HUNDREDS of mourners paid their respects to a teenage Yorkshire soldier, dubbed the ‘Baby General’ by Army comrades.
Private Thomas Wroe, 18, died alongside Sgt Gareth Thursby, 29, on September 15 when he was shot by a rogue Afghan policeman while serving with the 3rd Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment.
Yesterday his superior officer delivered a glowing tribute while his distraught mother provided a heart-rending eulogy which remembered his antics as a child and his devotion to his little sister.
The 39-year-old was, however, too upset to read the tribute to her son, who had followed his dad Mick, 48, into the Army, and it was read by the Revd Maureen Read.
Pte Wroe’s 14-year-old sister Demi read a moving eulogy to him.
She said: “You are my brother, my inspiration, my hero, my role model, my life.”
His father Mick led a round of applause in honour of the bravery of all the soldiers who have paid the “ultimate sacrifice”.
He 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.”
The wind and rain had not deterred mourners who could not get into the packed St Bartholomew’s Church, instead standing solemnly outside.
Some of the mourners wore a single white rose, the symbol of Yorkshire, on their jackets at the request of Pte Wroe’s family.
All the local shops in Meltham, Huddersfield, 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.
The teenager was described as a brilliant soldier who’d had an excellent career ahead of him.
Speaking for the Yorkshire Regiment, Major Malcolm Birkett said: “Thomas, or ‘Baby General’ as he came to be known, joined the British Army on September 5, 2010. Ironically he joined the very same company that his father had joined 28 years earlier.”
Maj Birkett added: “He had an amazing self-belief – not in a braggart sense and was an amazing soldier. At one point he led an eight-man battle group, which was extraordinarily unusual for a soldier of his age but a testament to his abilities.
“He earned the nickname ‘Baby General’ because of his abilities playing the board game Risk. The first time he played he beat his commanding officer who was – up to that point – unbeaten and regarded himself an expert strategist.”