THE body of South Yorkshire soldier Lee Davidson was brought back to British soil yesterday to be reunited with his grieving family.
Six of his comrades from The Light Dragoons carried his Union flag-draped coffin from a Hercules transport aircraft after it touched down at RAF Brize Norton from Afghanistan just after lunchtime.
They placed it gently into a hearse where it was conveyed to a private area at the airbase for his pregnant widow, Samantha, and other members of Sgt Davidson’s family to spend some time with him.
Later in the afternoon the cortege was driven slowly through the Oxfordshire town of Carterton where hundreds of locals, veterans, and service personnel supported the family as they cast flowers onto the hearse in scenes similiar to those witnessed hundreds of times.
Sgt Davdison, from Thorne in Doncaster, was the 427th member of the Armed Forces to be killed in Afghanistan.
The coffin was then taken to the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford where an autopsy will be carried out before the body can be released to his family’s undertakers.
It may be three or four weeks before the NCO’s family can hold the funeral at Thorne Parish Church and details have not been fully discussed with them.
Sgt Davidson, who was training Afghan police officers, was killed last weekend by a roadside bomb while driving through the Nahr-e Saraj district of Helmand Province.
The father of two sons, Jayden and Jamie, was looking forward to the end of his tour of duty because he knew Samantha was expecting their third child, a daughter.
And it has been revealed Sgt Davidson’s widow learned of his death the day after attending a friend’s wedding in the same church where they were married last summer.
Samantha was a bridesmaid for Gemma Garcia when she married Thorne man Alan Jackson in St Nicholas Church, Thorne, last Saturday.
The vicar who conducted the marriage ceremony will also be involved in the funeral of the 32-year-old Light Dragoon, which will probably take place in October.
Rev David Green married the soldier and his bride on August 20 last year and the wedding was attended by several of his comrades in full dress uniform, as was the groom.
“Mrs Davidson was here again on Saturday as one of the bridesmaids for her friend and it was a lovely day. Only a short time later she would have heard the terrible news,” said Rev Green.
The church will be opening a Book of Remembrance for Sgt Davidson from next Wednesday.