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Last Updated: Friday, 13 August, 2004, 17:35 GMT 18:35 UK
'Troops out of Iraq' says mother
A picture of Private Marc Ferns, released by the army
Private Marc Ferns: Battalion "saddened" by his death
The mother of a Scottish soldier killed in Iraq has urged Tony Blair to order the withdrawal of British troops.

Private Marc Ferns, from Glenrothes, died after an improvised bomb went off beside a road as he and colleagues were on patrol on Thursday morning.

Asked what she would say to the prime minister, his mother Christine Morgan responded: "Get them home."

Another Black Watch soldier, Kevin Stacey, was injured in the attack and is seriously ill in hospital in Kuwait.

Speaking from the family home in Glenrothes, Mrs Morgan said: "They are a peace-keeping force, they are supposed to have handed over to Iraq's own forces."

Referring to the number of British soldiers killed in Iraq, she asked: "How many more? It is 64 just now - I do not want that number to go any higher and God willing, Kevin will not be 65."

She will always know he was a brave man who died fighting to help other people
Ann Fury, speaking about Pte Ferns' one-year-old daughter
Speaking to reporters, she said: "I would just ask you all to have a wee prayer for him and his family at this moment.

"Our family is strong and we will be strong for Marc because we are so proud of him."

Pte Ferns, who was the third generation of his family to serve in the Black Watch, had previously served in Iraq with the regiment during the initial period of major combat operations in the spring of 2003 and returned for a second tour of duty.

Mrs Morgan said she would give "every penny in this world to have him here" and that she had urged him not to go back to Iraq.

Sister's grief

Pte Ferns, 21, leaves a one-year-old daughter, Amy. Her 20-year-old mother Ann Fury, said: "She will always know he was a brave man who died fighting to help other people."

She agreed that the troops should come home. "How long is it going to take them to realise it is not doing any good?

"It is going to be too late by the time they are all dead and they are going to realise it was wrong."

Christine Morgan
Christine Morgan urged Tony Blair to pull British troops out of Iraq
Pte Ferns' sister, Tracey Dudgeon, 26, said: "He did it the first time round and he should not have gone back again.

"It's supposed to be over, the handover has taken place. It's just crazy, now get them home."

A Ministry of Defence spokesman said: "British forces are in Iraq to assist the Iraqi authorities in their transition to a peaceful society.

"Our troops will remain there as long as necessary. The MoD extends its sympathies to the family and friends of Private Ferns."

'Bright future'

Lieutenant Colonel James Cowan, commanding officer of the Black Watch, described him as a "committed professional" whose death had "saddened and shocked" the battalion.

"Private Ferns had loyally served the Black Watch for three years and had a bright future ahead of him," Lt Col Cowan continued.

"He was an experienced, committed, professional and very popular soldier who will be sorely missed by all who knew him.

Major Ronnie Proctor
Major Ronnie Proctor: Family well-known in the Black Watch
"Our sympathies and thoughts are with his family at this time."

The curator of the Black Watch Museum in Perth said everyone was shocked by Pte Ferns' death and staff knew his family well.

Major Ronnie Proctor said: "I remember the boy and his dad and mother bringing him into the sergeant's mess (hall) for Sunday lunch.

"And that brings it home to you about the closeness of the regiment."

Pte Ferns had been interviewed by the Daily Record newspaper before he left for his second tour of duty in Iraq in May.

He told the paper: "I couldn't look my ma and pa in the eye if I didn't do my duty."

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