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Afghan death servicemen repatriated

The families of three British servicemen killed in Afghanistan stood together in their grief as they watched their loved ones' bodies repatriated to the UK.

Lieutenant Andrew Robert Chesterman, of 3rd Battalion The Rifles, was shot by enemy forces on August 9.

Lance Corporal Matthew Smith, of the Corps of Royal Engineers, died the following day and Guardsman Jamie Shadrake, of the Reconnaissance Platoon, 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards, was killed on Friday.

Their three families stood side by side in the memorial garden in Carterton as they watched the cortege of three hearses approach them as they made their way to Oxford. The men's bodies were earlier flown into RAF Brize Norton, in Oxfordshire, where the Union flag-draped coffins were carried off the plane.

At the side of the road in Carterton 26 Royal British Legion standard-bearers slowly lowered their flags as family members started to sob. They clutched bunches of flowers including red, white and yellow roses and sunflowers. Some family members also held onto small wooden crosses.

Friends of Guardsman Shadrake wore navy blue t-shirts with the words "Our hero, Jamie" printed on the back. Others wore white t-shirts showing his photograph and the words "RIP Jamie, True Hero". The guardsman, who was brought up in Pontyclun, near Cardiff, before his family moved to Wrexham last year, joined the Army as a 17-year-old in 2009.

A group of L/Cpl Smith's friends chose to wear West Ham United t-shirts with "L/Cpl Matt Smith, RIP Our Hero" on the back. The soldier, from Aldershot, who had four children - Lainie, Ella, Tilli and Jai - aged between one and seven, and a fiancee, Laura, was said to be devoted to his family and "talked about them endlessly".

The father of Lt Chesterman, who was killed in the Nad-e Ali district of Helmand province, said in a statement at the time of his son's death that his family had lost "a fine young man". Paul Chesterman added that the Bristol serviceman's relatives, including his sisters Anna and Olivia, were "immensely proud" of him.

The families were supported by more than 100 friends and well-wishers - many with tears in their eyes as they shook their heads when the coffins passed by.

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