Castle bench commemorates soldiers killed in Afghanistan and Iraq

Mother of Sergeant Sean Binnie has been campaigning to erect the memorial outside Regimental Headquarters for almost two years.

Soldiers killed in Afghanistan and Iraq commemorated with memorial bench at Edinburgh Castle STV News

A bench dedicated to the 23 soldiers of the Royal Regiment of Scotland who died in action in Afghanistan and Iraq has been unveiled at Edinburgh Castle.

Janette Binnie lost her son, Sean, when he was killed in Afghanistan in 2009.

She has been campaigning with the Ancre Somme Association Scotland to erect a memorial outside Regimental Headquarters for almost two years.

Sergeant Sean Binnie was 22-years-old when he was shot dead while trying to rescue one of his Afghan brothers in arms.

Janette will mark his 37th birthday on Saturday.

She told STV News: “As a soldier, for me, he did the ultimate and he did it professionally.

Janette Binnie sitting on the bench next to a painting of her son, Sergeant Sean Binnie, who died in Afghanistan.STV News

“I watched him come from a junior soldier – upwards – to the age of 22, to go out as an acting sergeant, be killed as an acting sergeant, and then retain the status of sergeant. It just melts my heart the pride that I’ve got for him.

“Sean’s buried in Belfast so it’s nice to have a place that I can have a couple of days down and go ‘you know what, I’m going to go up and sit on his bench’.

“It’s not just his, it’s for him and his brothers and the military family, so for me that’s a poignant thing and I hope for other family members that they will see the pride and the happiness of having a bench dedicated to them here in the capital.”

Shona Mathews’ husband Jonathan died in Afghanistan 15 years ago – she’s grateful her daughter will now have a place where she can feel close to her dad.

Shona Mathews (left) sitting with her daughter, Meghan, on the memorial bench. STV News

She said: “She (Meghan) was three, just turning four, when he died, so her memories are what she’s told now.

“She sees photos and she remembers little bits but not much because obviously she was only a baby and it is somewhere that she can reflect.

“She finds it hard and struggles sometimes because she’s not got the memories and this time of the year is really hard for her.”

For the soldiers who survived, it’s a place to remember the friends they lost in battle.

Ex-soldier Oliver Lever said: “It’s lovely to have a focal point now, a place to come.

“I have two children of my own and I’m looking forward to bringing them here and telling them about these soldiers and the sacrifices they’ve made and particularly telling them about Sergeant Binnie and what we were involved in together.”

Jonathan Tink, regimental secretary at the Royal Regiment of Scotland, said: “I very much hope that when people sit on the bench and they read the inscription that they will remember the soldiers that have died for the freedoms that we currently enjoy.

“The fact that it’s happened over this Remembrance weekend is extremely fitting and it’s a huge honour to have this bench sat outside our Regimental Headquarters.”

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