Page last updated at 16:59 GMT, Wednesday, 13 May 2009 17:59 UK

Dead soldiers honoured by town


Hundreds of people in Wootton Basset salute the four soldiers

Hundreds of people have lined the streets of a Wiltshire town to honour four soldiers killed in Afghanistan on the same day.

The bodies of the men were flown to RAF Lyneham before being taken through Wootton Basset.

Sgt Ben Ross, 34, Cpl Kumar Pun, 31, Rifleman Adrian Sheldon, 25, and Cpl Sean Binnie, 22, died in Helmand Province on 7 May.

A private ceremony was held at RAF Lyneham for the families of the men.

Sgt Ross, from 3rd Regiment, Royal Military Police, and Cpl Pun, from 1st Battalion, The Royal Gurkha Rifles, were killed in a suicide attack while on patrol.

He (Sgt Ross) was a giant among men and I am blessed for having him under command
Major Adam Quantrell

Rifleman Sheldon, 25, from 2nd Battalion The Rifles, was in a Jackal vehicle when it was hit by an explosion near Sangin in Helmand.

Cpl Binnie, of the Black Watch, 3rd Battalion the Royal Regiment of Scotland, died after a fire fight with insurgents near Musa Qaleh.

Sgt Ross was originally from Bangor and joined the Army in 1996 before becoming a military policeman in 2003.

In Afghanistan, his role was to mentor, train and advise the Afghan Uniformed Police on security, policing and law enforcement.

Sgt Ben Ross, Cpl Kumar Pun (Top L-R)  Rifleman Adrian Sheldon, Cpl Sean Binnie (Bottom L-R)
All four soldiers were killed in Afghanistan on the same day

He was married to Sheena, who is also serving with the Royal Military Police.

Maj Adam Quantrell, the officer commanding 173 Provost Company, said: "He was a giant among men and I am blessed for having him under command and the company is blessed for having served with him."

Cpl Kumar Pun was on his first deployment to Afghanistan after operations in Kosovo and Bosnia.

He was part of a team delivering training and mentoring to the Afghan National Police.

His commanding officer, Maj Chris Conroy, described Cpl Kumar as "steadfast, brave and a true leader".

Rifleman Sheldon from Kirkby-in-Ashfield, near Mansfield, has been described by his commanding officer Lt Col Rob Thomson as "an outstanding role model to all of us who count it a privilege to have served alongside him".

He was in the middle of Afghanistan and he was more worried about my safety
Amanda Binnie, victim's widow

His family said: "Adrian was our son, best mate, our hero, the light of our lives has gone out and never to be replaced."

"He did everything that was necessary and nothing that wasn't," said Corporal Mark Kelly, 24, from Mansfield, who had served alongside him.

Cpl Sean Binnie's widow Amanda said: "He was in the middle of Afghanistan doing that job and he was more worried about my safety rather than his own."

It was the first time since June 2008 that four soldiers have been killed on a single day. Three soldiers and a marine were killed on 25 February this year.

The town council and Royal British Legion in Wootton Bassett have been organising the turn-out since the repatriation of troops to RAF Lyneham started in 2007.

Retired veteran James Archer, 57, from Swindon, who served in the Scots Guards, was among those who lined the streets earlier.

He said: "It is important we respect these soldiers. These guys are losing limbs and going out and doing marathons.

"If only you could take the spirit here in Wootton Bassett and connect it with the rest of the country."

Meanwhile, another British soldier has died three days after he was shot in Afghanistan.

The officer, who has not been named, died at Birmingham's Selly Oak Hospital, the Ministry of Defence has confirmed.

The soldier from the 1st Battalion, The Welsh Guards, was shot in Helmand Province.

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