FLAGS are flying at half-mast at Hampshire County Council’s headquarters today as a mark of respect to the five servicemen killed in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan on Saturday, four of whom were from RAF Odiham.

Council leader Roy Perry paid tribute to the men, saying: “Our deepest sympathies are with the families and friends left behind by this tragedy. Hampshire is home to the largest contingent of armed forces personnel in the country and tragic incidents such as this are a sad, but stark reminder of the contributions and sacrifices that the armed forces make and all that they do to protect our country and serve the cause of freedom.”

The flags at the headquarters, in Winchester, will remain at half-mast through to sunset tomorrow evening, when Cllr Perry and Lord Lieutenant of Hampshire, Dame Mary Fagan, will host a ceremony in the Great Hall to thank all armed services and frontline staff for the relief efforts they made during the floods that caused damage to many Hampshire communities.