Second Repatriation For Oxfordshire

22 September 2011, 12:59 | Updated: 23 September 2011, 07:20

The family and friends of two fallen servicemen wept as their loved ones' bodies were brought back to Oxfordshire.

Lance Corporal Jonathan James McKinlay, from 1st Battalion The Rifles, and Marine David Fairbrother, from 42 Commando Royal Marines, were shot dead in separate incidents in Afghanistan earlier this month.

Their bodies were flown into RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire today where families joined a private ceremony at a purpose-built repatriation centre on the airbase.

The cortege, destined for the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford, then passed through Carterton where the mourners were joined by around 1,500 people who fell silent as a mark of respect to the two men.

A line of Royal British Legion standard bearers stood opposite the families and slowly lowered their standards as the crowd bowed their heads.

The families stood side by side and many of the mourners sobbed openly or wiped away tears as the cortege passed.

It paused briefly in front of the union flag, hung at half mast, to let the grieving families place flowers on top of the hearses.

Marine Fairbrother's girlfriend clutched a red rose and kissed the glass before watching the cortege pull away.

At the time of his death Melissa said as her tribute: "Dave - I am so glad I met you. You have changed my life in so many ways and I will cherish our time together forever. Love always.''

Marine Fairbrother, 24, was shot on Monday while on patrol in the Nahr-e Saraj (South) district of Helmand province.

The Ministry of Defence said he and fellow marines were with members of the Afghan National Army when they were ambushed.

L/Cpl McKinlay, 33, was killed in Afghanistan on September 14 when he was caught in a burst of enemy gunfire while on patrol in the same area of Helmand.

Today 36 members of L/Cpl McKinlay's battalion stood silently as they saluted their comrade.

They had travelled from Chepstow to attend.

Lance Corporal Mark Hicks, 1st Battalion The Rifles, described L/Cpl McKinlay as a "dear friend''.

"Jon was a godfather to my sons. I just wanted to come out with the lads just to obviously show the respect,'' he said.

L/Cpl Hicks, 41, said his friend had always wanted to push himself forward.

"He was just an up-and-coming, fast-running soldier. All I can say is I'll just remember the guy very well.''

L/Cpl McKinlay, from Darlington, was a father of one and stepfather of two who was known as an outgoing and friendly commander said to have had time for everyone he met.

He leaves his wife Lisa, mother Valerie, sister Becca, daughter Megan, and stepchildren Ollie and Piper.

Marine Fairbrother, from Blackburn, Lancashire, was described by his mother as a "devoted, beautiful and giving son''.

He joined the Royal Marines in November 2009 and was a qualified Team Medic with Kilo Company, The Black Knights.

His mother, Julie Fairbrother, said: ``David, not only are you the sunshine of my life but you were a devoted, beautiful and giving son. I am so proud of the determination you had to become a Royal Marine.''

The deaths took the number of British troops who have died since operations in Afghanistan began in 2001 to 382.

Today's repatriation cortege was the second to pass through Carterton since flights returned to RAF Brize Norton on September 1.

They were moved to RAF Lyneham, Wiltshire, in April 2007 when Brize Norton was closed for runway repairs.