Sacrifice of soldiers highlighted by book

Jarra Brown book cover - 46 MilesWhen 345 coffins made their way through the Wiltshire town of Wootton Bassett, the impromptu show of respect from townspeople caught the attention of people around the UK and the world.

Now the former Commando turned policeman who helped to organise the safe passage of the coffins from RAF Lyneham to Oxford has written a book about his experiences.

Jarra Brown was awarded an MBE for his efforts and his books highlights the sacrifice made by the soldiers and the courage shown by their families when their bodies were brought home.

Jarra now lives in Cyprus but his book, ‘46 Miles – A Journey of Repatriation and Humbling Respect’, is accumulating praise online from readers who have been touched by his retelling of what occurred and how the now famous scenes gathered pace with hundreds of mourners showing their respects.

Jarra says: “My book, 46 Miles, is not a book about the politics of war, the whys and wherefores of the conflicts but about a town which captured the hearts of our nation and of people around the world and whose emotions carried along the entire 46 mile journey of honour, dignity and respect into Oxford.

“The book is dedicated to those 345 people who, having signed up to serve their Queen and country, paid with their lives. Wootton Bassett, which nurtured the grieving on every occasion, wanted to let the nation know that these heroes will never be forgotten.”

The book is entitled ’46 Miles’ because that’s the distance between the RAF Lyneham base and the mortuary in Oxford where the bodies of the late service personnel were taken. It is also the title of a poem written by an anonymous soldier about the repatriations.

The impromptu mark of respect by the people of Wootton Bassett – which was later granted the Royal prefix – for those killed was seen around the world as the townspeople welcomed 345 coffins in 168 repatriation convoys through their town. The cortege would stop at the town’s war memorial for families and well-wishers to pay their respects to the sound of a single church bell before the funeral procession went to Oxford.

Jarra added: “Even now when I hear church bells I cannot fail but remember the hundreds of coffins that passed through a beautiful rural Wiltshire town.”

His work in helping to organise the repatriation journeys began in March 2007 and by April the following year the numbers of people attending the silent vigil at the war memorial had grown hugely. In 2011, Jarra was awarded the MBE for his part in organising the journeys.

Jarra’s book ‘46 Miles by Jarra Brown‘ is published by Menin House Publishers and available on Amazon.

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