Archive for the ‘Army’ Tag

Fathers And War

My father only spoke once about his experiences in the second world war, It was while we were watching a very large factory fire and he admonished someone for remarking it was like the Blitz. What we do know about his time fighting in Italy comes from his brothers and family friends. My father was determined to do his bit for the country and enlisted before his sixteenth birthday. During the course of the war he was part of the Italy campaign and travelled by troop ship to Naples, crossed the country, headed north and advanced on Florence.

While fighting a particularly bloody engagement he was shot in the head and left for dead on the battle field. A padre was administering to the dead when he realised my father was still alive. The stretcher bearers took him to the casualty centre and he was eventually sent home to recover. The injury used to cause very severe pains and migraines and sometimes my brother and I were set out of the house or confined to our bedroom while he waited for the agony to ease. Fortunately the injury slowly healed and the attacks grew less frequent.

However, this was not the whole of the story, while serving in the regular army he was loading incendiary shells when one exploded. The phosphorous stuck to his legs and caused major burns which left huge scars that looked like rotting raw meat, it also effected the blood circulation to his legs and caused him much trouble in later life. Those of us born after 1945 have no comprehension of how a major war changes society or the impact of so many deaths and injuries. We watch solders returning from Afghanistan and Iraq and think of the impact on them and their families, but it does not directly touch us. Its been suggested its time to stop all the remembrance ceremonies and lay the world wars to rest. For sake of the sacrifices my father like so many others made, willingly, we must never forget.


Waiting in the NHS Line

Lance Corporal Johnson Beharry, who was awarded the Victoria Cross has said it was disgraceful that some veterans struggled to get treatment. He also said the army provided serving personnel with “first-class” treatment but ex-soldiers were forced to wait on the NHS.

Welcome to the real world. Mental health services are underfunded and poorly provided in many parts of the country. Whatever the cause of the problem we should all get equal access. Military personal choose to do a job that they know will put them at risk. It takes courage to go into action and we all owe them a great debt. But treatment must be based on clinical priority not employment history.

If there is a problem, its with the MOD not the NHS. The MOD should ensure services are in place to support ex-service personnel. The NHS has a very difficult job, balancing resources against totally uncontrollable demand it does not need Lance Corporal Johnson Beharry to make things worst.