THE MP for North East Hampshire has expressed his sadness over the deaths of four RAF Odiham servicemen.

James Arbuthnot said it was “ironic and tragic” that the men died so close to the end of combat operations in Afghanistan.

Captain Thomas Clarke, 30, Warrant Officer Spencer Faulkner, 39, and Corporal James Walters, 36, from the Army Air Corps, and Flight Lieutenant Rakesh Chauhan, an RAF intelligence officer, died in a Lynx helicopter crash in the Kandahar province on Saturday.

A fifth man, Lance Corporal Oliver Thomas, from the Intelligence Corps and based in London, also died.

This morning, Mr Arbuthnot told The Gazette: “It is really sad because these men who have died were doing what they loved. By all accounts, they were doing it really well.

“It reminds us what we owe to them for putting their lives on the line day in, day out.”

He added: “It’s ironic and tragic that it comes so close to the end of combat operations in Afghanistan and it’s particularly hard for the community in Odiham to have suffered so many deaths.

“I would like to say how proud we are of the people of RAF Odiham including those who died and how we must think of their friends and family.”

The MP, who is also chairman of the defence select committee, said he has left a message for Group Captain Richard Maddison, station commander at RAF Odiham, to express his sympathy.

He warned it could take a long time to establish the exact cause of the crash.