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Hero’s mother says bring our troops home’

PUBLISHED: 12:13 27 August 2009 | UPDATED: 17:05 25 August 2010

THE 83rd SOLDIER TO DIE IN AFGHANISTAN: Jake Alderton.

THE 83rd SOLDIER TO DIE IN AFGHANISTAN: Jake Alderton.

A MOTHER whose son died in Afghanistan said it is time our troops returned to the UK following reports revealing they lack proper equipment and training, writes Marina Soteriou.

A MOTHER whose son died in Afghanistan said it is time our troops returned to the UK following reports revealing they lack proper equipment and training, writes Marina Soteriou.

Jake Alderton, a 22-year-old Lance Corporal, died when his vehicle rolled off a bridge near Sangin, in Helmand Province on a night-time mission at 4am on June 14, 2007.

The mentor of the Afghanistan National Army was the 83rd British serviceman to die in Afghanistan.

Now as the death count reaches 204, his mother is urging for the government to adequately train and equip troops.

The coroner at the sapper's inquest recorded a narrative verdict and said his death was as a result of a serious failure to provide sufficient training to drive at night or provide effective night vision.

Lesley Alderton from Eltham, said: "I feel that if they are not going to properly train or equip the troops then they should be withdrawn. They need to make sure they send enough troops out there to deal with the situation. There are not enough troops at the moment. Jake always volunteered to do top cover. It is the most dangerous position to be in. That was his nature. He wanted to make sure everybody was okay. It was pitch black. They didn't have any lights on so as not to attract the enemy. He got trapped under the vehicle. It was a terrible accident."

In one of the last conversations she had with Jake, he told her that the Brits were not getting as much support as the Americans.

She has since heard that American soldiers are shocked about the equipment our troops have but she says just because ours are willing to fight with a lack of specialist equipment or training doesn't mean the government should let them.

But despite the family's pain Mrs Alderton still backs the mission and thinks success in Afghanistan is essential to prevent further terrorist attacks on British citizens.

She said: "If they have got the right equipment then they should complete the mission. 67 British people died on 9/11, there were the attacks in Bali and the London bombings.

"People there are terrorists in our own backyard but lots of British terrorists are going out to Pakistan to be trained.

"Terrorism is worldwide. They attempted an attack in Australia not long ago. Everybody should think about this.

"I know that since Jake was over there children are now playing in the streets. We can't keep bringing all these boys home in coffins and saying nothing has come out of it because we would be saying they have died in vain.

"It won't be achieved quickly. That is the nature of the War on Terror. If we give up now it will be just like letting Hitler walk through and get us. The soldiers died in World War Two so we could keep our country."

WWII veteran Ted Roberts, 84, of Bromley Hill, Bromley, was handed the Silver Cross of St George for his fundraising for wounded soldiers at a ceremony earlier this month.

He said: "It's bad that our boys are there but if we weren't there then the Taliban could take over that's another threat to Britain. The casualty rate is not bad when you think about it, there's a big difference between that and WWII. We could lose 300 in a day so looking at it from that point of view it's worth being there but I am sorry for the lads who are getting maimed and killed. It's very sad that the world is as it is today. Our boys are doing a very good job out there. They don't seem to be making much ground but they are holding it. I sincerely hope we won't be there for 40 years. If that's the case we should pull out now. If they can do it in a few years then we should stay.

"The Taliban are trying to take over Afghanistan and they are definitely anti- British. They are persecuting half the country- they are not doing it by choice, they are doing it by force. That is not the right way."

Mrs Alderton said that at his grandmother's funeral, four months before his own, Jake told his parents "we are not soldiers, we are guardians".

His mother said: "There is nothing we can do for our son but we can provide help to other soldiers, with what they have to get through as it is awful. Those who come back have survivors' guilt. They are all victims.

"Every dead soldier I read about I can see a little bit of Jake in them. They are a breed of their own. They are all happy go lucky."

marina.soteriou@archant.co.uk

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