…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!