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Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Wootton Bassett Timeline: How The Repatriation Ceremony Came About

From 2007's first spontaneous gesture of respect to 2011 when the flag was lowered for the last time in Wiltshire town.

Crowds gather for the repatriation procession of three soldiers killed in Afghanistan – Captain Daniel Read, Corporal Lee Brownson and Rifleman Luke Farmer – through Wootton Bassett in January 2010.

Spring 2007

The bodies of fallen service personnel are to be repatriated through RAF Lyneham in Wiltshire rather than Brize Norton in Oxfordshire. This means funeral corteges will pass through Wootton Bassett en route to hospital in Oxford.

April 2007

The first repatriation takes place through Wootton. Mayor Percy Miles is told and decides to wear his mayoral robes to watch the cortege pass. The first soldiers to be honoured are Aaron Lincoln, 18, and Danny Wilson, 28.

2007 and 2008

The number of people lining the streets gradually grows. The local branch of the Royal British Legion begins to alert townspeople and veterans' groups when a repatriation is to take place. Hundreds, then thousands, many travelling from far afield, begin to turn out.

July 2009

The bodies of eight soldiers are repatriated. Three were killed as they rushed to rescue comrades injured in an earlier blast. For the first time relatives applaud and throw flowers.

Summer 2009

There is growing unease in the town over the attention focused on Wootton Bassett. Residents complain that the media is intruding and turning repatriations into a circus. Concern too at the outward shows of emotion by some family members.

November 2009

The body of bomb disposal expert Olaf Schmid is repatriated. His dignified widow, Christina Schmid, grabs headlines as she applauds the hearse carrying her husband's body.

November 2009

A particularly charged repatriation when the bodies of five soldiers killed by a rogue Afghan policeman are brought home. The BNP leader Nick Griffin appears in the crowd.

December 2009

Anger when the BBC films Question Time from Wootton Bassett. Residents have tried to keep politics out. Afghanistan dominates the show's agenda.

January 2010

The radical Islamist group Islam4UK causes outrage by announcing it wishes to stage an anti-war protest in the town. The idea is abandoned.

June 2010

The bodies of seven servicemen, killed in four separate incidents in Afghanistan, are repatriated. Two were killed in firefights, one by an explosion. Four died when their vehicle rolled into a canal.

March 2011

David Cameron announces Wootton Bassett is to become the first English town for more than a century to be granted the title "royal" to mark the way it has honoured fallen personnel.

August 2011

The final repatriation – the 167th takes place. In all 345 men and women have been repatriated through the town.

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