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Page last updated at 12:23 GMT, Thursday, 11 November 2010
Remembrance Day: Father speaks of pain over son's death

On Remembrance Day, people from all over Somerset and the rest of the world pause for two minutes to think of those that have been killed in combat.

For Pete and Linda Thornton the day is especially poignant as their son, Lt John Thornton from 40 Commando, was killed in Afghanistan in 2008.

Here, Pete talks about his feelings of the day and how he's coped since John died.

Lt John Thornton
Lt John Thornton was killed in 2008 while serving in Afghanistan

You're consciously aware that the nation is remembering all the troops that died and one of them is your son. We certainly remember John all year round but Remembrance Day focuses it.

40 Commando is a bit like a family, it's ever so strange - but you do feel that you've lost not just your son, but others as well.

John died two weeks before he was due to come home.

My wife was making welcome home banners, we knew where to meet him at Exeter Airport, where to park the car.

We went out on a Sunday and came home and then there was a knock on the door. As soon as you open the door you know.

A Royal Marine major and a padre were standing there and they didn't have to say anything.

'It all hurts'

It was very, very difficult to accept that he wasn't coming home and even today there are times where we say "it can't be real". We're still waiting for him to walk through the door even though we know he never will.

There was an element of autopilot the first few months.

You can't really cope - everything is so raw. Anything anyone says can't be right, it all hurts.

People mark Remembrance Day in Taunton
Hundreds gathered to mark Remembrance Day in Taunton

To be able to cope, we talk about things, do a lot of walking - it clears the mind. We've also set up a little charity for young people in his memory and that takes up a lot of our time.

We've also got very friendly with members of the family of the other two marines that died - it's like a club that nobody wants to be a member of.

A lot of it is finding out that there's somebody else who feels exactly the same as what you do at this moment in time. There's a lot of sharing of feelings - the biggest thing is you know you're not alone.

One of the worst experiences was when we were invited to the medals parade.

'Why those three?'

We were looked after superbly. We had all the support and then all of a sudden you realise they are reading out three names of those that didn't come back and you look out at the parade ground and it's full with everyone else and there's a sense of why those three?

Not that you'd want to take it away from any of the families who were lucky to have their loved ones back but there's a flicker of why John? Why Dave? Why Damion?

There isn't an answer to that question.

John left diaries and it was a numbers game basically.

And you needed luck - it doesn't matter how well trained you are, if you don't have that element of luck, things can go badly wrong.

It's one of the toughest things anyone will ever go through.




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