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First British fallen return home

Coffin
A coffin draped in the British flag is carried from a military cargo plane at Brize Norton Royal Air Force Base.

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BRIZE NORTON, England (CNN) -- The bodies of ten British military service members killed in a "friendly fire" incident and accident in the Persian Gulf region returned to British soil Saturday, in a solemn ceremony at a Royal Air Force Base in Gloucestershire.

To the strains of Nimrod from the "Enigma" variations by Edward Elgar, each of the coffins -- draped in the Union Jack flag -- were carried off the C17 cargo aircraft at RAF Brize Norton by military pallbearers.

They were the first British war casualties from the war in Iraq to return to the United Kingdom.

Two of the dead were British Royal Air Force pilots, killed March 23 when their British Tornado GR4 aircraft was mistakenly shot down by a U.S. Patriot missile, the ministry said.

The remaining eight were British Royal Marines, killed March 20 in a CH-46E helicopter crash in Kuwait.

The bodies will remain at a temporary mortuary at the Royal Air Force base, until they undergo a post-mortem exam.

They will be released to the families for private burial, according to the Ministry of Defense.

-- CNN's Phil Turner and Richard Griffiths contributed to this report


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