The repatriation of the bodies of six UK soldiers, five of them shot by a trainee policeman in Helmand Province, was always going to prompt a particular outpouring of emotion. Even taking into account the special circumstances, however, the huge number of people who lined the streets of Wootton Bassett yesterday to salute the fallen troops was mightily impressive. They stood silent, eight and nine deep, respectful and determined, undeterred by the cold and wet as the cortege passed on its way.
Those who turned out doubtless had their own views about the sense, or otherwise, of Britain's continued engagement in this war, but they were intent on showing respect for the troops. That is how it should be: the politicians who do the sending bear a responsibility different from that of the troops who are sent. In their unostentatious constancy, the people of Wootton Bassett have started a tradition, and set a standard, that the rest of the country can be proud of.