‘We should never have gone to war’

Ryan Thornton, brother of soldier Lee Thornton who was killed in Iraq.
Ryan Thornton, brother of soldier Lee Thornton who was killed in Iraq.
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WHAT is the point of war, and thousands of lives lost, if a country is no better off or no more stable than when you went in?

That is the heartfelt question posed today by the family of a fallen war hero on the 10th anniversary of the invasion on Iraq.

And it is a hard question to answer, as on the eve of a decade since troops entered the country a series of car and suicide bombings near the capital, Baghdad, killed 48 people.

But it is news the Thornton family of Marton will be trying to put out of their minds, as they continue to cope with life following the death of soldier 22-year-old Lee Thornton, who was shot by a sniper while serving in Basra in September 2006.

Lee’s heartbroken brother, Ryan, said the family had always thought the war was one not worth fighting.

He said: “I still believe we shouldn’t have been there.”

“Even Lee said the first time he was there the Army wouldn’t be changing anything.

“He loved what he was doing, and he did enjoy his job, but he knew there was no real reason for them being there.”

But Ryan said when Lee returned, the country held a different atmosphere.

“He didn’t tell us much, and we didn’t see him after he left the second time,” he said.

“He just sent us a letter saying things were different then. He still loved the job he was doing, but he still questions the reasons behind him being there.”

By the time the last British soldier had returned home from the war-stricken country, the death toll from the conflict reached around 174,000.

The war cost the lives of 179 people from the UK including Lee and another soldiers on the Fylde coast.

Signaller Paul Didsbury, 18, from Blackpool, is believed to have accidentally shot himself in June 2005.

“All this life has been lost for no reason,” Ryan said.

He said today would be weighing heavily on the family’s mind, as well as anyone who had lost a loved one in the Iraq conflict.

“It’s just another reminder of what we have all lost,” he said.

“It’s things like this that just bring everything back for people who have lost someone over there.”

And the Marton family is now having to deal with the impending departure of their youngest member, Jake, as he leaves for a tour of

Afghanistan in four weeks’ time.

Ryan said: “We have to be supportive, but I think even Jake is starting to get a bit worried and scared now.

“All soldiers, as they are preparing for a tour, start to get nervous. Lee definitely did, though he didn’t like to show it – I could tell he was nervous.

“At the end of the day, this is what soldiers join the army for – it’s a job they love and it’s one they are trained for.”

But for Ryan, 26, war and conflict is something he does not want to get involved with.

He added: “Ever since it happened, since we lost Lee, I’ve distanced myself from things like Iraq and Afghanistan. I don’t want to get involved.

“Lee and I were very close, so I’ve had to take a step back just to get on with my life.”

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