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Wootton Bassett – Afghanistan Repatriation - Harry Page, Daily Mirror staff photographer went to photograph the nation's grief for our soldiers.
Over recent years, larger and larger crowds gather to pay their respects.
Last month, eight hearses were driven down the high street of this little market town as the bodies of Corporal Lee Scott, Rifleman James Backhouse, Corporal Jonathan Horne, Rifleman Daniel Simpson, Rifleman Joseph Murphy, Rifleman William Aldridge, Private John Brackpool and Rifleman Daniel Hume were taken back to their families.
|Photo by Harry Page.|
This impact of this image would be all about the eight hearses in convoy with the bodies of eight soldiers all killed within a 24 hour period, underlining the battle that was being fought by our forces in Afghanistan.
|Photo by Harry Page.|
The eight vehicle convoy viewed from the platform gave a real three-dimensional feel to the photograph. Images like this are shown time and time again and go on to be a valuable part of our national heritage.
Since operations began to the date of me writing this, 192 military personnel have died in Afghanistan and all have made their final journeys in repatriation ceremonies such as this one.
Harry Patch - ‘The Last Tommy’
We also saw an end to an era as WW1 veteran Harry Patch died. Harry was 111 years old and was the last living veteran who fought in the trenches of the First World War. Harry was well known to all of us in the media and had been nicknamed 'the Last Tommy'. Mirror photographer, Roger Allen attended his funeral in Wells Somerset.
There were 2 penned off 'fixed point' positions that had been organised for the photographers: A position for Harry's coffin arriving at the Cathedral and position two for the coffin leaving. There was a lot to record there as representatives from the Belgian, French and German governments all took part in the service to show Mr Patch's respect for soldiers on all sides of the war.
The main image for the Mirror was Harry’s coffin leaving the cathedral but filler pictures such as people dressed in WW1 uniforms and mourners with poppies would go to make up a Daily Mirror photo spread in honour of the veteran.
Words by James Vellacott.