First 10 British war dead flown home
The first of 23 British servicemen killed in the opening days of the Iraq war were flown home on Saturday to a solemn ceremony with military honours.world Updated: Mar 29, 2003 19:01 IST
The first of 23 British servicemen killed in the opening days of the Iraq war were flown home on Saturday to a solemn ceremony with military honours.
Underscoring the grimness of the ceremonial was the fact that none of the 10 dead who arrived back on Saturday were killed by enemy fire.
Defence Minister Geoff Hoon represented the government at the ceremony, with Air Chief Marshall Sir John Day and Admiral Sir Jonathan Band representing the armed services, sitting alongside the relatives of the dead.
Eight of the 10 -- one sailor, five Royal Marines and two gunners -- were killed when their US transport helicopter crashed on the first night of the invasion of Iraq as they were being flown into southern Iraq.
The other two were killed when their Tornado jet was shot down by a US Patriot missile as they were returning from a bombing mission two nights later.
As the Globemaster transport plane bringing them home landed at the Royal Air Force base at Brize Norton in Oxfordshire 50 miles north west of London, the flag flew at half mast.
The Union flag-draped coffins were carried off the plane one at a time while prayers were read out by three senior chaplains of the armed forces and the band of the Royal Marines played Handel's Death March.
One by one the coffins were loaded into waiting hearses and driven to a nearby hall for the families to pay their respects.