Family prepare to remember soldier Aaron
VIDEO To see Private Aaron McClure's future plans mapped out in the back of his diary has been almost too much for his mother to bear.
TO see Private Aaron McClure's future plans mapped out in the back of his diary has been almost too much for his mother to bear.
Tomorrow, as the world remembers servicemen and women who gave up their lives for the cause, Lorraine McClure will be thinking of her son who died in Afghanistan during a friendly fire incident in August.
Pte McClure's possessions have just been sent back to his home in Marlow Road, Westbourne, in a huge cardboard box leaving his family with the difficult task of carefully sorting through his belongings.
He was one of three soldiers on tour in the Helmand Province with the 1st Battalion 'The Vikings' of The Royal Anglian regiment, who died when a US F15 fighter jet dropped a bomb during a battle with the Taliban.
Among the precious items that he should have been bringing home with him are his clothes, a camera, letters and a diary.
The photos, taken during the four weeks between his return to Afghanistan and his untimely death, not only show the intense conditions of war but also the solidarity among the soldiers.
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The 19-year-old former Westbourne High School pupil took several pictures of his friends, including one of the other fatalities, Pte John Thrumble, enjoying the heat while swimming in the Kajaki Dam.
Miss McClure, 36, of Marlow Road, said: “It looks like they were having a laugh and the video of himself that he took is only a couple of seconds but it just shows what Aaron was like.
“I have heard from a lot of people about his last few moments. I want to know my son's last minutes. I heard he was in his element. He was going through such an adrenaline rush at the time. I can picture it and that is all I want.”
There were also several letters returned, some written by the family and some sealed ones that Pte McClure had written but never had a chance to send.
She added: “There was one addressed to me and the boys and that took me a long time to read because I was scared about what it was going to say. It was saying how he couldn't wait to get the tour over and done with.
“He said it almost would have been easier if he hadn't come back home in July but thank god he did because those few weeks were wonderful.”
As members of the family, including Pte McClure's three brothers and his father, Karl Smith, sort through his belongings, the pain of grief is patently far from over.
She added: “It is hard to think that the box is his life. When I first got it back, I was so grateful that we got all his stuff back. Every little thing is so precious. I can't even think about moving it yet or clearing stuff out.
“I know the investigation is really important but at the moment, that is too hard to think about.”
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Remembrance Sunday will have extra special meaning this year for the McClure family.
This is the first year that remembering the dead will include their loved one.
Lorraine McClure and her brother Allan McClure will join scores of others at this year's Remembrance Day service in Christchurch Park.
They will be remembering with sadness that last year Private Aaron McClure attended the service himself.
He had come home for a few days break from training and on his way back to Pirbright, he stopped at the park to pay respects to those who had given their lives.
Pte McClure's family also travelled to Pirbright yesterday for a memorial service where they lit a candle and attended a memorial service. They were due to lay poppy wreaths and meet the families of the eight other soldiers who died during the tour.
Miss McClure said: “Every year I think about the soldiers but this year it will have a totally different meaning.
“It is about remembering the ones you don't hear about as well, like the ones who got injured. It is not just about financial support, it is about being there.
“These people have seen their friends being killed.”
Among the doodles in the back of his diary, Private Aaron McClure wrote a business plan and drew sketches of his dream home.
Miss McClure said the diary, which contained a week's worth of entries, mentioned a lot about the heat and their day-to-day activities.
She said: “He did say in the diary 'When I left, my mum was crying but I decided not to show my feelings'.
“He said he was pleased to be out there but also wrote about his plans for the future. They must have had a lot of time on their hands so I guess that is why he started writing the diary.
“I didn't even know about it until we got it sent back.
“Aaron had completed a gym instructor's course at college before he joined the army and wanted to eventually open a gym with his best friend Gavin.
“He would have done it to. He was very determined.”