here was spontaneous applause and shouts of 'hip, hip hooray!' as the flag was folded and blessed, to be formally presented to RAF Brize Norton as they resume responsibility for repatriating the nation's fallen.In a sunset ceremony held in the town centre, Mayor Paul Heaphy said: "This marks the end of Wootton Bassett's involvement in the repatriation of fallen service personnel.
"Brave young men and women who have given what is often described as the last full measure of devotion.
"It is their devotion to duty that commands our respect, it is their devotion of duty that we honour and it is their devotion of duty that we will remember long after we leave this place tonight."
Standard bearers pictured in the high streetThe residents of Wotton Bassett have seen 345 servicemen and women repatriated through RAF Lyneham since the base assumed the duty in April 2007.
But the decision to line the route was spontaneous.
The then mayor, Percy Miles, was informed by the town clerk that a serviceman's coffin would be coming through so he ran home to get his ceremonial chains and stood to attention by the war memorial with a dozen men as the cortege drove through.
From there friends, neighbours, strangers joined them until there were hundreds, standing together in silence in the small Wiltshire town as the fallen returned home.
Ex-serviceman and assistant standard bearer Dave Soane told Sky News that seeing the attendances grow was "heartbreaking but in the nicest possible way".
A Union flag flies at half mast in the town"Today there will be sadness because over the years we have made new friendships and liaisons - but those will continue and spread, and there will always be a special bond," he added.
Lieutenant Corporal James Hill, 23, of the 1st Battalion The Coldstream Guards, was killed on duty in Afghanistan in October 2009.
His mother, Claire Hill, told us she would never forget the respect and the honour the Wiltshire town had given her only son.
"We couldn't have the fly-past because the cloud level was too low - it felt like the whole world was crying for James that day.
"Suddenly the nightmare becomes real, the nightmare became a reality when the big plane pulled across and they brought the coffin off and you suddenly realise what you had worst feared is real."
Having greeted her son's coffin from the plane, she remembers travelling up to Wootton Bassett to watch his cortege come past.
"The world was very, very black, and that's all I can remember. There was no light. Everything just seemed very black and white.
"I can just remember the British Legion people lined up on the other side, and the rest of James' platoon, the Mortars that hadn't gone out yet, they were all lined up and standing there.
"And I just thought - they've all come, they've all come for James."
RAF Brize Norton resumes responsibility for repatriations from September 1 as RAF Lyneham prepares to close next year.
The town itself will shortly become Royal Wootton Bassett in recognition of its efforts to honour the UK's war dead.
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