Tuesday, 21 July 2009


I could not help noticing the '1000 yard stares' in this picture of a recent briefing of Ist Battalion The Welsh Guards officers and NCOs. in the field in Helmand, Afghanistan. It appeared in last Saturday's Telegraph in an article by Thomas Harding. (Click on the picture to see what I mean.)
These are the faces of those who pay the price for insufficient manpower, inadequate resources, too few helicopters and see friends and comrades killed and maimed. When they return home to their sub-standard Army Quarters , some will fall apart mentally and a disproportionate number will committ suicide over the next 15-20 years.
They do not need the cheering crowds on 'Welcome Back Parades''; nor the dignified silence in Wooton Basset as their coffins are borne through the town; nor even a national Armed Forces Day.
Like Queen Victoria's soldiers in The Crimea, 150 years ago, they need public outrage and a new Government that will not leave them, after 8 years of fighting, still under resourced, under manned and lacking the means to carry out the mission given them by their political masters on our behalf.


Anonymous said...

Bertie, I agree with you 100% the way the Armed Forces are being treated is a National discrace from a Government who has committed this country to wars for reasons no one can understand, and for them not to be equipped correctly is an outrage that the public should not stand for.
Bertie as someone like you that has seen active service,it is essential that the forces are given clear directives from Government, and that they are properly supported with the correct and best equipment.Whilst we are on the subject, why is it that no Government Minister is ever in attendance at the Ramp ceremonies when we have the repatriation of the War dead.The current Minister of Defence according to reports in the Press had sympathy with the IRA cause, yet when we had the recent murders of Servicemen in Northern Ireland, the soldiers were returned as air freight rather than having the dignity and their right to a Ramp Ceremony,why ? because the Government did not want to upset the peace process in Northern Ireland. You could'nt make it up. Bertie thank you, keep up your pressure . Roger Latchford (Lt Col (retd)

Anonymous said...

Colonel and Bertie.

Although slightly askew from the sentiments you rightly express I wonder if you would care to cast your eyes on my blog.

In the First World War a gifted RAMC officer, attached to RFC, successfully used a series of recorded breath hold tests to predict and prevent in RFC pilots what is now called PTSD.

The Russian Spetznaz have a similar PTSD mitigation theory based on the breathing techniques in their martial arts training (called Sambo wrestling).

On my blog I mention our brilliant inter war respirations researcher (submarines survival) Haldane.

Our nephew is Staff PTI now to 5 Scots (Argylls). His APTC sergeant course was the first to include a foundational degree (Lancaster University).

The APTC is now training its permanent staff PTIs to the level of sports science which could support a wider application of what could be pre-emptive stress mitigation.

If I win the lottery I will fund top level respiratory research to try to kick off again what the genius RAMC/RFC officer initiated in WW1. As always UK has the inspirational genius and then fails to develop the development for the greater welfare of our troops.

Help for Heroes charity is brilliant.

Anonymous said...

Oh shut up Card for goodness sake.

Carry on spouting your drivel on your own site, and leave the rest alone.

Bertie and Col Latchford make very valid and topical points. Stop hi-jacking the topics.

Alan Poole said...

Bertie, I really don't have your confidence that a Tory Government would serve our troops any better than the current Government. Generals will always complain that they do not have enough equipment / men etc to do the job. The troops in Afghanistan are doing a brilliant job but I would personally prefer them not to be there. I consider myself extremely fortunate never to have experienced war and salute those who have.

Bertie Biggles said...

Alan, I too have my doubts about what on earth we are doing with our forces deployed in Afghanistan but the bottom line is they do not have the manpower resources or helicopter support that they should.

The Infantry Company (3rd Bn The Yorkshire Regiment) sent out to bolster a battalion there on operations, is simply because the casualty rate ( all casualties) at the sharp end is in line with WW1 and WW2 casualty rates of infantry closing with a determined enemy. For example, 2nd Bn The Mercian Regiment has a Company of 100 men sustaining 47 casualties (47%) and a platoon of 30 men of Ist Bn The Welsh Guards suffered 19 casualties (63%). These are casualty figures that start to render Infantry Units sustaining them, ineffective as a fighting unit. When Gen Dannat asks for an extra 2000 troops, this is why.