We have to learn to live with our loss

The family of a Suffolk soldier who was killed while serving in Afghanistan have backed a campaign to build a lasting memorial to honour members of his battalion who died in action.

The family of a Suffolk soldier who was killed while serving in Afghanistan have backed a campaign to build a lasting memorial to honour members of his battalion who died in action.

Pte Aaron McClure was killed on August 23 in a “friendly fire” incident while with 1st Battalion the Royal Anglian Regiment in Helmand province.

The 19-year-old and two other comrades, Privates John Thrumble, 21, of Chelmsford, and Robert Foster, 19, from Harlow, died after they were bombed by a US F15 fighter jet during a fierce battle with the Taliban.

The EDP is officially backing an appeal to raise £100,000 to build a memorial to honour them and the six others from their battalion that have been killed since their gruelling tour of duty began in March this year.

Some of the money will also be used to help the scores of Anglians that have been injured in the campaign and to rehabilitate them back into the armed forces.

Pte McClure's family has given their full support to the appeal and urged the people across the region not to forget the important sacrifice the courageous teenager and the other soldiers from his battalion had made.

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His mother, Lorraine, said: “I fully support the campaign and I will do whatever I can to help because it's important that we always remember not just my son but every last person who has given their lives to the war.

“A lot of these men and woman are very young and they go out there and don't quite understand what its going to be like and what will happen.

“It's extremely hard for them and we can't appreciate what they have to experience and still have to go through.”

Mrs McClure, from Ipswich, said the family was still trying to come to terms with her son's death.

“We're just taking it a day at a time,” she said.

“It's a huge struggle and doesn't get any easier. B Company - which was Aaron's company - is due back on Tuesday. That's the last of the Royal Anglians to come home and it's little things like that which hit you the hardest.

“It was a year on Saturday that Aaron had his passing out and that was very emotional because you sit there and think about what you were doing this time 12 months ago and you remember how proud you were - not realising that less than a year down the line he would be gone.”

Pte McClure's funeral was held last month and hundreds of mourners gathered on the streets of Ipswich to pay their last respects.

His uncle Allan, of Roundwood Road, Ipswich, said he was 110% behind the plans to build a memorial to his nephew and other fallen comrades.

“We must never forget what these boys have done,” he said.

“The Royal Anglians have lost a lot of people in the last six months and even more have been injured. It's something they are going to have to come to terms with for the rest of their lives.

“Aaron was just a normal lad from a council estate with a heart of gold and now he's gone.

“It's extremely difficult for all the boys out there because they are very close to the enemy and many of them are still very young.

“It's been seven weeks since his death and it's still really difficult.

“If he had been killed by enemy fire then it would have been hard enough, but because it was friendly somehow it makes it that little bit worse.

“I still can't really believe it.”

Mr McClure said the family were set to meet with military officials at Bury St Edmunds next Thursday.

He said: “Hopefully we will get some answers. We're not blaming anyone but all the families deserve to know what happened.

“At the moment it just seems never ending and there are still a lot of hurdles to cross - Remembrance Sunday, Christmas and birthdays - so it will be very hard. It'll never go away but we have to cope and learn how to live with it.”

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