Prime Minister Gordon Brown today paid tribute to British servicemen who have died in Afghanistan, as the remains of six fallen troops were repatriated to the UK.
Mr Brown was speaking as controversy raged over his letter of condolence to the mother of a soldier killed in Afghanistan, which she described as "disrespectful" because the PM spelt her son's name wrongly.
The Sun today published a transcript of a phone call in which Mr Brown apologised to Jacqui Janes for any mistakes in the letter, and was told that she believed her son Jamie would not have bled to death if more helicopters had been available to troops.
Mrs Janes told the PM: "I know every injury my child sustained that day. I know that my son could have survived but my son bled to death.
"How would you like it if one of your children, God forbid, went to a war doing something that he thought, where he was helping protect his Queen and country and because of lack, lack of helicopters, lack of equipment, your child bled to death and then you had the coroner have to tell you his every injury?"
In his regular monthly press conference at 10 Downing Street, coming a day before Armistice Day, Mr Brown said it was "a time to reflect on the courage and sacrifice of our Armed Forces who in Afghanistan have laid down their lives to ensure our safety and security in Britain".
Mr Brown was speaking shortly before the arrival at RAF Lyneham in Wiltshire of the remains of six British troops killed in recent days, including five who were shot dead by a "rogue" Afghan policeman who they were training.
He said: "Again today, the fallen will return home in solemn ceremony and again I pay tribute to them and to the friends and families who will honour their return.
"Each life lost is an irreplaceable loss from a family. It reminds us of the stark human cost of armed conflict in the service of our society.
"So my thoughts and prayers today, as every day, are with those now struggling with the loss of loved ones and with all those whose loved ones are still on active service overseas."
Mr Brown said of his exchanges with Mrs Janes: "I understand very well the sadness that she feels, and the way that she has expressed her grief is something that I can also clearly understand.
"I wanted to say during that conversation with her, but thought I could not really do so because I do not know her, that when there is a personal loss as deep and immediate as she has experienced it takes time to recover.
"That loss can never be replaced, you have got to take every day at a time... Over time, comfort comes from understanding that your son has played an important role in the security of our country and died in such a courageous and brave way that nobody will ever forget it."
Mr Brown went on: "I apologised to Jacqui Janes yesterday for any mistakes that had been made.
"I also said to anybody whom I have written to, if my writing is difficult to read, I apologise for that."
He insisted the mission in Afghanistan remained crucial, and there was a "plan to move things forward".Reuse content