South East Wales

Hundreds line streets for Afghanistan crash pilot funeral

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Media captionCapt Clarke was one of the Army Air Corps pilots of a Lynx helicopter which came down in Kandahar province

Hundreds of mourners lined the streets at the funeral of an Army pilot who died when his helicopter crashed in Afghanistan.

Capt Thomas Clarke, 30, from near Cowbridge, Vale of Glamorgan, was killed alongside four others in April, including L/Cpl Oliver Thomas from Brecon.

His funeral was held at the town's Holy Cross Church.

Brigadier Neil Sexton said Capt Clarke's death was a great loss.

The Deputy Commander Army Air Corps said: "We're gathered here to say farewell to a highly respected and talented Army aviation officer, and it's testament to that respect and his wide popularity that so many of his friends and colleagues are turning up from across the joint helicopter command right across the UK.

"And of course we're here to support the family, his friends, and Angie his wife in particular and his parents from this town, and his parents-in-law."

Image caption Crowds lined the streets in Cowbridge as the funeral cortage passed

Capt Clarke, from the village of Flemingston, served with Brigadier Sexton on a tour in Afghanistan in 2012-2013.

"Popular, entertaining, very good sportsman, rugby player and widely respected as a talented pilot and a good officer," said Brigadier Sexton.

"And, sadly, it's a great loss that we've lost him."

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Media captionBrigadier Neil Sexton said Capt Thomas Clarke was a 'highly respected and talented Army aviation officer'

Following the Humanist church service at 13:00 BST, a private ceremony was held at Coychurch crematorium, Bridgend.

Businesses in Cowbridge closed for 15 minutes from 12:45 BST in memory of the soldier.

Capt Clarke was one of the Army Air Corps pilots of a Lynx helicopter which came down in Kandahar province, 30km from the border with Pakistan.

Image copyright BBC news grab
Image caption The Ministry of Defence has said the accident which killed Capt Clarke happened during a routine flight
Image copyright BBC news grab
Image caption Mourners start arriving for Capt Thomas Clarke's funeral

The other victims were Warrant Officer Class 2 Spencer Faulkner, Cpl James Walters from the Army Air Corps and RAF intelligence officer Flt Lt Rakesh Chauhan.

An investigation into the cause of the crash is ongoing.

The Ministry of Defence has said the accident happened during a routine flight.

Capt Clarke, was described by his army superiors as an "exceptional aviator and forthright leader" who always placed himself at the centre of squadron life.

Image caption An investigation is ongoing into the death of Capt Clarke and three others in the helicopter crash
Image caption Capt Clarke's comrades are among those attending the service
Image copyright John Lord
Image caption The service will be held at Cowbridge's Holy Cross Church

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