Body of Darlington soldier John King repatriated

The body of Pte John King is repatriated at RAF Brize Norton
Image caption Pte King's body was flown to RAF Brize Norton

The body of a soldier from Darlington who was killed in an explosion in Afghanistan has been repatriated.

Pte John King, of 1st Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment, died on 30 December while on a foot patrol in the Nahr-e Saraj district of Helmand Province

The 19-year-old soldier's body was flown to RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire.

About 300 people joined Pte King's family at the memorial garden in Carterton to watch the cortege pass.

After a private ceremony for his family at the airbase, the cortege left on its was to the John Radcliffe Hospital, in Oxford.

The hearse was escorted at walking pace as it approached the memorial garden where members of the Royal British Legion and members of the public stood alongside the soldier's family.

'Wonderful smile'

He and three other servicemen, were also remembered at a service in Sedgefield, County Durham, attended by veterans and members of the public.

Pte King joined the Army in 2009 and was deployed to Afghanistan in October.

He was killed supporting Afghan National Army members of the patrol who had come under fire from insurgents while searching compounds around the village of Llara Kalay.

He leaves behind his mother Karen, father Barry, brothers Ian and Stephen, and girlfriend Kelly.

Image caption Pte King was deployed to Afghanistan in October

In a statement, his family said: "John was a tremendous son, brother and boyfriend.

"He was a devoted grandson, a loving family member, and a proud soldier who died doing a job he adored."

Lt Col Dan Bradbury, Commanding Officer, 1st Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment, said: "From early on he was able to fit in quickly through a combination of hard work, grit, a willingness to endure difficult conditions and an irrepressible sense of humour."

Cathleen Soulsby, a former teacher at Darlington School of Mathematics and Science, where Pte King was a pupil, said: "He had a tremendous sense of fun and he had a wonderful smile, a little bit mischievous. He wasn't afraid to be himself."

The school is due to hold a special assembly in his memory on Friday and is also planning a permanent memorial.

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