was remembered as a "cracking lad" with an "invincible personality" as his body was returned to the UK.

Guardsman Christopher Davies, 22, from St Helens, Merseyside, who served in the same battalion as his brother, died after being shot during an ambush last Wednesday in the Nahr-e Saraj district of Helmand province.



The father-of-one served alongside his younger brother John, 21, in 1st Battalion Irish Guards.



His family and friends fell silent as the cortege passed through Wootton Bassett in Wiltshire.



Family and friends placed red roses on top of the hearse carrying the flag-draped coffin and as the town bell tolled they observed a two-minute silence.



As has become tradition, local people, shopkeepers and members of the Royal British Legion joined Guardsman Davies's family to pay their respects.



His body was flown into RAF Lyneham, Wiltshire, today where a private ceremony for his family was held before the cortege travelled through Wootton Bassett on route to John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford.



David Shea, 21, from St Helens, a schoolfriend of Guardsman Davies, said: "Chris was a top bloke, you could always have a good time with him, he never did wrong by anyone.



"He loved his friends, loved his family, but most of all his daughter, he always talked about his daughter, he always loved coming home to see her, to spend time with her.



"He could always make you laugh, he was just a really top lad."



Speaking of this latest milestone, Wootton Bassett British Legion secretary Anne Bevis said: "It's an enormous number to lose in one year, but every one is important; it doesn't matter who they are, what rank or what unit they belonged to, they are all important."



President of the Wootton Bassett Royal British Legion Maurice Baker, 80, has been the parade marshal for all but five of the repatriations since they started.



He said: "This is another mark, but of course not all of those one hundred have come through here, there are also the ones who have died of their injuries - so it's another mark on the road to the end of the war, but when that will be we don't know.



"It's a privilege and an honour for us to be able to come out here and pay our respects to the lads and lasses that have given their lives for our freedom.



"We will be here until the last coffin goes through the high street."



Following Guardsman Davies's death, his family said: "He was a loving son to Catherine and Gary; stepson to Nick; brother to Bernie, Matt and John; stepbrother to Mark, Emma and Jack; loving boyfriend to Emma; and father to Lucy.



"We are very proud of Christopher and all that he achieved. One of the last things that he told us was that he wanted to specialise within the Army - he was very focused on his job and enjoyed the work, his comrades and the lifestyle.



"Christopher was a cracking lad. His friends in the Army have told us that whenever they felt down he would cheer them up, often by singing.



"We will always love Christopher. He had an invincible personality and we will miss him so much. There is a big hole in our lives."



In all, some 345 UK military personnel have died since operations in Afghanistan began in 2001.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Attenborough with the primates
tvWhy BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Sport
The RBS Six Nations trophy at the Aviva Stadium ahead of Ireland vs England
rugby
News
Campbell: ‘Sometimes you have to be economical with the truth’
newsFormer spin doctor says MPs should study tactics of leading sports figures like José Mourinho
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West found himself at the centre of a critical storm over the weekend after he apparently claimed to be “the next Mandela” during a radio interview
music
Sport
Wes Brown is sent-off
football
Voices
Lance Corporal Joshua Leakey VC
voicesBeware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
Life and Style
Alexander McQueen's AW 2009/10 collection during Paris Fashion Week
fashionMeet the collaborators who helped create the late designer’s notorious spectacles
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper / Office Co-ordinator

£9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This role is based within a small family run ...

Recruitment Genius: Designer - Print & Digital

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Design and marketing agenc...

Recruitment Genius: Quantity Surveyor

£46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This property investment firm are lookin...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales / Telemarketing Executive - OTE £30k / £35k plus

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company specialises provid...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003
Barbara Woodward: Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with the growing economic superpower

Our woman in Beijing builds a new relationship

Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with growing economic power
Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer. But the only British soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross in Afghanistan has both

Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer

Beware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
Alexander McQueen: The catwalk was a stage for the designer's astonishing and troubling vision

Alexander McQueen's astonishing vision

Ahead of a major retrospective, Alexander Fury talks to the collaborators who helped create the late designer's notorious spectacle
New BBC series savours half a century of food in Britain, from Vesta curries to nouvelle cuisine

Dinner through the decades

A new BBC series challenged Brandon Robshaw and his family to eat their way from the 1950s to the 1990s
Philippa Perry interview: The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course

Philippa Perry interview

The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef recreates the exoticism of the Indonesian stir-fry

Bill Granger's Indonesian stir-fry recipes

Our chef was inspired by the south-east Asian cuisine he encountered as a teenager
Chelsea vs Tottenham: Harry Kane was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope

Harry Kane interview

The striker was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope
The Last Word: For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?

Michael Calvin's Last Word

For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?
HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?