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Sam Giles William Alexander, MC. Royal Marines

Male 1982 - 2011  (28 years)

Personal Information    |    Notes    |    All

  • Name Sam Giles William Alexander 
    Suffix MC. Royal Marines 
    Born 16 Jun 1982 
    Gender Male 
    Decorations Military Cross (in Afghanistan) Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Regiment/Rank Royal Marines Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Died 27 May 2011  Royal Marine killed in action in Afghanistan in the Nad Ali district of Helmand Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Person ID I000088  Ancestorium
    Last Modified 28 Nov 2022 

    Father Private 
    Mother Private 
    Family ID F00078  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family Claire Louise Wills,   b. 23 Mar 1973,   d. 18 Mar 2020, Plymouth, Devon, England Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 46 years) 
     1. Private
    Family ID F00092  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Notes 
    • Marine Sam Alexander’s death announced
      May 30, 2011
      RIP Sam Alexander 1982-2011
      May 28, 2011
      Sad news, my nephew Sam Alexander was killed in Afghanistan yesterday. He’s one of the unnamed marines mentioned in the BBC’s Afghanistan blast kills Royal Marines report.

      The naughtiest angel in heaven
      June 6, 2011
      Marine Samuel Alexander MC

      Further to my recent posts about the death of my nephew in Afghanistan I have included a poem my sister Serena put together about her son Sam after his repatriation ceremony at Wootton Bassett (see A silent tribute, then a burst of applause as Marines repatriated):

      The naughtiest angel in heaven
      Whispered in my ear
      ‘Be brave mum!’

      We stood in the sunlight, in the grey
      As the winged warrior
      Brought our boys home

      They brought him back, still bleeding,
      The bravest of the brave
      ‘Be brave, Mum!’

      My laughing boy, your best friend,
      Your greatest mate, your rock, your star,
      Your Dad, your brother, our hero

      Our hearts bleed but yours, Sam, I know bleeds too
      For those that knew you, loved you, drank with you,
      fought with you and died with you.

      One of the bravest of the brave, who died for you,
      Still whispers in my ear
      ‘Mum-you be brave too!’

      Afghanistan blast kills Royal Marines
      The marines were on patrol "disrupting insurgent activity" when the blast went off
      Two Royal Marines have been killed in an explosion in Afghanistan, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has said.
      The marines, from 42 Commando, were hit by an improvised explosive device in the Nad Ali district of Helmand province on Friday.
      The MoD said they were on patrol in the Loy Mandeh area when they were killed and that next of kin had been informed.
      The deaths take the number of British military deaths in operations in Afghanistan since 2001 to 368.
      Spokesman for Task Force Helmand Maj Rolf Kurth said: "It is my sad duty to inform you of the death of two Royal Marines... our thoughts and prayers are with their families and friends in their time of grief."
      He said they were on patrol "disrupting insurgent activity" when they were hit.
      The battalion-sized formation of 42 Commando is based at Bickleigh Barracks in Plymouth, Devon.
      On Monday, a British soldier from 1st Battalion the Rifles was killed by a bomb while on a patrol in the Sayedabad Kalay area of the Nahr-e Saraj district of Helmand province.

      Funeral for Military Cross marine Sam Alexander
      A service took place at the Minster Church of St Andrew's before a private burial
      The funeral has taken place of a Military Cross holder killed in an explosion while serving in Afghanistan.

      Marine Sam Alexander, 28, from Plymouth, was killed in a bomb blast on 27 May along with his troop commander, Lieutenant Ollie Augustin.

      Originally from Hammersmith, west London, he leaves wife Claire and a one year-old son, Leo.

      His funeral took place at the Minster Church of St Andrew's in Plymouth.

      Marine Alexander's parents, Serena and Stuart Alexander spoke during the service which took place a day before their son's 29th birthday.

      Mrs Alexander said: "He believed 100% that what he was doing was going to help others.

      "He believed Afghan women deserved the same chance of education as he had and that the Afghan people deserved to live as he did, without oppression.

      "He believed in making the world a better place."

      His father said that when his son was awarded his Military Cross "he emphasised it was not for him, it was for his troop, his company, the team, the lads. He was proud to be a Royal Marine".

      "He had an unusual ability to break the 11th commandment 'thou shalt not get caught'. He got caught."

      Royal Marine Samuel Alexander was awarded the Military Cross by the Queen in 2009
      At the time of his death his wife Claire said: "Sam was so special. He was the gentlest of men but tough when he needed to be. He risked his safety for his friends but never batted an eyelid."

      A private burial was held after the church service at Bickleigh where 42 Commando Royal Marines' base was and where he and Lieutenant Augustin were both serving.

      The marines had been taking part in Operation Omid Haft alongside soldiers from the Afghan National Army (ANA) in central Helmand.

      They were searching a compound there when an improvised explosive device exploded, which killed them and injured several others.

      Marine Alexander joined the Royal Marines in 2006.

      He was awarded the Military Cross in 2009 for saving the life of a wounded colleague in Afghanistan by charging at Taliban fighters with his pistol to provide cover.
      More on This Story
      Related Stories
      Killed Royal Marines repatriated
      Father pays tribute to Marine son

      Parents bring tears to the eyes of Royal Marines
      THE parents of a Plymouth-based Royal Marine brought tears to the eyes of hundreds of mourners at his funeral in Plymouth yesterday.

      Marine Sam Alexander was killed in Helmand province on May 27 alongside his colleague, Lieutenant Ollie Augustin.

      His parents Serena and Stuart gave eulogies at the full military funeral in Plymouth's Minster Church of St Andrew's yesterday, a day after what should have been his 29th birthday.

      Marine Alexander leaves a wife, Claire, and one-year-old son Leo.

      His mother Serena read a poem she had composed, which began:
      "Yesterday the naughtiest angel in Heaven
      "Whispered in my ear: 'Be brave Mum'."

      Mrs Alexander told a congregation which included Brigadier Ged Salzano, Commandant of the Royal Marines' Commando Training Centre: "Sam had a great love for mankind and a lot of compassion. He went to Afghanistan believing that people less fortunate should live without oppression."

      Sam's father Stuart said: "This is an address that no parent can ever prepare for.

      He said tributes had flooded in from around the world for Sam's "role in an organisation that is always ready to stand up and be counted".

      Sophie, a friend since childhood, said: "Life with Sam around was never boring. He was a passionate person who loved life."

      The service was conducted by the Rector of St Andrews, the Rev Nick McKinnel, with the Rev Stuart Hallam, chaplain at the Commando Training Centre.

      Mr McKinnell said: "A bomb in a far-away land has taken away the life of someone who had so much to live for and so much to look forward to. "For his family, life can never be the same again."

      Cllr Peter Brookshaw, the Lord Mayor of Plymouth, who was at the funeral, said: "The council sends its deepest respects and we are thinking of his family at this sad time.

      "We respect what the Armed Forces do for this city."

      A Royal Marines Firing Party fired a three-gun salute and veterans from all three Services paraded with their standards lowered outside the church.

      Passers by stopped to pay their respects as the coffin left the church for a private burial.

      The Bickleigh barracks-based marine was taking part in operation Omid Haft when he was fatally wounded by an IED in the Loy Mandeh area of Nad-e Ali.

      He leaves behind his wife, Claire and one-year-old son Leo.

      The 28-year-old was awarded the Military Cross for gallantry in 2009 after saving the life of a wounded comrade.

      Donations if desired can be made to Central Bank 42 CDO through funeral directors, Walter C Parson.

      Stuart Alexander: 'I wait by the phone around the clock for news of Sam'
      The Independent's sailing correspondent describes life with a son at war
      The mobile is switched on 24 hours a day while my son is "in theatre", not least because I am out of the UK for extended periods. It is a sign of paranoia and pessimism, an anxiety that something devastating can happen to someone really important.

      The MoD has the number, part of a lengthy form filled in by everyone pre-combat. You hope the call will never come. But you know that the paranoia is justified, there really is someone, hundreds of someones, out to get him. They do not negotiate, they kill.

      No one does ceremonial quite like the Brits and a wonderful example is the passing out of a new batch of recruits at the Royal Marines training camp in Devon. But, to be there on a sunny day, with a couple of hundred other proud parents, relatives and friends, is about more than the Royal Marines band, sons in their dress uniforms, and a mess picnic.

      It is treated as the celebration of an end, but it is an end that is totally unknown. The gruelling training course – both mentally and physically – which offers a green beret as a prize would have been beyond me at any stage in my life. Its successful completion is a source of pride, personal for Sam, vicarious for me.

      The members of the King's Squad are dismissed with the order: "Royal Marines to your duties, quick march." That is why the investment has been made, the end that is being planned.

      Its consequences for those watching include an unending rollercoaster of contradictions. The Royal Marines are not back-office staff. They are a frontline cutting-edge fighting force. Sometimes, however, one almost wished that Sam's success, if it had to be in warfare, was as a computer expert. But they have been trained to operate as a team and there is some comfort in knowing how much it has been drummed into them to look after each other. Sometimes, you hope your own son will be selfish. You know that he is in the business of bravery and you would prefer that bravery is avoided.

      You know that you support your son and all the others around him in doing as professionally as possible the job he is given. You cannot say you think that the politicians are wrong, or the whole adventure misguided. You cannot say you are amazed at how long it has taken them to say publicly what was so obvious, that the problem lies at least as much in Pakistan as in Afghanistan. Do such thoughts imply criticism and disloyalty?

      It has required contacts not always available to everyone to find out even half of what has been going on to my son in the last few weeks – including a helmet-creasing bullet for him while close mates were being shot. That's too close for comfort. So much for keeping the mobile charged and switched on.

      Marine saves unit after bullet in head
      Serviceman is shot but stays in the front line and rescues ambushed comrades
      By Kim Sengupta

      Thursday, 26 March 2009

      Marine Sam Alexander saved the leader of his section, 11 Troop, after the corporal was shot twice in the groin during a firefight with insurgents in Helmand, Afghanistan

      It had been a morning of fierce close-quarter combat with incessant fire coming from insurgents in the heart of Taliban country. As the Royal Marines edged their way past the high walls of a compound the section commander, a corporal, fell to the ground with two shots to the groin.

      The team had walked into an ambush and Marine Sam Alexander knew that the only chance they had was to fight their way through. He picked up a heavy machine-gun and "traded lead" with the insurgents just 15 metres away. Running out of ammunition, he opened up with his 9mm pistol until that too was spent. The Taliban fighters were forced to withdraw and found themselves being hunted as they ran into other marine units coming in from the flanks.

      By his bravery, 26-year-old Marine Alexander saved the life of the shot corporal and also earned vital minutes for the rest of the team from 42 Commando to gain cover. What made his actions even more remarkable was that just a few hours earlier he had been shot in the head, the bullet embedding itself in his helmet. Waving away offers to fall back, he had insisted on continuing with the others as they went through compounds clashing repeatedly with the insurgents.

      Marine Alexander continued with Operation Abii Toorah, Pashtu for Blue Sword, one of a series of missions led by the marines in Helmand which also involved Afghan troops and a Danish contingent with Leopard tanks. The fighting went on with little let-up for the two remaining days, until the Taliban withdrew from the area.

      About 600 British and Afghan troops had taken part in an airborne assault supported by B1 bombers and Apache and Cobra helicopter gunships attempting to drive out the Taliban from entrenched positions near Marjah to pave the way for the planned surge which will come with arrival of up to 30,000 extra American troops.

      The marines say they came across some of the fiercest resistance they have faced from the insurgents, who were being aided, it is claimed, by Pakistani, Chechen and Arab fighters. According to British forces, "several dozens" of the enemy were killed and more than 100 injured. It was also the first time the Taliban had carried out repeated night attacks, with large bands of fighters attempting to break through the lines while reinforcements arrived from surrounding regions over the days.

      According to Afghan and Western officials, while the Americans build up their forces in Helmand and Kandahar, the Taliban are also building up their strength with hundreds of reinforcements arriving from across the Pakistani border.

      Several more operations will be undertaken by Afghan and British forces in the next few weeks, with the aim of intercepting the flow of men and weaponry coming through southern Helmand while the Americans are due to carry out missions further east.


      Marine Sam Alexander MC was born on 16 June 1982 in Hammersmith, London, where he grew up with his mother, Serena and sister, Sophie. He was married to Claire in July 2009 and their son Leo was born in November 2010.

      He joined the Royal Marines in July 2006 and passed fit for duty in October 2007. On completion of training, Marine Alexander MC was appointed to the Fire Support Group in Mike Company, 42 Commando Royal Marines. He later moved to Kilo Company and deployed on Operation HERRICK 9, during which he was awarded the Military Cross for gallantry. On his return from operations he trained as a Heavy Weapons (Anti-Tank) specialist and was appointed to Juliet Company, before returning to Afghanistan for Operation HERRICK 14.

      On Friday 27 May 2011 Marine Alexander MC was part of a patrol, operating in the Loy Mandeh area of the Nad-e Ali district in Helmand province. His patrol was tasked to disrupt insurgent activity in their perceived rear area and provide depth to the Clear, Hold, Build Operation occurring to the North in Loy Mandeh Kalay further to expand the influence of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. During that patrol Marine Alexander MC was fatally injured in an Improvised Explosive Device blast that also claimed the life of Lieutenant Ollie Augustin, Royal Marines.

      Claire, Marine Alexander’s wife, said:

      ”Sam was so special. He was the gentlest of men but tough when he needed to be. He risked his safety for his friends but never batted an eyelid. It was his job and a job he did well. Sam was a loving husband and a wonderful father. He was our rock and my best friend. He has been taken from me all too soon. We both love him and will miss him very much. These are all special guys who, for whatever reason, join a very tough band of blokes who willingly die for each other without a second thought. I just hope his death was not in vain”

      Stuart, Marine Alexander’s father, said:

      “Sam’s professionalism was widely acknowledged, the award of a Military Cross is testament to his courage and care for those around him. But it is as a father and husband that he showed the same deep-rooted wish always to help and care for others.
      People say I must be very proud, but the respect in which I held him was more important than pride. He was a great guy with a great smile and a zest for life. I loved him very much.”

      Serena, Marine Alexander’s mother, said:

      “The legacy that Sam leaves is hope - hope for oppressed people all over the World. There are people like Sam who risk their lives for others. Wherever you are now Sam, keep on fighting. You will never be forgotten”.

      Lieutenant Colonel Ewen Murchison MBE, Commanding Officer 42 Commando Royal Marines, Coalition Force Nad-e Ali (North), said:

      “Marine Sam Alexander MC was a truly remarkable young man. Decorated during his last tour of Afghanistan for gallantry, he embodied all the finest attributes of a Royal Marines Commando: he was courageous, selfless, resolute, loyal and cheerful in the face of adversity. The loss of such a professional and well respected Marine comes as shocking news; he was a larger than life character and leaves a gap that cannot be filled. One of the more senior Marines in Juliet Company, he inspired those around him to reach the highest possible standards and in doing so was an exemplary role model for those younger and less experienced than himself. He led by example and from the front and would have unquestionably had a promising future in the Royal Marines ahead of him. Sadly this will not be realised as his life has been tragically cut short. Instead, Marine Alexander now joins the legends, the bravest of the brave, who inspire us all forever with their courage, dedication and sacrifice; his memory will endure. On this the darkest of days, our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Claire, their son Leo and his parents Stuart and Serena; may they somehow find the strength and courage to face the days ahead.”

      Major Steven McCulley, Officer Commanding, Juliet Company, 42 Commando Royal Marines, said:

      “Marine Sam Alexander MC was one of Juliet Company’s most experienced and professional Marines. Not only was he a Heavy Weapons specialist, but also a Sharpshooter; a qualification he took much pride in. Having been awarded the Military Cross for bravery on Operation HERRICK 9, the lads looked up to him and he could be relied upon to galvanise them when required. An unbearable loss of life, he will be deeply missed by all of us.”

      Captain Rob Garside, Company Intelligence Officer, Juliet Company, 42 Commando Royal Marines, said:

      “Marine Alexander MC was one of the most experienced Marines in the Company. Having completed a previous HERRICK Tour, it was clear that more junior ranks looked up to him. A Bootneck that everyone would want to be by his side in a firefight, Sam Alexander was a true operational Bootneck who carried out his duties to the highest of standards. He will be sorely missed by all in Juliet Company and our thoughts are with his young family.”

      Warrant Officer Class 2 Andy Place, Company Sergeant Major, Juliet Company, 42 Commando Royal Marines, said:

      “Marine Sam Alexander MC was always the first man to volunteer for any detail. His professional attitude towards all military skills was infectious to the junior Marines within Juliet Company. Always proud to be a part of Fire Support Group, Juliet Company, ‘Jesters’; his attitude was that of a ‘big man trapped in a small body’. His tragic death will hit the Company hard, however he would not want to be the cause of any drop in excellence. My thoughts go to his wife, son and family. See you on the re-org Royal.”

      Corporal Phillip Willis, 1 Troop, Juliet Company, 42 Commando Royal Marines, said:

      “Sam was one of those Bootneck’s who was able to have a smile on his face no matter what the situation. Most days he would have something funny to say; out here it was that my eyebrows looked awesome as they have gone bleached blonde. He would say I looked like a super hero which would always make us laugh. Sam was a good person, a Bootneck showing all the qualities that a good Bootneck should have; cheerfulness in the face of adversity, selflessness, courage and determination.”

      Lance Corporal Christopher Watson, 1 Troop, Juliet Company, 42 Commando Royal Marines, said:

      “Sam was one of those men who due to his experience everyone looked up to and respected regardless of rank. He always made the time to help the more junior Marines, and treated them with the same level of respect they afforded him. He will be greatly missed by all who knew him and will be fondly remembered as the perfect Marine, as a great laugh and as a Great Man.”

      Lance Corporal Adam Perkins, 2 Troop, Juliet Company, 42 Commando Royal Marines, said:

      “Marine Alexander MC was a member of my Troop throughout training and ever since we have always crossed paths; since deploying on Operation HERRICK 9, and more recently Operation HERRICK 14. Sam was a character who never dropped his smile or charms, either on camp, in the accommodation or in the field. He was a lad who would never say no and would do anything for anyone. My thoughts are with his son Leo and wife Claire. Rest in Peace mate.”

      Leading Medical Assistant Chris Jones, Juliet Company Medic, 42 Commando Royal Marines, said:

      “I first met Marine Alexander MC during Operation HERRICK 9 when I was attached to his section. I remember he made me feel welcome and we laughed and joked about me being a Matelot out in the field. Sammy was awarded a Military Cross during Operation HERRICK 9 which is a testament to his bravery. Only a few days ago he jokingly said to me that we had a habit of being in sticky situations together. Apart from operations, I didn’t know Sammy as well as others but I do know he was a humble guy, a very proud Royal Marine and a man I will always look up to. No two ways about it, Marine Sam Alexander MC was a hero, a legend who will never be forgotten. My thoughts and prayers are with his family. Rest in Peace Sam, you will be sadly missed.”

      Marine Jason Badham, 1 Troop, Juliet Company, 42 Commando Royal Marines, said:

      “Marine Alexander MC, a true hero, always full of morale, a real inspiration to us all and he will be greatly missed.”

      Marine Ross McIlduff & Marine Joshua Best, 1 Troop, Juliet Company, 42 Commando Royal Marines, said:

      “Marine Alexander MC epitomised a Royal Marine, always looking out for an oppo (opposite number), always first to give a hand and always lifted morale. He always carried out his job to the highest standards. A true Soldier. He always had some good ‘dits’ to spin to the lads and was a guaranteed ‘Hoofing run ashore’; there was never a boring night with Sam. Sam will always be remembered for what he has done and will always be a ‘Jester’. Our prayers and thoughts go out to his family.”

      Marine Michael Chapman, Fire Support Group, Juliet Company, 42 Commando Royal Marines, said:

      “I have only known Sam for about 6 months since joining Juliet Company, I was expecting a hoofing, courageous, selfless Bootneck after hearing about his Military Cross; and that is exactly what he was. He would always be the first to the stand-to position in order to protect everyone else. Even with so much to lose, i.e. his wife Claire and his future Formula One driver son, Leo. He was perfect for all occasions, if it be for a one on one welfare discussion or generally being the centre of a conversation; although his Formula One dits were sometimes ideal for sending you to sleep! Not forgetting his run ashore dits, the Pringle saying ‘once you pop, you can’t stop,’ was a perfect way to describe his drinking style. Although, he wouldn’t let the beer defeat him, he would always soldier on to sun-uppers, or was adamant of making his way home to annoy his wife Claire; If that was the case, he would come into work the next day with his tail between his legs like a naughty dog. He was a truly a great asset to the Corps and will clearly be missed by many. An absolute professional.”

      Marine Louis Nethercott, Fire Support Group, Juliet Company, 42 Commando Royal Marines, said:

      “To sum up Sam: A truly courageous and professional soldier.”

      Marine Liam Kelly, Fire Support Group, Juliet Company, 42 Commando Royal Marines, said:

      “Sam was one of the best and most professional Marines I have ever worked with. Having been in Fire Support Group with him since I arrived in the Unit 2 years ago after passing out, he was always on hand to give me advice on anything. I can say I have learnt a lot from him, especially from the time I spent with him on Operation HERRICK 14. Sam was very courageous and always first to volunteer for anything. Aside from being a real hand grenade ashore, and his horrendous Formula One dits; it was an honour to work alongside him. He will be sadly missed and our hearts go out to his wife Claire and son Leo.”

      Marine Brett Newman, Fire Support Group, Juliet Company, 42 Commando Royal Marines, said:

      “Marine Sam Alexander MC was a credit to the Corps, he was always having a laugh and a joke with the lads and his daily complaints never failed to amuse. He thought the world of his wife and son, Leo, who Sam thought would be the next Lewis Hamilton; despite the fact he was still in nappies. He was a very good mentor to the new lads. One of my last memories of Sam was just before we started this Operation, we were all sat in our room packing our kit and we were all laughing at the fact that Sam couldn’t pick up his Bergen. He was morale and he will be greatly missed amongst the lads.”

      Marine Matthew Smith, Headquarters, Juliet Company, 42 Commando Royal Marines, said:

      “Sam Alexander; what a bloke. As the Company Clerk, or spy as the lads like to call me, I get to know most of the lads pretty well. Sam was one of those who would always be a friendly face and always lots of morale. He would always come up with a witty one liner or ‘dit’ that would instantly make you smile or burst out with laughter. The most recent memory I have of him is being in a resupply to his Check Point; with the stores being offloaded and Sam at the front, I can remember him breaking into song about nothing in particular, other than the fact that they were unloading stores. Quality. He was an amazing lad and a top Bootneck, with the medals to prove it, and I will never forget him. Corps legend through and through, my thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends. Rest in Peace mate. ‘Prove Jokers’.”

      Marine Owen Blake & Marine Dale Monk, Recce Troop, Command Company, 42 Commando Royal Marines, said:

      “Both Dale and I had the pleasure of serving with Sam in Kilo Company for the duration of Operation HERRICK 9. We were both present on the day in Majah where Sam won his Military Cross for valiant action that heavily contributed to saving the life of his Section Commander. The Officer Commanding afterwards said that all the men that day were worthy of the award but those that were present all knew that the courage required to do what Sam did was way above what can be expected of an ordinary man. To run into open ground in direct enemy fire, effectively suppressing the enemy, while his fallen Section Commander was extracted just proved what all his colleagues already knew, that Sam was an exceptional soldier with the heart of a lion. During Post Operational Tour Leave and over a few ‘wets’ Sam casually played down his award stating he was only doing his job; in the years since he has never showed off or acted on his award. This sums Sam up to a ‘T’, a modest man and exceptional soldier and a Bootneck that many aspire to emulate. He will be truly missed.”

      Marine Sam Magowan, Fire Support Group, Juliet Company, 42 Commando Royal Marines, said:

      “Sam, the most inspirational Marine I have met. You will be missed by all. Rest in Peace.”

      The entire Fire Support Group, Juliet Company, 42 Commando Royal Marines, said:

      “A selfless decorated Marine who all aspired to emulate. A true Bootneck in every sense of the word, and a proud father. Fiercely loyal to all lucky enough to be called his friend. You can never be replaced and will never be forgotten.”

      The entire 2 Troop, Juliet Company, 42 Commando Royal Marines, said:

      “We can remember when he came back to work after the birth of his boy and telling everyone how proud it made him; and then there was the Friday night DJ sessions in the accommodation that everyone loved (Gen!). Or just his general enthusiasm for his job and the effort he put into the lads; the Military Cross awarded to him on Operation HERRICK 9 proves this tenfold. Our thoughts go out to his family at this time. Rest in Peace Royal.”

      Public show of support. BY Serena Alexander

      SIR – Andrew Robathan, the Minister for Defence Personnel, said that a decision had been taken deliberately to avoid public scenes of emotion during repatriation of servicemen’s remains (report, June 27).

      My son, Sam Alexander, MC, was repatriated last month. Proceedings at RAF Lyneham were undertaken with dignity but little consideration for the feelings of the family and friends (a maximum of seven) permitted to attend. All runs in military slow time, prolonging the agony as we watch our boys come home.

      By contrast, our arrival at Wootton Bassett was filled with humanity. From the moment I was welcomed with respect and kindness by the British Legion and then reunited with the rest of the family and Sam’s friends, I felt the warmth of genuine kindness and sympathy, which has given me strength in these sad days.

      The occasion drew those who had known Sam from all over Britain, including those who knew him from birth, his earliest school friends, those with whom he spent his rebellious teenage years, and his fellow serving Marines. There were others who did not know Sam personally, but wanted to be there to pay their respects as they perhaps prayed for the safe homecoming of their loved one.

      To describe this as a “public scene of emotion” is to debase the human spirit that acknowledges loss, grief and honour. To stand among so many people gathered for such a simple purpose would give Mr Robathan and his fellow ministers a rare moment where there is no political statement to be made, in which they could be with their fellow human beings united in a common cause.

      The fact that these sad occasions are shown to the nation may make the number of losses more obvious, but surely that is good? It should make the Government consider its defence strategy and take even more care that our service men and women only risk their lives for a just cause.

      Serena Alexander
      London W6

      07/02/2011 11:09 AM
      Serena Alexander: "The fact that these sad occasions are shown to the nation may make the number of losses more obvious, but surely that is good? It should make the Government consider its defence strategy and take even more care that our service men and women only risk their lives for a just cause".

      It should but it won't. On the contrary, making the number of losses more obvious is the very reason why, from the Government's point of view, it is very bad indeed.

      HM The Queen is above politics but, by conferring Royal status on Wootton Bassett, She has made it very clear where She stands: four-square with Her armed forces.

      07/02/2011 09:39 AM
      Serena Alexander, you forgot one thing. You are a woman of honour dealing with people (politicians) who have no honour. Do not judge them by your own standards for they have none, other than their own advancement.

      07/02/2011 10:03 AM
      The comment from grahammilne here misses the point. It has nothing to do with politicians. The armed services do not show emotion when dealing with dead comrades; it isn't manly and it doesn't help anybody. The emotion can be left for private, family grief. The kindness of Wootton Basset is a decent response of decent British people to the sadness of loss of life and complements the military response perfectly.

      07/02/2011 10:13 AM
      'The kindness of Wootton Basset is a decent response of decent British people to the sadness of loss of life and complements the military response perfectly.'
      Exactly, but it is a response which politicians are trying to conceal for reasons of political expediency - which makes it political. I did not mention the question of emotion so have no idea what you are talking about - but as an ex-officer thanks for your guidance.

      07/02/2011 12:33 PM
      Perhaps the DT shortened Serena Alexander's letter, but as written above it didn't refer specifically to the closure of RAF Lyneham and the MOD intention of using a new repatriation route possibly by-passing Carterton. If that was the cause of Mrs Alexander's letter then I can see your original point.