Funeral Of Weymouth Marine

Around a thousand people gathered on Tuesday August 23rd 2011 for the funeral of a Royal Marine killed in Afghanistan.

The full military service for Marine James Wright was held at St John's Church, in his hometown of Weymouth.

Among the mourners were the Marine's pregnant partner Shelley Robertson, who gently cradled her baby bump as she walked into the church, his parents David and Sallie, sister Katie and cousin Ross, who also serves in the Royal Marines.

There were so many people who wanted to pay their respects that hundreds stood outside the church as the service was relayed on speakers.

The 22-year-old, who served with Plymouth-based 42 Commando, was killed on August 5 when his patrol came under fire from insurgents in Helmand Province.

The father-to-be died in hospital after a grenade was thrown into his patrol's checkpoint in the Nad-e Ali district.

Marine Wright's nickname was ''Big Reach'', because he once befriended a gangster on the streets of New York who used that name.

Speaking before the service, Major Steve McCulley, who was Marine Wright's company commander before he was injured in Afghanistan, spoke of his character and enthusiasm.

''James Wright was an outstanding Marine,'' Major McCulley said.

''He passed out of training just over a year ago and joined Juliet Company, 42 Commander, and I was immediately impressed by his enthusiasm and love of the corps.

''He was indeed a character and we had quite a few characters in Juliet Company.

''He wasn't the only one to sport a mohican and fortunately the Regimental Sergeant Major never saw it and he did get away with it.

''He was an enthusiastic guy and an incredible Marine.

''It's a tragedy and my thoughts, commanding officer's thoughts and the rest of 42 Commando are with his family at this time.''

Many of Marine Wright's comrades were on tour in Afghanistan and unable to attend the service.

The funeral party was provided by members of 42 Commando, who were not in Afghanistan, and consisted of six coffin bearers and a salute-firing party of 12.

The service was led by Rev Mike Stear and was assisted by Royal Navy chaplain Rev Keith Robus.

As the Marine's coffin was carried into the church the Dire Straits song Brothers In Arms was played.

Mourners sang Lord Of The Dance, The Naval Hymn and Praise, My Soul, The King Of Heaven.

Major McCulley spoke in tribute to the Marine and Lance Corporal John Seekins read from the Bible.

Miss Robertson's father Geoff spoke on behalf of the family.

He told the congregation that his daughter had set up home with Marine Wright two years ago.

''The events of August 5 changed all that and tore the hearts of two families and changed the lives of many of us forever,'' he said.

''James was a truly remarkable person. He was kind, he was considerate and he was a gentleman.

''James had the happy knack of being able to light up the lives of who knew him.

''James may be leaving now but he has left us with the single, most precious gift of all but I promise his child will be brought up to love him and to honour and cherish his memory.''

At the end of the service a bugler from the Royal Marine Band Service played the Last Post and Reveille.

The Marine's coffin was carried out to the Neil Diamond classic He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother.

A gun party fired a volley of shots before the coffin was placed into the hearse.

The crowd outside the church erupted into a spontaneous round of applause as the cortege left.

Following the service there was a private cremation at Weymouth Crematorium.

 Speaking ahead of the service, Miss Robertson said her partner would have been a brilliant father.

''We thought of ourselves as married - I suppose we were married in the cheapest way,'' she told reporters.

''It was James who wanted to have a child. He would have made a brilliant dad.''

Miss Robertson is 26 weeks pregnant and her bump has been nicknamed ''Little Reach'' in honour of Marine Wright's nickname.

The couple, who were together for five years, met at a friend's birthday party, the service was told.

Speaking shortly after his son's death, his father said:

''James was so proud to be a Royal Marine and we are so proud of him.

''He was determined to be the best.''

His mother added: ''He was always smiling with a wonderful sense of humour.

''James never had a bad word to say about anyone and was so kind and considerate.''

The serviceman took part in Navy ski championships in France, scaled Ben Nevis and had a passion for motocross.

Colleagues remembered how he had once rescued a cow that was trapped in barbed wire near their base, and treated its injuries, and praised him for his jovial nature.

funeral of James Wright

In the photo: Shelley Robertson, the pregnant girlfriend of Marine James Wright (centre), holds her bump as she makes her way towards St John's Church, Weymouth, for his funeral service, supported by James' family, including sister Katie (left) and his mother and father Sallie (second right) and David Wright (right).

James Wright