1. ITV Report

All eyes on Carterton as fallen troops arrive home

The Plane carrying the bodies of six soldiers killed in Afghanistan lands at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire Photo: Steve Parsons/PA Wire

It isn't Wootton Bassett. How could it be?

When repatriations moved from RAF Lyneham to Brize Norton in Oxfordshire many feared the public show of respect, of pride would go.

It was synonymous with Bassett. The church bell tolling, the lone chief mourner leading the cortege along the straight, historic high street. A town centre stopping, silently. The only sounds - the pulse of the bell, the purr of the hearse engine. The sobs from family and friends. The click of a camera shutter.

And after the cortege passed through, the town tried to return to life as normal.

Except that could never happen. Soon, it became awash with media, it gained prestige and plaudits - although townsfolk wanted neither. You know your hometown is famous when Barack Obama singles you out for praise.

But Carterton in Oxfordshire is very different. There is a high street, but it is not part of the route. Instead, after the bodies leave Brize Norton they are taken along outer roads en route to Oxford. Some said the route should be forced through town, that Bassett had done it, Carterton must follow.

But they have built a beautiful memorial garden by the road. It's a crescent cut in Cotswold stone. A flagpole stands, the flag at half-mast. Instead of town centre pubs, there are rooms for families and friends to sit. Out of view. There are designated media platforms. Areas where TV satellite trucks can be parked, not blocking the roads.

Volunteers from the Lions Club arrange parking. It is well-organised.

If Carterton had tried to replicate Bassett, it would have been like the Wiltshire town - but never as good.

By doing something different, Carterton has created its own experience, its own way of paying respects to the fallen.

As a veteran of around 40 repatriation days in Wootton Bassett, I saw the toll each day took on the town.

Today, this sad day where 6 men are returned to Britain is my first at Carterton.

It is very different, in some ways better than before. It can't replace Wootton Bassett in the nation's heart but it is doing a wonderful job. And I am sure the families of the six men passing through today will be grateful of Carteron's efforts.

You can follow Robert Murphy on Twitter.

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