A ROYAL Marine from Ferndown is one of two servicemen killed in an explosion in Afghanistan.

John Thornton, 22, died when his patrol vehicle was caught in a blast near Kajaki in Helmland Province just after 4.53pm local time on Sunday.

It is understood his unit was due to return on Wednesday. His next of kin have been informed.

The former Ferndown Upper School pupil won awards as a cadet and was serving in Afghanistan with 40 Commando Brigade, based in Somerset.

He spent six months in Iraq in 2006 after volunteering for an attachment with the Devon and Dorsets. He had told the Echo on his return: "It's just great being back home and not having to worry about the threat of roadside bombs and all the other things that are at the back of your mind."

The Ministry of Defence said the two Royal Marines were taken to the field hospital at Camp Bastion. One was pronounced dead on arrival and the second died shortly afterwards.

Task Force Helmand spokesman Lt Col Simon Millar said: "Our thoughts are with the families and loved ones of the soldiers who have been killed in this incident."

Mr Thornton is understood to have been a lieutenant.

He had joined Ferndown 2358 squadron of the air training corps at 13, and aged 18 flew with the Red Arrows after being named top cadet in his air training corps.

He won awards for the best air power essay and a trophy for best section.

His dad Pete said after his achievement as a cadet: "I am very proud of him and I think it is awesome what he has achieved.

"There is no history of service in the family. I run management training courses and his mum is an admin officer at Ferndown Leisure Centre."

Mr Thornton's Iraq deployment was in command of eight platoon of C Company, The Devon and Dorsets.

The regiment's mission was to support the Iraqi security forces in a 120sq km area south of Basra, including the port of Um Qasr.

In July that year he told the Echo: "If you walk around wearing a helmet it looks very aggressive, which is also part of the reason why we patrol in Snatch Landrovers and not Warriors.

"Warriors have better protection, but again Snatches are less aggressive. People come up to you and say hello and are generally much more approachable."