Soldier’s mum reflects on sacrifices made

TROOPS' LEGACY Nathalie Taylor, the mother of Corporal Jake Hartley.
TROOPS' LEGACY Nathalie Taylor, the mother of Corporal Jake Hartley.

The withdrawal of British forces from Afghanistan has led to many to reflect on the sacrifices made by our troops over the past 13 years.

And for the families of those killed in the line of duty, it is a bittersweet milestone.

Dewsbury soldier Corporal Jake Hartley is among the 448 British casualties since the first in 2002.

The 20-year-old died two years ago alongside five others during a patrol in Helmand Province, the region where our forces have now withdrawn from all but two bases.

Cpl Hartley’s mum Nathalie Taylor said: “It’s hard because so many troops went out there and there are a number who haven’t come back.

“On the day that Jake left [to go on his last tour], a candle was lit at Warminster. The poignant thing about it was this candle couldn’t go out until the last soldier came home. Soon it will be out.”

The combat role of British troops is due to finish by the end of this year.

Only then will the lasting legacy of their work become clear.

“Because the troops aren’t there now, it’s down to the people of Afghanistan,” Mrs Taylor said. “We’ve gone to do what we could do. What we’ve been able to do is form some kind of happy medium with the Afghans.

“It’s very difficult because at times they’ve turned on us, but throughout the years I think there has been a sense of normality out there. “Let’s hope the work and the sacrifice has made a difference.”

Cpl Hartley, a former Earlsheaton Technology College pupil, was highly regarded by his colleagues.

A member of 3rd Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment since 2008, he was described by Army bosses as a future star.

On Monday Mrs Taylor took delivery of a book produced by his battalion documenting the operation which was to be his last.

It has turned her thoughts to the troops who served alongside her son and did all they could to save him in the moments after the bomb blast.

Mrs Taylor, of Holmfirth Road, New Mill, said: “Our soldiers have seen, lived and done.

“My concern now is that the love for them and the support for charities like Help for Heroes and Combat Stress is still going to continue.”