Aaron's death is so hard to bear

HEARTBROKEN grandparents of Ipswich friendly fire victim Private Aaron McClure today spoke of their struggle to cope with life without him.The 19-year-old former Westbourne High School pupil had been due to return home with the 1st Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment in a few weeks when he was killed in Afghanistan by a bomb from a US aircraft.

HEARTBROKEN grandparents of Ipswich friendly fire victim Private Aaron McClure today spoke of their struggle to cope with life without him.

The 19-year-old former Westbourne High School pupil had been due to return home with the 1st Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment in a few weeks when he was killed in Afghanistan by a bomb from a US aircraft.

Instead, his devastated colleagues in Helmand Province were today preparing to pay an emotional farewell to him as his family prepared for the agony of seeing his body brought home.

Today Allan McClure, Pte McClure's grandfather, and his grandmother Vi Currie remembered him as a wonderful grandson who had longed to join the army all his life.

Mr McClure said: “We are all still in shock. Every time I look at his picture I just break down.”

Pte McClure's death has left Ipswich in mourning since his name was released by the Ministry of Defence on Saturday.

Most Read

Floral tributes have appeared outside his mother's home in Marlow Road and tributes have come from friends, former school mates, army top brass, Ipswich's mayor Inga Lockington and religious leaders.

Today Pte McClure's family revealed he returned to his home in Marlow Road for a brief stay earlier this month, and just a week after he went back to Afghanistan, he was killed.

Tragically, a farewell party had been planned for him in Ipswich the day before he was due to leave, but he was called back by his barracks a day early so it was cancelled.

Mr McClure, who lives in Scotland, said: “When he came home, I asked him 'how are you' and he was just quiet. He said he was thinking about his mates over there and wondering how they were. He was very caring.

“We had been down here on holiday for a month because Aaron had been down on leave. When he was going back, I took him to Ipswich station to drop him off and eight of his pals came as well to see him off.

“He said he didn't want any fuss. I hugged him and said goodbye. As he was walking into the station, all his pals were cheering out the windows and he was smiling.

“We went back home on the Friday. The following Thursday, I had been out walking my dog and when I got back home, my son Wayne said to me, “Dad, Aaron is gone”.

“I was very close to Aaron - he was a great lad. He did not drink or smoke. He always wanted to be in the army ever since he was a child. He was always polishing his boots and saved up his pocket money to buy new gear for the army.

Next week the family will have to face the repatriation ceremony, when Pts McClure's body will be returned home.

Mr McClure, 66, who lives in Bridge of Weir about 20 miles from Glasgow with his second wife and their two children, has written a touching poem about his grandson but wants to keep it for himself.

He said: “Every time I go to cry I stop myself but my son Allan has told me to let it out. I just can't.

“When we heard the news, we just put all of our clothes in a bag and came down to Ipswich at 3am. I am going to stay here as long as it takes.

“I'm so angry at the government as I have always been against the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. I want to get to the bottom of this.

“Aaron knew how I felt about things but it didn't hold him back because he loved his job.”

Pte McClure, who had three brothers, Lewis, 18, Daniel, 16, and Ryan, 12, was looking forward to rejoining his colleagues in Afghanistan.

He joined the army last year and was posted to Afghanistan in March.

His brother, Lewis, had just got a place in the Royal Anglians and was due to be off in September but that plan has been put on hold for now.

AARON McClure's grandmother today told how she had worried about her beautiful grandson being posted to Afghanistan.

Vi Currie, 56, of Whitby Road, Ipswich, said she only became worried about Aaron being in the army when he was posted to Afghanistan but never believed anything bad would really happen.

She said: “I used to cry for other people when I read about things like this and now it is happening to us.

“We want an investigation into this but I don't bear any grudges. I just feel the people who did it are probably feeling terrible.

“They are all just boys - Aaron was only 19. If Lewis still wants to go, it is up to him but it will be so hard for us. We weren't so scared for Aaron because we never thought it could happen to him.”

Reflecting on his death, Mrs Currie said: “My grandson was taken away from us, suddenly and tragically. I didn't realise that heartache was a physical pain - now I know it is.

“It is so painful, it is almost unbearable. I had six grandchildren, who I adore. Now I have five. Please don't let this happen again, I miss you my beautiful boy.”

As well as being an Ipswich Town football fan, Pte McClure had also recently taken up boxing and was learning Russian.

Mrs Currie, a nurse at Ipswich Hospital, who moved to Ipswich 24 years ago, added: “He was so focused. He has always been a very deep person, very quiet and a thinker.

“I didn't get to say cheerio to him as he had to go back a day earlier and it was like I was grieving then but it is nothing compared to this.

“We miss him so much. When I see things at work I just deal with it, and my mum and dad dying was terrible, but this is just the most painful thing in my life. We are such a close family and are trying to be there for each other.”

Allan McClure, Pte McClure's uncle, added this message in tribute: “My son, my life will never be the same. God lent you to us and has now taken you back. You knew how much I loved you as I told you so often.

“Seeing you go back to Afghanistan a few weeks ago broke my heart but this has destroyed me. I will keep strong for the family and will take care of them. My love is with you for all eternity.”

A MILITARY ceremony was due to take place in Afghanistan tonight as a goodbye to tragic Ipswich soldier Private Aaron McClure who was one of three killed in a friendly fire accident.

The formal parade will take place at the British military base in Camp Bastion in the country's Helmand Province and will be attended by hundreds of soldiers, including members of Pte McClure's own regiment, the Royal Anglian.

During the ceremony, the 19-year-old's coffin will be marched on to a Hercules aircraft, at the sound of the Last Post, ready for repatriation.

He will be flown home to RAF Lyneham in Wiltshire on Thursday.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Defence said: “There will be a ceremony for Aaron. It's a final goodbye ceremony where the coffin will be marched on to a Hercules ready for repatriation to Britain.

“There will be music and a parade when they lift the body on to the plane.”

Pte McClure had been patrolling an area north-west of Kajaki, Helmand Province, when the tragedy happened on Thursday.

Two US F15s had been called in to help when Pte McClure's unit came under attack from Taliban fighters.

One of the aircraft launched a bomb, which apparently exploded, killing the three soldiers and wounding two others.

The other soldiers killed were Privates Robert Foster, 19, from Harlow, and John Thrumble, 21, from Chelmsford.