The repatriation of British soldiers killed in action in Afghanistan is always a sombre affair. It is sadly an all too familiar scene for the people of the English town of Wootton Basset.
The latest story has a difference. Lance Corporal Liam Tasker, who was shot dead by snipers in Helmand province, was repatriated with the ashes of Theo, his Springer Spaniel.
The dog died of a fatal seizure, hours after his handler was killed.
Ian Tasker, the Lance Corporal’s father, said: “My honest opinion on this is, when Liam went down, Theo did not have the comfort from Liam to calm him down. I truly believe when Theo went back to the kennel, that would have a big, big impact because Liam was not there to comfort him.’‘
Filmed together recently, the handler and his loyal companion were praised for the number of weapons they uncovered – 14 in five months. It meant their stay in Afghanistan was extended by a month.
Military chiefs won’t go as far as to say that Theo died of a broken heart, but the two were apparently inseparable.