Warminster pays respect to soldiers killed in Afghanistan


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The Independent Online

The town of Warminster came to a halt today to pay their respects to six British soldiers killed in an explosion in Afghanistan last week and to see off their comrades who are about to deploy to the warzone.

Hundreds of people waving Union flags lined the streets as 400 soldiers from the 3rd Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment marched through the Wiltshire town, with the Duke of York, colonel-in-chief of the Yorkshire Regiment, taking the salute.

Andrew then joined the soldiers and local dignitaries for a service at The Minster Church of St Denys, which began with the names of the dead men being read out and the playing of the Last Post.

Corporal Jake Hartley, 20, Private Anthony Frampton, 20, Private Christopher Kershaw, 19, Private Daniel Wade, 20, and Private Daniel Wilford, 21, all of 3rd Battalion the Yorkshire Regiment, died alongside Sergeant Nigel Coupe, 33, of 1st Battalion The Duke of Lancaster's Regiment when a Taliban roadside bomb destroyed their Warrior armoured vehicle in Helmand province on March 6.

It became the deadliest single enemy attack on UK forces in Afghanistan since 2001.The soldiers, who had only been in Afghanistan for a few weeks, were hit by the blast about 25 miles north of the capital of Helmand, Lashkar Gah.

Six red roses were thrown into the road through Warminster ahead of the marching soldiers today.

The parade is the last public appearance before the soldiers fly out to join 12th Mechanized Brigade in Helmand Province on Operation Herrick 16.

Nick Pitcher, who has lived his whole life in Warminster, attended the parade with his mother Jean.

"The march has been planned for months now because it was going to be a send off and wishing them all the best of luck, and of course it is tinged now with tremendous sadness because of the six deaths last week. So it would have been emotional but it is going to be even more emotional now.

"They are very much part of the community, you see them everywhere, we all just mix in. So it has all just brought a cloud over the whole town, it is awful."

The Duke read a passage from the bible during the service, from the Gospel of St Matthew.

People who could not fit into the church listened to the service on a loudspeaker in the grounds, with many joining in with the prayers and hymns.

The families of the men killed last week did not attend the service, an army spokeswoman said.

Brian Darvill, vice-chairman of the Warminster branch of the Royal British Legion, said: "We would have been here today anyway to see them march off and go to the church service before their tour of Afghanistan but obviously now it is more poignant because of the deaths last week in Afghanistan, so there is even more support being shown today.

"I think the town, (and) ex-service community as well will be turning out in great strength today to see these chaps off."