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Life on the front line laid bare in brothers' diaries

John Thornton was just a few weeks away from the end of his tour with the Royal Marines in Afghanistan when he was killed. He was 22.Five years later and his diaries have been published - alongside those of his older brother - who is still in the armed forces.

Their accounts - of life on the frontline - are both honest and emotional, as Richard Jones has been finding out. He spoke to the brothers' parents Linda and Pete Thornton.

A fitting send off after Facebook appeal

They came to send off a stranger - and they came in their hundreds. Today mourners attended the burial of James MConnell who died of a chest infection. The former Royal Marine had no family and faced a lonely burial - that was until the local vicar sent out a Facebook plea.

Word spread around the armed forces community and - as Sally Simmonds reports - the 70 year old from Southsea wasn't let down.

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Facebook plea brings hundreds to stranger's funeral

Hundreds attend funeral former Royal Marine James McConnell Credit: Press Association Images

Over two hundred strangers attend the funeral of former Royal Marine James McConnell after a vicar put out a plea on Facebook amid fears that he would be buried without mourners. The 70-year-old died at a care home in Southsea, Hampshire, and he did not have any close family.

A vicar put out a Facebook plea asking for mourners to attend Credit: Press Association Images
The Last Post was sounded as part of a military procession Credit: Press Association Images

Inquest into Dorset marine's death

Sergeant Luke Taylor was killed in Afghanistan in March 2012 Credit: MoD

An inquest has been opened in Oxford into the death in Afghanistan of Royal Marine Sergeant Luke Taylor from Christchurch in Dorset. Sergeant Taylor was killed alongside Lance Corporal Michael Foley from Lancashire as they guarded a British base at Lashkar Gah in Helmand Province.

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  1. National

Inquest of soldier with 'infectious charisma'

Sergeant Luke Taylor, 33, of the Royal Marines, and Lance Corporal Michael Foley, 25, of the Adjutant General's Corps, were killed at the entrance to the UK headquarters in Helmand Province in March this year.

Sergeant Luke Taylor Credit: MoD

Shortly after his death a colleague of Sergeant Luke Taylor said:

"Luke was the kind of guy you wanted next to you - regardless of the situation, he was a cool head and a source of endless banter. I never saw him fazed; he just seemed to "crack on" and many a time dragged those around with him!

"He had one of those infectious charismas, always able to talk himself out of a situation. For me, like so many, Luke was simply an inspiration. Completely dedicated and loyal to his family, you could just feel the warmth when he spoke of them."

  1. David Johns (@davidjohns_itv)

Oh Yes We Can!

It was an annual tradition that began in the 1950s: the Royal Marines put on a pantomime at their barracks at Deal in Kent. But when they relocated to Portsmouth sixteen years ago, the Pantos stopped.

Now, former Marines still living in Deal have revived the idea - and "The Wizard Who's Odd" starts tonight. David Johns has been to see rehearsals and spoke to Wally Walters ("Royal Maureen"), Alan Upton ("Dorrity") and Brian Short (writer and director)

  1. David Johns (@davidjohns_itv)

Royal Marines tread the boards

An annual tradition that began in the 1950s where the Royal Marines put on a pantomime at their barracks in Deal in Kent has been revived.

When the unit relocated to Portsmouth fifteen years ago, the panto ended. But now, ex-Marines still living in Deal have re-launched the panto. David Johns has been speaking to Brian Short and Alan Upton.

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