Page last updated at 16:10 GMT, Monday, 23 June 2008 17:10 UK

Bodies of soldiers return home


The plane arriving at RAF Lyneham in Wiltshire

The bodies of four British soldiers killed in an explosion in Afghanistan have been flown home to the UK.

The four included Cpl Sarah Bryant, 26, of Carlisle, who was the first British woman killed on duty in the country.

Cpl Sean Robert Reeve, 28, L/Cpl Richard Larkin, 39, and Paul Stout, 31, also died in the blast east of Laskhar Gah, in Helmand Province, on 17 June.

Their bodies arrived at RAF Lyneham in Wiltshire, where a repatriation ceremony was held.

The private occasion was open to the victims' close family and military colleagues.

Such ceremonies are held on the airfield whenever the body of a member of the services is returned to the UK.

One of the coffins is carried at RAF Lyneham
Each coffin was carried to a hearse by six military personnel

The bodies of the three male SAS reservists were taken off the plane out of the view of the cameras for reasons of security - because their pallbearers were also SAS reservists.

Members of the SAS traditionally do not want their identities revealed because being part of the special service is secret.

The coffin of Cpl Bryant, draped in a union jack, was carried from the plane by members of her unit to a hearse and taken to a chapel where a service was held for the families.

The bodies were bound for John Radcliffe Infirmary in Oxford for post-mortem examinations.

On the way they passed through Wootton Bassett, Wiltshire, where hundreds of people lined the streets, as they have done for many of the service personnel whose bodies have been returned to the UK.

Blown up

The killed troops had been on patrol alongside Afghan police officers.

Their vehicle - believed to be a Snatch Land Rover or weapon-mounted WMIK version - was blown up when it hit a mine.

A fifth soldier was wounded in the attack.

Last week Cpl Bryant's husband, Army officer Cpl Carl Bryant, described his wife as "an awesome soldier who died doing the job that she loved".

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