Page last updated at 10:22 GMT, Saturday, 19 December 2009

Dead soldier's Christmas message

L/Cpl David Kirkness and his girlfriend Mel Maclean
Mel Maclean described her boyfriend as a "hero"

The girlfriend of a British soldier who died trying to stop suicide bombers in Afghanistan received his Christmas card the day before his death.

L/Cpl David Kirkness, 24, from Morley, West Yorkshire, was one of two soldiers who sacrificed their lives to stop an attack on a packed marketplace.

Mel Maclean, 31, said the card included the lines "sorry aint going to be home with you all" and "love you babes".

She choked back tears as she told how she had last spoken to him on Sunday.

She received the Christmas card the next day.

Ms Maclean said L/Cpl Kirkness's mother had told her he was going to ask her to marry him during a family holiday planned for April next year.

Christmas card sent by L/Cpl Kirkness
L/Cpl Kirkness wrote in the card of how he missed his family

She said his letters always talked about a surprise he had for her and she now knew that was a marriage proposal.

She said that felt "really special".

Ms Maclean added: "I knew if it came to somebody or himself, he'd save somebody else.

"He's a hero - there's no other word for him. We're all really proud of him."

L/Cpl Kirkness's father Chris agreed that his son was a hero.

He said: "It's what he does. He's always put other people first and it's what he's done again.

"I just want to remember him for what he's done.

"He's given his life to save a hell of a lot of people."

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