Townspeople take their tributes to base

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TRIBUTES have poured in to Battlesbury Barracks, the home of 3rd Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment, as well-wishers left flowers and cards at the base.

As the dark green battalion flag emblazoned with a gold lion and white rose flew at half-mast, a woman and a boy quietly laid a bunch of pale yellow roses.

Before turning to leave, the woman gently placed her hand on the sign and lowered her head.

A card tucked inside the floral tribute said: “Dear 3 Yorks, Tragic news. Warminster is proud and will always consider you ‘our boys’. J x”

An ex-serviceman who laid a bunch of red and yellow flowers at the gates said every death hits them hard.

Lee Thomas, 43, who lives in the town, said: “I’m just here to show my respect, it’s just so sad. They’re only young lads.

“It’s just a shock. Any loss is tragic.

“I’ve come here because of the respect these boys have earned and deserve.”

A card left on another bunch of flowers read: “Six soldiers reporting for duty at St Peter’s gate. My prayers and thoughts are with family and friends.”

Flags were also at half mast at Catterick Garrison yesterday.

The Mayor and councillors of Warminster Town Council said they were “extremely saddened” to hear the news. The council added that a pre-deployment parade scheduled for March 16, which has been organised by The Yorkshire Regiment, will continue as planned unless it was told otherwise.

The event, involving 250 soldiers, is being held to mark the soldiers’ deployment to Afghanistan in April.

The troops will be joining their colleagues in Afghanistan, some of whom left Warminster on February 14 in an emotional Valentine’s Day farewell.

A church service was held last night for “quiet contemplation” of the deaths.

The Rev Harvey Gibbons, rector of Minster Church of St Denys in Warminster, said it would be an opportunity for local people to show their respect and support for those soldiers who have lost their lives.

“Every loss is a tragedy in its own right and of course where five occur at once it inevitably is a large scale thing, but each loss of life is a tragedy and needs to be respected and grieved in the appropriate way,” he said.

“It is obviously one of enormous shock and sadness at the loss of so many young lives and our sympathies go out both to the families involved and our colleagues of the soldiers killed in Afghanistan.”