Anniversary of first repatriation to Brize

Anniversary of first repatriation to Brize

The first repatriation to take place in Carterton on September 8, 2011

Royal British Legion vice president Mike Henderson

The first time the memorial bell tolled on July 5

First published in News Herald Series: Photograph of the Author by

FORTY-ONE families of fallen service personnel have been helped and supported by Oxfordshire volunteers in the last year.

Today marks the anniversary of the first repatriation to RAF Brize Norton after the airbase took back the duty a year ago.

Since the repatriation of Sergeant Barry Weston on September 8, 2011, 21 more ceremonies have followed.

Each time thousands of people have gathered at the purpose-built memorial garden on the edge of Carterton to pay their respects.

Dozens of volunteers have given their time and millions of pounds has been spent both at the memorial garden and in RAF Brize Norton to help families of the fallen.

Royal British Legion Oxfordshire vice president Mike Henderson said: “I remember all of them. They stick with you.

“There have been far too many repatriations in the last 12 months but I believe we have developed a system now that works.

“We get a lot of nice responses from the families, and if we are getting that then we have done our job correctly.”

RBL family liaison officer Lynn Little, who looks after the families on the day, said: “It has been a very emotional year. But I think it has been utterly amazing how the whole community has come together to support the families of the fallen soldiers.”

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Carterton mayor Ady Coomber said: “I’m immensely proud of our community in terms of the support that we provide on the days of repatriations.”

In the last year, the memorial garden in Norton Way has grown to include a poppy garden, trees and Cotswold stone walls around the Union Flag.

A memorial bell, funded through £26,000 of donations, was unveiled in June and stands opposite the garden to toll as the cortege approaches.

Carterton groups now hope to expand the pavilion in Norton Way to provide more space to look after families during repatriations.

A £250,000 bid to the Ministry of Defence’s community covenant scheme was turned down but community leaders are now fundraising for a £50,000 scheme. Meanwhile, a £2.8m repatriation centre has been built in RAF Brize Norton to care for families and for them to watch the plane carrying their loved one land.

Wing Commander Justine Morton, who oversees repatriations at RAF Brize Norton, said: “It has been a real team effort between the local community and RAF Brize Norton, and one year on everyone should be proud.

“The main drive for everyone has been to make sure our fallen are repatriated appropriately and with dignity and that their families are looked after in the best possible manner, and we have achieved all of that.”

THE FALLEN REPATRIATED AT RAF BRIZE NORTON

1 – Sgt Barry Weston, 40, 42 Royal Marine Commandos, on 8/9/11 2 – L Cpl Jonathan McKinlay, 33, 1st Battalion The Rifles, B Company, on 22/9/11 3 – Mrn David Fairbrother, 24, 42 Royal Marine Commandos, on 22/9/11 4 – Rfn Vijay Rai, 21, 2nd Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles, on 27/10/11 5 – Pte Matthew Haseldin, 21, 2nd Battalion The Mercian Regiment, on 10/11/011 6 – Pte Matthew Thornton, 28, 4th Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment, on 17/11/11 7 – L Cpl Peter Eustace, 26, 2nd Battalion The Rifles, on 24/11/11 8 – L Cpl Richard Scanlon, 31, 1st The Queen’s Dragoon Guards, on 24/11/11 9 – Lt David Boyce, 25, 1st The Queen’s Dragoon Guards, on 24/11/11 10 – Pte Thomas Lake, 29, 1st Battalion The Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment, on 24/11/11 11 – Rfn Sheldon Steel, 20, 5th Battalion The Rifles, on 1/12/11 12 – Capt Tom Jennings, 29, Royal Marines, on 29/12/11 13 – Pte John King, 19, 1st Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment, on 5/1/12 14 – Sgl Ian Sartorius-Jones, 21, 200 Signals Squadron, on 2/2/12 15 – L Cpl Gajbahadur Gurung, 26, 1st Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment, on 7/2/12 16 – SAC Ryan Tomlin, 21, 2 Squadron, RAF Regiment, on 23/2/12 17 – Pte Daniel Wilford, 21, Yorkshire Regiment, 3rd Battalion, on 20/3/12 18 – Pte Daniel Wade, 20, Yorkshire Regiment, 3rd Battalion, on 20/3/12 19 – Pte Christopher Kershaw, 19, Yorkshire Regiment, 3rd Battalion, on 20/3/12 20 – Cpl Jake Hartley, 20, Yorkshire Regiment, 3rd Battalion, on 20/3/12 21 – Pte Anthony Frampton, 20, Yorkshire Regiment, 3rd Battalion, on 20/3/12 22 – Sgt Nigel Coupe, 33, The Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment, 1st Battalion, on 20/3/12 23 – Capt Rupert Bowers, 24, 2nd Battalion The Mercian Regiment, on 29/3/12 24 – L Cpl Michael Foley, 25, Adjutant General’s Corps, Staff and Personnel Support, on 29/3/12 25 – Sgt Luke Taylor, 33, Royal Marines, on 29/3/12 26 – Gdm Michael Roland, 22, 1st Battalion, Grenadier Guards, on 3/5/12 27 – Pte Ratu Silibaravi, 32, 23 Pioneer Regiment, Royal Logistic Corps, on 10/5/12 28 – Cpl Andrew Roberts, 32, 23 Pioneer Regiment, Royal Logistic Corps, on 10/5/12 29 – L Cpl Lee Davies, 27, 1st Battalion Welsh Guards, Police Advisory Team, on 17/5/12 30 – Cpl Brent McCarthy, 25, attached to 1st Battalion Welsh Guards, on 17/5/12 31 – Capt Stephen Healey, 29, The Royal Welsh, on 31/5/12 32 – Cpl Michael Thacker, 27, 1st Battalion, The Royal Welsh, on 7/6/12 33 – Pte Gregg Stone, 20, 3rd Battalion, The Yorkshire Regiment, on 7/6/12
34 – L Cpl James Ashworth, 23, 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards, on 21/6/12 35 – Cpl Alex Guy, 37, 1st Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment, on 21/6/12 36 – Gdm Craig Roderick, 22, 1st Battalion the Welsh Guards, on 5/7/12 37 – WO2 Leonard Thomas, 44, Royal Corps of Signals, on 5/7/12 38 – Gdm Apete Tuisovurua, 28, 1st Battalion the Welsh Guards, on 5/7/12 39 – Lt Andrew Chesterman, 26, 3rd Battalion The Rifles, on 21/8/12 40 – L Cpl Matthew Smith, 26, Corps of the Royal Engineers, on 21/8/12 41– Gdm Jamie Shadrake, 20, 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards, on 21/8/12.

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