Today, the remains of six British servicemen, killed in Afghanistan, arrived at RAF Lyneham in Wiltshire. The hearses carrying the soldiers threaded through the nearby town of Wootton Bassett, with the townspeople once more paying their respects. It was the 98th time they did so. Death is an occupational hazard of being a soldier, and those that join the armed forced voluntarily do so in the full knowledge that they may be required to lay down their life in the service of Queen and Country. Those that did so in past and present conflicts were remembered on Sunday, and will be remembered again tomorrow, on Armistice Day. And every day.
War is initiated by politicians and executed by soldiers. The politicians ensure that the military have the equipment to do their job, and be able to deal with the consequences. Today, we were treated to the ungainly sight and sound of one grieving mother, lashing out at Prime Minister Gordon Brown for sending her a letter of condolence allegedly riddled with spelling errors and deletions. The PM telephoned the lady in person, on receipt of her letter of complaint - and the mother proceeded to record the interview. Which was played on Sky TV this afternoon. Apart from the letter of complaint, the mother also states that her son died through lack of equipment - an assertion she repeated to Mr Brown (more on this story here). An accusation repeatedly leveled at the Government throughout both the war in Iraq and in Afghanistan.
To me, it was plain that the mother of the servicemen who died in Afghanistan has great difficulty coming to terms with her loss, and (understandably) tried to find someone to blame for his death. In this case, the Prime Minister. However, I would like to join Falklands veteran Simon Weston in saying that it is unfortunate that a handwritten letter contained spelling mistakes - but the fact that it was handwritten in the first place is much more important. Secondly, Mr Brown himself has lost a child, albeit at a much younger age.
Grief is something to be conducted in private. Trying to find someone to blame is natural, but at the end of the day, as I said a few paragraphs ago, death is an occupational hazard of being a soldier.
RIP Jamie Janes.