The bodies of three soldiers killed when their armoured vehicle hit a roadside bomb in Afghanistan on 30 April arrived back in the UK today.
The plane carrying Corporal William Thomas Savage and Fusilier Samuel Flint, both of The Royal Highland Fusiliers, 2nd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland, and Private Robert Murray Hetherington, from 51st Highland, 7th Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland, landed at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire at 1.30pm.
A private service was held for their families at the base.
About 200 people gathered to pay their respects, lining the streets of Carterton, near Brize Norton, as a convoy of hearses bearing the soldiers’ Union flag-draped coffins came past, on their way to the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford.
The crowd of well-wishers and servicemen braved driving rain and blustery conditions to line the route. A bell tolled as the cortege passed a memorial garden, where the hearses paused.
As they came to a halt, relatives placed dozens of red, white and blue flowers on top of the vehicles.
Cpl Savage’s wife Lyndsey, who is expecting their first child, previously paid tribute to the soldier, known as Sav, who had served in both Iraq and Afghanistan and had been in the army since 2003.
“I am completely devastated by this news but extremely proud of Sav and everything that he has achieved,” she said.
“He loved being a soldier. I have lost the love of my life and the father of our son.”
Fusilier Flint, from Blackpool, joined the army in November 2011 and was deployed to Afghanistan in March.
The motorsports enthusiast and avid Manchester City fan was described as the “life and soul of the party” by his family.
A statement, from the Flint-Broughton family, said: “The whole family is completely devastated. Everyone should know that Sam loved his job and made his whole family and everyone that knew him very proud.”
Pte Hetherington, 25, was born in the US but raised and educated in Scotland.
He enlisted in the Territorial Army in October 2006 and was mobilised to join The Royal Highland Fusiliersfor Operation Herrick 18 last November.
His commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel Robin Lindsay, described him as epitomising “everything that is excellent about the reserve forces”.
Defence Secretary Philip Hammond also paid tribute to the soldiers, describing them as “exceptional men who served their country with distinction”.