The devastated girlfriend of a British soldier who died in an explosion in Afghanistan wept as his body was brought home.
Tearful Sara Horsley desperately clutched a bunch of red roses as the body of her Marine David Hart was paraded through Wootton Bassett, Wilts.
Marine Hart, of 40 Commando, was serving as part of Combined Force Sangin when he was killed by a roadside bomb while on foot patrol in the war-torn province on July 8.
The 23-year-old, from York, died the day before he was due to celebrate his 24th birthday.
His body was repatriated to Britain today alongside that of Bombardier Samuel Robinson, 31.
Bdr Robinson, of 5th Regiment, Royal Artillery, was serving in support of Combined Force Sangin when he was killed in a separate explosion while on foot patrol on July 8.
Their bodies were flown into RAF Lyneham, Wilts., aboard a Hercules plane before a hearse carrying Union Jack-draped coffins travelled through Wootton Bassett.
Marine Hart’s parents Dilys and Chris Hart said: ”David loved his family, his girlfriend and friends, many that he has known since early age.
”Throughout his life, David showed the qualities of the Commando Spirit, he had a great personality and was a friend to everyone.
”His cheerfulness, his sense of humour and of course his smile will be sorely missed, but never forgotten. We are immensely proud, as he was, of his achievements.
Hi sister Sarah added: ”Dave was the best brother I could ever have wished for.
”He was caring, funny, had an infamous cheeky grin and would always be there for you.
”I am so proud to have been his sister, and of his chosen career as a Royal Marines Commando.
”He truly loved his job and relished the challenges he was facing on a daily basis.
”Dave, I will miss you so much. You were so brave and I will always remember you as a true hero.”
The town fell silent as family and friends threw flowers onto the hearse whilst members of the crowd watched tearfully.
The family of Bdr Robinson, from Carmarthen, Wales said: ”Sam was doing the job that he loved and was proud to be doing it. We are all very proud of him and we will miss him forever.”
Lieutenant Colonel Richard Hayhurst, Commanding Officer 5th Regiment Royal Artillery, said: ”This courageous man held the respect of all that knew him.
”His strength of character, professionalism, and outright robustness made him a force to be reckoned with.
”He was the perfect role model for the rest of the Regiment and in particular the young members of 4/73 Battery.
”He was special and will be sorely missed. His tragic loss has come as a shock to us all and my greatest sympathy goes out to his family and to his friends.”
Mourners stood in silence as the hearses stopped at the town’s war memorial where regimental banners were lowered and church bells rang in respect.
The vehicles then continued up the High Street en route to the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford.
A total of 318 British servicemen and women have died since the start of operations in Afghanistan in 2001.