THE Royal British Legion, veterans and grateful members of the public will tomorrow line Oxfordshire streets for the repatriation of five servicemen killed in Afghanistan.
Captain Thomas Clarke, of the Army Air Corps, Flight Lieutenant Rakesh Chauhan, of the Royal Air Force, Warrant Officer Class 2 Spencer Faulkner, of the Army Air Corps, Corporal James Walters, of the Army Air Corps and Lance Corporal Oliver Thomas, of the Intelligence Corps, were in a Lynx helicopter when it came down in Kandahar province on April 27.
An aircraft carrying all five will land at RAF Brize Norton, where family members will be waiting and an official ceremony will take place.
Oxfordshire Royal British Legion chairman Jim Lewendon said that, as usual, he would gather with others at Headley Way, in Oxford, near the entrance to the John Radcliffe Hospital.
He said: “We will be there, as always. I never miss it.
“We usually see about 300 people and some 20 standards.
“What has happened is such a tragic loss of life and it will be quite emotional, I am sure.
“But we always get a good turnout and I think the families appreciate what we do.”
All five servicemen were based at RAF Odiham, except for L Cpl Thomas, who was based in London.
After landing at RAF Brize Norton, their bodies will be transported to the John Radcliffe Hospital for a post mortem examination, stopping along the way at a purpose-built memorial garden in Norton Way, Carterton.
The Ministry of Defence (MOD) has said it is investigating what caused the crash.
The Taliban has claimed that its insurgents shot down the helicopter, but that has been denied by MOD officials.
It brings the total number of UK service personnel killed in Afghanistan since 2001 to 453.
Carterton mayor Lynn Little said she and others would be at the memorial garden to pay their respects and comfort the family of the dead personnel.
She said: “In this most difficult of times and especially after such a tragic accident, we are there to support and care for the families.
“It is the single thing we can do for them on such a sad day.”
In the House of Commons on Wednesday, Prime Minister and Witney MP David Cameron and Labour leader Ed Miliband also paid tribute to the soldiers.
Mr Cameron said: “These tragic deaths remind us of the continued commitment and sacrifice of our Armed Forces, and I know that our deepest sympathies are with their families at this very difficult time.”
Flight Lieutenant Rakesh Chauhan
Warrant Officer Class 2 Spencer Faulkner
Corporal James Walters
Lance Corporal Oliver Thomas
To be announced: Plane lands at Brize Norton.
2.30pm: Service at the base.
4.45pm: The cortege arrives at Carterton’s memorial garden, in Norton Way.
6pm: Estimated arrival at the John Radcliffe Hospital, in Headley Way, for post mortem examinations.