Town grieves for dead soldiers

A MEMORIAL garden has been established in memory of the soldiers and dozens of floral tributes have been taken to the Military Police station, in Goojerat Barracks, and laid out in a garden set up in a recreation area.

A MEMORIAL garden has been established in memory of the soldiers and dozens of floral tributes have been taken to the Military Police station, in Goojerat Barracks, and laid out in a garden set up in a recreation area.

A book of condolences was started yesterday afternoon at the Military Police Station reception and members of the public are welcome to go and sign it.

The Rev Nick Cook, 44, senior padre at the Colchester garrison, said the mood among the dead soldiers' colleagues was one of "shock and horror".

"The real shock, I think, has been the scale of it. To lose so many people from one unit is very significant. Clearly, the perceived injustice of what has happened is having an effect," he said.


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Around 3,000 soldiers are based at the Colchester garrison as part of 16 Air Assault Brigade. 156 Provost Company contains around 80 military police officers.

The padre said: "Jesus said love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. Personally, I find that difficult to do, sometimes. I would pray that justice will be done and that peace will be restored."

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He said a public memorial service for the dead soldiers would be held at some point, although it had not yet been planned.

A spokeswoman for 16 Air Assault Brigade said senior officers would not be commenting on the circumstances of soldiers' deaths.

Colchester Borough Council is to hold a minute's silence in memory of the six soldiers on Monday .

Mayor of Colchester Chris Hall said: "In discussion with the Garrison, I have therefore decided to hold a one-minute silence in memory of those who lost their lives in Iraq, as part of the Special Council meeting being held on Monday 30 June at 6pm at the Town Hall.

"Those wishing to express their condolences to the bereaved families, are most welcome to attend the meeting."

People who wish to attend should arrive at the Town Hall by 5.30pm.

Mr Hall is due to meet Garrison representatives next week to discuss a service which was due to be held at St Peter's Church, Colchester, in July to celebrate the safe homecoming of the town's troops. It is now uncertain whether the service will go ahead or if it does what form it should take.

A minute's silence will also be held at the Sunday morning service at Plume Avenue United Reformed church, which has Army families in the congregation, said the Reverend Mark Ambrose, minister of the church.

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