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Last Updated:  Thursday, 27 March, 2003, 11:41 GMT
UK troops burn family photos
soldier writes to his loved ones
Mementos which might identify soldiers have had to be given up
Mail brings elation to the 7th Parachute Regiment Royal Horse Artillery - but this turns to sadness as the precious pictures of their children and letters from loved ones are incinerated.

Personal items other than identification discs, medical cards, and money are destroyed in case they give interrogators an advantage over captured soldiers.

Lieutenant Rich Piercy, 23, of Goole, East Yorkshire, said: "It might seem harsh that we have to destroy the mail - but it is for a very good reason.

"If a soldier is captured he could be put under psychological pressure if an interrogator has personal photographs or a home address."

A forces mother comforts her daughter
It was terribly upsetting for Harry to think that his Daddy wouldn't have his photo
Army wife Deborah Cubbin

Sergeant Ewan Andrews, 30, of Aldershot, Hampshire, has had to burn photographs of his 10-month-old son, Sam.

"I am absolutely gutted - but it is an Army rule and you just have to do it."

The mail also brings parcels of food, sweets, chocolates and toiletries.

Sergeant Dean Foster, 34, from London, said: "It's great to receive mail and photographs - but it's gut-wrenching when you have to destroy them, especially the photographs of the kids you haven't seen for ages."

Carl Bond, 23, of Aldershot, added: "It's nice to receive mail - but the worst thing about it is having to burn it after you have read it."

And Bombardier Pete Bryce, 30, said: "It is such a massive morale booster and you do feel bad when you have to destroy letters and photographs.

"However, it just makes you more determined to get the job done quickly and come home in one piece."

  • Pooled despatch from Martin Dillon of the Manchester Evening News

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