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Blair heckled after memorial service; Dissent as great and good honour the fallen.

Byline: Peter Archer

IT was a national service of remembrance, commemorating Britain's fallen heroes in Iraq.

But the sombre and moving tribute in London's greatest cathedral church left some unreconciled with the loss of their loved ones.

Prime Minister Tony Blair was heckled and called ``You Bastard!'' by a British Legion veteran as he left St Paul's at the end of the hour-long service.

And it was an occasion of controversy as churchmen, military top brass and government leaders insisted on honouring the Iraqi dead along with the 51 Britons who perished -among them Major Matthew Titchenor, from Southport,and Lieutenant Philip West,from Hoylake.

Buglers sounded The Last Post and for two minutes, led by the Queen and Mr Blair, the 2,000- strong congregation observed a silent tribute.

The Right Rev DavidConner, Bishop to the Forces, led the act of remembrance.

He said: ``Let us remember before God, and commend to his sure keeping, those of our armed services,and of our allies, who fell in the Iraqiconflict and in continuing peace-keeping operations.'' But significantly Bishop Conner continued: `` Let us remember also the civilian and military dead of Iraq,and all whose lives have been taken while bringing relief to people in need.''

Inside the cathedral,and outside, there were undeniable signs of tension as police in body armour, with machine guns, mounted an unprecedented security operation.

Within the cathedral walls,beneath the famous dome, there was dignified dissent from at least one of the bereaved who blamedMr Blair for his soldier son's death.

Gordon Evans, whose son, Llywelyn, died in the Gulf, said the Prime Minister should have stayedaway. Before the service, Mr Evans, from Llandudno, said of his 24-year-old son, a lance bombardier: ``He did die in vain, and the reason I don't want Mr Blair there today is because,if it was not for him, there would not be a memorial service because the troops would never have gone out in the first place.''

Other relatives wanted the Prime Minister present to witness their grief.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Dr Rowan Williams,gave a measured, keynote address which articulated the difficulty of the day.

He said: ``When wars begin, it's often said it is no good raising abstract objections: if you care about justice and security, you haveaduty to do all you can to advance or protect them by any legitimate means, to be ready to pay the price of your fine words.

``Then, as wars develop and when wars end, it'soften said that what happens shows how bright ideals get tarnished as the fight against injustice breeds its own new problems.

And referring to the victims, he went on: `` And for some -or many -here today, the final and awful reality of a tragedy involving a son or daughter, a spouse, a parent. No amount of talking about ideals makes this easier; you know the cost in a unique way.''

Dr Williams told the hushed congregation they should not be afraid to face contradictory feelings.

``But as we look out at a still uncertain and dangerous landscape, as we recall the soldiers and civilians killed since the direct military campaign ended, as we think of the UN personnel and relief workers who have died, we have to acknowledge that moral vision is harder to convert into reality than we should like.

``We never know in advance quite what price will have to be paid in human lives.''

Dr Williams acknowledged that political leaders had repeatedly expressed commitment to rebuilding Iraq.

He said: ``Today is an opportunity for leaders and people alike to renew their promises about this; we have made ourselves accountable for peace and justice in Iraq,and leaders and people alike will indeed be called to account for it.''

Before the service, church, military and government leaders insisted the tribute was not a victory parade.

According to the Ministry of Defence, all relatives of the 50 service personnel and one British civilian who died, had been given the opportunity to attend.

``But there may be one or two who have chosen not to come,'' said a spokesman.


IN ATTENDANCE: From left, relatives and their loved ones; defence secretary Geoff Hoon; the Archbishop; SOMBRE: The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh at the St Paul's service honouring the fallen,including,far left, Major Matthew Titchenor,from Southport,and Lt Philip West, from; Hoylake
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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Oct 11, 2003
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