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Old 17th May 2020, 09:18
  #14 (permalink)  
Join Date: May 2011
Location: Hampshire
Age: 73
Posts: 798
Originally Posted by VP959 View Post
Surely part of the problem, without wishing in any way to be critical, is what we can reasonably expect from soldiers that often come from a background where they've had minimal education and may not always be the brightest. Years ago, when my wife was having a break from nursing, she spent some time doing an admin job at a local army barracks. Much of her work was dealing with courts martial admin, and she'd come home from work amazed as some of the insanely stupid things that soldiers had got up to. At the time, I was sharing an office with a REME Lt Col, and I mentioned this to him. His reply was that we needed to remember where the army recruited many soldiers from, the sink estates across the country. He also remarked that the army invested a great deal of time and money in teaching basic literacy to new recruits, as often they hadn't really had much in the way of education before joining up.

Was it reasonable, all those years ago, to put soldiers into a non-combat situation, where they were still going to come under fire, and be at risk from bombs and booby traps, and then expect there to be no errors of judgment? I don't think it was at all. I doubt that any soldier serving in NI deliberately chose to kill innocent civilians, but, given the large number of attacks upon them it seems inevitable that errors of judgement will have been made. I suspect that there may well have been a fair amount of covering up going on, too, but suspect that most of that may well have been soldiers covering up for their mates in what I'd imagine was a bloody difficult deployment.
Again, I have to take issue with your comments here. I had the pleasure of serving with a company of the South Wales Borderers. I learned first hand of the literacy levels of some of the soldiers and they were mixed. As for their coming from sink estates, that also was not true. A great proportion of them came from rural areas of Warwickshire, Herefordshire and (believe it or not!) South Wales. Whether or not from sink estates, the average British soldier is very disciplined and one lesson they carry with them from sink estate upbringing is "Do as you are told". The average Private would not think about opening fire unless he could see either he was in grave danger of being shot himself or he had orders to open fire. Of course, there will be the exception to the rule but they are dealt with and punished.
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