View across the Outer Harbour of Stornoway

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Follow up

My previous post, Ultimate Sacrifice, requires a bit of extra information. It would appear that The Sun newspaper had prompted Cpl Janes' mother to record her conversation with PM Gordon Brown. A callous ploy to get at the Prime Minister, who has recently lost the political support of The Sun. They have shifted their political stance, best typified by the ladies on page three. My political allegiances are nobody's business, but it is common knowledge that Gordon Brown lost a child at a young age himself, and to abuse a woman's grief and grievance is typical for The Sun newspaper.

Ultimate sacrifice

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.

Tuesday 10 November

Bright and sunny day after a very wet and windy night. Feeling cool but that's mid November for you.
Tropical storm Ida made landfall south of Mobile, Alabama, about an hour and a half ago. The rain (up to 8 inches) is going to be the worst problem associated with this system.

Tomorrow is Armistice Day. On that occasion, I have published two volumes, listing the casualties originating from the Isle of Lewis. The books can only be bought from, i.e. through the Internet. They are NOT available in bookshops. The on-line tributes will of course remain, and contain links to the relevant pages on

Faces from the Lewis War Memorial (First World War)
World War II casualties from Lewis

Privately, I have also prepared a similar book for Harris and the Uists.