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War is hell? Not totally, thanks to other people

February 17, 2011

I wrote a post a few days ago, from which some readers may have taken a poor impression of Service life.  In that post I focussed on the negative aspects of Operations in a clumsy attempt to make a good point.  The negative is certainly present on Ops but it is not by any means the whole experience.

So what could possibly offset all that death and whatnot?  Firstly, although I’m in danger of coming across a bit mad here, it’s a rush.  Winston Churchill once said:

“Nothing in life is so exhilarating as to be shot at without result.”

I have found this to be true.  It is very difficult to explain, so I’m not going to try too hard.  I don’t think I can improve on what Winston S. has said anyway.

The main thing that stops war from really being hell is the people though.  I cannot help being inspired by British Service people, especially on Ops.  I am no hero myself, but I’ve been lucky enough to serve with many.  People who can put their lives and bodies on the line day after day and yet still retain a sharp, self-deprecating sense of humour.  I have seen some of these people do the most incredible, selfless things and shrug it off as ‘just doing what anyone else would do’.

Would just anyone brave huge amounts of incoming gunfire in order to render a route safe from buried IEDs*?  Would just anyone run quarter of a mile across open ground, under fire, to help a man he doesn’t even know?  Would just anyone spend a whole 6 months at the front of patrols looking for the ever-present IEDs?  And would just anyone laugh it off as nothing special?

Not me and these are just the stand-out things.  Just within the ranks of the Royal Military Police and RAF Police on Ops I have seen men and women take the most outrageous situations in their stride and get the job done and we Service Police are just a small part of the whole.  Wearing the same uniform as these people makes me feel proud.  Britain can still call herself Great while we have people like my fellow Service Police and the other members of our Armed Forces.

So yes, war is hell at times but it brings out the best in people too.  I wrote this post to remind myself of that, because the negative can get oppressive at times.

Finally, I would urge everyone to reflect from time to time on the sacrifices in lives, limbs, sanity and family life being made by our Service people every day in the defence of Great Britain.  Maybe buy one of my colleagues a pint or a coffee, or just shake their hand if you see them.  Thank you.

*  An IED is an Improvised Explosive Device.  What the media refer to as a roadside bomb, although they are often buried in roads or walls or anywhere in fact.

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