Soldier’s widow in call for answers

Nicola Marlton-Thomas, whose husband Loren Marlton-Thomas died in Afghanistan in 2009
Nicola Marlton-Thomas, whose husband Loren Marlton-Thomas died in Afghanistan in 2009
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THE widow of a brave Fylde soldier killed in Afghanistan today made a Remembrance Sunday plea for answers about how her husband died.

Nicola Marlton-Thomas feels her husband Loren’s death might have been avoided and is determined to discover the true account of the events at an inquest in Blackpool next month.

She believes Cpl Marlton-Thomas, 28, may have died as a result of a random decision made by a member of his team.

Cpl Marlton-Thomas, of 33 Engineer Regiment, was killed in Helmland Province, Afghanistan, by a roadside bomb which exploded as he was trying to clear a path for troops in November 2009.

Mrs Marlton-Thomas, 32, who lives in Alder Grove, Lytham, wants to identify the sequence of events which led to the explosion.

She told The Gazette: “No-one could say Loren died in vain as he was pursuing a cause he believed in, but I want to establish whether or not his death could have been avoided.

“It was Loren’s job to identify and defuse these improvised explosive devices (IEDs). He was highly trained and had also served in Iraq. He knew exactly what he was doing and was leading a team,

“One of his team members has stated that the area had been searched when he tried to help Loren out of a patch of mud where he was stuck when the blast happened.

“Reportedly, as he grabbed Loren to heave him out, the soldier put his foot forward, stepped on an IED and lost both his legs in the explosion which killed Loren.

“As far as I am aware, it hadn’t been raining. It’s a desert area with sand and grass, so it’s difficult to understand how there could be mud.

“Cleared paths are paint-sprayed when they are declared safe in advance of the main party following behind. So how was an IED missed and detonated so that it killed Loren and injured a man so horrifically?”

According to his widow, another of Cpl Marlton-Thomas colleagues tells a different story, saying there was not any mud, that he was not stuck and didn’t call for help.

She added: “This soldier recalls he believes the colleague reported freeing Loren from the mud, may have taken a short cut through a field, and in doing so, set off the device. If this is the case, I want to know why anyone would take such a risk.

“Soldier colleagues of Loren will be giving evidence at the inquest, and the people who were there at the time know what happened.

“We’ve been waiting for two years to find out the details of the sequence of events on that dreadful day, and I hope that we can all get some answers and some peace of mind.

“Loren and I had only been married for 15 months when he died, and we were hoping for a baby.

“Although I have a new partner now, he understands that Loren will always be close to my heart and is totally supportive of my quest.

“The inquest takes place on the anniversary of the day we buried Loren, and now I want the truth and closure for Loren’s family and my own.”

The inquest takes place in Blackpool on December 9

Cpl Marlton-Thomas, a former Lytham schoolboy, was the elder son of Anne Marlton-Thomas of Cleveleys and the late Christopher Marlton-Thomas. His devastated mother says she wrote to the soldier who she believed was the last person to see her son alive.

“I said how sorry I was to hear about his injuries and asked if he would write to me and tell me what happened,” she said.

“That was two years ago. The soldier’s mother-in-law replied to say that her son-in-law was having to face numerous operations and would be in touch. But I haven’t ever heard from him.

“I will of course be at the inquest, but whatever comes out of it will never bring Loren back.”

An Army spokeswoman declined to comment until after the inquest.