46 Miles - book tells poignant story of repatriations

The Royal Wootton Bassett repatriations

A touching and poignant book has been written about the repatriations of UK service personnel who were killed in Afghanistan back to their home country.

It's been penned by Jarra Brown who deals sensitively and honestly with the process of organising such emotionally charged events.

Jarra is a former Royal Marine who left the armed forces to join Wiltshire Police and he was the organiser of the repatriations journeys when the dead servicemen and women returned to Oxford. In effect, he was the liaison officer between local townspeople and military authorities.

The repatriations journeys had to travel through Wootton Bassett where hundreds of local people turned out to show their respects and the images flashed around the world.

Over time, hundreds of people will turn out for these journeys - there were 345 in all - with lots more family friends and well-wishers also turning out.

46 Miles - A Journey of Repatriation and Humbling Respect

He now lives in Cyprus but his book, '46 Miles - A Journey of Repatriation and Humbling Respect', makes for incredible reading.

In the book's blurb, Jarra says he can no longer hear church bells without being reminded of these journeys through the beautiful Wiltshire countryside.

The coffins of the service men and women were being taken to Oxford from RAF Lyneham for the official inquest into their deaths with a police escort along the way.

Jarra points out that the church in the town would toll its bell with the convoy entered the high Street and, he says, there could not have been a more fitting response if it had been choreographed.

The writer also points out that this is not a book about the politics of war about why the conflict is to place in Afghanistan and Iraq or even about whether there were hidden agendas and government strategies.

Jarra Brown's book '46 Miles' pays tribute to those killed in active service for their country
Jarra Brown's book '46 Miles' pays tribute to those killed in active service for their country

Written in dedication to those who died

Jarra makes clear that the book has been written in dedication to those who died in the course of serving their country and he has done this with an incredible level of respect which will not fail to touch those who read the book.

The response of the people in Wootton Bassett was their way of showing that the nation would never forget the brave soldiers and that their sacrifice would not go unnoticed.

Images of the repatriations, boys, complete with coffins covered in the union flag, took place over several years until the summer of 2011 when the planes bringing the dead who were switched to another RAF airbase.

As a first-time writer, Jarra makes clear that book is offering humbling Respect those who died and their families. The story of what he had to do to ensure the convoy's pass through the town without incident is very interesting.

Earning rave reviews on Amazon

Jarra's book is already earning rave reviews on Amazon and these are thoroughly deserved; the book is an emotional read and worth the time spent reading it.

Indeed, the impromptu show of respect that those in Wootton Bassett show to the convoys was recognised when the Queen granted them the title 'Royal'.

For his work, Jarra was awarded the MBE from the Queen at from his book it has been thoroughly deserved though he does not detract from the respected as for those who died and their families.

However, it is also fair to say that those who live in Royal Wootton Bassett also deserve our respect for their human response and kindness and that this has been recognised at all levels and by people around the world.

For anyone interested in military history and the story of servicemen and women will enjoy 46 Miles which is well written and a very rewarding read.

The book is published by Menin House Publishers and available on Amazon.

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