Lance Corporal Rory Malone was gunned down after he saved the life of Major Craig Wilson, who had been shot by insurgents.
The 26-year-old was then hit by a 7.62mm calibre round before he died on the battlefield with fellow Lance Corporal Pralli Durrer. But Helen, originally from New Zealand, has been appalled by her treatment at the hands of the New Zealand Defence Force, where her son served.
She claims she was misled over the role her boy was playing in the warzone.
“The average New Zealand soldier has not seen combat since Vietnam,” Helen said.
“Our soldiers are only really deployed for peacekeeping missions.”
But this time was different. The so-called “Battle of Baghak” saw Rory and Pralli killed and six wounded, two by so-called friendly fire.
“I never thought for a moment that he would ever be in danger, it had never crossed my mind,” the mum of seven said.
On the day of the battle, on August 4, 2012, Malone – the great-great-grandson of Gallipoli campaign commander Lieutenant Colonel William George Malone – was assigned to one of four patrols. They were responding to a help call from the NDS – the Afghan secret police – who had come under fire after catching a bombmaker in the remote Baghak Valley.
Craig’s patrol were first on the scene. They were there for six hours. Then Major Wilson arrived.
While Malone was briefing Wilson, he saw an insurgent and started shooting at him over Wilson’s shoulder.
The major was hit in the arm and dragged to the back of a Humvee truck by Malone and an unnamed officer.
Malone, who had by then taken a bullet in the leg, also got in the vehicle. But he got out again. The family do not know why he did this.
Seconds later he was dead.
Helen, 53, said questions needed to be answered about why her became a “sitting duck” and why footage of the firefight showed her son “appears to be in charge” of the situation despite his rank.
But she feared she would never get the “full information” from the military.
Helen heard her boy was dead when she was called from New Zealand by her son Peter at 2.30pm, UK time.
“I knew instantly something was wrong because he was ringing at that time,” Helen said.
Peter told her: “Rory has been shot and he is dead.”
“I told him not to ring me up and tell that s*** to me because how could that be true,” Helen said.
Just discovering her son was in combat was “a huge shock”.
“The thing about New Zealand soldiers is that they do not expect to see armed combat,” she said.
“You can be in the army for 20 years and never see armed combat.”
The former Dyfed-Powys Police traffic warden used to watch British soldiers’ coffins being removed from planes on the news.
“I would think, ‘Thank God I never have to go through that’,” she said.
The NZDF could not be reached for comment.
But in a previous statement it insisted it was satisfied with care shown to Malone’s family, and it was always trying to improve.
“The NZDF continues to learn from these experiences and adapt its procedures,” a spokesman said.