Hundreds gather for funeral of Scottish soldier

Josh Hoole's coffin is carried in to church by fellow soldiers. Picture: Katielee Arrowsmith/SWNS
Josh Hoole's coffin is carried in to church by fellow soldiers. Picture: Katielee Arrowsmith/SWNS
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Hundreds of mourners lined the streets of a small village to pay their last respects to a soldier who died on a training exercise.

More than 200 people, including soldiers in uniform, stood in silence as Corporal Josh Hoole’s funeral cortege passed through his home village of Ecclefechan, near Lockerbie, in Dumfries and Galloway.

The hearse was led by a lone piper and carried floral tributes spelling Josh.

The procession then made its way to the Crichton Memorial church in Dumfries, where the coffin was carried by a military bearer party.

Cpl Hoole’s brother, Tyrone, 27, a soldier in The Rifles, lined up with army colleagues to carry the Union flag-draped coffin into church.

A military guard of honour stood outside the church and soldiers saluted as the pallbearers filed past.

A piper played a lament outside prior to the start of the service.

Cpl Hoole, of The Rifles, died last week in Brecon, Wales, after collapsing while on pre-course training for the Platoon Sergeants’ Battle Course – which is described as “both mentally and physically demanding”.

Some MPs had linked his death with the dangers of training in the high temperatures, following the death of three soldiers during an SAS training exercise in the same area in 2013, but his father, 
Phillip Hoole, said it could have been down to an 
underlying heart condition.

Mr Hoole, 54, a former sergeant major and an Iraq veteran, was reported to have said: “Josh wouldn’t have wanted the soldiers that were with him, or the medics, to feel any personal blame.

“He was doing his job and he knew the risks.

“Josh wouldn’t have been happy with the way that people have had a knee-jerk reaction straight away simply because it was the hottest day of the year.

“People have started to point the finger at the army.”

Cpl Hoole, 26, had been due to marry fiancée Rachael McKie next year and was to be best man at brother Tyrone’s wedding in Edinburgh tomorrow.

Mr Hoole said his son had been about 200 metres from the course finish when he collapsed.

He said it had been a normal run “with no extra beastings” and had been done within the confines laid down by the army.

A cause of death is yet to be established but Mr Hoole said he suspected an arrhythmia or aneurysm in the heart.

He described his son as a “caring young man” who “always pushed himself 100 per cent”.

A police investigation into his death is continuing.

Dyfed Powys Police said a post-mortem examination has been completed but the results were not expected until late September.

newsen@edinburghnews.com