Friday, 6 November 2009


Paying tribute ahead of Remembrance Day to the 93 British troops who have died in Afghanistan this year, the Prime Minister said: "These men are our heroes today."

In itself, being killed is not heroism. Beyond All Shall Have Prizes - and worthless degrees - we should now read in NewLabour’s hollow mantra, All Are Heroes.

This, foraging for glory by association, is Snotman’s latest wheeze. Anyone in uniform is a hero, every one of them; for no other reason than that they are working towards his diseased, monomaniacal plan for Global Presbyteria Nouvelle, or at the very least him not being carried off in a back-to-front jacket. In pronouncing all heroes Snotman lionises himself, the shabby, cowardly hypocrite, a man who all his idle fucked-up life has despised Tommy.

Every death and every wounding, every emotional traumatisation, each one is horrible and regrettable but they are not necessarily heroism. They can’t all be heroes, can they? Heroes do happen but by definition they are abnormal; we don’t have regiments of the Queen’s Own Heroes instead there is an award system which honours levels of heroism. I don’t know how these things are evaluated but I don’t recall there being any Afghanistan equivalent of Rorke’s Drift, the last VC I recall was young Boharry, in Iraq. And then there’s this….medal inflation. This, if true, is pure Brown/Blair/Mandelstein shit, spread over into the army…..from the Guardian:

"Army set to review medals system after soldier's arrest

Major Robert Armstrong pictured with Ross Kemp: Major Armstrong was attached to the 1st Battalion The Royal Irish Regiment in Helmand Province in southern Afghanistan last year. Full Article at The Telegraph

Major who was award military cross questioned under caution about claims of 'overblown' narrative in medal citation

The army is expected to review the system of awarding commendations for gallantry amid fears of "medal inflation" for embellished accounts of bravery from the battlefield in Afghanistan.

The investigation, the first of its kind in more than 300 years of British army history, comes after the arrest of Major Robert Armstrong, who was awarded a military cross for "consistent bravery and inspirational leadership" when a convoy of British and Afghan army vehicles was ambushed last year in Gereshk Valley, Helmand province.

Armstrong, 35, of the Royal Artillery, was detained by Royal Military Police on Friday to be interviewed under caution after claims from another officer about the "overblown" narrative in his medal citation.

Armstrong was attached with the 1st Battalion The Royal Irish Regiment in Helmand last year. The officer's citation said: "While mentoring the Afghan national army vehicle patrol Armstrong showed consistent bravery and inspirational leadership. As a result of his calm leadership under fire, losses were prevented and the lives of those injured were saved."

The "under fire" aspect of the citation is disputed, it is understood, and other actions Armstrong attributed to himself were allegedly carried out by other officers.

Lt Col Edward Freely, the commanding officer of the Royal Irish battle group, could also be questioned, the Sunday Telegraph reported.

Freely was responsible for writing all of the citations that led to 17 awards being given to members of his battle group. The haul included three Conspicuous Gallantry Crosses, a feat unprecedented in the army. Sources told the paper that all 17 honours and awards could be reviewed if the investigation found substance to the allegations. The spotlight would also fall on other regiments, with potentially dozens of awards looked at.

The investigation was described as being "in its very early stages". An army spokesman said: "The integrity of the operational honours system is a matter of utmost importance to us. Any suggestion that it has fallen short of the very high standards that we set ourselves are taken extremely seriously and are investigated thoroughly.

"We are aware of an allegation that a citation on which a gallantry award was made on the March 2009 Operational Honours list was factually incorrect. The Royal Military Police Special Investigation Branch are investigating the matter and it would therefore be inappropriate to comment further whilst this is ongoing."

A total of 177 honours covering operations in Afghanistan and Iraq were announced by the army in March.

"This will be used as a stick by those in the army who claim that the current system is unfair and open to abuse," a military source told the Sunday Telegraph. "It also raises question marks over the integrity of the armed forces, which is based on honour and trust."

The number of medals won by the Royal Irish Regiment in the last tour of duty in 2008 is in marked contrast to those awarded to the unit in 2006 in Helmand. Then the battalion, which sent 100 volunteers to serve alongside members of 16 Air Assault Brigade, won a solitary Mention in Dispatches while the brigade won more than 60 awards."

Darren and Wayne may well, quite naturally, be heroes to Mum and Dad or the Mrs but they are not actually keeping Ahmed off the streets of Birmingham by shooting at his cousin in Helmand and in any event they are, whatever they are doing, just following orders, Brown would have it that they are sat at his table, deciding strategy, that they heroically agree with him on the merits of his lunatic mission, the fucking horrible, shameless, deceitful bastard.

But part of this hero-shit malaise stems from the sentimentalising - and disturbing - public posturing of Army WAGs and, especially, Army Mums, all of whom seem to have been taking Gobby Pills, undermining, by their whingeing and whining and bleating, the fortitude which - preceding heroism - is supposed to be the soldier’s meat and drink; a bereaved mother on C4 News tonight, stammered and stuttered that It Is All About The Boys even though it is not, it is all about the foreign policy of the UK, of which the boys are willing instruments; it is always a cruelty of skymadeupnewsandfilth to give these women the opportunity they crave, far better they grieve in private.

Army WAGS blog their own strategy for victory over the fuzzy-wuzzy, geopolitical experts by dint of marriage to a soldier, one of them exasperated by Ahmed’s failure to grow not poppy but pistachio nuts, such a nice, green thing to do. One of the Army blog sites, ARSSE, claims to be the One True Voice, the only legitimate commentary on a matter of huge public interest and concern; the Internet having become the voice of sentimental Mutiny, Wives and Mums barracking us for our objectivity, Tommy Blogger warning us to shut our civvy gobs.

All heroes, you see. What this does, of course, while temporarily bringing a glow of pride to Mum, in the longer term devalues the outstanding, the valourous; blogging and grandstanding, Tommy and his family become part of petty celebrity’s White Noise, meaningless trash.

The Fallen and the Wounded are a rebuke to us all; those, comrades who survived; those, bystanders, unable to prevent the slaughter, often, as now, the vain folly of some madcap politican, sometimes a matter of national survival and those, the wicked who send others to die pointlessly, they are rebuked, stand, solemn as they may, at Cenotaph and War memorial.

But if we fail to distinguish between duty and heroism, as the Mums, Wags and Snotman would have us do, we are fucked, a nation of Ruritanians, bemedalled, in gaudy costumes. Fucking the economy is one thing but devaluing the opportunity of man to really distinguish himself is, in our martial nation, an achievement quite extraordinary.


Dick the Prick said...

Gadzooks Mr Ishmael

You don't make it easy for the passing chap to get a bit of light entertainment on a Saturday morning. I sent all my Councillors a link to Liberal Conspiracy last week stating that it was comedy left wing durge that you'd never think about if left with an infinite amount of typewriters.(curioursly - never sent anyone a link to here - funny that!!!)

So the Honours system in the military is fucked - guess it should come as no surprise really.

Is it possible for bereauocracies to be so unwieldy, so immutable that they are institutionally incapable of movement or are we just watching a political party - wretched in its mispent authority, die in front of our eyes. No heroes they, no honour except outrage, carnage, destruction and faked promise. Their modus operandi wetting all present with its denial of alternative, with acceptance that all process has its reason. Their strategic interest was the acquisition of money rather than value. Of upholding decision rather than opportunity. Flexibility disgraced. I'm all for supporting the gaffer but that means shouting bollox at the top of my voice if need be.

I applied for the military - bit juvenile to be sure, but for flying jets - natch. They asked me about my family in an initiative to make me relax and stuff - quite the opposite effect, back bone flexed, chin out - fuck you mode swithed on. I think I can still reconcile that had I been successful i'd have a kit bag full of a few thousand bodies. GlobaWar is a fucking good firm to work for if you've got the right job.

Would the ragheads be killing each other if we weren't there? You gotta say yes really.

Honour? Not sure i'd recognize it if she introduced herself bringing jaffa cakes and doing a silly walk.

Have a good day buddy. Off wandering with leaflets - fucking idiot probably - spliff, beer and as always, top quality literature for breakfast.



Anonymous said...

Oh I don't know about medals being dished out need them or not look at Charlie in his Sunday best and his dad. Are you trying to tell me that these stalwarts of the UK didn't earn those gongs? Waving, cutting ribbons and going "walkabout" with ones hands behind ones back (just in case some fucker tries to put a bit of work in them)is worth every gong they earn. Also Charlie deserves a medal for bringing up someone elses kid with our money.

mongoose said...

There is the hero of particular achievement, Mr Ishmael, and the hero of noble purpose who puts himself, and increasingly herself, knowingly in harm's way. Whether the fortunes of war happen to spit down violent death or appalling injury upon one is beside the point.

Who sees with equal eye, as God of all,
A hero perish, or a sparrow fall?

And the vile exploitation of the unsophisticated among the bereaved should by now not surprise us. Into ruin hurled, indeed.

call me ishmael said...

There is as much heroism in everyay life as in conflict, mr mongoose, bereavement through illness no less hard than bereavement through shellfire; people fight their awful, lonely battles, day after day; unsung, unrecognised, people shoulder others' burdens hoping only to make the world a little less harsh; others stoically bear frightful pain and illness that their loved ones are not, too soon, left alone.

But my gripe about Brown is not that I dispute the occurence of outstanding acts of valour among the forces but that he, by claiming that every breath taken, every step marched is a heroic vindication of his own heroism; even in PR terms, this is crass stupidity, for heroism to inspire it must be out of the ordinary, heroic not mundane.

Not only does Brown not know what he's doing, he doesn't know, most of the time, what he's saying. We may admire the troops, respect them, we should not permit their merely obeying orders to be hijacked, spun by the unworthy.

richard said...

"Hero" doesn't mean trailing around the desert with your arse-crack full of sand until you step on a mine.
We once knew what made a hero. Grace Darling? Toussaint L'Overture? Ghandi?
And yes, military men such as Wittmann, Nelson, Brooke, Paddy Maine, Galland, Geronimo, and thousands more out of the millions who have fought.
Now you're a hero, by right, if you trail around the desert with your arse-crack full of sand, thumb-up-bum and mind in neutral, until you step on a mine.
the devalued Prime Minister devalues genuine instances of inspirational human bravery - prizes for all indeed.

richard said...

i forgot to mention Socrates; my personal hero.

mongoose said...

Mr Richard, one is a hero just for wandering around the desert with one's arse crack full of sand because one might indeed step on a mine, and still one does it. This is the heroism of the justly-earned campaign medal. That we still produce people - like the ones you mention - who can surpass the common expectation of duty and service, and earn even greater gongs, is a comfort.

Mr Ishmael, I yield to no-one in my hatred of the Nutter in Chief. He is quite possibly the most spineless bastard to have ever scaled the full height of the greasy pole. Alas, he has not the self-awareness to hide his foul, snot-streaked carcass, to retire to his cave to scratch his vile backside, and leave us all in peace.

That he can even think of standing in the same place as these men and women is an insult. Each and every one, be he ne'er so vile, by the width of this shit-heap of an island, each one so much his moral superior.

If you had Straw and Brown and just the two bullets, you'd shoot Brown twice just to be sure. Horrible, slimy, dysfunctional disaster of an arsewipe. Please God, let be over soon.

richard said...

mr Mongoose, i wandered about Belfast on a few occasions (well, sat in the back of a lorry doing escort, and kept an eye out for petrol-bombers) with an SLR and a yellow card. am i a hero, for doing something which could have got me killed? no, otherwise i would be classed as hero for riding a motorbike, an activity inherently more risky than serving in the Army.
so i beg to disagree, one is NOT a hero for just joining up, getting posted abroad, and doing the infantry things for which one has been trained. otherwise a stupid, useless or lazy soldier would be automatically on a par with the selfless, brave and resourceful ones.

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

Well, Mr Richard, I guess that it is a semantic argument. I don't disupute that there are crap soldiers just like there are crap everything else. And dangerous activity undertaken for one's own amusement is not really of assistance to us. I agree entirely with the initial premise that Brown flogs this dead heroism-by-association horse and that he is an unutterable swine.

The fact remains that nobody tries to blow my arse to kingdom come when I go to work of a morning and I think that an extra measure of genorosity is due to those who do face such risks, and on our behalf. But we'll not fall out over it, I am sure.

call me ishmael said...

This is very interesting, especially at this time of year.

My own abiding mood is captured in Mr richard's last paragraph but that vies, too, with mr mongoose's regard for the campaign medal, of which there is a large cabinet on the wall, here, albeit that the in-law who was awarded them saw no heroism in entering the Death Camps with the RAMC. My admiration, like, I guess, mr mongoose's, is rooted in the fact that I have never done any of that stuff, mr richard's, having done it, seems the more prosaic view.

Harder yet to reconcile with a default setting for heroism is the idea that the Pals Regiments, mown down on the Somme and elsewhere were so careless of their own lives as to deserve what happened to them at the hands of Boer War Generals and dodgy politicians in hock to ArmsCorp. I know that sounds dreadfully harsh and is the application of anachronistic values but at least the Russians had a revolution and the French mutinied, our great grandparents did just as they were bid, marching into certain death or prolonged agony on the wire or in the shell hole. I see nothing glorious at Passchendale or Ypres, spin it as they might and have, for a century, nigh-on. I have been enraged all my life that the legitimate needs of damaged soldiers are deemed, nationally, with all the sentimentality we can muster, to be a charity case. We can find trillions for bent bankers and yet flog paper flowers in the New Millenium, to ease Tommy's cares. How would Straw and Blunkett and the rest react to the idea that their declining years be funded by charity? They would find it, Mr Tiny Speaker, unacceptable, absolutely unacceptable, Mr Tiny Speaker, after all their years of public disservice. Hear-hear, the Ayes have it.

Tomorrow, in Coventry Memorial Park, at the Cenotaph, at village greens up an down the land we will celebrate our tight-fingered approach to veterans. The Twitterers have, as one monotonal voice, vowed to cease their cyber-prating for a whole two minutes and doubtless they are, even now, tuning-up at the Albert Hall, clearing their throats, checking their make-up. The Theatre of Spin, morbid and hypocritical. Better that we had sufficient choppers, sufficient armour; better still that we weren't at all fucking about in the world's hell holes, like conflict junkies.

Maybe the blanket distribution of the epithet, hero, is compensation for the contempt in which we normally hold ex-servicemen. Maybe a stroll around Selly Oak Hospital, saying to the eyeless and the limbless, There, there, you're a hero, son, we feel your pain, two minutes every November, rain or shine, would be the appropriate action for those who champion the cause of On The Cheap Heroism.

For all concerned war is a sport better avoided and it is made no better by garlands and laurel wreaths being bestowed on Generals and by gewgaws in proportion, all the way down -as they see it - to the lowest ranks.

"...the devalued Prime Minister devalues genuine instances of inspirational human bravery - prizes for all indeed."

Like the bonny Pals Batallions it is to our cost and our shame that we permit him to so act, dupolicitous and wicked, that we join with him in the soundbiting of Heroism's good name.

mongoose said...

No, we didn't have a revolution, Mr Ishmael, but we did have the collpase of the largest empire ever to slash and burn its way across the globe. This was momentous enough all by itself. That was our earthquake.

The Brits at the time of WWI were damn good at the martial stuff and had, or thought they had, almost limitless supplies of machine-gun fodder out there, in the parlance of the times, in the Dominions. That mechanised war almost exhausted this supply was part of the shock and tragedy of all that. You would have thought that the fuckers running the show would have learned the first time, wouldn't you?

It is indeed a shocking indictment of what we have become that the Americans shame us by their conduct towards their broken and wounded, and even they could do more I am sure.

Regarding the H-word... Around here they are RAF people - helicopters. I know a few aircrew, mostly through the one I know well, a Squadron Leader. From time to time one of these birds falls out of the sky and the crew are usually killed. I have known nobody who has been killed but all of them know all of the lost. Trained with them, posted with them, flown with them, drank beer with them. Aircraft loss is viewed almost as a tax on the job. "If your number is up..." "There but for the grace of God."

It is the equivalent of riding around in the desert with sand in your arse-crack - until you step on a mine. It is not just the extraordinary deeds done in extremis, when often the alternative is to get killed by the other guy. It is the extraordinary ordinariness of facing risk and danger, helpless before the fortunes of war and peace alike. Your life in others' hands out there at the edge where risk and reason blurr. And the fucking thing might fall out fo the sky at any minute - wife and babies left with my splendid, 30-bob military pension, all turfed out of the Base house because I'm dead. And yet still they do it. And these guys and their families gather around the families of the lost, and the loss is felt by them all. I've seen it. There is a woman not a mile from where I sit. Her husband, broken by Iraq 1, took his own life. Somebody else's wife fetches and carries for her. "Anything you need while I'm in Town?" Someone else's father takes her sons to the football. And all of this, surely to God, is conduct worthy enough to find room for the odd H-word.

call me ishmael said...

It is the overuse, cynical and desperate, which I lampoon, mr mongoose and do not cavil with one word you say.

I used to always go to the Memorial Park tomorrow, every shrub, every bench a ghost.

If you're passing...

Uranus, the Magician said...

Looking at the Festival of Remembrance on TV, (on as I write) I was struck by what a miserable "I don't want to be here" expression was on Snotman's gurning face.
His beard looked pretty fed up, herself, too!

call me ishmael said...

Couldn't stand to look at it, mr uranus, good for you for having the strength.

mongoose said...

We have flown the concrete wasteland, Mr Ishmael. I will be taking my Brownies to their parade. The RAF boys will be there. Roads closed. Town silent. Clatter-clatter, whop-whop-whop fly-over. It is little enough.

mongoose said...

With exquisite timing "Paths of Glory" started five minutes ago on More4.

call me ishmael said...

Ah, thought you were still under the Three Spires, mr mongoose, sorry, I'll get down one of these Novembers, before Gabriel blows his horn.

richard said...

Mr Mongoose, it's a tragedy for a wife to be left behind. that's why i left the Army before i got married. i'm not selfish enough to put a woman through torment when i go to work. that lady you mention is a casualty, but she hitched her wagon to a man regarded by his own chiefs as "expendable" and who took a potentially fatal career path. politicians don't care if that poor man was damaged mentally by his experiences.
the point is, that being in the army IS a dangerous activity, and it's done for one's own amusement. basic training is fun and exciting. so is service, like, in fact, road racing on motorbikes. of course the danger doesn't loom in the imagination if you are in your teens or twenties. death seems far away at that age.
although i was a soldier for only two years i feel privileged and proud to have achieved what very little i did. my philosophical outlook rages against violence, and mankind's addiction to state-sponsored murder. but, but, heaven preserve us and by all the gods and little fishies, a soldier is somehow better than a civvie.
our soldiers in Afghanistan are taking a kicking from men enraged at their presence, great fighters defending their homes, who would be no threat at all if we weren't there.
i wish our our boys could come home before someone else gets killed.
fuck warfare.

Anonymous said...

Richard- the second half of your post resonates very strongly. Taking your comment one (unnecessary) step further: my philosophical outlook rages against violence...cont...a beret is still somehow better than a hat...
Perhaps our own affiliation shapes our beliefs too heavily? But you're damn right- fuck warfare.

mongoose said...

Your last points, Mr Richard, Amen to that.

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