The grief of a nation

This weekend saw the final piece of the Wootton Bassett story fall into place and reach, it would seem, its natural conclusion.

As the British service personnel who had been killed during operation deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan were repatriated to RAF Lyneham and made their final journey from the RAF base to the coroners office in Oxford a gradual and unplanned series of events began to unfold.

With the sight of the cortege carrying flag draped coffins passing through the town becoming a tragically more common event the people of the town along with a small number of Royal British Legion members stopped on the street to pay their respects.

This mark of respect slowly developed into an event that came to represent the grief of a nation in a sight now known to many throughout the country and indeed the world. As family members came to pay their respects, they were joined by serving military and, as ever, the residents of the town and members of the Legion and slowly, the numbers grew.

This Sunday, the town became Royal Wootton Bassett, an honour bestowed on the town by the Queen for its part in the 167 occasions when everything stopped and the streets became silent as the bodies of military personnel killed in those far away wars were brought home.

Royal Wootton Bassett high street after the formal parade had finished.

Prime Minister David Cameron and the new Defence Secretary Philip Hammond.

The Queen was represented by Princess Anne.

David Cameron, Philip Hammond, Sir Peter Wall, John Crisford, the vice chairman of the Royal British Legion and James Gray, the High Sheriff, attend the event.

HRH Princess Anne makes a speech to the residents of the town.

A C17 Globemaster was one of three flypasts over the Wiltshire town.

David Cameron, Philip Hammond, Sir Peter Wall and James Grey await the arrival of Princess Anne.

Older veterans share a joke at the start of the event.

A man attending the event.

A young sea cadet is one of many lining the road through the town.

A woman and her dog take a look out over the high street.

Royal Wootton Bassett shop front.

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