Tributes For Afgan Blast Marines

3 June 2011, 10:49 | Updated: 3 June 2011, 11:10

The body of a 28-year-old Hampshire soldier Sam Alexander has been flown home after he was killed in an explosion in Helmand Province.

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

Marine Sam Alexander, who grew up in Hamble near Southampton and Lieutenant Ollie Augustin, 23, from Kent, were killed when they were caught in a blast by an IED (improvised explosive device).

The men were both in 42 Commando Royal Marines.

Between 400 and 500 people lined the streets to pay their respects after the bodies arrived at RAF Lyneham.

Among them was Kieran Gallagher, 24, from Poole, 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."