Kent Soldier Repatriated

Family and friends of two Royal Marines killed by an explosion in Afghanistan have gathered in Wootton Bassett to welcome home their loved ones.

Lieutenant Ollie Augustin, 23, from Dartford and Marine Sam Alexander, 28, from Hammersmith, west London, were killed when they were caught in a blast from an improvised explosive device last week.

The men, both in 42 Commando Royal Marines, were searching a compound as part of an operation to remove insurgents from their last remaining stronghold in the Loy Madenh area of Helmand Province

Lt Augustin was leading the patrol and had only completed his officer training in December.

Hundreds of people lined the streets of Wooton Basset on Thursday to pay their respects after the bodies arrived at RAF Lyneham.

Among them was Kieran Gallagher who trained as a Royal Marine with Lieutenant Augustin and served in Helmand province at the same time as him.

He said: "I met Ollie two years ago at the start of training, from day one something sort of clicked and we were really good friends. "Ollie was in no short form the model example of a Royal Marines officer. He was ridiculously kind and just had so much time for everybody.''

Friends and family of Marine Sam Alexander asked for privacy to grieve their loss.

They left flowers and cans of beer on the roof of the hearse carrying his body when it stopped in front of Wootton Bassett's war memorial.

In a previous statement his wife Claire, the mother of his one-year-old son, said: "Sam was so special. He was the gentlest of men but tough when he needed to be. He risked his safety for his friends but never batted an eyelid.''

The deaths of the two men takes the number of UK military personnel who have died since operations in Afghanistan began in 2001 to 368.