Thursday, 11 November 2010

On Armistice day...

...Don't mythologise the guys who did and are still doing the fighting. Treat soldiers fairly instead. Remember it's tough young men who are bearing the brunt of war, and they "don't grow into plaster saints". If you're of a left-wing, pacifist bent, remember soldiers don't have much say in where they get sent, and they're (at the moment) enduring the dust of Afghanistan, in part so that we have the freedom to bitch and whine about whatever is the 'ishoo du jour'. Protect our freedoms at home, make it worth fighting for abroad.

Roll call for the 'Glorious Glosters' after the battle of Imjin River 22-25 April, 1951

Sunday's the day we say "thank you" to those who paid the ultimate price, and think about those maimed in body and sprirt, from all Wars, not just the great conflagrations of the 20th Century, and there are a lot of them from sixty-five years of the savage wars of "peace". A British soldier has died overseas in almost every year since the Army was founded in 1666. With no WWI veterans at the cenotaph, and WWII providing a dwindling band there remain a lot of veterans. Perhaps it's time for politicians to ponder the true cost of their discretionary wars, and for the boys to come home for a bit?

Above all remember them at other times of the year, an Army is for life, not just a few days in November. Unfortunately, Kipling's 'Tommy' is as true now as it was in 1890.
I went into a public-'ouse to get a pint o' beer,
The publican 'e up an' sez, 'We serve no erd-coats 'ere.'
The girls be'ind the bar they laughed and giggled fit to die,
I outs into the street again, an' to myself sez I:
Oh, it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' 'Tommy, go away':
But it's 'Thank you, Mister Atkins,' when the band begins to play -
The band begins to play, my boys, the band begins to play,
Oh, it's 'Thank you, Mister Atkins,' when the band begins to play.

I went into a theatre as sober as could be,
They gave a drunk civilian room, but 'adn't none for me;
They sent me to the gallery or round the music-'alls,
But when it comes to fightin', Lord! they'll shove me in the stalls!
For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' 'Tommy, wait outside';
But it's 'Special train for Atkins' when the trooper's on the tide -
The troopship's on the tide, my boys, the troopship's on the tide,
Oh, it's 'Special train for Atkins' when the trooper's on the tide.

Yes, makin' mock o' uniforms that guard you while you sleep
Is cheaper than them uniforms, an' they're starvation cheap;
An' hustlin' drunken soldiers when they're goin' large a bit
Is five times better business than paradin' in full kit.
Then it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' 'Tommy, 'ow's yer soul?'
But it's 'Thin red line of 'eroes' when the drums begin to roll -
The drums begin to roll, my boys, the drums begin to roll,
Oh, it's 'Thin red line of 'eroes when the drums begin to roll.

We aren't no thin red 'eroes, nor we aren't no blackguards too,
But single men in barricks, most remarkable like you;
An' if sometimes our conduck isn't all your fancy paints,
Why, single men in barricks don't grow into plaster saints;
While it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that , an' 'Tommy, fall be'ind,'
But it's 'Please to walk in front, sir,' when there's trouble in the wind -
There's trouble in the wind, my boys, there's trouble in the wind,
Oh, it's 'Please to walk in front, sir,' when there's trouble in the wind.

You talk o' better food for us, an' schools, an' fires, an' all:
We'll wait for extry rations if you treat us rational.
Don't mess about the cook-room slops, but prove it to our face
The Widow's Uniform is not the soldier-man's disgrace.
For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' 'Chuck him out, the brute!'
But it's 'Saviour of 'is country' when the guns begin to shoot;
An' it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' anything you please;
An' Tommy ain't a bloomin' fool - you bet that Tommy sees!



6 comments:

Nathan said...

I am a looney left pacifist, and I support our troops. What they have done and continue to do is amazing (which is not a word that comes to mind when considering the politicians who equipped them and sent them out to fight and die).

JimmyGiro said...

"Perhaps it's time for politicians to ponder the true cost of their discretionary wars, and for the boys to come home for a bit?"

It must always be part of the calculation, as the 'obedience' of any army, cannot be taken for granted indefinitely. Every none liberal government has always rode on the back of its army, and in doing so creates an army of rebellion: tyrants riding tigers.

Stalin famously neutered his army, by trimming its heads; and Deng Xiaoping, I believe, sent the bulk of the Chinese army out to the Russian border, and simultaneously invaded Vietnam with the rest, in 1979; this it is argued, was a ploy to remove that danger from the Capital, whilst implementing his 'right wing' economic reforms (and ten years later in Tiananmen Square, there were disgruntled ex-soldiers who resented being used in such a fashion).

Armies are very dangerous; and like Tommy Atkins, they don't forget being abused by their political masters. And if the government flatters them, to keep them sweet, it risks losing its own political credibility, whilst generating a degree of radical independence of the army.

War is ultimate politics; but armies must never be political. ZanuLabour had pushed the army into needless conflict, thus forcing the military towards a political position.

Anonymous said...

To all the men and women who gave service to our military, thank you for your scarifice and service. Thank you is not nearly enough....but Thank You with the utmost gratitide.

Anonymous said...

God bless your fighting forces. They are a force for good in the world. It would do well for some to remember that they are the ones who guarantee the rights of the Muslim crowd who dishonored them yesterday by breaking the traditional two-minute silence with chants of ‘British soldiers burn in hell’.

matthewmtt

Anonymous said...

I read about the Muslim protests on the Brit blogs and then found an article on the net.

Interestingly though, there were no news stories on these protests in the US. There was no mention or video footage shown in the US about the burning of poppies or anti-British troop chantings.

I wonder why........although I have my own thoughts on it.

Anonymous said...

The American syndicated talk show host "Michael Savage" covered the Muslim protests on his radio show. Also on his web site. Curiously, Savage, has been banned from Britain for his outspoken attitude with regard to Muslim extremists.

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