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Last Updated: Saturday, 23 September 2006, 09:58 GMT 10:58 UK
Dead soldier's emotional letter
Gunner Lee Darren Thornton
Lee Darren Thornton died in Germany two days after he was shot
The fiancee of a soldier killed in Iraq has released an emotional letter which he wrote with instructions for it to be opened only in the event of his death.

Lee Darren Thornton, 22, from Blackpool, died two days after being hit on patrol in Basra on 5 September.

In a letter to Helen O'Pray, 21, Gunner Thornton tells the "love of his life" she had "shown me what love is and what it feels like to be loved".

The funeral of Gunner Thornton is due to be held on Monday.

Miss O'Pray told the Times newspaper she decided to make the letter's contents public ahead of the service.

The gunner served in 58 Battery, 12 Regiment Royal Artillery. He was the 118th member of the British armed forces to die while serving in Iraq since the conflict began in March 2003.

Now it is my turn to look over you as you sleep and keep you safe in your dreams
Lee Darren Thornton

The couple had planned to marry in August 2008.

The letter, which the soldier had left with his fiancée in April with instructions she was only to open it should he die, says: "I know God put me and you on this earth to find each other, fall in love and show the rest of the world what true love really is.

"I know this is going to sound sad but every night I spent away I had a photo of you on my headboard.

"Each night I would go to bed, kiss my fingers then touch your face. I put the photo over my bed so you could look over me as I slept.

I miss him dearly and this letter just shows how much I meant to him
Helen O'Pray

"Well now it is my turn to look over you as you sleep and keep you safe in your dreams."

It tells how she was the "love of my life, girl of my dreams", "my soul mate" and "my whole world" without whom "I am nothing".

It says she had "shown me what love is and what it feels like to be loved".

Miss O'Pray, a student, from Marton, Lancashire, told how she felt reading the letter.

"There are no words to describe how I felt when I read the letter for the first time," she said.

"I love him so much. He was kind, generous and everything you would want in a man. I miss him dearly and this letter just shows how much I meant to him."




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