War hero fund spirals

A MEMORIAL fund set up to remember those who died in action in Afghanistan has already raised in excess of £30,000, it emerged today.

A MEMORIAL fund set up to remember those who died in action in Afghanistan has already raised in excess of £30,000, it emerged today.

The appeal by the 1st Battalion of The Royal Anglian regiment aims to raise a total of £100,000, which will be used to create a permanent memorial to all those who have died, including Private Aaron McClure from Ipswich.

The fund, which was set up during the summer, will also be used to provide assistance to their families and those soldiers severely injured in the line of duty.

Pte McClure, 19, of Marlow Road, was one of three soldiers killed during a 'friendly fire' incident in the Helmand Province in August. He died after a bomb was dropped by a US F15 fighter jet during a battle with the Taliban.

Today, Lorraine McClure, Pte McClure's mother, supported the idea of creating a memorial, claiming families needed to have a focal point for their grief.

She said: “I think it is a brilliant idea. Whether the memorial will be in Bury St Edmunds or wherever, it will be good for the families to have somewhere to go to have a memorial for themselves.

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“We are going to meet Aaron's comrades from the B company on Thursday and that will be really emotional.

“There is so much they have seen and done and they will need support now.

“This week has been horrendous. Every day there is something that makes it difficult again. The grief is starting to really come out now.”

Tony Hadley, former front man of Spandau Ballet and star of this year's Evening Star press ball, is set to make a donation to the fund on Tuesday

The regiment has been returning home from their six-month operation in Afghanistan for the last few weeks and they are all due back by Tuesday.

The battalion had responsibility for the northern sector of the province, which over the last year has seen some of the fiercest fighting with the Taliban.

A spokesman for the regiment said: “On a daily basis the battalion has been engaged with Taliban forces who continue to try and prevent the establishment of the rule of law and impose their will on the population.”

Nine soldiers have been killed since the operation began and a further 50 have been wounded.

Pte McClure's uncle, Allan McClure, of Roundwood Close, Ipswich, added: “It is still so raw. It is just about taking one day at a time.

“Normality and reality is very difficult because it's hard to accept that life goes on.”

Has your loved one returned home from Afghanistan? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.