RELATIVES of a military policeman killed in Afghanistan have thanked mourners for their support when his body was brought home.

Lance Corporal Michael Pritchard, of the 4th Regiment, Royal Military Police, died on December 20 in the Sangin area of Helmand Province.

The Ministry of Defence said he may have died from friendly fire. An investigation is under way.

His great-uncle Terry Perry, of Fieldmere Close, Witney, and his wife Mary, watched with 200 other mourners as the 22-year-old’s coffin passed through Oxford, alongside those of L Cpl Chris Roney, 23, of 3rd Battalion the Rifles, and L Cpl Tommy Brown, of the Parachute Regiment, last week.

Members of Marston Royal British Legion always line Headley Way, dipping their flags as the fallen make the final leg of their journey from RAF Lyneham to the John Radcliffe Hospital, where post mortem examinations are carried out.

Last night, the couple praised the ex-servicemen and women and members of the Armed Forces, for their support on the difficult day.

Mr Perry, 71, said: “I used to be in the Army and they allowed me to salute because I was wearing a hat.

“I cried, it was terrible, but I think it helped to see the coffin, just to be able to say ‘Goodbye’.”

Mr Perry, a retired builder, said it bought back memories of 2007, when his nephew Jamie Perry, 23, a private in the Royal Anglian Regiment, almost died in Afghanistan after being seriously injured by a bomb which pierced his legs with 157 pieces of shrapnel, He added: “You don’t realise until you see the coffin, then you realise it’s real. We just want to say thank you to them.”

Mrs Perry, 75, added: “We were so overwhelmed by the way they treated us.

“These people from the Royal British Legion and forces personnel do this most weeks for the troops that come back to Oxford.

“Nothing was too much trouble for them and they were very understanding and helpful.

“This is going on once a week some weeks. It’s terrible.

“I feel someone needs to say what a grand job they are doing.

“It was so touching for us.”

L Cpl Pritchard lived in Eastbourne, East Sussex, and joined the Royal Military Police in July 2007. He had been in Afghanistan since October last year and was due to return home for a two-week holiday this month.

Repatriation co-ordinator Jim Lewendon, 81, of the RBL’s Marston branch, said: “We don’t do it for recognition, but it’s very nice of them to thank us.”