A BRIGADIER has spoken of the great sadness in his regiment after the Repatriation of a colleague yesterday.

Signaller Ian Sartorius-Jones, of 20th Armoured Brigade’s Signal Squadron, died on January 24, but it is believed not as the result of hostile action.

The 21-year-old from Cheshire, who was based in Helmand Province, was repatriated at RAF Brize Norton yesterday and some 400 people turned out in the bitter cold to pay their respects.

Brigadier Tim Watts, signal officer in chief of 20th Armoured Brigade, said: “We are a very close-knit group and we are obviously very sad to lose one of our family from the core.

“But it is also a proud moment to be able to pay tribute to his service and his sacrifice.”

He added: “It is wonderful that the people from the local area come and pay tribute to our people. It is very much appreciated.”

About 30 members of Signaller Sartorius-Jones’ regiment attended the repatriation, with many flying in from their base in Germany.

They were joined by about 40 members of his family and friends, who dressed in black and carried single white and red roses to lay on the hearse.

As the cortege passed the memorial garden near Carterton, Signaller Sartorius-Jones’ mother, Amanda, and wife, Kelly Anne, broke down with grief.

Royal British Legion family liaison officer Lynn Little, whose job it is to look after the family on the day, said: “The family were overwhelmed with the support from the community but they are very, very fragile.”

She described the family of Signaller Sartorius-Jones, who had previously survived four explosions while on duty, as “very close-knit”.

Meanwhile, about 200 people turned out Headley Way in Oxford to pay their respects before his body arrived at the John Radcliffe Hospital for a post mortem examination.

Oxford Royal British Legion chairman Jim Lewendon said: “We have had 126 repatriations since we started standing out there.

“I will be very, very pleased to see the end to it all, but we have got another one coming back on Tuesday.”

Lance Corporal Gajbahadur Gurung, 26, of 1st Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment, who was killed by a gunshot wound on Friday, will be repatriated on Tuesday.

His body will arrive at RAF Brize Norton at 2pm, will pass the memorial garden at 4pm and arrive at the John Radcliffe at 5pm.

Any changes to the timing of the repatriation will be posted on the Repatriation Information page on oxfordmail.co.uk when it is known.