Tears fall for 'true British heroes' as bodies return home
THE body of the 201st soldier to die in Afghanistan arrived back in Britain yesterday alongside two fusiliers and the commander they died trying to save.
Sergeant Simon Valentine, 29, was flown back to RAF Lyneham in Wiltshire yesterday morning beside Lance Corporal James Fullarton, Fusilier Simon Annis and Fusilier Louis Carter, all of 2nd Battalion Royal Regiment of Fusiliers.
Their return came as the MoD confirmed the deaths of two more British soldiers in the troubled country.
Violence during Thursday's election was not as intense as had been feared, but two soldiers, from the 3rd Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment and the 2nd Battalion The Rifles, were killed in an explosion.
The Yorkshire Regiment soldier who died was deployed to Afghanistan as part of reinforcements sent to the country three weeks ago to boost numbers.
Defence chiefs sent 125 extra soldiers at the end of last month to maintain troop levels after a record number of injuries and deaths in July.
Next of kin of both soldiers have been informed and the deaths bring to 206 the number of UK troops killed in the country since the conflict began.
Standing in the crowd as the repatatriated soldiers were driven through the town of Wooton Basset yesterday were two of L/Cpl Fullarton's aunts, who both called for the conflict to end.
Helen Evans, 40, from Coventry, said: "James was a cheeky, funny guy. He wasn't special just because he was a soldier – he was just an amazing person.
"I want them all out now – we heard today that another two had died. That's two too many."
Susan Marriott, 54, said: "My heart is still pounding. It just aches. It will really hit us in a few hours time."
L/Cpl Fullarton was 24, and from Coventry. Many of his friends were at the repatriation wearing T-shirts proudly bearing the slogan: "A True British Hero."
Several could be seen hugging and sobbing outside the Cross Keys pub, which has now become a focal point for visitors.
Sgt Valentine, a married father of two young daughters, from Bedworth, Warwickshire, died last Saturday in an explosion while on foot patrol near Sangin.
Newlywed Fusilier Annis, 22, from Salford, and Fusilier Louis Carter, 18, from Nuneaton, were killed the next day in another blast at Sangin. They were battling to rescue L/Cpl Fullarton who was anticipating his wedding next year to girlfriend Leanne.
The father of Fusilier Carter's girlfriend Paige Newell, 18, said she was also at a chapel with the families.
Andrew Newell, 45, from Nuneaton, said: "She was devastated. He tried to shield her from most of what was going on."
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Saturday 18 May 2013
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