Why do we bring back our dead service men and women ?

It must be a certainty that all so called UK* people [so called, because of the lack of clarity as to what the expression truly means in today's society] have peace of mind that the vast majority of our war dead do indeed Rest in Peace.

* Using the word British [or English] when referring to our fighting forces is offensive in the extreme, because the word British excludes men and women from Northern Ireland.

They Rest in Peace because they are buried in cemeteries around the world directly controlled, on an international agreement, by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission [CWGC].  Other countries protect the graves of their war dead under the same agreement. Even in countries which were not represented on that agreement, our dead were buried with an assurance that the graves would be respected and not defiled.  There are UK graves to this very day in Afghanistan for example, but the dead are not from 'modern' wars!  Such cemeteries, sparsely dotted around the world and outside the remit of the CWGC were largely respected in an age where religious excesses were not prevalent, and toleration [at least to the dead] was the accepted norm.

Guided by that knowledge and peace of mind, the British Government formulated rules governing the repatriation of the dead from foreign fields back home to the UK.  The rules stated that all who died whilst serving abroad on active duty  would be protected by agents appointed by the UK Government, and interred under UK military guidance and ceremony, in established military cemeteries or into cemeteries with appropriately engraved headstones in the country/theatre/area of their death. That was the status quo right up to and including the Falklands War of 1982, with exceptions to the rule, where, sadly, many UK service personnel are buried in graveyards spread across the world.  In the case of those who fell in the Falklands War and who are buried ashore, the Government gave the relatives the choice of repatriating their men-folk home for a UK funeral/committal or for them to go to the Falklands and to have their loved ones buried there, in both cases at public expense. There was of course no danger of the Falklands Cemetery every being desecrated.

The start of the Islamic Revolution in 1981, which sparked the overthrow of the Shah of Persia by the Ayatollah Khomeini {died 1989}, was the start of the current Muslim intolerance for all but the Islam faith, calling and thinking of all others as infidels or foul Jews. From its start [even though the Muslim brothers went 'hammer and tongs' at one another in the Iraq/Iran war where it said over a million died and we were on Iraq's side] came the follow-on which developed into the recent wars in Iraq and in Afghanistan. From these Muslim outrages of flag burning, mass chest-thumping death to the West rallies, hostage taking and vile beheading's, embassy destructions, perverse suicide bombings, enactment of shaira-law, etc, came the ultimate distrust by the West, that the Muslims in the Middle East would not respect or protect anything to do with the West. This of course included the graves of our soldiers.  Thus, fearing that any grave would be desecrated and defiled by these demon's, the British Government ordered that all bodies should be repatriated home for a UK funeral/committal. That is how and why Royal Wootton Bassett came about. Proof of these desecrations [were it needed] can be seen in this footage, taken recently since 2010 and the overthrow of Colonel Gaddafi in Libya.  These are modern-day Muslim destroying Christian and Jewish graves. Note their symbol of authority - their rifles!

 

Look below to see the law as enshrined, and as yet unaltered, but including in it, the EXCEPTION mention below in the third paragraph of Mr C. Ian-Orr-Ewing's answer to the question posed for the current repatriation policy. Because it is as yet unaltered, it could be that were we to go to war with a non-Muslim country or with a less volatile Muslim country [several of them but not in the Middle East] in the future where our dead would be protected and respected, that the bodies of our soldiers are not repatriated but buried, as it always was, in the country of their death. 

This is a page from Hansards Archives for May 1961 and requires no further explanation. Note the numbers in the Service were three times greater than they are today in 2012.

HC Deb 05 May 1961 vol 639 c131W
Mr. D. Jones

asked the Civil Lord of the Admiralty how many men and women are now serving with Her Majesty's ships; how many of these are serving abroad; how many of those serving abroad have died, or been killed, since 1945; and in how many cases their bodies were brought home at Government expense.

Mr. C. Ian Orr-Ewing

On 1st April, 1961, there were 98,128 men and women, including juniors and locally entered personnel, on the strength of the Royal Navy, Royal Marines, Women's Royal Naval Service and Queen Alexandra's Royal Naval Nursing Service, and of these 24,296 were abroad, either ashore or afloat.

Between 1st January, 1946, and 1st April, 1961, a total of 1,019, including 58 locally entered personnel, died or were killed abroad.

It is contrary to the practice of all three Services to bring home at Government expense the bodies of Service men and women who die or are killed abroad. The only exception during the period in question was made in the case of two officers and seven other ranks of the Royal Marines killed during the Port Said operations in 1956, when it was feared that their graves would not be respected.