Sunday, 20 September 2009

SHELL SHOCK, THE EMPIRE BURLESQUE CONTINUUM.

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SHELL SHOCK PATIENTS IN BEDLAM, 1919

Once society - the medicos and bureuacrats and lawyers, anyway - has recognised the existence of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder then it is hard to imagine a setting this side of Hell which is more conducive to its spreading like wildfire than armed conflict and it would seem logical that following a spell in the urban slaughterhouse of Iraq or the Badlands of South Armagh or Helmand anyone not suffering from PTSD must have something seriously wrong with them.

Although some were eventually hospitalised, in the First World War, most shell shockees were just blindfolded and shot, after due process, of course. Today's tabloid climate of grievance and compensation and human rights legislation, however, insists that we pay lip-service at least to ameliorating Tommy's horrors but lip-service is all it is, as empty as any other fevered, bombastic, Stalinist rant from the lunatic, Brown and we now, resultantly, in the vox pop, approach a situation of Tommy as protected species. The self-appointed leader of the nation is an embarrassing, serial coward, hiding, biting his nails, doped-up, fortified against his own weakness, why should not the widows weep and wail?

Press-conferencing bereaved mothers - why are they always dressed for a disco - complain that not enough is done for them after their offspring have died for Obama, although less than a century ago millions of the widowed kept a stiff upper lip; those affianced, pre-trenches and thence bereft, maintained a life-long spinsterhood, 'migrant guest from relative to in-law, skin like a lizard, aura like a daffodil, she stares into the embers and remembers' and those robbed of their child dusted his uniformed portrait, until their own death saw these, too, faded and foxed, abandoned by impatient relatives, junked by the house clearance vultures; I have some.....



"He whom this scroll commemorates
was numbered among those who
at the call of King and Country left all
that was dear to them, endured hardness,
faced danger and finally passed out of
the sight of men by the path of duty
and self sacrifice, giving up their own
lives that others might live in freedom
Let others who come after see to it
That his name be not forgotten.
PRIVATE ALFRED HARRISON
ROYAL MUNSTER FUSILIERS."

.....................which I retrieved from a skip.

I tried to investigate the life and death of this young man but his War Office records, from the First War, were blitzed and destroyed in the Second. Who will care for this morbid, martial image after me is unknown, obviously none of his kin gave a flying fuck, no peroxide diva to hold his picture up to skymadeupnewsandfilth's all-seeing, all-pitying lens. The time of unquestioning sacrifice, of blind duty and obedience is gone and with it the sense of perpetual, dutiful mourning. Now, mums and widows want Tommy, basically, not to be put in harm's way; in a time of Ruin it is Everyman for himself, and why not, who should die that Alan Duncan may have free gardening ?

skymadeupnewsandfilth's sentimentalisation of everything and everybody so undermines the national sang froid that maybe we approach a point of Zero, as they say, Tolerance to Boxed Tommies at RAF Lyneham; maybe we have developed a revulsion welcome during these privateering Blair misadventures, one which will prove catastrophic in times of proper threat. And alongside the public infantilisation of so many slain troopers and guardsmen and bombardiers and Kingsmen comes a new parade - of those mentally butchered abroad and in McGuinessville.

Seems to me, never in the forces, that the first five minutes after enlistment would induce a lasting stress-related disorder and that anyone actually at the sharp end would be indelibly marked, maybe in part for the better but often for the worse.

This US posting, below, even so, may well be long on hyperbole, can all the Vets be pissed off homicidal or suicidal junkies ?

First Blood, David Morrel's first novel saw it's damaged hero, John Rambo, mercifully despatched by his CO, Troutmann, as his 'Nam-acquired demons raged uncontrollaby through his battered mind, Sylvester Stallone entirely missing and subverting the point of Morrel's story and thus generations of movie-goers now see judicious mayhem as the Vets' only redemption, confusing, as ever, Hollywood special effects with real life.

Uncle Sam, in the land of the free, has five per cent of the world's population, yet twenty-five percent of all those imprisoned on the planet and what is sure is that, as in the United Kingdom, a disproportionate number of the incarcerated will be black, a disporportionate number will be ex-servicemen, passed out of the sight of men and into the jail's dark stench. Here, in the UK, addiction and housing charities, the probation service and voluntary sector agencies deal with many, once the recipients of Gordon Brown's hollow, vampire gratitude, once casualties of Bob Ainsworth's fuckwit parsimonious incompetence, now drifting too far from shore, programmed to kill, abandoned, loveless and angry. Mediaminster conspires to make us indifferent to enemy casualties, to our lasting shame we have never even counted the dead in Iraq; puffed-up Ruperts, by this neglect, this contempt, fostering an inhumanity which must eventually play-out in the bedrooms and in the town centres of bankrupt, unemployed, post-discharge, ruined civvy street.

We used to set them to selling matches or making poppies, the limbless, the gassed, the blind, things are immeasurably better, if not ideal; it is foolish in the extreme, however, to train split-second killers, to psych them up, threatened from all sides, in a war with no front line and then to discharge them into a society regulated, corralled, categorised, cv-ed to fucking death, surveyed and policed as never before. Wiser men than Brown and his misfits would see the urgency and put stepping stones in place but he is a life-long Atlanticist and dooms us to repeating Uncle Sam's disastrous treatment of his own veterans; shattered in body or mind or both, Tommy returns to a civilian society as alien to him as is he to it. It has ever been so but now that we are so clever we should demand better, for Tommy and for us. The soldier, though, deals in the harshest of truths, this unblooded crop of politicians in the meanest of soundbites; the mad bastard, Brown, attuned only to his own pathetic ranting, unwilling and unfit to think of - much less speak to - the weighty matter of arms and the man.

Violence, of course, is the undercurrent of all our histories.

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Violence Is the Dark Undercurrent of American History

posted Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Newspeak: "Violence Is Liberation"

Violence is a dark undercurrent of American history. It is exacerbated by war and economic decline.

Violence is spreading outward from the killing fields in Iraq and Afghanistan to slowly tear apart individuals, families and communities.

There is no immunity. The longer the wars continue, the longer the members of our working class are transformed by corporate overlords into serfs, the more violence will dominate the landscape. The slide into chaos and a police state will become inevitable.

The soldiers and Marines who return from Iraq and Afghanistan are often traumatized and then shipped back a few months later to be traumatized again. This was less frequent in Vietnam.

Veterans, when they get out, search for the usual escape routes of alienation, addictions and medication. But there is also the escape route of violence.

We risk creating a homegrown Freikorps, the demobilized German soldiers from World War I who violently tore down the edifice of the Weimar Republic and helped open the way to Nazism.

The Afghanistan and Iraq wars have unloaded hundreds of thousands of combat troops, suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder or major depression, back into society.

According to a joint Veterans Affairs Department-University of San Francisco study published in July, 418,000 of the roughly 1.9 million service members who have fought in or supported the wars suffer from PTSD.

As of August 2008, the latest data available, about a quarter-million military veterans were imprisoned on any given day—about 9.4 percent of the total daily imprisoned population, according to the National GAINS Center Forum on Combat Veterans, Trauma and the Justice System.

There are 223,000 veterans in jail or prison cells on an average day, and an unknown number among the 4 million Americans on probation. They don’t have much to look forward to upon release.

And if any of these incarcerated vets do not have PTSD when they are arrested, our corrections system will probably rectify the deficiency.

Throw in the cocktail of unemployment, powerlessness, depression, alienation, anger, alcohol and drugs and you create thousands, if not tens of thousands, who will seek out violence the way an addict seeks out a bag of heroin.

War and conflict have marked most of my adult life. I know what prolonged exposure to industrial slaughter does to you.

I know what it is to confront memories, buried deep within the subconscious, which jerk you awake at night, your heart racing and your body covered in sweat.

I know what it is like to lie, unable to sleep, your heart pounding, trying to remember what it was that caused such terror.

I know how it feels to be overcome by the vivid images of violence that make you wonder if the dream or the darkness around you is real.

I know what it feels like to stumble through the day carrying a shock and horror, an awful cement-like despair, which you cannot shed.

And I know how after a few nights like this you are left numb and exhausted, unable to connect with anyone around you, even those you love the most.

I know how you drink or medicate yourself into a coma so you do not have to remember your dreams. And I know that great divide that opens between you and the rest of the world, especially the civilian world, which cannot imagine your pain and your hatred. I know how easily this hatred is directed toward those in that world.

There are minefields of stimulants for those who return from war. Smells, sounds, bridges, the whoosh of a helicopter, thrust you back to Iraq or another zone of slaughter, back to a time of terror and blood, back to the darkest regions of your heart, regions you wish did not exist.

Life, on some days, is a simple battle to stay upright, to cope with memories and trauma that are unexplainable, probably unimaginable, to those seated across from you at the breakfast table.

Families will watch these veterans fall silent, see the thousand-yard stare, and know they have again lost these men and women. They hope somehow they will come back.

Some won’t. Those who cannot cope, even by using Zoloft or Paxil, blow their brains out with drugs, alcohol or a gun.

More Vietnam veterans died from suicide in the years after the war than during the conflict itself. But it would be a mistake to blame this on Vietnam. War does this to you. It destroys part of you. You live maimed. If you are not able to live maimed, you check out.

But what happens in a society where everything conspires to check you out even when you make the herculean effort to integrate into the world of malls, celebrity gossip and too many brands of cereal on a supermarket shelf?

What happens when the corporate state says that you can die in its wars but at home you are human refuse, that there is no job, no way to pay your medical bills or your mortgage, no hope? Then you retreat into your private hell of rage, terror and alienation.

You do not return from the world of war. You yearn for its sleek and powerful weapons, its speed and noise, its ability to abolish the lines between sanity and madness. You long for the alluring, hallucinogenic landscapes of combat.

You miss the psychedelic visions of carnage and suffering, the smells, sounds, shrieks, explosions and destruction that jolt you back to the present, which make you aware in ways you never were before.

The thrill of violence, the God-like power that comes when you can take a human life with impunity, is matched against the pathetic existence of waiting for an unemployment check. You look to rejoin the fraternity of killers. Here. There. It no longer matters.

There is a yawning indifference at home about what is happening in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The hollow language of heroism and glory, used by the war makers and often aped by those in the media, allows the nation to feel good about war, about “service.” But it is also a way of muzzling the voices that attempt to tell us the truth about war.

And when these men and women do find the moral courage to speak, they often find that many fellow Americans turn away in disgust or attack them for shattering the myth.

The myth of war is too enjoyable, and too profitable, to be punctured by reality. And so these veterans nurse their fantasies of power. They begin to hate those who sent them as much as they hate those they fought. Some cannot distinguish one from the other.

As I stared into the faces of the men from A Gathering of Eagles on Saturday at a protest calling for the closure of the Army Experience Center in Philadelphia, I recognized these emotions.

These men had arrived on black motorcycles. They were wearing leather jackets. They had lined up, most holding large American flags, to greet the protesters, some of whom were also veterans.

They chanted “Traitors!” at the seven people who were arrested for refusing the police order to leave the premises.

They sought vindication from a system that had, although they could not admit it, betrayed them.

They yearned to be powerful, if only for a moment, if only by breaking through the police line and knocking some God-hating communist faggot to the ground. They wanted the war to come home.

It is we who are guilty, guilty for sending these young men and women to wars that did not have to be fought.

It is we who are guilty for turning away from the truth of war to wallow in a self-aggrandizing myth, guilty because we create and decorate killers and when they come home maimed and broken we discard them.

It's the ideology of patriotism that drives America into new, bloodier killing fields. And it's done with our tacit support. Are we so inculcated with 'war is peace', 'violence is liberation' that we are willing to condone this country's brutality?

tags:





31 comments:

Caractacus said...

Surely violence is an integral part of our planet's geo-political power struggle? It always has been and unfortunately always will be. As you say, 'violence is the undercurrent of all our histories'. To most politicians shell-shocked soldiers are merely an unwelcome bi product of this ongoing struggle.

Your post reminded me of the time when I was asked one weekend to help out with a house clearance. Clearing out the attic, I came across boxes of photographs, letters, mementoes etcetera of a man who had served in WW11. His widow - who was organising the clearance - wanted it all in thrown in the skip. It was heart wrenching to dispose of all these memories in such a way that this man could never have done whilst alive.

Verge said...

Dear Mr Ish, I haven't read the Rambo source novel but I'm sure you're right about the losses suffered in transition, but then that's pretty much always the case book-to-film: but next time you can't sleep & it's on late, watch again. It's a very curious piece of work: Stallone's vet (who if memory serves fucks everyone who crosses him up but doesn't fill a single body bag on US soil) goes to ground in the woods and fights like a souped-up Vietcong guerilla, precisely what the US could not do in Vietnam and which helped lead to defeat. The cops hunting him down embody the poor clumsy grunts lumbering around with better equipment but shit tactics and a lesser will, while Rambo morphs into some bizarre mythopoetic beast from Uncle Sam's collective unconscious, part hippie, part super-self-reliant survivalist, part caustic Spirit of the Woods. There was a similar cynical OTT genius to Rocky.

Nam novels don't come much better than Robert Stone's "Dog Soldiers" (which is kind of an exception to the rule about great books making crap films - Nick Nolte/Michael Moriarty did a pretty fair job.)

Anonymous said...

well done for saving that soldier's picture and memento from the skip. you are a good person, and of rare quality. my wife's cousin has just cleared out her dad's collection of air-rifles (about 40 weapons, pre-war and vintage) his clock and watch collection, and a collection of whiskey-jugs. all were thrown in the skip; she didn't have time to "sell junk" apparently. she trashed the stuff as her father lay dying, over the protestations of her mother. how selfish, callous, and stupid can a person be?

mongoose said...

"...memories and trauma that are unexplainable, probably unimaginable, to those seated across from you at the breakfast table."

Indeed that. My old grandad - Great War, trenches, mayhem and gas - to my knowledge never said a single word about what went on and what he saw, and what he did and had done to him.

But my mother has his medals and when she is gone, I will have them.

I think that the two great wars were perhaps easier on the veterans. The horror and madness were just as terrible but those who got back could at least go for a pint and stand next to a man who understood. The tiny numbers of veterans from these "limited conflicts" are invisible and lost.

Caractacus said...

Sorry, Mr. Anonymous, but I'm not as good as you think I am. Everything went in the skip. As much as I would have liked to have had everything kept, circumstances were completely against me. I suspect that events like this occur across the country every week of the year. Memories - as Evelyn Waugh once said - are a man's only true possession and this memorabilia are, I suppose, their manifestation. Once gone, gone forever.

Anonymous said...

the only thing they can't bin is the old double-helix. ungrateful bastards!

woman on a raft said...

I'm sorry, Mr Ishmael, but I'm not sure how keen you are that we find the right Private Alfred Harrison.

Working on the assumption that his body was recovered and identified, I searched the database of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission records.

There are about 152 A Harrisons to chose from, - if I've done the search correctly - but only one of them appears to have been Private A Harrison in the Royal Munster Fusiliers.

These are his casualty details

Name: HARRISON
Initials: A
Nationality: United Kingdom
Rank: Private
Regiment/Service: Royal Munster Fusiliers
Unit Text: 2nd Bn.
Age: 20
Date of Death: 04/10/1918
Service No: 18379
Additional information: Son of Isaac Harrison,
of 65 Rowland St. Beswick, Manchester
.
Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead
Grave/Memorial Reference: I. H. 20.
Cemetery: TEMPLEUX-LE-GUERARD BRITISH CEMETERY

They have a certificate on line, too, and a picture from the cemetery.

Where you recovered the portrait may or may not be significant - relatives carry mementos a long way.

It would be possible, as the parent's name and address is given, to start cross-referencing the war grave record with census records, but that only works if they shared an address at the census point (which they probably did.) It might also be possible to find his birthday - at least we think we know it was about 1898, but that wouldn't necessarily be Manchester. Since he joined the Royal Munster Fusilliers, there might have been a reason for that. There may perhaps be regimental archives which record him or how the regiment fared.

However, it still doesn't absolutely tie your picture and scroll to this war grave, unless you can definitely identify the service number 18379.

Since there is a certain equality in death, perhaps we should treat your Alfred Harrison as this A Harrison - it is the only matching RMF entry, so we'd be quite entitled to - and comfort ourselves he has a properly recorded grave for us to think of on Rememberance Sunday, or on this 4th of October.

woman on a raft said...

"Who will care for this morbid, martial image after me is unknown"

There's a reasonable interim answer for that.

These two men, Brent Whittam and Terry Heard made a pilgrimage to the cemeteries originally listed in Silent Cities. Then they set up a website, making it their business to remember the fallen.

This is their record of Templeux-le-Guerard, Somme, where A Harrison 18379 is buried, and they have a couple of pictures and service records of other servicemen.

Perhaps you could get in touch with them and offer them Alfred's picture, which you've already digitized, the basic record is already agreed, so it could be put on the website where visitors will be able to see it.

PT Barnum said...

Your piece, and the piece you quote, eloquently describe the alienation and dislocation of the ex-serviceman slopped out into civilian life with meagre preparation, support and skills.

I have seen that thousand-yard stare take over the face of a near relative, evoked by any allusion or echo that takes him back to Bosnia and its butchered babies. He is a proud man to look at, a hollow man to know, shorn of all human attributes, going through the motions. And he is terrifying to be around.

I think there is little point in comparing those who fought in the "World Wars" or Vietnam with those who are "professional" servicemen. The conscripted nature of the former service and the context in which it occured means that, however they suffered, they were never regarded as Other, as an embarrassing reminder of a shoddy enterprise. They were Everybody, who could claim no special distinction, but who were therefore also Us, not Them.

Caractacus said...

Mrs Woman on a raft

Have just checked the online WW1 medal role at the National archives and the details match that of Alfred Harrison. Initially , he was a Private in the Royal Dublin Fusiliers.

http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/documentsonline/details-result.asp?Edoc_Id=2928817&queryType=1&resultcount=1

BTW It's a lovely idea that you suggest!

mongoose said...

Mr PT Barnum,

I have no knowledge other than looking at a silent old grandad. I think however that truth may lurk your Us and Them point.

Good luck and thank-you to them all.

Todd said...

IMHOTEP (Wisdom to You!),

I am a 31 year old US Marine Infantry Veteran. I am writing to inform you that I have posted a link to your article on my blog site "Vigilant & Vigorous Verification Validating the Vindication of Veterans from Vicious Vilification":

http://veight.wordpress.com/

Thank you for your concern on these most exigent of issues facing this nation and the world. I invite you to regularly visit my site for updates on Veterans mental health issues highlighted in the news (or better yet, subscribe via RSS feed: http://veight.wordpress.com/feed/). Also, I strongly encourage you to view the letter I composed and mailed to 25 or so senior military officials highlighting my causes of concern entitled "Our Brave Warriors Deserve Much More!":

http://sanity4servicemen.wordpress.com/

Open dialogue and collaboration is welcome in reference to any related Veteran issues. Once again, I truly appreciate your awareness and look forward to hearing from you.

NARMER
(Think with a Unified brain & Mind!),

Todd M. Skorich

Edgar said...

What is it that we care about? I can understand the wish to preserve the artefacts associated with a dead relative: objects can evoke the person in a peculiarly strong way. But I can also understand a detachment, even hostility, to the same, especially when the survivor feels cheated as must many whose loved ones dies in wars: the inanimate objects left behind may seem to mock the memory of the living, breathing being.

Further, but not purporting it to be an explanation of the skip phenomenon, is it noble to die for 'King and Country'? Or is it a betrayal of a young wife and children? Perhaps it is both.

lilith said...

Isn't Woman on a Raft a treasure? I am so scared for my neighbour and her boy. He is about to join the Paras. He will make a fine soldier, but.....?

Caractacus said...

Edgar

Is it noble to die for 'King and Country'?

Depends if the UK is any longer a sovereign country (in the true meaning of the term). I question if this actually remains the case. It is one thing to die for Queen & country and quite another to die for a politician (domestic or otherwise).

call me ishmael said...

Thanks, all, the comments grow more telling, here, that the posts and I should rehearse Pizza-baking.

I don't know, Mr Edgar, if your strictures apply to those volunteering with their pals in Edwardian Britain or to those who, after France's capitulation and Uncle Sam's hesitance, had to fight Hitler's chaps in the North Atlantic and over the Home Counties; otherwie I lean to your view that a miltary life is ideally the province of the bachelor.

We would know little without the archivists' instincts and I have tried for a long time to preserve rather than just consume and to develop a little of the Oriental reverence for ancestors, even. especially, those dissidents who crawled out of the ocean. Such, of course, is a form of species narcissism, environmetally risible, individual consciousness being an evolutionary dead end - but we are, so to speak, what we were. It was the craft, too, and not just the sentimen I wanted to preserve in the matter of Mr harrison, the tinting, the calligraphy, the framing - the hands which did all that now coffin dust.

Welcome Mr Tood and thanks for your comment although you may find this place too consistently critical of you own country for comfort. I cannot apologise for that nor shrink from it. The theme here being Ruin you will find little here celebratory of nationalism, nothing of politicians or their stooges.

THanks Mrs WOAR. A timewarp is what it was, I retrieved the two items pre-internet and their provenenace and origin have remained back there, in prehistory, a trick of the mind. If i came across something similar today I would immediately google them, those things, perhaps beause of their purpose and nature, had become rooted in history, immune to modernity's examination. Silly me. THanks very, I will do as you suggest and post the results.

I had never noticed that, Mr verge, in Stallone's version but now you mention it. I read the book,almost on publication in the early way back whens and have always resented its bluntness being hijacked by Holltwood's awful optimism; I suppose what we see depends on what we bring. I'll try it again another time.

In Dundee library, en route to Jarrow Monastery and Durham Cathedral I can post no more, although there is much to respond to. I will consult the shade of the Venerable Bede and like General MacArthur, return, although not with Coca-Cola and bubblegum. Fuck, no.

Anonymous said...

Great article as usual, Stan - but why no credit to The Incredible String Band?

call me ishmael said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
call me ishmael said...

There was a whole post on the string band a while back - The Cold Days Of February Blues; Darling Belle from which those lines are taken is as beautiful and elegiacal a telling of the war widows' story as you will find, in this world or the next. I quote them so often that like Mr Dylan and Mr Shakespeare or the Bible of King James, The String Band cannot always be sourced or this place would resemble an academic thoroughfare and not a palais de discorde.

My own view, oft repeated, is that Mike Heron and Robin Williamson are the most inventive, eclectic, poetic and lyrical musicians ever discovered by Joe Boyd and undervalued by popular music's cognoscenti; but if you cried, you know you'd fill a lake with tears.

Even our resident ascetic, Mr The Dyers Garden, would marvel at some of the classical allegory lurking in the jugband-ceillidh-12-bar-string-quartet-plainsong riffs reels and ragas of the Stringband.

I will post Cold Days of February again, mr anonymous, for my sin of omission.

Mrs B said...

Mr Ishmael, thank you for writing this piece. As a country we should be ashamed of how we treat our soldiers. I was never so angry as when the press highlighted the appalling treatment that returning soldiers were receiving at Birmingham Selly Oak hospital. I wrote several letters complaining to both government and opposition ministers and got nothing but weasel words in return. The bastards. My eldest son is in the military - his choice - but everyday I curse this government and the MOD - the horrible, horrible bastards, all of them.

I liked what you did for Private Harrison, and God bless all the Septimus Smiths’.

lilith said...

I heard this and thought of Alfred.

mongoose said...

I remember that one, Ms Lilith. And of we are going to be miserable...

call me ishmael said...

Await, mr mongoose, the next slice of cooking with stanislav, I beleieve he has firm opinions on the author of that melancholy ditty.

Although it's not martial, I prefer, Lilith, Bronco Bill's Lament by Maclean, Oh, God, how I worked my youth away, an anthem to a different kind of doom.

Odd, isn't it, how a wee blog entry has made one of the dead real, how Mrs WOAR has identified this young man, hung, these years, on one of my less- travelled landings, acknowledged but unkown. Famous, now, Alfred, the boy warrior, for fifteen minutes - moreso than in his time of dying.

lilith said...

Mongoose, that one ALWAYS leads to projectile tears. Have to put a cover on the keyboard.

Yes Ishmael, god bless you and Alfred. Thanks for the post.

Anonymous said...

"Further, but not purporting it to be an explanation of the skip phenomenon, is it noble to die for 'King and Country'? Or is it a betrayal of a young wife and children? Perhaps it is both."

no, it isn't both. it's daft. war is an industrialist ploy to maximise profits. the yank politicos are big wheels in the companies "rebuilding" iraq. i used to be a soldier, but never saw action. i used to regret that, but now i'm profoundly relieved. i caused no deaths and wasn't killed.
a soldier is a man paid to murder people, on behalf of the likes of Gordon Brown and Tony Blair. they lied, our boys are get killed. it's rotten.

woman on a raft said...

You might be gratified, Mr Ishmael, at how many amateurs make it their business to put names and faces together now that they can do so without being professional archivists. I didn't do anything but google them - they are the ones who build the files and databases.

The site I mentioned was only one of several - will keep an eye out for others. Mr Caratacus' discovery of Alfred's service in The Royal Dublin Fusiliers , for instance, leads to their website - and they were disbanded in 1922.

We don't know how long Alfred served with them (at this stage), but we do have an idea of what his world was like because a cache of contemporary officer's letters turned up.
Lieutenant Colonel RGB Jeffreys of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers wrote to his wife in 1916-18 and the cache of letters survived. Do read the synopsis - it will take two minutes and it has such interesting things in it.

call me ishmael said...

That's amazing, Mrs WOAR. I have just read Col Jeffries story and I will look at it all, and thanks, also, to Mr caractacus. En route to England today from Dundee and may not have a wireless connection at the next hotel so it may be a few days before responding in full. Thanks again. Keep the home fires burning.

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