Mother of Yorkshire soldier killed in Afghanistan says he did not die in vain

The mother of a Yorkshire soldier who was killed in Afghanistan said her son did not die in vain and Britain’s 20-year military campaign should not be seen as a complete failure.

Sharon Leverett said she was “devastated” to see the Taliban regain control of the country, but she is proud of the work her son James and his comrades did to help the Afghan people.

The 20-year-old, from Rawmarsh, Rotherham, who served with The Royal Dragoon Guards, was killed when his armoured vehicle was struck by an improvised explosive device in the Nahr-e Saraj district of Helmand province in July 2010.

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He had been providing security for engineers who were building a road called Route Trident, which allows Afghans to travel between the provincial capital Lashkar Gah and the town of Gereshk, and his girlfriend Tiffany was pregnant with their first child at the time.

Trooper James Leverett (left) in Afghanistan

Ms Leverett said: “I don’t think James died in vain at all, he did what he needed to do while he was out there and I’m happy with that.

“Of course I’m not happy with the outcome, I would rather he had come home, but he did his job and he always did it well. He kept morale up, as he had a really good sense of humour, and he was even up for a promotion.

“There’s no way I would ever want to make James’s colleagues that are out there feel bad and that they didn’t do a good job, because they did. They did an amazing job and had to work through all that grief as well, I don’t know how they did it.”

Ms Leverett said she is still dealing with the grief of losing her son, but is now concerned about the impact recent events will have on the soldiers who made it home.

James Leverett was killed when his armoured vehicle was struck by an improvised explosive device in the Nahr-e Saraj district of Helmand province in July 2010

“I don’t want them to think that what they did out there was for nothing,” she said.

The Army deployed more than 100,000 soldiers on operations in Afghanistan after the invasion in 2001 and they worked to drive the Taliban from power and fight Al Qaeda, during a campaign which claimed the lives of 454 British soldiers and civilians.

They were also involved in projects that provided Afghans with schools, roads and healthcare facilities, and helped train the Afghan National Security Force.

But the Taliban defeated those soldiers and took back control of the country in a matter of weeks, after US-led forces agreed to withdraw from the country.

President Ashraf Ghani fled the country on Sunday, as Taliban fighters entered the capital Kabul, and Western nations are now scrambling to get their citizens and local allies out.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s official spokesman said the UK will continue the evacuation effort for “as long as we are able to do so and as long as it is safe to do so” and Parliament will be recalled from a summer recess on Wednesday to allow MPs to discuss the situation.