By Kirsty Topping
HUNDREDS of mourners turned out to pay tribute to a soldier who was killed after disappearing from his post in Afghanistan.
Scott McLaren, 20, is believed to have left his checkpoint though the reasons why remain unknown.
His body was found five hours after his disappearance with two gunshot wounds to the head, though it is unclear whether these were inflicted before or after death.
Today (Tue) Highlander McLaren’s body was greeted at Mortonhall crematorium in Edinburgh by a cavalcade of bikers from the Royal British Legion Riders, a branch consisting of civilian members, veteran and serving soldiers.
Rider Karen Homes, a former member of the Royal Medical Corp, said: “We are just here to pay our respects to a fallen soldier, to Scott.
“We want his family to know there are people out there who support them. “
Thirteen members of Scott’s unit, who flew in from their base in Germany on Sunday, lined the route for the hearse. Another six acted as pallbearers.
Scott’s coffin was draped in a Union Jack flag. Sitting on top were his belt, his Glengarry hat and, poignantly, his Afghan medal.
Floral tributes filled the hearse; one read
“F1′, the nickname given to McLaren by his unit to reference both his surname and his athletic prowess.
Another tribute read “Son”.
Scott’s parents James and Ann, sister Kirsty and brothers James and Ross gathered with friends to say goodbye to their loved one.
A family source said: “I don’t think this will really hit them until after the funeral. “
He also revealed that Scott’s parents had not slept or eaten for two days following their son’s death.
The procession made their way up the aisle of the chapel to the strains of Flower of Scotland and Highland Cathedral, played by a regimental piper.
Scott’s 16-year-old brother Ross paid tribute to his “role model”.
“My brother was one of my main role models in life and I always tried to be like him. He always tried his hardest at things no matter how bad he was. I always known he looked out for me and was always there. “
Major Andy Mackay, the company commander for 4 Scots, also paid tribute to the young soldier.
He said: “We are gathered here today to say farewell to a brave young Highlander; Highlander Scott McLaren from the Highlanders 4th battalion of the Royal Regiment of Scotland.
“Although he was not with the battalion long he definitely left his mark. Fit, reliable and conscientious, a true and trusted friend to many.
“In operations in Afghanistan he was calm under pressure and dedicated to the cause.
“A loving son to James and Ann and brother to Kirsty, James and Ross. Our thoughts are with the family at this time.”
Following the service a firing party of 12 soldiers, some barely older than their comrade, fired three shots into the air. Some looked close to tears as they remembered their fallen colleague.The piper played the lament The Forest of the Flowers as the scent of lilies from outside the chapel wafted through the air.
Speaking after the committal of the body, Forces chaplain the Reverend Angus MacLeod, said: “Any fatality in the armed forces is likely to be a young person and that is always sad as it is the taking away of future and potential and all those good things and accompanying the family through that is a sorrowful business.
“One of the things i say to the bearer parties is that it’s one of the most difficult things the army will ask them to do but it’s probably one of the most important things.“It’s an honour to do something like this. It’s not something I look forward to. I think theprivilegeis always spending a little bit of time with the family.“The family have been incredibly dignified. They have had quite an extended time since Scott’s death to today’s funeral but they have been remarkable throughout. The thing that has got them through is that they are clearly a genuinely close family.”
The family requested that any donations should be made in his memory to the Royal British Legion or Help for Heroes.
Friends were invited to join the family after the service at the Braid Hills Hotel in Edinburgh.
Scott was found dead on July 4 after wandering away from his checkpoint in Helmand province.
His disappearance sparked a 17-hour search and it is understood he was killed by enemy forces.
He was found three miles away with gunshot wounds to the head, his helmet and body armour had been taken.
It was later revealed that his Taliban killers had been rewarded with motorbikes and cash.