MORE than a thousand mourners paid tribute today to the bravery and sacrifice of the first British female bomb disposal expert to be killed in action.
Members of the public watched in respectful silence as the funeral of Captain Lisa Jade Head began in Huddersfield.
Capt Head, of 11 Explosive Ordnance Disposal Regiment, the Royal Logistic Corps, had disabled one homemade bomb when another exploded in an alleyway in Nahr-e-Saraj, Helmand province, on April 18.
The 29-year-old, who had deployed to Afghanistan only on March 27, was flown home and treated in hospital in Birmingham but died from her injuries.
Comrades from her regiment formed a guard of honour on the steps of Huddersfield Parish Church of St Peter, as the funeral cortege arrived.
Veteran soldiers from the Royal British Legion stood proudly to attention, campaign medals on their chest, while lowering their standards, as others saluted.
Silence fell and the town came to a standstill before spontaneous applause rang out as the coffin, draped in the Union flag, topped with Capt Heads cap, belt and ceremonial sword, was borne into the church carried by six pall bearers - fellow soldiers, to the song Im Your Angel by Celine Dion and R Kelly.
Her parents, John and Leila and Capt Heads two younger sisters Helen and Jayne led close family into church, already packed with hundreds of service personnel, colleagues and friends of the fallen soldier.
As the coffin disappeared into the church a member of the crowd shouted Go on girl! and applause again rang out.
Capt Head is the second British woman soldier to be killed in Afghanistan. In June 2008 Sarah Bryant, 26, a member of the Intelligence Corps, died along with three SAS men in a roadside bomb attack in Lashkar Gah.
In a moving eulogy, her commanding officer Lieutenant Colonel Adam McRae MBE paid tribute.
By looking around at the attendance today you can see very much how the MoD community and the wider army feel about Lisa, he said.
She was a talented professional and a highly respected officer, who had also served in Northern Ireland, and Lt Col McRae said tributes had come from across the world and from across the armed forces from people who had known her.
She was known for her effervescent character, her beaming smile and especially for sharing her ciggies, he said, and everyone spoke of Capt Head as courageous, professional, approachable and friendly.
Lt Col McRae continued: These themes ring out through everything I have read. Lisas tragic death exemplifies this.