As I haven’t really been catching up with the British press this is all a wee bit second hand; my friend informs me that the debate in the United Kingdom on Afghanistan and Iraq is restricted to “fallen heroes”. My immediate inclination was to think of Wilfred Owen’s poem, “Dulce et Decorum est Pro Patria mori” and the coughing and spluttering and choking and dying for what?. No real debate back in ‘blighty’ and we can be sure that very few people are actually thinking about why young British citizens are dying on Afghanistan’s plains or are even thinking that they are dying. Still, at least they get the bodies back and no longer content themselves with an, “if I should die think only this of me, there is a corner of a foreign field that is forever England.” Progress has been made!
My thoughts drifted back to a period in my life when I left a good grammar school and as a young British solder drifted out east. Well out to the British Army of the Rhine and the realisation that, while I wasn’t the type to pass on the nonsense to others, I also wasn’t the type to accept the drivel. On “OC orders” the Squadron Leader Major Jones asked me, “what is wrong with you?’ “Sir, I am bored!” “Bored, what do you mean bored? You have the model railway club, the chess club, the photography club and ….” Well it is a long time ago, but he went on to list a lot of other clubs and I went on from “OC orders” to “CO orders” and a “services no longer required”. “Dulce est Decorum est Pro Patria mori”, what drivel!
The picture above is of a group of young British soldiers (7th Signal Regiment Photography Club, 1972) who went east from Catterick Garrison to the British Army of the Rhine.