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Last Updated: Thursday, 12 April 2007, 13:59 GMT 14:59 UK
Soldiers' bodies flown back to UK
(Clockwise from top left) 2nd Lt Yorke Dyer, Pte Eleanor Dlugosz, Cpl Kris O'Neill, Kingsman Adam James Smith
The four died when a patrol near Basra was attacked
A private ceremony has been held to mark the repatriation of the bodies of four UK soldiers killed in Iraq.

The coffins, draped in union jacks, were taken off a C-17 aircraft at RAF Lyneham in Wiltshire, before being carried past watching families.

Second Lt Joanna Yorke Dyer, 24, Cpl Kris O'Neill, 27, Pte Eleanor Dlugosz, 19, and Kingsman Adam James Smith, 19, were attacked on 5 April near Basra.

Their deaths marked the bloodiest day for UK troops in Iraq since November.

The coffins were placed in hearses waiting to transfer the bodies into the care of the Wiltshire coroner.

As the procession of vehicles passed through the town Wootton Bassett a few miles away, local councillors and members of the public stood in silence as a mark of respect.

The bodies were taken to the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford where post mortem examinations will be conducted.

On Wednesday, a sunset ceremony was held at a base in Basra, southern Iraq, before the bodies were flown to the UK.

'Unflappable nature'

All four soldiers died when a Warrior armoured vehicle returning from patrol near Basra was attacked.

Hearses passing through Wootton Bassett
Residents of Wootton Bassett stood in silence as the procession passed

A Kuwaiti interpreter was also killed in the blast, which seriously injured a fifth soldier and left a 3ft-deep crater in the road.

The ceremony in Basra was attended by troops from the 2nd Battalion The Duke of Lancaster's Regiment, the Intelligence Corps and the UK Medical Group amongst others.

Second Lt Dyer, from Yeovil, Somerset, had trained at Sandhurst military academy with Prince William, who described her as a "close friend".

The prince has expressed his deep sadness at her death.

The pair were both commissioned as officers on the same day in December during a parade at the academy, which was attended by the Queen.

Kingsman Smith, from Liverpool, served in 2nd Battalion The Duke of Lancaster's Regiment, alongside 2nd Lt Dyer.

In a statement, his family described said the was the "most popular person you could ever know, everyone loved him and he has left so many broken hearts behind him".

Cpl O'Neill, who was from Sowerby, West Yorkshire, and Pte Dlugosz, from Southampton, were both in the Royal Army Medical Corps.

A coffin being carried by pallbearers
The families of the soldiers attended the private ceremony

Cpl O'Neill, the father of two boys, was described by the MoD as an "experienced and confident medic, with an unflappable nature". He was involved in training Iraqi police in first aid.

Pte Dlugosz, from Southampton, was a medic who was tasked with accompanying patrols.

Sally Veck, Pte Dlugosz' mother, told the BBC earlier this week: "I would give anything, anything to have her back.

"Everybody knows that, but on the other hand this is what she wanted and we all had to support her."

The deaths brought the number of UK service personnel who have died since the hostilities in Iraq to 140, of whom 108 died in action.


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