Thousands to pay tribute to Afghan casualties

Author: By James Woodward, Press Association

Thousands are expected to line the streets of Wootton Bassett, near RAF
Lyneham in Wiltshire, to watch the mens’ cortege – the largest yet to drive
through the market town.

Among the servicemen to be repatriated are five soldiers from 2nd Battalion
The Rifles who died near Sangin, in Helmand province on Friday, in two
“daisy-chain” explosions.

Corporal Jonathan Horne, 28, and Riflemen William Aldridge, 18, James
Backhouse, 18, and Joseph Murphy, 18, were rescuing comrades from an earlier
blast when a second device detonated.

Rifleman Murphy was carrying rifleman Daniel Simpson, 20 – who was injured by
the first makeshift bomb – when both were killed in the following explosion.

Rifleman Aldridge, from Bromyard, Herefordshire, was attempting to reach
casualties from the first blast, despite being wounded himself.

Also returning on the C17 plane will be Corporal Lee Scott, 26, of 2nd Royal
Tank Regiment, who died in an explosion on the same day, just north of
Nad-e-Ali, during Operation Panther’s Claw.

Making up the eight are two men killed in separate incidents on Thursday.
Private John Brackpool, 27, of Prince of Wales’ Company, of 1st Battalion
Welsh Guards, was shot at Char-e-Anjir near Lashkar Gah, while on sentry
duty.

Rifleman Daniel Hume, 22, of 4th Battalion The Rifles was killed in an
explosion while on a foot patrol, again near Nad-e-Ali.

The families of all the men are expected to attend a private ceremony at RAF
Lyneham’s chapel after their coffins, each draped in a flag, are carried
from the plane.

The hearses will then drive through Wootton Bassett three miles away, on their
route to the John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxfordshire. Inquests into their
deaths will be held in the coming weeks.

Crowds have appeared spontaneously in Wootton Bassett to pay their respects
since the bodies of British service personnel started being brought back to
Lyneham in 2007.

Campaigners want to rename the repatriation route The Highway of Heroes.

Yesterday The Prime Minister said the last few weeks of fighting had been “a
sad and difficult time” for Britain, but said it was right to press on and
stop al Qaida using Afghanistan as a base for worldwide terror.

His words came after a total of 15 soldiers died in Afghanistan in 10 days,
bringing the total number of UK military fatalities in the country since
2001 to 184 – surpassing the 179 who died in Iraq.

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