‘Jarra’ Brown remembers Wootton Bassett repatriations in new book

46 Miles by Laurence Jarra Brown MBE
46 Miles by Laurence Jarra Brown MBE

A South Tyneside-born police officer who played a key role in the repatriation of fallen soldiers from conflict overseas relives the experience in a compelling new book.

Between 2007 and 2012 the community of Royal Wootton Bassett in Wiltshire turned out 168 times to show their support to the families and friends of 345 personnel lost.

The repatriations captured the imagination of the whole nation and became a national symbol of the soldiers’ sacrifice,

And it was PC Laurence Brown, known affectionately as ‘Jarra’ Brown, who made it possible for fallen soldiers to be taken through the town to John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford.

He pulled agencies together to organise the 46-mile route and stop off in Royal Wootton Bassett.

Now retired and living in Cyprus, Mr Brown, who was made an MBE in 2011, travelled in a police escort alongside the corteges, ensuring the journeys passed smoothly.

The former army commando, originally from Oak Street, Jarrow, was back on Tyneside this week to visit his mother Eleanor, who lives in Finchale Road, Hebburn.

In his new book, 46 Miles, he recalls those poignant days which he has described as his “most humbling police job”.

Mr Brown said: “Receiving the MBE was a great honour but the greatest satisfaction came from giving the bereaved families some small measure of comfort.

“It caught the attention of the whole country and further afield. The families of those men and women took great comfort from the people of the town paying their respects.”

The book can be purchased from Amazon, Waterstones and other leading book stores and also from The Royal Marines Shop website and from each copy sold donations are made to military charities.