The repatriation flag will be lowered for the last time in Wootton Bassett tonight. As the sun sets, the church bell will toll to mark the end of an era for a town that has become synonymous with the death of British servicemen and women.
Since 2007 Wootton Bassett has ground to a halt each time the bodies of British service personnel are driven through the high street after being repatriated through nearby RAF Lyneham. Thousands of visitors and locals have stood with bereaved families to watch corteges pass through on its way to a hospital in Oxfordshire.
Wotton Bassett and it’s residents have seen 345 servicemen and women repatriated through RAF Lyneham since the base assumed the duty in April 2007.
The return of the body of 24-year-old Daniel Clack, who was killed by a roadside bomb in Helmand marked the 167th and final repatriation for Wootton Bassett and took place on 18 August.
RAF Brize Norton now holds the sole responsibility for repatriations as RAF Lyneham prepares to close next year.
Wootton Bassett is now ‘Royal’ Wootton Bassett after the town was granted royal patronage in March 2011 by the Queen in recognition of its efforts to honor the UK’s war dead.