Yesterday I had a comment from Brian, which I think is worth reproducing here. It just brings the reality of Afghanistan nearer home:
We are familiar with the repatriation to the UK of the bodies of our service men and women killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. They are flown into RAF Lyneham and, after a private funeral service there for family and friends, taken by road to the John Radcliffe hospital in Oxford. At various places along the route people gather to pay their respects as the cortege passes. As I had learned that there was to be a Repatriation today I obtained the following details from the Defence Academy here in Shrivenham: WO2 David Markland (36 Engineer Regiment), Corp. Johnathan Moore and Pte. Sean McDonald (1 Scots); Flypast over Wootton Bassett 11am, Family Service 12 noon, Cortege leaves RAF Lyneham at about 1.30pm, then passes through Wootton Basset, Gable Cross Police Station (A420), B4000 (Bridge over A420), UK Defence Academy (A420), Faringdon Folly Lay-by (A420) - then on to Oxford, passing St Anthony of Padua RC Church at the JR Hospital. As the B4000 bridge is only about a quarter-mile from home I decided to go along and join about half-a-dozen others who had gathered there to pay their respects at the approximate time the cortege was expected (around 2.30pm).
At about 3pm a lone police motorcyclist came along with blue light flashing, followed by another about 200yds behind, then a police car, then three hearses with coffins draped with the Union Flag, then an unmarked car and a final police car. As the procession approached, all the traffic on the opposite side of the road came to a standstill until the cortege had passed. It was an incredibly moving experience - indeed, I broke down recounting it to Carol and even now have a lump in my throat.