Afghanistan Repatriations

  morddwyd 20:48 01 Sep 2011

With the transfer of repatriations from Lyneham to Brize Norton cortèges leaving Brize will stop outside a specially built memorial garden built by the side of the road.

One of the most moving aspects of the Wootton Bassett tributes was the fact that they were totally spontaneous.

Even though announcements were made locally and by word of mouth it remained something that the people of Wootton Bassett did on their own, with no official involvement at all.

I cannot help feeling that the building of a £40,000 garden to formalise the events will detract a little from them.

Surely it should have been possible to route the cortèges through Carterton, to allow the people there to pay their tributes if they wish>

Yes, I know they can go to the garden, but it's not the same as coming out onto your own streets, and virtually shutting down your own town.

  wiz-king 21:01 01 Sep 2011

If the other village did the same as Wootton Bassett they would most likely be accused of being copycats.

  john bunyan 21:18 01 Sep 2011

The first via this route is a 40 year old Royal Marines Sergeant from 42 Commando. I know many green and other coloured berets will be there to pay their respects, together with many others.

  morddwyd 21:23 01 Sep 2011

"I don't think the people of Carterton could act spontaneously. The expectation is that they will take on the role of Wootton Bassett so, I think, they are under pressure to act."

I think you may be right.

As you say, it's a tricky one.

Just thought I'd see if there's any general debate.

  flycatcher1 22:47 01 Sep 2011

fourm member
I think that you are right. Carterton has been presented with a difficult task to follow Wootton Bassett. The route that has been chosen was the result of discussions with every possible interested party and so it is, most likely, the correct one.

There are three, or four, other exit gates at Brize Norton and they all would have provided benefits and drawbacks in this situation. For my part I would have used the No 2 Gate, which many regard as the Main Gate, the route to Oxford would have avoided Carterton Town Centre but still passed the Memorial Garden.

I served at Brize for twenty years and lived in Carterton for thirteen of them so I know the area well. The people of Carterton and Brize Norton will do their best but they will have to struggle to reach the level of care and compassion shown in Wootton Bassett. I only wish that the first cortege through Brize would be the last one.

  Forum Editor 22:47 01 Sep 2011

"I don't think the people of Carterton could act spontaneously. The expectation is that they will take on the role of Wootton Bassett so, I think, they are under pressure to act."

I agree completely. I also agree that many people in Wootton Basset may have felt compelled to turn out as time went on. Some of them may well have acted spontaneously in the beginning, but eventually many of them may have come to view it as less than spontaneous, and more of a ritual. I have obviously know way of knowing whether or not that was the case, but it seems possible.

  Chegs ®™ 08:40 02 Sep 2011

I'm still thinking about it,as I cannot decide either way.

  john bunyan 14:57 02 Sep 2011

This is from someone involved with this issue:

Just to put you in the picture about Brize Norton. I am involved in organising the ceremonial side of the repatriations and have done over 86 in the last 2 years and am therefore up to speed with the plans for the changeover from Lyneham to Brize Norton. The coffins are not being snuck out of the "Back door" as the press so confrontationally put it.

Brize Norton is a huge Air base and far busier than Lyneham, as a result the new repatriation facility is being built on the far side of the air base, to allow a more personal experience and to prevent unnecessary impact on a fully operational air base, which will have double the occupants once Lyneham closes down.

As you can imagine there are more than one exit/entrance onto the base, in case of incidents etc. These are not manned all the time as you could imagine how much manpower it would take. The new repatriation centre is located close to one of these exits and means that on the day of the repat the families can arrive and depart without moving through the main part of the airbase very much in the public view. The exit also leads straight onto a main road outside camp which means hearses do not have to transit through the camp over speed bumps etc, they can move straight onto a public highway and on to their next destination, which is, sadly, the coroners in Oxford.

The road from the Crash Gate (as it is known) joins the roundabout which leads to either the main entrance to Brize Norton or out to the main road. The Exit/entrance being touted as "the back door" is actually about 300m from that roundabout.

Beyond that roundabout an area has been identified where the cortege can stop and members of the general public can pay a tribute a la Wootton Bassett. A memorial garden is going to be set up there as well as car parking facilities and refreshments. That is a council initiative to avoid the cortege having to negotiate the speed bumps that exist in Brize Norton village. (This has not been made common knowledge, because as usual MOD fluffed their lines as usual) I hope ...

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