York & North Yorkshire

York soldier's body repatriated to UK

The body of a soldier from York killed in an explosion in Afghanistan has been flown back to the UK.

Trooper Ashley David Smith was guarding comrades as they cleared land at a checkpoint in Nahr-e Saraj, Helmand, when the blast happened on 18 June.

The Royal Dragoon Guards soldier, 21, was repatriated alongside two members of 1st Battalion The Duke of Lancaster's Regiment.

The servicemen were all flown to RAF Lyneham in Wiltshire.

Trooper Smith was the 299th member of the UK armed forces to have died in Afghanistan since 2001.

'Talented sportsman'

Fijian soldiers Corporal Taniela Rogoiruwai and Kingsman Ponipate Tagitaginimoce, from The Duke of Lancaster's Regiment based in Catterick, North Yorkshire, died in separate incidents in Helmand on June 15.

Corporal Rogoiruwai, known as Rocco, was caught in a gun battle with insurgents while patrolling in northern Nad Ali.

Image caption Trooper Smith's parents said they were "immensely proud" of their son

Kingsman Tagitaginimoce was killed in crossfire with insurgents, also in the Nad Ali district.

The repatriation of the three servicemen was followed by a private ceremony.

They were then driven through the nearby town of Wootton Bassett where hundreds of people lined the high street to pay their respects.

Fijian friends and family of Corporal Rogoiruwai and Kingsman Tagitaginimoce sang hymns as the cortege travelled to the war memorial.

Trooper Smith's parents, Sandra and Dave Smith, have praised their son, who they said was the youngest of a close family.

They said in a statement: "He worked hard and was passionate about what he was doing and proud of all he had achieved.

"Ashley will be sorely missed and we are immensely proud of our son."

Trooper Smith's comrades have described him as a talented sportsman with a passion for basketball.

He had joined the Royal Dragoon Guards in 2008 and served in Canada before going to Afghanistan.