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Last Updated:  Sunday, 23 March, 2003, 09:45 GMT
Tributes paid to services dead
Flag and flowers tribute. Picture taken by Rosie Dunkley
RNAS Culdrose lowered its flag to half mast
Special prayers will be said in the South West on Sunday for the troops who have died in the Gulf over the last two days.

Marines from Plymouth-based 3 Commando Brigade were among eight Britons and four US troops killed when a helicopter crashed in northern Kuwait on Friday.

On Saturday, six British and one American service personnel based at RNAS Culdrose near Helston died when two Sea King helicopters were in collision near the Royal Navy flagship HMS Ark Royal.

Church services at Devon and Cornwall military bases, including HMS Drake in Plymouth, HMS Raleigh in Torpoint, RNAS Culdrose, RNAS Yeovilton near Yeovil in Somerset and RAF St Mawgan near Newquay, will inevitably take on extra significance.

Tributes have already been paid nationally and locally to those who died in both incidents.

Flowers were left at both RNAS Culdrose near Helston and at 3 Commando's Stonehouse Barracks in Plymouth.

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RAF personnel - 01452 712612 ext 7080 or 7045

A senior officer at the Royal Marine 3 Commando Brigade spoke of the profound sadness felt at the deaths of eight men in a helicopter crash in the Gulf.

Major Keith Tuppman praised the people of Plymouth and the surrounding area for their support after the accident on Friday.

Major Tuppman described 3 Commando as a close-knit, family community and paid tribute to the "professionalism and dedication" of his colleagues.

The community of Helston was vocal in its tributes to those who died on Saturday.

The Anglican Rector of Helston, David Miller, said the tragedy affected the entire community.

Flowers at Stonehouse Barracks
People left flowers at Stonehouse Barracks' gates
"People in the community are members of Culdrose. They send their children to local schools and they participate in local organisations.

"So, there's this sense of enormous shock that will touch everybody in Helston because, by being a member of this community, you will know people in Culdrose."

The commanding officer of RNAS Culdrose, Captain Mike Knowles, said he had no doubt many people were affected by the news.

He said: "The shock of this will reverberate through all of that community, and indeed through the local community in the south west of Cornwall."

St Ives MP Andrew George said the men's bravery should be recognised.

He said: "My first thoughts are with the families of those who have been tragically lost.

'Shipmates and colleagues'

In the Gulf, Ark Royal Captain Alan Massey said the deaths were caused by a "tragic accident".

"They are shipmates and colleagues and comrades of all of us on board. The loss has been felt intensely here.

Meanwhile, a full day of prayer for British forces in the Gulf will get under way in Torbay.

The prayer day at Christ Church in Paignton has been organised by a group of 18 churches of all denominations from the area.

Reverend Haydn Jones, who was an army chaplain for 28 years with experience in the Falklands, said a prayer book will be opened in which the names of servicemen and women can be written.

Seven dead in helicopter crash
22 Mar 03 |  England
Blair hails 'brave' commandos
21 Mar 03 |  England

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