Suffolk’s six soldiers killed in Afghanistan war among those honoured at St Paul’s Cathedral
- Credit: PA
Suffolk’s six servicemen who died in the Afghanistan conflict were among the hundreds of Armed Forces members honoured in a special commemoration yesterday.
The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh led the nation in remembering their sacrifices, paying tribute not only to those who paid the ultimate price during the 13-year war but their families left behind at home.
Some 453 British men and women died during the fight against the Taliban insurgency, including 19-year-old Private Aaron McClure from Ipswich.
He was serving with the 1st Battalion, The Royal Anglian Regiment, when he died in a friendly fire accident in August 2007. He was one of three British soldiers killed by a 500lb bomb dropped by a US.
His grandmother Vi Currie said the memorial service at St Paul’s Cathedral was “overwhelming” and “fantastic”.
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She added: “It was a very emotional and long day. I wish I did not have to be there obviously but they did us proud. We held our heads high.
“All Aaron ever wanted to do was join the army; we were proud of him and proud the service remembered our boys. It brought back all the emotions but you have to cope with life.”
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Tony Woodgate, father of Lance Corporal of Horse Jonathan Woodgate, 26, who died in action by an insurgent’s grenade while on foot patrol near Sangin in March 2010, was unable to attend the memorial yesterday but said it was a fitting tribute.
Mr Woodgate said: “Jo was very proud to serve his country and we were proud of him. It is an emotional time of year and March 26 marks the anniversary of his death.
“The boys in his squad thought he was immortal because that was the third time they blew him up, but (his death) does not hurt as much as it did at the time. Life goes on.”
Lance Corporal Adam Drane, 23, of Hoggards Green in Stanningfield, Bury St Edmunds, was based in an observation post when he was shot in December 2009.
Jackie Drane, his mother, did not attend the service due to the emotional hardship such occasions cause but said she was happy the servicemen were honoured.
She said: “People say time is a healer but it does not seem that way. You just learn to cope with it.
“I thought Adam was going to come home…and then we had a knock on the door. It is like a horrible dream. It kicks you in the stomach and you feel numb all over.
“It changes you live completely. He had a fiancé and was going to get married and wanted children. It was just taken away.
“I constantly think about him. I talk to his picture every day and say I love him.”
Also honoured yesterday was Lance Corporal George Davey, 23, from Beccles, who died in a tragic firearms incident in May 2007.
Senior Aircraftman Luke Southgate, 20, from Bury St Edmunds, was killed by an improvised explosive device (IED) while serving in No. 2 Squadron near Kandahar Airfield.
Private James Grigg, 21, from Hartismere, Suffolk, was killed by two explosions when on foot patrol in March 2010.