Thursday, 14 May 2009

The patriots of Wooton Basset.......

One of Britain's newest traditions was carried out again yesterday. The tiny town of Wooton Bassett in Wiltshire turns out to welcome home military heroes from Iraq or Afghanistan. But, sadly, those heroes have all come home in coffins.

Since 2007, RAF Lyneham, near the town, has been the main base for repatriated service personnel.
So when their hearses pass slowly through the streets, members of the public and military personnel (both serving and former) line the streets in silence, the military personnel saluting as the hearses pass by. Tragically, since 2007, this new tradition has been carried out 72 times.

Yesterday the town welcomed back four heroes, including a Ghurka. Those who returned home are Sergeant Ben Ross, of the Royal Military Police; Rifleman Adrian Sheldon, of 2nd Battalion The Rifles; Corporal Sean Binnie of Black Watch, 3rd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland; and Corporal Kumar Pun, of 1st Battalion The Royal Ghurka Rifles.

The four brave soldiers died in a single day of bloody fighting in troubled Helmand Province. The last time there was such large a loss of life for British forces in a single day was in June 17 last year, when four soldiers were killed.

The servicemen's bodies were flown back to the UK in a Hercules aircraft, which landed at RAF Lyneham, Wilts, at around 10am yesterday. A procession then made its way along the A3102 - the road now dubbed the 'Highway for Heroes' - following a fly-by and memorial service at the base. The High Street was brought to an emotional standstill at 2.45pm as the four coffins, draped with Union flags, were paraded slowly past.


  1. This is so very sad. Such a waste of brave young lives. At least they are given some beautiful respect for their sacrifice.

  2. sigh...When will this stop? "Will" it stop?

    A Provocative, sad, and very honorable post, M.

    Thank you.

  3. I can imagine how importantly you regard this, Michael. Hopefully, the townspeople represent all of us with the respect they show.

  4. So sad. And touching to see the photos of the people honoring the returning soldiers.

    When will the killing end?

  5. Michael, this was so moving. I had to ask my husband to read this. He has asked me to convey to you how very much he appreciated this post. The good people of Wooton Bassett are performing an extemely kind and important act in honoring the soldiers. What a huge task they have had.
    It is impossible for us to read the stories day after day and not imagine the suffering and the agonizing details of the last moments of life for these fallen soldiers. They have absolutely paid the ultimate tribute. We know this, yet for someone who has witnessed fellow soldiers die...who survives when those around him do not...Wilfred Own said it best...
    "My friend, you would not tell with such high zest/ To children ardent for some desperate glory/ The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est/ Pro patri mori."