Ex-servicemen braved the cold yesterday to pay tribute to five soldiers killed in Afghanistan.

More than 40 men and women lined the entrance to the Radcliffe Hospital in Headington to salute the soldiers, whose bodies were repatriated at RAF Lyneham in Wiltshire.

Police halted traffic for the cortege, which arrived at the hospital as the sun set over the city shortly after 4pm.

Four of the men were Royal Marines.

They included Sergeant John Manuel, 38, Corporal Marc Birch, 26, and Marine Damian Davies, 27, who were killed by a suicide bomber, believed to have been a 13-year-old, last Friday.

The fourth Royal Marine, Lance Corporal Steven ‘Jamie’ Fellows, 26, died after he took the full brunt of a roadside bomb while on patrol earlier that day.

Lieutenant Aaron Lewis, from 29 Commando Regiment Royal Artillery, was fatally wounded when the gun position he was commanding came under attack on Monday.

Former Royal Marines, paratroopers, RAF servicemen and Royal British Legion members gathered in the car park of St Anthony of Padua Catholic Church, Headley Way, from 2pm to meet the cortege.

Alan Bowley, 75, a member of Royal Marines Association’s Bicester branch, said: “We are honouring these men. It’s the least we can do — they have done us proud.

“It’s very sad for their families, especially at Christmas.”

Ex-paratrooper Gordon Wyles, 75, from Kidlington, added: “It’s a damned shame. I’ve come to pay my respects.”

Jim Lewendon, 80, a member of the Marston branch of the Royal British Legion, liaised with RAF Lyneham to organise the poignant tribute.

He said: “We are paying our respects to these young lads. Hopefully it will give a bit of a lift to their parents.

“It’s the twelfth occasion we have turned out since June.

“I don’t know how many lives we have lost, but five is the biggest number in one hit.

“It’s desperately sad.”

Len Neale, 71, vice-chairman of the Royal Marines Association’s Oxford branch, said: “Men and women are giving up their lives.

“It’s very difficult for our soldiers in Afghanistan.

“The enemy could be a man, woman or child. You just don’t know.”

Ex-RAF serviceman Peter Jackson, 71, a member of the Wheatley branch of the RBL, said: “We feel very sad at what’s happening in Afghanistan.

“We want to pay tribute to the soldiers laying down their lives.”

Former RAF electrician Terry Lawden, 77, who travelled from London to meet the cortege, added: “You read it in the paper, you see it on the news.

“It’s so important to pay your respects. It’s a show of support to the parents and relatives.”