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Last journey for soldier and dog

A soldier and his loyal dog, who died just hours apart in Afghanistan, are to make their final journey home together.

Lance Corporal Liam Tasker's body and the ashes of springer spaniel Theo will be flown to RAF Lyneham in Wiltshire from Afghanistan.

L/Cpl Tasker, from the Royal Army Veterinary Corps, was shot on March 1 while the pair were on patrol in Helmand province. Theo died of a seizure shortly afterwards.

The pair were described by colleagues as inseparable and "made for each other".

The Ministry of Defence said Theo's ashes would be returned to British soil in the same aircraft as his handler.

While 26-year-old L/Cpl Tasker, from Kirkcaldy, Fife, will be subject to the normal repatriation ceremony, Theo's ashes will be presented to his family in private in the near future.

After a private ceremony for L/Cpl Tasker's relatives, the cortege will pass through nearby Wootton Bassett. As has become tradition, local people and Royal British Legion members are expected to join his family and friends to line the high street in tribute.

Record-breaking Theo had been praised by the MoD for making 14 finds of hidden bombs and weapons caches in just five months.

The 22-month-old dog, on his first tour of duty in Afghanistan, had uncovered so many improvised explosive devices (IEDs) that his time in the country was extended by a month.

L/Cpl Tasker died from injuries he suffered in a firefight with the Taliban, while Theo died after returning to the main British military base, Camp Bastion. L/Cpl Tasker was said to have a "natural empathy with dogs" and was described as a "rising star" within the Dog Training Group.

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