British / American / Australian
Troops in Iraq
I have had a number of enquiries on how to
support the Allied troops in the Iraq War and so this page is to show
support for them. If you would like to send in an email to
Alastair he'll post it up on this page. Of course being as we're a
Scottish site we'll naturally focus some editorial on our own Scottish
troops. Do also see the Stand Up
for America pages in the Family Tree.
Listen to the special tribute to
Tartan Day 2003 where
the theme of Freedom is most appropriate
Just to let our troops know that we believe that you are doing a great
job in a very difficult situation. It's not the politicians who are out
there and we support YOU!
Sandy Campbell & Family
Scottish soldier laid to rest
coffin was draped with the Saltire flag
Hundreds of people lined the
streets of a Scottish town to pay their respects to a soldier killed
Lance Corporal Barry Stephen, from
the 1st Battalion The Black Watch, was the only Scots soldier killed
in action during the conflict
The 31-year-old's funeral took place
on Tuesday at St John's Church in Perth and was attended by more than
Soldiers of The Black Watch joined
Lance Corporal Stephen's family and friends to say their final
A lone regimental piper played a
lament as mourners arrived for the service.
The soldier died saving colleagues
during a military attack near Al Zubayr in southern Iraq on 24 March.
Shops and businesses near the church
were closed as a mark of respect, and local roads had been closed the
Invited dignitaries included Perth
MP Annabel Ewing, Perth MSP candidate Roseanna Cunningham, and Perth
and Kinross Provost Michael O'Malley.
The family party arrived in a fleet
of limousines at 1230BST, and Lance Corporal Stephen's widow, Shirley,
was greeted by minister the Rev David Ogston.
Some members of the party brushed
tears from their eyes as they entered the church amid the silence of
the square around them.
The service, with readings and
prayers, was relayed to the crowd outside by a public address system.
Many people listened with heads
bowed and hands folded in front of them.
The soldier's body was returned to
the UK on 8 April, arriving at RAF Brize Norton with the bodies of 10
other military personnel.
Hundreds gathered to pay respects
Lance Corporal Stephen, from Scone,
joined the 1st Battalion of the Black Watch in 1997 and served in
Northern Ireland, Germany and Britain.
He went on to become part of the
regimental recruiting team before rejoining the mortar platoon,
normally based in Germany, last year.
In the funeral address the Rev Neil
Gardner, former chaplain to the Black Watch, spoke of Lance Corporal
Stephen belonging to two families - the regiment and also his kin -
who both mourned his loss.
After the 45-minute service, the
soldier's coffin emerged from the arched doors of the church.
Held aloft by six regimental
pallbearers, the coffin was draped in the blue and white colours of
the Saltire flag, unusual for a British soldier.
The request was made by the family
to use the Scottish flag as a opposed to the Union flag.
The coffin was borne a short
distance to the waiting hearse to the strains of the piper's lament
Flowers of the Forest.
I am proud to be an American ancestor of a member of the Black Watch,
you are doing a great job in the support of freedom. I have been
watching "Fox News Channel" with interest and have followed the
engagements of the Black Watch. The Regiment is in my prayers.
Keep up the good work, a proud
Edward R. McIntosh
Portland, Maine, USA
British Army Upholding Tradition in Iraq
By PATRICK McDOWELL, Associated Press
Published March 29, 2003
UMM QASR, Iraq (AP) -
Striking before dawn, British tanks and infantry staged a lightning raid
into besieged Basra on Saturday, destroying five Iraqi tanks and blowing
up two statues of Saddam Hussein before withdrawing without casualties.
The strike was the first
thrust into the city confirmed by British officers, and it and other
limited attacks around Basra could be a preview of how coalition
commanders might deal with a siege of Baghdad.
The move also was further
evidence that British troops fighting for control of Iraq's far south are
not here just as window dressing in the war to topple Saddam.
The 30,000 British soldiers
and marines in the field have pedigrees that stretch to El Alamein,
Waterloo and earlier and aren't taking a back seat to an American ground
force about five times larger.
British troops have fought
some of the toughest battles so far, mixing up pinpoint raids in urban
areas with the pummeling of Iraqi armored forces daring or desperate
enough to risk a head-on fight in the open.
On Thursday, 12 Challenger
tanks from the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards battled an equal-sized force of
Iraqi T-55s near Basra, Iraq's second-biggest city where 1,000 or so
Saddam loyalists are holed up among 1.5 million people widely unfriendly
to the regime. The Iraqi force lost two tanks and saw two infantry
In an army that thrives on
obscure regimental histories and traditions, the Scots Dragoon Guards have
one of the proudest, wearing beret badges resembling the eagle standard of
Napoleon's army, which they engaged in a suicidal cavalry charge at
Waterloo in 1815.
Having long ago given up
their gray war horses and sabers, they now fight from Challenger II tanks,
using some of the most sophisticated aiming systems in the world to hit
the aging Iraqi tanks while moving at 40 mph.
Overhead, the Royal Air
Force has been flying about 10 percent of the 1,000-plus sorties flown by
the coalition each day, employing their own aerial refueling aircraft,
Tornado fighter-bombers and Harrier jump jets.
Asked if the British, who
are operating under overall control of U.S. Marine Lt. Gen. James Conway,
would need reinforcements to take and hold the south, one of their
"We've got quite enough
troops to do the job, 26,000 troops," Col. Chris Vernon, the army
spokesman in Kuwait City, told journalists. "The British army is a
professional army that's probably second technologically only to the
U.S. Marines and Royal
Marines surged into the Faw peninsula at the outset of the war. Though
they would have preferred to avoid urban fighting, they needed to seize
Umm Qasr, Iraq's main deep-water port, as soon as possible to open it up
for ships bringing in humanitarian aid.
The city was taken after
five days of hard street-to-street fighting. Iraqi militiamen sniped from
windows, while others feigned surrender, then opened fire when troops came
up to take them into custody.
Military officers say the
area is largely secure now, and the harbor is being cleared of mines.
British troops patrol the dusty streets, walking in pairs on both sides of
the street, a sight familiar from the days of urban guerrilla warfare in
Northern Ireland. Gurkhas, armed with assault rifles and their
intimidating 13-inch kukri knives, help guard the port.
The most powerful British
unit, the 7th Armored Brigade, has been at the gates of Basra since
midweek. Its soldiers are staging quick, sharp attacks on Iraqi forces
that took refuge in the city and reportedly have attacked civilians trying
The brigade is descended
from the "Desert Rats" that defeated Nazi Germany's Desert Fox, Field
Marshal Erwin Rommel, in the North African desert in World War II.
On Tuesday, soldiers from
the brigade raided the house of a senior official of Saddam's ruling Baath
party on the outskirts of the city and took him prisoner, leaving 20 dead
"He was sitting there in
his little building, thinking what a good morning, when whap! we're in,
whap! we're out, and 20 of them are gone," Vernon said. "That would have
sent a shock wave through them."
British forces are targeted
by Iraqi artillery in the city center, but officers said they limit their
retaliatory fire, shooting only at military targets they can see to avoid
inflicting civilian casualties.
"We will play it as we see
it, on our terms, seizing opportunities tactically as we see it," Vernon
He refused to give a figure
on how many Iraqis had been killed so far. U.S. military officials also do
not give hard figures.
"A war-fighting army does
not go along adding up how many people it kills," Vernon said. "It kills
them, it buries them, and it takes prisoners of war."
Hi wish all you guys my thanks for being there take care and come home
safe. God be with you.
Doreen, Dean & family.
I am a proud American and wish to extend my thoughts & thanks to all the
troops who are out there fighting. I realize you are putting your lives
on the line for us. I send a very heartfelt wish for your safe return to
your home soils.
My family and I are proud of you all, keep up the good work and hope you
all return home safely soon.
Hugh and Lilian
I am the Officer Commanding an Army cadet Detachment, and I am aware
that there are 4 ex Cadets from my Unit fighting in Iraq, I will not
mention their names or Units, but I will say this; Hello Lads Colour
Sergeant Wright here from No 8 Det; remember everything you've been
trained in, keep safe and come in and see us when you come home, every
one of you are in our thoughts and we are proud of you all.
see you soon
snipers take aim at Fedayeen guerrillas
By Ian Bruce, special for USA TODAY
NEAR BASRA, Iraq
The sniper takes two deep breaths, squinting down the sights of his
custom rifle. Just over 750 yards away, a gunman climbs into the rear
of a pickup.
snipers on Iraqi guerrillas: "You don't think of them as people.
They are just armed enemy militia who have to be taken out."
By Paul J.
Through the cross hairs, Lance Cpl. Vincent Polus of Inverness,
Scotland, can see the Kalashnikov assault weapon and ammunition
pouches strapped to the enemy soldier's belt.
Holding the second breath, Polus takes up trigger pressure, aiming
slightly ahead of his target's chest as the pickup begins to move. He
squeezes off a round. The 7.62mm bullet, traveling 3,000 feet a
second, hurls the Iraqi backward, a fatal blow.
is Polus' third confirmed kill in a week that has seen Scotland's
Black Watch sniper section pick off 18 armed guerrillas in Az Zubayr,
the nerve center of behind-the-lines resistance in the British sector
of southern Iraq. British forces are carrying the action to the
paramilitary Fedayeen Saddam in their own backyard. Armed with weapons
that can deliver a fatal head shot at 1,000 yards, the battle for the
back streets is turning in British snipers' favor through patience and
"Our job can be frustrating," Polus said. "You can lie up for hours or
days in an observation post. You can see targets beyond your range.
You can see targets which are off-limits because they're in someone
else's patch or because they are too close to innocent civilians.
"When we manage to slot guys we know have been targeting our men,
there's a certain satisfaction to the job. You don't think of them as
people. They are just armed enemy militia who have to be taken out."
Black Watch snipers are doing their work as part of a British
operation that has engaged Iraqi paramilitary soldiers loyal to Saddam
Hussein outside of Basra, Iraq's second-largest city, for several
days. The city is the heart of the country's southern oil facilities,
and its population of 1.5 million is mostly Shiite Muslim. Many oppose
Saddam's Sunni Muslim regime, but the city remains under control of
his ruling Baath Party militia.
days ago, four other Black Watch snipers carried out an operation
likely to earn at least two of them decorations for gallantry. As they
traveled into town, a nearby tank reported seeing four militiamen
carrying rifles and rocket-propelled grenades. The sniper teams,
consisting of a shooter and a spotter with a powerful scope, located
their targets 800 yards away. Lance Cpl. Scott Robertson's first shot
dropped one of the four. The other three dragged the body into nearby
bushes and sprinted for houses a few yards away.
sniper teams, equipped only with bolt-action rifles meant for long
range work and a single automatic weapon, also headed for the house.
Cpl. "Pedro" Laing kicked in the door to find himself confronted by an
elderly man just as one of the fugitives hurled a grenade over his
head. It exploded outside, peppering Robertson with shrapnel. The
enemy soldiers fired automatic weapons and a rocket-propelled grenade
that detonated on a bank outside.
Cpl. Mark Harvey jumped from the grenade with a backward somersault,
crushing one of his vertebrae. Despite the agony, he got to his feet
and shot the Iraqi militiaman. Laing and Robertson then threw four
grenades into the room.
Four soldiers from the Black Watch mortar platoon arrived, entered the
building and finished off the remaining enemy. Sgt. Mark Cameron said:
"It's like the movie Black Hawk Down in Az Zubayr. But the fact that
we are fighting in an urban environment allows our guys to do what
they are trained for. In a purely desert war, we would have been
From the News of the World
GULF WAR II: 20 Black Watch wreak havoc +
Hussein honours sick bombers Brits glory night
By Keith Gladdis,
Deputy Political Editor in Qatar
JUST 20 infantrymen of Scotland's elite
regiment The Black Watch spearheaded a stunning British blitz on
On a night of
stunning victories across several fronts, the daring Scots crept into
the city under cover of darkness.
hundreds of fanatical Iraqi militia to DESTROY five T55 tanks with
handheld Milan missiles and WRECK more than five mortar positions.
A propaganda TV
station was BLASTED and a bunker sheltering a paramilitary death squad
was BLOWN UP.
actions around Iraq's second city in a night of British glory, 320
senior Ba'ath party militia were KILLED and 300 Iraqis taken PRISONER.
Many of the
actions involved targeting by SAS and SBS men.
And as a parting
shot eleven Challenger II tanks of the Scots Dragoon Guards entered
the city, defying rocket-propelled grenades bursting on their armoured
The Desert Rats
attacked three targetsand symbolically toppled two Saddam Hussein
statues, one a 15ft monstrosity made of cast iron.
David Ross, whose Challenger II destroyed the iron statue with one
shell, said: "It just sort of crumpled, there was a big flash and
sparks, and it disappeared. I wish it was the real thing."
There were NO
British casualties and it is believed not one civilian was killed.
The Black Watch
have been in every major British conflict for 278 years, winning 169
Battle Honours, six VCsand instilling fear into all their enemies.
I am a red blooded U.S. citizen just wanting to find a way to thank
all of the U.K. support you have given in this great cause to bring
freedom to an oppressed people. Your country has shown a legacy of
stauch toughness that has stood up against all odds when other
neighbors around your were following like dominos. I appreciate your
tough as nails mentality from all away the pond here in the U.S.,
whatever service person who reads this, please let us know we are
cheering for ALL of you, not just one country, BUT ALL who have the
resolve to make this world a safer place. God Bless.
I participate in an Antique Teddy Bear message board which often
creates wonderful JPGS for special occasions. This was my contribution
to the brave men and women in Iraq (with my homeland of Scotland in
mind!!!). Remembering our men and women...
Hovercrafts have been used to secure
Thank you. As a retired US Naval officer
(33 yrs, most of which was medical reserves with several recalls), my
reaction re US troops has been frustration due to the inability to
help our guys. I finally had a more human human response, that of
tears, when I read about the Scots. I am relieved to know there is
that side of me and that it honours my past. God bless all of our
Thank You for the opportunity you've given us to voice our support for
our brothers and sisters in your services. Our family is very proud
of our Scottish and British heritage and we are extremely proud to be
able to embrace and thank you all for the steps you have taken with us
for the world's freedom. We are praying for everyones safety and
return and are blessed with the freedom to be able to do so.
The Duncan Family New York State
As an American of Scottish heritage, I would like to extend my heart
felt thanks to our Scottish and UK friends for standing by us in this
war. I wish all God speed in their mission.
Dr. Michael Ross-Holmes, Virginia
Mums show support with flowers
The flowers are aimed to boost
A Scottish mother with a son serving in
Iraq has asked people to lay daffodils at war memorials in support
of troops in the Gulf.
The Flowers for our Forces campaign is aimed
at boosting the morale of families worried about the war.
The idea comes from Louise Bennet, from
Strathblane near Glasgow, who has a 23-year-old son in the Royal
Mrs Bennet said she would like to cheer people
up with a spring-like show of colour, with daffodils, pansies or
other yellow flowers.
It's the families who we are trying to help, they are
going through a very, very difficult time, waiting to hear
news, many of whom haven't heard anything for three weeks
"The idea really was to show a force of
strength, as a moral boost for our forces abroad," she said. "It is
also to strengthen the morale of our mums and wives and girlfriends
back home because we're all going through a very difficult time at
the moment and a very emotional time."
Marjorie Peddie's son-in-law is serving with
the 7th Armoured Brigade.
"There's a war memorial in almost every
village in the country and it's a focal point for people to take
their flowers and express their support for the forces," she told
the BBC's Good Morning Scotland programme. "It's the families
who we are trying to help, they are going through a very, very
difficult time, waiting to hear news, many of whom haven't heard
anything for three weeks."
Show of respect
Mrs Bennet said the campaign grew initially
from a personal show of respect. "It was my birthday a couple of
weeks ago and I was given a lot of spring flowers and my thoughts
were just with my son that day.
"I just wanted to take my yellow flowers down
to my local memorial and remember what our past soldiers have done
for us and what our present soldiers are doing for us and just
remember the wives, mums and girlfriends and also the people of
Flowers for our Forces hope the idea will help
people understand what families are going through as the war
British Troops play football with locals
Soldiers find time to practice their swing
My son is fighting out there at the moment. He's a medic attached to
the Royal Scots. His last letter said that they were moving up and
all callsigns were turning towards Baghdad. I've told him to keep
his spirits up and his head down....................We're proud of
all the troops.
A message from Canada, I'm sorry our government has been incapable
of making the right decision, my thoughts are with you.
Call up for TA reservists
The TA is holding a major
The war in Iraq has led to compulsory
mobalisation of hundreds of reservists from the Territorial Army
(TA) in Scotland.
It is the first time it has happened since
the Suez crisis in the 1950s. The war has also led to a steady
increase in people wanting to join the forces.
More than 300 part-time soldiers from the
Territorial Army in Scotland have gone to war.
PEACE through STRENGTH. May God bless all of you.
"The liberty we prize is not America's gift to the world; it is
gift to humanity." President George W. Bush
Sharon in Baltimore, Maryland
4th April 2003
I am an American of Scottish heritage (through my mother's
family), a descendant of Scottish soldiers and settlers who came
to this country before the American Revolution and carved a home
for themselves through their hard work, determination and fighting
spirit. My Scottish ancestors have stood up and fought for what
they believed in for over 200 years both in this country and in
yours (I also have connections into the Highland Light Infantry
regiment from Glasgow). Currently, I have a cousin serving in the
British Army. At last we heard, he was in Kuwait. So you see, the
I am 100% behind both our
governments in their decision to take care of this problem in
Iraq. It seems like it is only the British and American
governments who have the guts to stand up and make a difficult
decision when circumstances call for it.
Thank you for once again standing
alongside of the American government and her army, as you have
done on so many occasions in the past. I am proud to be a
descendant of the best soldiers in the world. Keep yourselves
safe and know that this American is thanking you for your
contribution to the war.
Lois A. Kastner
Troops wait for Basra 'final push'
Troops are ready to take
Basra, said Colonel Riddell-Webster
The commander of the Black Watch battle
group has said he is ready to advance and capture Basra, but needs
the authority from the US High Command before he can proceed.
Lieutenant Colonel Michael Riddell-Webster,
42, speaking a few miles south of Iraq's second city, said the
final push would need at least a brigade.
The timing of a final attack, he said, would
depend on intelligence estimates about the level of resistance and
the progress made by US forces now on the outskirts of Baghdad.
"I personally think this battle group could
go and do Basra now," he said.
"But we are a small cog in a very large
military machine under US control.
"We also do not want another Stalingrad. The
overriding priority is to avoid unnecessary civilian deaths and a
street-by-street slogging match."
Reflecting on the Black Watch's part in the
campaign so far, Colonel Riddell-Webster said his personal
feelings were "a pot pourri" of excitement, exhilaration, sadness
"We have achieved all we expected and more,
but sadly, not without paying a price. One always hopes that will
not be the case, but it is war and casualties are inevitable.
"The high point was seizing control of the
town of al-Zubayr, sensing it was ripe to go and pushing in a
company to take it.
"The low point was the night we lost a good
man to a rocket propelled grenade ambush and then had a friendly
fire incident, which killed two more. I didn't think it could get
"You just have to take a deep breath and
crack on. There is nothing else you can do. When the tragic
reports came in, we were just about to launch an offensive raid.
In retrospect, that was probably a good thing.
"None of us has done this before. Events are
now proving that the old adage of war consisting of 99% waiting
around and 1% high octane experience is right on the ball."
The colonel will have been 20 years with the
regiment in five day's time.
Originally from Coupar, Angus, he is married
with two children.
This is an extract from a pooled despatch
by Ian Bruce of The Herald
Tornado F3 fighters refuel from an RAF
Chirac apologises over war graves
JACQUES Chirac extended a diplomatic olive branch to Britain yesterday
with a letter of apology to the Queen.
The French president expressed regret over the
desecration of a British war cemetery on the Channel coast and
insisted the French had not forgotten the debt they owed British
soldiers who died liberating their country.
In a letter to the Queen, Mr Chirac described
the scrawling of anti-war graffiti on monuments at a first world
war cemetery in Etaples, near Calais, as "inadmissible and
Vandals spraypainted anti-war slogans and
insults against Tony Blair and President George Bush at the
cemetery. It contains the remains of 11,000 British and other
allied soldiers. The graffiti was discovered by British tourists.
Mr Chirac also said French people's thoughts
were with British soldiers currently fighting in Iraq. "From the
French people and from me personally, I offer you my deepest
regrets," he wrote.
Mr Blair's official spokesman said: "We
unreservedly welcome both the content and the sentiment of
President Chirac's letter and the sentiments towards our troops
serving in action at the moment and that his thoughts and the
thoughts of the people of France are with those soldiers."
The letter marks a concerted attempt by France
to heal the diplomatic rift with Britain and America over the war
in Iraq. Mr Chirac does not want the issue to ruin France's
relationship with the US or the UK.
From The Herald Newspaper 4th April
617 Squadron - the famous "Dambusters"
- celebrate the sixtieth anniversary of their formation
To all the UK, Australian, and US Forces in Iraq:
I want to send a personal note of Thanks to all of you for the
job you're doing in keeping freedom "free."
I served in the US Forces in Great
Britain during the 60's and 70's and I feel a great kinship with
Being of Scotch-Irish descent, I
value your support of US Forces in Iraq, and pray for each and
everyone of you to be able to return home safely to your loved
God Bless You All,
Smyrna, Tennessee, USA
I am an American and I want to thank the Scots who are
fighting in Irag. Thanks for standing by us and may God
bring you home safely. Yvette Serafini , Pennsylvania,
Being an American of Scottish decent I would like to say
Thank You to all the brave Scotsmen and British who are
fighting with Americans for freedom for an oppressed
You are all in our thoughts and
prayers and may you all get back home safely to your
families. May God Bless each and everyone of you.
From TN USA
A Fijian member of 1st
Battalion The Black Watch with some of the children of Al
I am an American who is from Scottish and British decent.
But even if I weren't I would be so proud of all of you.
You are in my prayers and thoughts night and day. This
war is a war for freedom. Freedom for others. Your
selflessness and courage shines throughout the world. What
you are doing is an inspiration to all people everywhere
who thrust after freedom. God Bless each and every one of
you. May God keep you safe and return you home soon to all
those who love and cherish you.
Belinda in Georgia, U.S.A.
Im a Scottish-American, and a former US Marine. The
training I received at the hands of the Royal Marines
served me well in Viet Nam, so Im confident youre all
capable of doing a great job and Im proud of all of you.
To all the Scots, Brits, Australian, and American forces,
Bless em all and Semper Fi.
I am a descendant of the McEwens from Dundee. In 1679,
the McEwens joined with others in an uprising against the
oppressions of their time. I am proud of my heritage now
more than ever before. You are willing to go to war, not
to fight for your freedom, but for the freedom of a people
who cannot fight for themselves. May the Lord hold each
one of you in His arms and return you safely to your
families soon. The Lord promised in Micah 4 that one day
all weapons of war will be done away with and His people
will live in total peace. May that day come to us soon.
A Royal Australian Navy Sea
King passes over HMS Sandown on patrol
As a Canadian, proud of his Scottish heritage, I am
greatly disappointed in the Canadian government's
position not to support coalition forces in Iraq. Like
many thousands of Canadians who believe our government
made a tremendous mistake, I send my family's prayers
and best wishes to all the troops involved in the Iraqi
theatre of war. May God rid this world of tyranny and
bless you all in the process.
Donald Ross Halbert
Lac du Bonnet, Manitoba
It is with regret that my government has decided not to
support the allied forces in the gulf. However being a
Douglas / Munro I am following with great interest and
pride the activities of the Scottish, and Australian
forces. The Scots actions at Basra swelled me with pride
when the got between the civilians and the enemy.
To any Kiwis fighting with the British , Aussies and
Kia Kaha Kia Kaha Kia Kaha
Fight with Mana.
Desert Rats at Basra
British Medics in Basra
To all the armed forces of the Australian, UK. and US.
I am an Aussie of Scot/Eng. ancestry, who is proud of
our boys and girls who are in Iraq, trying to free the
people of that country from a dictatorial government.
These oppressed people need our help and love to
overcome many obstacles. God Bless our armed forces and
bring them all safely home. May we all cherish the
freedom that we take for granted.
UK troops storm Basra
Marines of 40 Commando
advance into the city
Hundreds of British tanks and
armoured personnel carriers are pouring into the
southern Iraqi city of Basra.
The 7th Armoured Brigade, the
Desert Rats, have stormed the city with several thousand
troops in an attempt to take it over and secure it.
Three units, the Royal Scots
Dragoon Guards, Royal Fusiliers and the Black Watch,
have advanced into the city, meeting only "isolated
pockets" of resistance, correspondents say. The airport
has also been secured.
The dramatic push follows days of
caution while the mood of Iraq's second biggest city and
its defences were assessed.
There is no words that can express how proud I am that
the U.S. and British troops are standing together. I
am an American but my Dad was a Hay, born in Scotland.
My heart burst with love and pride to see the Black
Watch standing tall for the freedom of others. No one
knows better than a Scot, what it means to have your
freedom taken away. My heart and prayers are with all
and may God guide and protect you and bring you home
safely. Jewell; Michigan; USA
I'm a Canadian of Scottish descent - I believe with
all my heart that if our Prime Minister was also of
Scots descent rather than French, we would be in the
thick! Chretien's French blood does not do him, or
our country, proud at this important juncture in
history. The majority of Canadians (75% of Canadians
outside of Quebec, and in Alberta the numbers seem
to be far higher - those who do NOT support the
Coalition are beginning to take cover under their
respective rocks) favours supporting the US and
Britain in this conflict. The US has been our
friend,our ally, our defender and our big brother
for almost two hundred years. The British Empire is
at the root, the very heart of our country, our
culture, and has been always our guiding light. Of
course there have been many and myriad influences
since our humble beginnings, and all these
influences have their place in our society. But as a
country, we must always remember our foundation and
honour that. Canada was originally French and
British. Chretien does no honour to his French roots
when he cowers ~ he only emphasizes to the world
that this is the way of the French - to play ostrich
until it is time for someone to rescue them. This is
NOT the way of Canadians ~ we stand on guard. I'm
certainly not ashamed to be a Canadian, but I AM
ashamed of the cowardly actions of our PM and his
government, and very embarrassed by and for them. I
am offering my apologies and my utter and complete
backing to the Coalition forces and all who support
them, on behalf of the many, MANY Canadians who did
not (or wish they did not) vote for our current
government, and for the many more who do not agree
with their position. Chretien is retiring soon (not
soon enough!), and will be leaving a very
unfortunate and short-sighted legacy for himself -
that of a coward and a fair-weather friend to his
friends and allies. Whether he chooses to believe
this or not is irrelevant ~ he WILL be remembered
this way. I, among many, many others will actively
campaign against any diplomatic posting/UN
ambassadorship that he may covet. Cowards should not
Personally, I have
nothing against the French or French-Canadians as a
whole, but they must realize that on the world
stage, they are being perceived as cowards because
of their actions (inactions) of the entire 20th
century, and if they don't wish for the world to
continue to have this perception, then they are the
only ones who can change it. Step up to the plate,
France and Quebec. Don't scurry, whine and hide.
Stand up for what is right ~ don't allow terrorists
& despots to exist ~ ZERO TOLERANCE. Stand up for
freedom ~ whatever happened to "Liberte, Egalite,
Fraternite"? You had the right idea 200 years ago ~
what sucked the water out of your knees?? You led
the way, and then fizzled...........come on, you
have more staying power than that, don't you?? Don't
depend on the rest of the world to rescue you ~
there may come a day when that is no longer
possible. And to all those Quebecois separatists ~
be careful what you wish for. There may come a day
when you wish you had the West as your defenders
when some foreign invader comes knockin' at your
door ~ you certainly won't be able to count on
France ~ they've shown that they are not the best
baby-sitter. After 200 & some years, though, why do
you need a baby-sitter? Can you not be a part of
Canada as an adult, & not an extension of France? We
gave up Britain as our ruling country a LONG TIME
AGO (that is why we can honour her traditions
without rancour) ~ join us in the 21st century. Join
us in the fight against terrorism & injustice. Join
us in trying to make the world a better place. If
you choose, however, to let terrorism, anarchy,
bigotry, injustice, hatred, poverty, disease,
tyranny, and hunger continue, then do nothing ~
that's all it takes ~ your goal will be
accomplished. That one's easy. It's easy because one
doesn't have to DO anything. If no one makes any
effort to make things better, then the above is what
we end up with. Choose to make this world a better
place ~ it will only benefit our children and our
A PROUD CANADIAN &
'Large parts' of Basra under UK control
Challenger 2 tank and regular Basra traffic
British forces can move
freely through 'the majority' of Iraq's second city
Basra after a major assault by thousands of troops,
military commanders have said.
By Sunday evening, most of the
city, with the exception of the old town, was
understood to be in British hands - although
sporadic fighting was ongoing.
Major General Peter Wall told
the BBC there was still some "small pockets" of
resistance, and "renegade elements" could well stage
counter-attacks throughout Sunday night.
BBC correspondent Nicholas
Witchell, at coalition headquarters in Qatar, said
officials believed the operation was a great
They told him Basra had
"tipped" past the critical point and they were
"nearly" in control.
"They feel they can finish off
the job in the next few days," he said.
Three British soldiers died
during the battle for Basra, the Ministry of Defence
Among them was Fusilier Kelan
John Turrington, 18, of the Royal Regiment of
Fusiliers. The other two have not yet been named.
Our prayers and deep thanks are with and for all
the coalition defence forces in Iraq, they are
brave and doing a job that has to be done - please
finish off the terrible ruling regime in Iraq and
set the Iraqis free.
Greta and Danielle
Once again, British and American soldiers fight
shoulder to shoulder in the name of freedom. The
uniforms may be different but the blood running
through their veins is the same. I am especially
proud of the fine Scotsmen from both sides of the
ocean and my prayers are that they may all return
to their families safely. Blessings Gayla Meade
Ark Royal pays a final
Service at Brize Norton Airforce Base
I am so proud of the courageous men and women
fighting in Iraq, especially those with whom I
share my Scottish and American heritage. May
God bless and keep each one, and may peace and
stability soon come to Iraq and the whole
region. To the families and friends of those
who have sacrificed their lives in defence of
freedom, my sincerest sympathy, and I pray that
God will give them comfort and support as they
bear their grief. There's nothing profound in
this message of mine, but what the troops are
doing in Iraq is profound -- changing the course
of history by confronting evil, even though so
many others have been critical of the effort.
"What is right is not always popular, and what
is popular is not always right." Thank God that
President Bush, Prime Ministers Blair and
Howard, and the other leaders of Coalition
nations have the vision and courage to do what
(Mrs Alan Wildberger)
British head for Basra's heart
civilians were happy to see the troops
entering the city
are pushing in large numbers towards the centre
of Basra's "old city" in an attempt to tighten
their grip on the area.
This follows a major
assault within the city overnight during which
three British soldiers died.
Defence Secretary Geoff
Hoon said the UK troops in Basra had achieved a
"tremendous amount" and were "there to stay".
Meanwhile, a British Army
spokesman has said Iraq's southern commander Ali
Hassan al-Majid - known as Chemical Ali - has
been found dead in Basra. The reports have not
Members of the Third
Parachute Regiment are heading in large numbers
for the old city, according to a British Army
BBC correspondent Ben
Brown, travelling with 3 Para, says that
"minimal" resistance has been encountered so
The narrow streets in
Basra's old city may present a major challenge
to British forces, with the possibility of
heavier Iraqi resistance.
The BBC's Hilary Andersson
said: "They will be storming the old city on
"It is in the old city,
which is an area of narrow alleyways, it is
thought by British forces that most of the
remaining Iraqi fighters are holding out."
A presidential palace in
the city had been seized by Royal Marines with
little resistance, said the BBC's David Bowden.
Mr Hoon said he was
"enormously proud" of the British troops in
"They have moved into the
heart of the city. They are now in Basra to
stay. They have done a fantastic job." he said.
Iraqi commander Ali Hassan
al-Majid - who is Saddam Hussein's cousin - is
reported to have been killed in an air raid on
Basra two nights ago.
He ordered a poison gas
attack which killed thousands of Kurds in 1988.
Hilary Andersson said that
if he was confirmed dead, it might leave
resistance in Basra "incoherent".
One of the British
casualties to die in Basra was named as Fusilier
Kelan John Turrington, 18, of the Royal Regiment
The other two fatalities
will not be named until their families are
British troops, with 95
tanks and 80 Warrior armoured vehicles, are in
the south, west and north of Basra.
A British Army spokesman
said that "scores" of lightly-armoured vehicles
had begun to progress towards the old city.
Group Captain Al Lockwood,
British forces spokesman, said the narrow
streets of the old city made it difficult to
enter using tanks.
But he said that residents
were helping by pointing out where militants
party headquarters was among Sunday's
He said: "There's just
this one area we need to clear out and then
Basra will be liberated."
He said that the British
advance into Basra had been met with
"jubilation" from Iraqi civilians.
Colonel Chris Vernon, said
British forces have pushed to the Shatt-al-Arab
- the city's main waterway.
He said it could take up
to four days for troops to gain "strict control"
He told BBC News: "It will
take three or four days before we can firmly say
we have both territorial and indeed strict
control of Basra."
President thanks Scottish forces HAMISH MACDONELL
GEORGE Bush delivered an
unprecedented message of support to Scottish
service personnel fighting in Iraq yesterday.
In a signed letter sent to The Scotsman from
the White House, the president of the United
States said he and his country were "deeply
grateful" for their contribution to the
liberation of Iraq.
The message was timed to coincide with
yesterdays annual Tartan Day celebration in
New York, with parades, marching bands and
parties designed to mark Scottish-US
This is the second time Mr Bush has given such
public backing to Tartan Day, but he broke
from convention to deliberately refer to the
war in Iraq and to the efforts being made by
Scottish members of the armed forces.
The Black Watch infantry regiment, the Royal
Scots Dragoon Guards tank regiment and 45
Commando, the Royal Marines, have played key
roles in securing the area around Basra, while
RAF squadrons 617, 11 and 12 from Lossiemouth
and Leuchars have flown daily sorties against
Mr Bush said he wanted to send greetings to
all those celebrating Tartan Day and to
recognise the crucial role that Scottish
immigrants had in shaping US society.
"Among the most important of these
contributions have been efforts to establish
and uphold the cause of freedom," he said,
citing the influence the Declaration of
Arbroath had on the US Declaration of
Independence. "This legacy continues today, as
the United States joins with a broad coalition
of nations to advance freedom and defend the
peace of the world. We are deeply grateful for
the contributions of the many brave Scottish
men and women who are fighting in this noble
Tartan Day, established in 1998, takes place
every year on 6 April - the day in 1320 that
the Declaration of Arbroath was signed.
Bagpipes play as Black Watch takes Basra GETHIN
CHAMBERLAIN with the Black Watch in Basra
(from the Scotsman)
THE Iraqis were hiding
in a bunker at the side of the road when the
tanks first spotted them. There were four of
them, waiting at a crossroads in the Al Hadi
area of Basra, slotting another
rocket-propelled grenade into their launcher
to fire at the advancing British troops.
The request to engage came over the
commanding officers radio. A moments
pause, and then the reply crackled back:
"You are now clear to engage the bunker with
four men with HESH and co-ax."
High explosive shells and chain gun - thats
what the jargon meant, and nothing could
stand in their way. Inside the bunker, the
militia had only a few seconds left. The
sound of a dull explosion rolled across the
city. Over the radio, the Challenger crew
reported the kill. "The target was engaged
and the job was done."
On the other side of the bridge over the
Shatt al-Basra canal, Lieutenant William
Colquhoun had unpacked his bagpipes and sat
on the turret of his Warrior waiting for the
order to advance. As the sun attempted to
poke through smoke rolling lazily across
desolate marshland stretching away on either
side of the bridge, wading birds were
picking their way among the long grasses.
As he began to play, the sound of Scotland
the Brave drifted across the bridge towards
the city, competing with the clatter of
rotor blades as four Cobra helicopters raced
in to join the attack.
At the controls of his Cobra, Major Steve
Hall, a US marines pilot, was looking for
more targets to hit when he felt the first
bullets rip into the fuselage. A round
embedded itself in the nose cone, inches
from where co-pilot First Lieutenant Dale
Behm was peering through his sights. Another
smashed the targeting device ahead of him,
more tore through the rotors and the gear
The cockpit was on fire, but there was
nowhere safe to land. People he could not
see were firing at him from the windows of
the houses in the shanty town below.
Spotting a British Challenger tank on the
ground near the bridge, he inched the Cobra
down. In the sky above, his wingman had
spotted the muzzle flashes and wheeled round
to exact revenge. His chain gun rattled and
the gunmen on the ground fell silent.
All along the western edge of the city, more
dramas were being played out. The early
fighting was fierce, rocket-propelled
grenades and small arms fire coming from all
directions. But as the Black Watch pushed on
into the heart of Basra, the resistance
began to crumble. People started to come out
on to the streets to point out the places
where the Fedayeen militia were hiding.
With the defenders in retreat, Lieutenant
Colonel Mike Riddell-Websters men pushed
on. In the headquarters of the 7th Armoured
Brigade, Brigadier Graham Binns realised it
was time to commit everything he had to the
What had started as another tentative raid
to test out the resolve of the Iraqi
defenders had become a headlong rush to
capture the city, each unit vying with the
next to capture more and more targets.
Objectives which had earlier been thought
unachievable fell, one by one.
As a hot and howling gale tore through the
city, the battle for Basra was finally under
Over the radios, the Black Watch battle
group was reporting success after success as
they pushed over Bridge 3 and on into the
industrial north of Iraqs second city.
In the thick of the action, Lt Col
Riddell-Webster was directing the fighting.
Egypt squadron and B company were racing
towards the military compound which was
intended to be their prime objective for the
day, south-west of the Al Jubaylah area of
the city near the docks on the Shatt al
Arab, the waterway leading down to the
Under constant attack from RPGs and small
arms fire, they reported gunmen firing from
behind a group of 40 civilians beside the
road. The roadside was mined, they warned,
Before the off, the CO had told them they
were going in to test the water. If it was
cold, they were going to stay on. If it was
hot, they were getting out of there. If it
was just right, they were going to wallow
around for a while.
As the Challengers and Warriors sped along
the roads into the city, they decided the
reception they were receiving was just
right. The CO decided they would stay on to
wallow around a while.
Over the radio came the COs voice; there
was no Tam OShanter and red hackle perched
on his head this time. Helmet and body
armour was now the order of the day.
Resistance was heavy but they were five
kilometres inside the city already, the
furthest they had pushed into Basra so far.
He ordered up more units from across the
bridge. On the other side of the canal, Lt
Colquhoun put away his bagpipes and prepared
Across the swing bridge, they rolled, the
sky over the city still quite dark, on past
burnt-out vehicles sitting awkwardly by the
side of the road.
The forward units were reporting RPG attacks
all along the way into the city. From the
direction of Bridge 4, the large concrete
span which had provided the original
bridgehead into the city when they first
arrived, came the sound of explosions,
British mortars opening up on those firing
back from within the city limits.
A Challenger reported tanks destroyed - a
T59 and a T55. "Weve engaged and destroyed
another T55," said the disembodied voice.
The other units took heart from their
success, but there was much more to be done.
There was a lot of civilian activity, they
said: "Were taking a lot of small arms
Others had pushed on past the residential
area to the west, on past the rundown shanty
town alongside the road towards the
north-east, past a sports complex they
reported to be deserted. They identified a
Red Crescent facility, ensured the battle
group knew where it was, moved on.
From the city centre came the thump of more
explosions. Warriors were disgorging their
troops outside the shanty town, the Black
Watch infantry advancing into the warren of
"Weve engaged a section-strength unit. They
have gone back into the shanty town," they
Engineers arrived to clear the mined section
of the road, declaring the right hand side
safe. Tanks used their chain guns to blast
more mines out of the way. There were more
reports of civilian activity in the shanty
town, more reports of positions engaged and
From a junction halfway along the route to
the first military compound came reports of
incoming mortar fire, a unit under attack.
And then the radio crackled again and the
mortar base had been spotted, a blue Land
A tank fired a round of high explosive at
the vehicle, and it disintegrated but
another mortar was still firing, somewhere
to the south, out of the battle groups area
of interest. Its position was passed on to
the Scots Dragoon Guards and, moments later,
there came the crash of British mortar
rounds leaving their tubes, and the Iraqi
mortar was no longer firing.
After days spent clearing up the nearby town
of Az Zubayr and driving out the militia,
the Black Watch soldiers were relishing
their return to Basra and the chance to
engage an enemy they had on the run.
The sun had climbed higher in the sky and
now four Cobras appeared, swooping low
looking for targets to hit, 200ft above the
"Four Cobras on station - they are going to
sweep our station and our objective and then
we are going to lose to and two will stay
on," a voice on the radio said.
And another voice: "Were still taking small
arms fire, weve identified the base plate."
Further back, B company had crossed the
bridge, past the giant electricity pylons
dominating the approach, past burnt-out and
overturned cars and mounds of rubbish,
following the road running along side the
triple oil pipeline, part of it ablaze.
Warrior vehicles stood by the roadside, more
smashed vehicles lined the route.
But there were still hazards to be
negotiated. Be on the lookout for more
mines, they were warned. "Some mines have
been cleared and there is a route through
but be careful as you go through," a voice
There were still some mines intact on the
left hand side of the road and the advancing
columns were struggling to get through.
The COs voice came over the radio. "Given
the congestion on the route, are you able to
push forward?" he asked the units which had
been holding the forward positions.
A Challenger reported another T55 hit, more
units were advancing. Still unaware of the
scale of the success, the soldiers on the
ground wondered whether the Brigadier had
decided the time was right to take the city.
Then came the news that the Cobra was down.
"Hit by direct fire, well possibly have to
go forward to rescue the pilot," said the
voice of the battalion commander over the
"One Cobra has just landed on the road, its
now blocking the road. A Cobra is attempting
to put down on the road. Hes stopped bang
in the middle."
The COs voice chipped in: "Were going to
have to get it shifted." He called for a low
loader to be brought forward to move the
The Cobra pilot had closed down the engine,
the rotors coming to a halt. A tank moved
forward to offer it protection as a crowd of
civilians began to gather and another Cobra
sat on the road, rotors still turning, while
another circled overhead.
At the target compound, Egypt squadron and B
company were reporting that the enemy had
fled but the CO was not for stopping. He
ordered his units to push on towards the
Baath party headquarters marked on their
maps and to destroy them. The battlegroup
moved forwards again.
By 9am, the Iraqis were on the run,
resistance falling away. "We've just cleared
the building on the far side of the
compound," Egypt company reported. The
soldiers were out of their vehicles but
there was little opposition. They were
setting up base there, but the CO already
had his eyes on the dockyards.
Other units were also advancing across the
city, reports coming in from all sides of
victories and resistance falling away. New
targets were selected, units given grid
references for Baath party headquarters,
military installations, Fedayeen buildings -
all identified as targets.
On the Basra side of the Cobra, a crowd of
more than 500 people had gathered. Some of
those at the front were carrying cans of
petrol, but whether to use it to attack the
troops or simply to scavenge fuel was not
clear. "What have you got to contain the
situation?" the CO asked.
Tanks, Warriors, engineer vehicles, he was
told. The troops fired shots over the heads
of the crowd and most ran away.
In the north of the city, Egypt squadron had
reached the Baath party headquarters near
the docks and the railway terminal where in
previous days tanks had been brought in to
the city to shore up the defences, but the
tanks were being picked off one by one as
the Challengers found them.
By 10am, the route into the north of the
city was secure and more units were rolling
forwards. The CO was talking about going for
the headquarters buildings to test out the
From the south of the city came news that
the Scots Dragoon Guards were on the move,
trying to secure their own sector. The Royal
Tank Regiment was moving up behind the Black
Watch, waiting to push on forwards.
The whole operation to take the city was
being brought forward. There was still some
resistance - one tank had to fire its chain
gun at another to remove a determined
cluster of Iraqi defenders swarming over it
- but it was being pushed inexorably
On the road into the city Major Hall was
surveying the damage to his Cobra. "We were
doing armed reconnaissance for your guys
because they had been taking machine gun
fire and grenades, and then we got shot," he
"You couldnt see anyone shooting. There
were plenty of people walking the streets
but someone was in a building shooting at
"You cant go in shooting at the bad guys
with all the good guys around. I think they
were just punters with guns who happened to
have a good day.
"Its a shame because there were a lot of
people down there waving at us." He was
probably travelling at 130 knots when the
bullets hit. "They nearly got my co-pilot,
there are shots in my blades, but it kept
flying well. The tail rotor was blown almost
in two but it stayed together and we had a
fire in the cockpit," added the major.
"The first thing that went through my mind
was Where are the Challengers?. I didn't
want to land anywhere else."
It was six or seven minutes before Major
Hall could put the Cobra down. He said: "We
were very lucky, the good Lord smiled on us
By 11am, the advance had pushed far into the
city, the companies pushing into the north
and south. D company had taken out the Baath
party headquarters near the docks and were
moving south towards the Mar al Khandao
canal. A huge swathe of the city was now in
The Royal Regiment of Tanks was pushing
further through to help clear the central
area and in the south the Scots Dragoon
Guards were sweeping through their section
of the city.
Columns of vehicles were pouring into the
city, clusters of people by the roadside
waving at them as they passed by. Children
waved and gave the thumbs-up, women carrying
buckets back from the filthy, stinking water
at the edge of the city stopped and waved.
Donkey carts and people pushing barrows
passed in the opposite direction, their
owners waving. The columns swept past the
wreckage of a burnt-out T55 tank, past
abandoned sandbagged bunkers. Everywhere
people were waving and carrying white flags
emblazoned with a blue emblem.
In the captured compound, there was a chance
to rest, amid the wrecked buildings and
abandoned sentry posts. The smell of sulphur
lingered in the air.
And on and on it went, the battle raging
across the city from dawn till dusk, the
radios relaying news of each new advance,
tanks pursuing the enemy into the areas they
still held, engaging them, destroying them.
Iraqi civilians were beginning to believe
that it was finally happening, that the big
push that had been promised for days had
finally arrived. The militia were fighting
on, but the city was falling. Basra was
falling into British hands at last.
From Jim Blair
This is just a
small note to say how proud I am of all
the soldiers from our country fighting for
the cause of freedom. I hope that they all
come home safely, and for those who don't,
my deepest sympathy to them and their
Baghdad falls to US forces
are trying to topple a vast statue
of Saddam Hussein
The government of
Saddam Hussein has lost control over
Baghdad, with the advance of US forces
into the centre of the capital.
US tanks drove
unhindered into public squares on the
eastern bank of the Tigris for the first
time, including the area surrounding the
Palestine hotel, where the international
media are based.
As word spread,
people began congregating in the square in
front of the hotel.
The largely calm
crowd is trying to pull down a huge statue
of Saddam Hussein with a rope and a
The BBC's Paul Wood,
at the Palestine hotel, says there is only
around 500 metres of the city still
nominally under the regime's control.
US Central Command
has "added Baghdad to the list of places
the regime does not have control",
spokesman Vincent Brooks told reporters at
the daily Central Command briefing.
Among the buildings
seized by US marines were the headquarters
of the security police, Reuters news
US marine Sergeant
David Sutherland, speaking to BBC News
from the square in front of the Palestine
hotel, said that gunfire could be heard on
a half hourly basis coming from the
northern part of the city.
Central Command has
emphasised that some Iraqis may still be
prepared to fight to stop the US advance.
There has been no
sign of the officials who have until now
dealt with the media on a daily basis.
says that all those in authority appear to
have fled, leaving a potentially dangerous
The day began with
cheering Iraqis greeting marines arriving
in the Shia stronghold of Saddam City.
However, Paul Wood
says that the response in the central area
is more cautious - where the affluent
population fears the arrival of looters.
entertain the children
British Troops pose outside palace
I have lived almost half of my life in
Israel. My wife is Israeli and our
daughters were born and raised in
Israel. Indeed my eldest daughter is now
serving in the IDF. I too am no stranger
to a tour of duty on the west bank and
I have no
wish to prompt a discussion on the
Israeli / Palestinian conflict, a
complex affair to say the least.
however, like to make clear my
appreciation, admiration and absolute
pride in the Scottish soldiers now
serving with typical distinction in
Black ( proud Scot in exile. )
As a Scot and Canadian Citizen, I was
very disappointed in our Prime
Minister not to support America,
Britain and Australia. To all the
Men and Women who are in Iraq, doing a
great job in the support of Freedom, I
would like them to know, there are
millions of Canadians who support you.
you and God Bless.
As Operation Iraqi Freedom unfolded
and I saw the deployment of UK forces;
I suspected that there had to be Scots
in there somewhere. Later I learned
that my expectation was true. Where
would the UK be today if not for the
Scots and Irish who took on the most
dangerous missions. And more
importantly where would the U.S. be
today if not for this same fighting
breed? In the war for American
independence there were Scots on both
sides of the battlefield. The Scot
and Irish blood has driven America
through every conflict of war, through
every achievement of social,
economical, educational, and
industrial development. Those of us
who realize this, are most thankful.
We are proud of those who were willing
to stand by us in this unpopular
task. And though the media may give
much fanfare and focus to US troops
advancing and liberating Bagdad, Mosul
and Tikrit, we know that those
advances would not have been possible
had it not been for the bravery and
expertise of the forces that held
Basra in check, eliminated the enemy
in Basra, and restored order and
relief to the residents of Basra. My
sincere thanks to the people of
Scotland and Ireland for the
participation of their sons and
daughters. May God bless and protect
them and return them safely to their
Cogadh no Sith
Taken from the Mail on Sunday - April 20th 2003 - by
WITH THE 1ST BATTALION ROYAL IRISH REGIMENT IN AL AMARA
THE Prince of Wales has written a
moving personal letter to Lieutenant-Colonel Tim Collins, the British
commander whose historic eve-of-battle speech to British troops has made
him a household name.
The letter, sent from Charless
Highland retreat of Birkhall, described the oration as stirring,
civilised and humane, and congratulated the colonel on the highest
traditions of military leadership.
It arrived on Good Friday to the joy
of the colonels men, the 1st Battalion Royal Irish Regiment, who fought
their way farther north than any British troops and are now peacekeeping
on the Iran-Iraq border.
Colonel Collins said: I was
delighted to receive such a personal letter from our future King. I have
shared it with the men because I believe his sentiments were meant for all
of us. I hope he does not mind me disclosing its contents. I think it
reminds us how in touch he is with public life and his genuine concern for
the people of Iraq who have suffered so much.
The colonel won worldwide acclaim
for the speech he delivered to his 800-strong battalion as they prepared
to cross the breach into Iraq a month ago. His belief that we go to
liberate not to conquer and his order If you are ferocious in battle
remember to be magnanimous in victory galvanised public opinion in
Britain and America.
As much a plea for compassion as it
was a battle cry, the oration was unplanned and delivered without notes by
the 42-year-old Belfast economics graduate.
At the time, the colonel said he
felt that his men, although willing to fight, were troubled by the
political and moral doubts which beset much of Britain. As their leader,
he wished to share his own conviction in the democratic and humane
rectitude of the conflict.
Although his letter of
congratulations from the Prince is unprecedented, it is not, perhaps,
surprising. For Charles, a former Naval officer and commander-in-chief of
many regiments, is a staunch defender of British military tradition. Like
the Presbyterian colonel, whose tone was biblical in parts, he is deeply
religious and prays daily. Finally, both men share a fascination for the
Muslim religion and Eastern culture, which they believe enrich rather than
threaten the Christian West.
In his speech, the colonel made it
clear to the men of the Royal Irish, which includes a company of Gurkhas
as well as soldiers from nations as diverse as Fiji, South Africa and
Australia, that Saddam and his Baath Party were the enemy, not Iraq and
As such, he said, the troops should
respect the culture and antiquity of the Gulf state once it was under
Most poignantly, the father of five,
while preparing his own battalion for death in their ranks, also demanded
they treat fallen enemy soldiers with dignity and bury them in marked
He told his troops: The enemy
should be in no doubt that we are his nemesis and that we are bringing
about his rightful destruction. There
are many regional commanders who have stains
on their souls and they are stoking the fires of hell for Saddam. He and
his forces will be destroyed by this coalition for what they have done. As
they die, they will know their deeds have brought them to this place. Show
them no pity.
It is a big step to take another
human life. It is not to be done lightly. I know of men who have taken
life needlessly in other conflicts, I can assure you they live with the
mark of Cain upon them. If you harm the regiment or its history by over
enthusiasm in killing or in cowardice, know it is your family who will
suffer. You will be shunned unless your conduct is of the highest, for
your deeds will follow you down through history. We will bring shame on
neither our uniform or our nation.
Iraq is steeped in history. It is
the site of the Garden of Eden, of the Great Flood and the birthplace of
Abraham. Tread lightly there. You will see things that no man could pay to
see and you will have to go a long way to find a more decent, generous and
upright people than the Iraqis. Dont treat them as refugees for they are
in their own country. Their children in years to come will know that the
light of liberation in their lives was brought by you.
We will not fly our flags in their
country. We are entering Iraq to free a people and the only flag which
will be flown in that ancient land is their own.
Charless response to his stirring
words, which in Britain have been described as Churchillian and in
America likened to the Gettysburg Address, arrived on cream-coloured paper
bearing the green crest of Birkhall. It begins and ends in the
distinctive, scrawling handwriting of the Prince, and bears his trademark
underlining of words he wishes to emphasise.
Dear Colonel Collins,
The other day my attention was drawn to the address you
made to your Battalion before the conflict to unseat Saddam Hussein began
and I asked to see as much of the transcript as possible. For what it is
worth I just wanted you to know how profoundly moved I was and I know
many others were too in your extraordinarily stirring, civilised and
humane words. What you said somehow encapsulated, in a brilliantly
inspired way, everything that we have come to expect of our Armed Forces
and demonstrated why, quite simply, they are the best in the world. But
what was so moving, and so deeply heartening, if I may say so, was that
you totally understood the nature of Iraq and her people and the need,
above all, for respect if the peace is to be won.
Fri 18 Apr
soldiers win support from States
By SAM HALSTEAD
A SMALL United States community
has rallied behind Scots troops in Iraq by dispatching messages of
solidarity to Edinburgh.
The Royal British Legion Scotland headquarters in the city yesterday
received more than 100 unexpected notes of support from residents of
Shelby in Michigan, 25 miles north of Detroit.
The short letters have amazed the RBLS, which now hopes to send them
to the 2000 Scottish troops based around the southern city of Basra.
The messages were sent after a Shelby woman launched a campaign to
boost support for the Scots.
Neil Griffiths, spokesman for the RBLS, said he was delighted with
the notes, which he said showed the level of respect for Scottish
The British forces, especially the Scots, are famous in the US. The
Black Watch, who have been heavily involved in the action in Iraq,
have a very high profile in America.
Pipers from the regiment played at the funeral of John F Kennedy in
1963 and President Johnson practically begged Prime Minister Harold
Wilson to send Scottish troops to fight in Vietnam, which of course
he wouldnt do.
They have had extraordinary support. The letters say how proud they
are of the British forces and, in particular, the Scots for fighting
alongside the United States. The letters accurately reflect the
respect and affection for Scottish troops. The messages of support
were organised by Shelby resident Christine Dearlove, a retired
dental office worker, who was touched by the courage of the Scottish
The 59-year-old said she fell in love with Scotland while visiting
the country in the 1980s when she also struck up a friendship with a
retired RAF pilot in Musselburgh, corresponding with him regularly
until his death in 2000.
Speaking from Shelby, Mrs Dearlove paid tribute to the Scottish
troops serving in war-torn Iraq. We have been so impressed.
Everyone has embraced the Scots and want to know whats going on.
Everyone wanted to write something.
Mrs Dearlove said plans were already under way to send another raft
of letters to the Royal British Legion Scotland: I collected more
than 100 messages in less than a week. I have a great fondness for
Scotland. The hospitality is wonderful and you cant help but fall
in love with the country. It is glorious in every season.
She said she sent the letters to the Royal British Legion Scotland
as she believed the organisation would know where to send them to in
Iraq. The short notes which feature the US Stars and Stripes flag,
were written by a range of Shelby residents.
One letter from Roy Figureski, 55, said: I am a Vietnam veteran and
I believe in what you are doing for your country and the entire
world. Return safely.
Another letter came from Rachel Lauderdale, a high school student,
who wrote: Thank you so much for what you are doing for our
country. Everyone here really respects what you are doing. You are
always on our minds, always. Your courage amazes me, I dont know if
I could ever do what you do everyday. Most of all, Godspeed.
And a six-year-old boy called Joey, wrote simply: God bless you,
A spokeswoman for the Army said: We are delighted the support for
the Scottish soldiers has extended across the Atlantic. It is a
real morale-booster and I am sure all the lads will be grateful for
the letters. It is good to know that the people realise how
important is the work they are doing.
They are doing a great job and we hope theyre home soon safe and
She said there were around 2000 Scottish troops in Iraq at the
moment made up of 800 soldiers from the 1st Battalion The Black
Watch, and a similar number from The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards.
The remainder were from the Scottish Territorial Army, she added.
A spokeswoman for the US Consulate General in Edinburgh said: It
sounds terrific and shows how the UK and US have worked closely
together in this conflict.
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