Hundreds mourn teenage soldier shot by rogue Afghan policeman

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The family of a teenage soldier killed by a rogue Afghan policeman have paid moving tributes to their “star” at his funeral in West Yorkshire.

Private Thomas Wroe, 18, of 3rd Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment (Duke of Wellington’s) was shot in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, when he went to help the man, who pretended to be injured.

Mourners wait outside church during the funeral service of Private Thomas Wroe at St Bartholomew's Church, Meltham, Huddersfield.

Mourners wait outside church during the funeral service of Private Thomas Wroe at St Bartholomew's Church, Meltham, Huddersfield.

Hundreds of people lined the streets and packed into St Bartholomew’s Church in Meltham, West Yorkshire, for the young soldier’s funeral today.

Demi Wroe, Pte Wroe’s 14-year-old sister, read a moving eulogy to him.

She said: “You are my brother, my inspiration, my hero, my role model, my life.”

Demi described her brother using the words “thoughtful, hero, outstanding, military, amusing and star” to spell out his name.

Private Thomas Wroe

Private Thomas Wroe

“You are the brightest star in the sky,” she said.

“Once a hero, always a hero. Always remembered, never forgotten.”

Mick Wroe, Pte Wroe’s father, led a round of applause in honour of the bravery of all the soldiers who have paid the “ultimate sacrifice”.

“The boys need the support of you all so you can sleep in the way of life you all take for granted,” he said.

Mr Wroe, a former soldier, said he did not regret his son joining the Army - “his chosen job” - and praised his “selfless bravery”.

“You’ve done your duty son and done it right to the last,” he said.

“Tom, we will always love you, always miss you but we will never, ever, ever forget you.”

Reverend Maureen Read, the vicar of Meltham, read out a tribute to Pte Wroe by his mother Claire.

She said: “My proud son. You will always be a star in my eye and close to my heart. I will always love you.”

Pte Wroe, from Holmfirth, West Yorkshire, was killed alongside Sergeant Gareth Thursby, 29, in the so-called “green-on-blue” attack.

He was deployed to Afghanistan on July 1, shortly after his 18th birthday, and died in Nahr-e Saraj district on September 15.

Hundreds of people braved cold temperatures and rain as they stood in the streets outside the church and listened to the service.

Many sobbed during the funeral and some wore a single white rose, the symbol of Yorkshire, on their jackets at the request of Pte Wroe’s family.

All the local shops closed during the service as a mark of respect.

Pte Wroe’s coffin arrived at the church draped with a Union flag and with the soldier’s hat and belt and a wreath of white flowers placed on top.

Army cadets lined the road outside the church and veteran standard bearers formed a guard of honour with their flags as the coffin was carried into the churchyard.

A white floral wreath spelled out the word “Son”.

After the service, the crowds outside broke into spontaneous applause as Pte Wroe’s coffin was carried from the church and the funeral cortege left for a private burial.

Speaking before the funeral, Major Malcolm Birkett, officer commanding rear operations group 3 Yorks, paid tribute to Pte Wroe.

He said: “Pte Thomas Wroe was a bright young star of the future. His confidence, self-assurance and ever-present smile made him hugely popular.”

Maj Birkett added: “His training prepared him for what was ahead. Unfortunately, what happened was unforeseen but he was an immense soldier and well-prepared and he loved his job.”