Kent-Based Soldiers Repatriated

20 July 2010, 06:27 | Updated: 20 July 2010, 08:11

The bodies of three Kent-based soldiers killed in Afghanistan will be repatriated today (Tuesday 20th July)

Major James Bowman, Lieutenant Neal Turkington and Corporal Arjun Purja Pun, all of 1st Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles based at Shorncliffe Barracks in Folkestone, were killed at their base in Helmand Province on Monday last week.

Their bodies - along with that of Marine Matthew Harrison, of 40 Commando - will be flown back to RAF Lyneham, Wiltshire, where a chapel service will be held for close relatives.

The coffins will then pass through the nearby town of Wootton Bassett, where hundreds of shopkeepers, soldiers and well-wishers are expected to line the streets in tribute.

It comes as UK special forces continue a massive manhunt for Talib Hussein who is believed to have carried out the attack.

Hussein, 23, shot Maj Bowman, 34, from Salisbury, Wiltshire, in his sleeping quarters in Patrol Base 3 in Nahr-e Saraj district, near Helmand's capital, Lashkar Gah.

He also fired a rocket-propelled grenade into the base's command centre, killing Lt Turkington, 26, from Craigavon, Northern Ireland, and Corporal Pun, 33, from Nepal, and wounding four other UK soldiers.

Maj Bowman was the most senior member of British forces to die in Afghanistan since Lieutenant Colonel Rupert Thorneloe, commanding officer of the 1st Battalion Welsh Guards, was killed by a roadside bomb last July.

In a statement his family said: ``He was the best possible son and brother who will be sadly missed by his family and many friends. He loved the Army and was very proud of the selfless work that he and his Company were doing.''

Cpl Pun, 33, from Khibang village in Nepal's Magdi District, joined the British Army in 1995.

His wife, Durga, said: "Arjun Purja Pun was a tremendous husband. He was proud to be a soldier and died doing a job he loved.

"We are devastated by the loss of Arjun who was a loving husband and father.

"We are proud of the fact that Arjun was prepared to do his duty helping the people of Afghanistan.''

Relatives of Lt Turkington, who was born in Craigavon in Northern Ireland, paid tribute his courage, adding: ``We are all so proud of him - we couldn't have asked for a finer son, brother and friend.''

Marine Harrison, 23, from Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, died in Afghanistan the day before his 24th birthday.<
He was taken to the Camp Bastion field hospital after being wounded in a firefight on a patrol.

His parents, Brian and Janette Harrison, said: ``He was passionate about being a Marine and serving out on the front line. He died doing what he said he 'needed to do'.''