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Last Updated: Tuesday, 16 November, 2004, 14:51 GMT
Final farewell to fallen soldier
Coffin, funeral Scott McArdle
Soldiers carry the saltire-draped coffin of Scott McArdle
Family, friends and comrades have gathered in their hundreds to say a final farewell to a Black Watch soldier killed in Iraq.

A Requiem Mass took place on Tuesday for Pte Scott McArdle in his home town of Glenrothes, Fife.

The 22-year-old was killed by a suicide bomber at a vehicle checkpoint near Falluja on 4 November.

Mourners at the service at St Paul's and St Mary's RC Church included his pregnant fiancee, Sarah McLaren, 20.

The Army said the funerals of the two other Fife soldiers killed in the same blast will also be held this week.

Courage and commitment

More than 500 people attended the 90-minute service on Tuesday.

The flowers outside the church included tributes from family, friends and Pte McArdle's colleagues in the Black Watch.

The Rev Alex Forsyth, military padre and minister of Markinch, spoke of Pte McArdle's "courage" and commitment to his regiment.

Scott was a 'brother in arms' in a historic regiment that is proud of its traditions, its training, its soldiers and its record of service
The Rev Alex Forsyth
He said: "On a heart wrenchingly sad but proud day like today we should not let our hatred of this war or our contempt for the cheap words of folk, who should know better, blind us to the service and sacrifice that our soldiers like Scott are prepared to give.

"And that is why we give thanks for our regiment.

"Scott was serving his country and the regiment he loved alongside soldiers who enjoyed 'the sheer gladness of being in such company'. Because we are a regimental family, we remember in our prayers that others families are grieving this day."

He said the Rangers supporter, who followed his uncles into the Black Watch, was a quiet lad with a "mischievous streak".

Rev Forsyth added: "Scott was a 'brother in arms' in a historic regiment that is proud of its traditions, its training, its soldiers and its record of service.

'Ultimate nightmare'

"He was part of a regiment that is proud of its professionalism, determination and guts to see their allotted tasks through to a successful conclusion."

The mass was conducted by Father Jock Dalrymple, who said Pte McArdle's family was suffering the "ultimate nightmare".

He said: "Few people are as human and full of life as Scott - if he can die, so can we all.

Pte Scott McArdle
Pte Scott McArdle was killed at the beginning of November
"Not only do we have the shock of facing our own mortality, but as he can die as a result of the work of a suicide bomber, war and terrorism are brought right to the centre of life in Glenrothes, Fife, with all the fear and insecurity that that brings in tow."

The Black Watch's most senior officer, Lieutenant General Alistair Irwin, said Pte McArdle was a fine young man who had made his mark on the regiment.

He said: "He died doing his duty amongst friends in Iraq.

"His family have every right to feel proud of him. We as a regiment are very proud of him as well."

Pte McArdle was a rifleman in the elite reconnaissance platoon.

An Iraqi interpreter was also killed in the attack and eight other soldiers were injured. The interpreter was due to have been married on the day he died.

The bombing was the first suicide attack to kill British troops in Iraq.

The floral tributes included one from the Black Watch
They were the first combat casualties to be suffered by the historic regiment since its controversial deployment to support US troops around Baghdad.

Following Pte McArdle's death, his "devastated" uncle attacked the UK and US leaders for sending troops into "a death trap".

Martin McArdle described it as US President George Bush's war and said he hoped Prime Minister Tony Blair could live with himself.

But he said: "They were prepared to defend their country but not to go and fight other countries' wars."

The funeral service for Pte Paul Lowe will take place in Kelty Parish Church, Kelty, on Wednesday.

Mourners will pay their final respects to Sgt Stuart Gray at Trinity Parish Church, Cowdenbeath, on Thursday.

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