FIVE British servicemen killed in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan have been repatriated to the UK in a poignant ceremony.

Hundreds of people gathered in the sunshine at Carterton, Oxfordshire to pay their respects to the fallen personnel as they returned to British soil.

Captain Thomas Clarke, Warrant Officer Spencer Faulkner and Corporal James Walters, all of the Army Air Corps (AAC), were serving as the Lynx aircraft's three-man team when they died.

Loading article content

They lost their lives together with Flight Lieutenant Rakesh Chauhan of the Royal Air Force and Lance Corporal Oliver Thomas of the Intelligence Corps, who were believed to have been passengers on the flight.

Their helicopter went down in Kandahar province, 30 miles from the border with Pakistan, on the morning of April 26. The Ministry of Defence has denied claims by the Taliban that they shot the helicopter down, with initial investigations indicating a "tragic accident" rather than enemy action as the cause of the crash.

More than 1,000 mourners - including serving personnel, schoolchildren and local residents - stood in silence on Norton Way for one of the largest repatriations the small town has seen. At 1.30pm, the five servicemen were flown into RAF Brize Norton, where a private ceremony for close relatives took place.

Family members then lined the road on Norton Way, clutching flowers including red and white roses, lilies, brightly coloured tulips and yellow daffodils.

The street fell silent at 4.52pm, when the bell tolled to mark the arrival of the servicemen's families at the Memorial Garden.