THE fiancée of a teenage soldier who was killed in Afghanistan broke down as the hearse carrying his body drove by.

Private John King, of 1st Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment, was killed by an improvised explosive device in Helmand Province on December 30. He was 19.

His repatriation from RAF Brize Norton yesterday was the first of 2012.

His fiancée, Kelly Whaley, 18, cried out in pain as the cortege left the memorial garden, on the edge of Carterton.

Royal British Legion family liaison officer Lynn Shuker said the family had been left “numb with grief” by the loss.

But she said the soldier’s father, Barry King, had thanked the 800 Oxfordshire residents who turned out to pay their respects to his son.

Some 200 people paid their respects at Headley Way in Oxford.

Oxford Royal British Legion chairman Jim Lewendon said: “We pray there will be no more repatriations but, as long as there are, we will be here.”

Wendy Smith, 24, from Carterton, attended the ceremony and has been to a number of others since her friend, Marine Jason Mackie, of Bampton, was killed in Afghanistan in 2009.

She said: “It is really important, as a community, to show our respects to people who have given their lives for the freedom of others.

“It is days like these that make me feel proud to be from Carterton.”

Sarah Corkery-Lloyd, 36, of Carterton, left work early to attend the ceremony.

She said: “I am here to pay my respects, to say thank you and to show my appreciation to a family that is going through such a tough time.”

Joe Cox, 42, of Aston, said: “I am here to show my respects. They have given the ultimate sacrifice and it is the least I can do to be here and show that I care.”

Cornelius Rooney, 85, of Swindon, has attended all but three repatriations in Brize Norton and in Royal Wootton Bassett, where the ceremonies used to be held. He joined the forces as a 17-year-old just after the end of the Second World War.

He said: “I feel guilty coming here because I was lucky enough to come back. These people have paid the ultimate sacrifice.”

Brize Norton Parish Council chairman Keith Glazier said: “For a tragedy to occur at this time of year is especially poignant.”

After leaving the memorial garden, the cortege travelled to the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford for a post mortem examination.