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Last Updated: Saturday, 11 November 2006, 19:25 GMT
Iraq war dead remembered
By Lucy Rodgers
BBC News

To the sound of a lone piper, families of servicemen killed in Iraq came together to remember their dead.
Families of troops killed in Iraq
Families called for an immediate withdrawal of troops from Iraq

United by grief and a wish for immediate withdrawal of troops from Iraq, around 50 people from military families and their supporters attended the sombre service at the Cenotaph in London.

Organised by Military Families Against The War, relatives of the dead laid wreathes of red and white poppies and read the names of all 121 British personnel and some US troops killed in Iraq.

Members of the Stop the War Coalition, fashion designer Katharine Hamnett and MP Jeremy Corbyn attended the service in Whitehall where the names of some of those killed in Afghanistan and a list of names of Iraqi children and other civilians killed in the conflict were also read.

Many of the families could not hold back their tears and clung to each other for support as the wreathes were placed at the bottom of the Cenotaph.

Rose Gentle, whose son Gordon was killed in Iraq, led an emotional two minutes of silence for what she described as "our brave troops".

Iraq remembrance

Andrew Burgin, spokesman for Military Families Against the War, said the service was a chance for families of troops killed in the conflict to have their voices heard and to offer each other support.

"It's a reflection of the fact that there is no official remembrance of soldiers killed in Iraq.

Roger Bacon
Our troops are still dying out there and as long as they stay out there they are going to go on being killed and wounded
Roger Bacon, father of a serviceman killed in Iraq

"This is the one way of marking their particular contribution, and serves as an opportunity for these families to express their opposition to the war."

Roger and Maureen Bacon joined the service to remember their officer son Matthew who was killed by a roadside bomb in Basra, Iraq, in September last year.

Mr Bacon said they had joined in the national two minutes silence earlier in the day, but there was also a need for a special service for troops killed in Iraq.

"We're here at the Cenotaph just for those who have died in Iraq because we believe they should never have been sent to Iraq in the first place," he said.

A red and white poppy
The families laid wreathes of red and white poppies

The families went on to deliver a letter signed by about 750 relatives and veterans to Downing Street calling for the immediate return of British troops.

Mr Bacon said: "Our troops are still dying out there and as long as they stay out there they are going to go on being killed and wounded."

Alastair Mackie, 84, a former Air Commodore who is now vice-president of CND, joined the families at the service and said he supported the petition.

He added that it was important for military families and ex-military personnel to highlight the loss involved in war.

"It is important for young people to be here to see, with a bit of luck, the tradition of remembering people in the two World Wars. Hopefully it will encourage them to put their efforts into not letting it happen again."

People observe the two-minute silence


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