Tag Archives: RAF

Why I support ‘Free Marine A’.

marine, army, Afghanistan, Iraq, This morning, suited and booted, I will be joining the ranks of the masses commuting into London.

This in itself, is hardly a big deal. After all, there are millions of people who do the same thing every single day but for me, it’s a very rare occasion. Normally, I avoid the rush hour like the proverbial plague.

Today however, isn’t a normal day. It’s actually a very special day. For at 11.30, a large group of military veterans led by a sizeable contingent of former Royal Marines, will gather in Parliament Square in a silent show of support for Sergeant Al Blackman who is currently serving a life sentence for the murder of a Taliban insurgent. And I will be one of them.

Don’t get me wrong, Sgt Blackman served in a very different military from the one I did. His career as a member of one of the worlds elite military fighting units involved front line combat in Northern Ireland, Iraq and Afghanistan amongst other places. Mine, as a ground engineer in the Royal Air Force, generally involved avoiding work where possible and trying to squeeze as much money as possible from the RAF Motorsports Association.

However, we have one thing in common: we wore a British military uniform and whilst the colour of our beret’s was, and is, vastly different, it gives us a common bond. Which is why, like all the veterans in attendance tomorrow as well as the many thousands who cannot make it, I will be doing my utmost to show my disgust at the fact that a brave man languishes in prison simply because he was hung out to dry by the very people who were, and are, supposed to protect him.

So if you’re in London todayand you see anyone wearing anything which marks them out as ex-military, you know where they’re either going or have been.

I know they would appreciate your support.

If you would like to know more about the background to the case of Marine A, please read this article by the author Frederick Forsyth.  

@dougiebrimson


football, comedy, humour, rivals, derby, soccer, premier league, championship, manchester united, chelsea, liverpoolMy numerous books including the football comedy Wings of a Sparrow and the #1 thrillers,The Crew and Top Dog are available from both Amazon and iTunes.  

Please click on the relevant link for more information.

Why this photo haunts my writing life. 

Harrier, author, writing, football, filmOn Dec 31st 1975, a week short of my 17th birthday, I left the confines of my happy, if chaotic, family home and headed off for an adventure. Or to put it another way, I headed off to begin my basic training in the Royal Air Force.

I have written about my time in the military many times and no doubt, will do so again as I become more and more involved in all things veteran. However, the more I think back to those days, the more I have one very specific regret; I never kept a diary. As a consequence, I’ve forgotten far more than I can remember.

Take the photo at the top of this blog. Yes, that fresh faced lad on the left is me, standing alongside a gentleman (and I use that term loosely) named Pete Cutler. It was taken in approximately 1980/81 and the fact that we were on deployment with the Harrier Force and flying out of a forest somewhere in Germany are about the only details I can remember with any degree of accuracy.

On the face of it, that would be enough. It is after all, a relatively simple picture. However, that single photograph serves as a portal into a unique world that very few people ever got to experience. I’m not talking about being at the sharp end of the West’s response to the threat posed by the Soviet Union or the fact that we were working with what was possibly the greatest military aircraft of all time. I’m taking about what went on when the flying stopped and we were free to relax. And when I say relax, I mean get up to mischief.  

Indeed, it’s safe to say that were I ever to write my autobiography, life out in the field with 4 Squadron RAF (and Mister Cutler for that matter) provided that young fresh faced lad on the left with enough anecdotes to fill more than a chapter or two.

Blagging a flight in the rear seat of a T2 Harrier, living in an abandoned Nazi Hospital, swearing at Fergie (the Princess, not the manager), waking up in a lake (literally), encounters with the SAS, getting shot at and even late night visits to live sex shows are amongst numerous tales I have rattling around my head from those days but sadly, thanks to the obligatory intake of vast amounts of duty-free alcohol coupled with the passing of far too many years, the details of most are at best sketchy and at worst, vague. Yet had I kept even a simple diary, all of this history and more would be at my fingertips ready to be transcribed.

The fact that I didn’t is one of my greatest regrets and not just as a writer or even as a veteran, but as someone who has lived and enjoyed their life. Then again, if I were able to put it all on paper, it’s fairly safe to say that it would be quite a read!

So please, whoever you are and whatever you do, keep a diary, even a basic one. And urge your kids to do the same. You never know when it might come in handy.

@dougiebrimson

football, comedy, humour, rivals, derby, soccer, premier league, championship, manchester united, chelsea, liverpoolMy numerous books including the football comedy Wings of a Sparrow and the #1 thrillers,The Crew and Top Dog are available from both Amazon and iTunes.  

Please click on the relevant link for more information.

 

Shorten the Remembrance Day Service? Yes please!

veterans, remembrance sunday, cenotaph, military, armed forces, london, poppyIt’s been announced today that at the request of Buckingham Palace, the Remembrance Day parade at the Cenotaph in London is to be shortened.

Not surprisingly, many people are assuming that this has been done to take a pop at Mr. Corbyn and the left-wing with others claiming it’s being done to avoid any kind of ‘scene’ on the day. There are even some allegations flying around that it’s yet another attack on both the veteran community and the armed forces by a government who seems hell-bent on running our military into the ground.

All of this is, to be frank, bollocks.

As someone who actually takes part in that parade as a member of the Falklands Veterans element, I can tell you that this decision isn’t just welcome, it’s long overdue.

Many of the men and women will be marching on Nov 8 are of seriously advancing years and whilst all of them are not only honoured to be taking part but will often have been looking forward to it all year, doing so is actually physically demanding. Remember, we don’t just stand in Whitehall and march past the memorial as part of the service, we have to gather in Horse Guards for an hour beforehand and that means a long time on our feet. And whilst we all do it willingly, believe me when I say that even for me with my dodgy back, it’s tough. Goodness only knows what it’s like for someone in their 80’s who has dodgy joints and so whoever made the decision to trim it down to make it easier for the old boys to pay their respects to their comrades in the most hallowed of places should be applauded.

Remembrance Sunday is about one thing and one thing only. It’s not the politicians, the nation, the commonwealth or even the Royal Family. It’s not even about the men and women who will march on the day. It’s about the men and woman whose names are engraved on memorials or headstones the world over. Because lest we forget, they and their memory are the most important participants of all.

For those who gave their tomorrows, wear your poppy with pride.

@dougiebrimson


football, comedy, humour, rivals, derby, soccer, premier league, championship, manchester united, chelsea, liverpoolMy numerous books including the football comedy Wings of a Sparrow and the #1 thrillers,The Crew and Top Dog are available from both Amazon and iTunes.  

Please click on the relevant link for more information.

This Band of Brothers…

argentina, falklands war, thatcher, royal airforce, nimrod, vulcan, harrierToday is the 6th of June. A date which in the history of the world, will forever hold a special significance. For it is of course, the anniversary of the D-Day landings, and I hope you don’t need me to tell you what that means.

For me, such days are memorable for all kinds of reasons. Remembering the fallen is obviously the most important but not far behind is the joy I get from seeing those glorious old men and women who, bedecked in their berets, blazers and medals, are placed firmly centre stage and looked upon with the awe, reverence and respect they so richly deserve.

Heroes is too small a word.

Now as some of you may know, I served in the military. For over 18 years in fact. And although I played a minor role in the Falklands War, went through Gulf War One and have marched past the Cenotaph with the Falklands Vets more times than I care to remember, I have never really considered myself to be a ‘proper’ veteran. At least not in the sense that I have always regarded those who are quite rightly filling our newspapers and TV screens this morning.

However, (and I won’t go into it all now but if you want to know more, click here) this last week, for the very first time in the 18 years since I last wore a uniform, I have actually started to feel like one of them. A member of that special Band of Brothers we hear talked about so often.  And ironically, I have Mister Stanley Collymore to thank for that.

veteranFor as a result of the disrespect he has shown, and continues to show, to the 255 men whose boots he isn’t fit to even glance upon, he has awakened an army which has come together to gain not just respect, but justice but for our fallen comrades.

And believe me when I tell you that we will not rest until they get it. A simple truth Talksport, media organisations, elected officials and Talksport advertisers will already be acutely aware of.

Yes, I said ‘our’ and I said ‘we’. Because the truth is that I am finally not only happy, but proud to count myself amongst their number.

Tally ho chaps!

falklands, veteran, war, soldier, sailor, airman, RAF, Navy, racism, social media, twitter, Facebook, football, soccer,

This Band of Brothers…

argentina, falklands war, thatcher, royal airforce, nimrod, vulcan, harrierToday is the 6th of June. A date which in the history of the world, will forever hold a special significance. For it is of course, the anniversary of the D-Day landings, and I hope you don’t need me to tell you what that means.

For me, such days are memorable for all kinds of reasons. Remembering the fallen is obviously the most important but not far behind is the joy I get from seeing those glorious old men and women who, bedecked in their berets, blazers and medals, are placed firmly centre stage and looked upon with the awe, reverence and respect they so richly deserve.

Heroes is too small a word.

Now as some of you may know, I served in the military. For over 18 years in fact. And although I played a minor role in the Falklands War, went through Gulf War One and have marched past the Cenotaph with the Falklands Vets more times than I care to remember, I have never really considered myself to be a ‘proper’ veteran. At least not in the sense that I have always regarded those who are quite rightly filling our newspapers and TV screens this morning.

However, (and I won’t go into it all now but if you want to know more, click here) this last week, for the very first time in the 18 years since I last wore a uniform, I have actually started to feel like one of them. A member of that special Band of Brothers we hear talked about so often.  And ironically, I have Mister Stanley Collymore to thank for that.

veteranFor as a result of the disrespect he has shown, and continues to show, to the 255 men whose boots he isn’t fit to even glance upon, he has awakened an army which has come together to gain not just respect, but justice but for our fallen comrades.

And believe me when I tell you that we will not rest until they get it. A simple truth Talksport, media organisations, elected officials and Talksport advertisers will already be acutely aware of.

Yes, I said ‘our’ and I said ‘we’. Because the truth is that I am finally not only happy, but proud to count myself amongst their number.

Tally ho chaps!

falklands, veteran, war, soldier, sailor, airman, RAF, Navy, racism, social media, twitter, Facebook, football, soccer,

The Great Game

I am one of that lucky breed of individuals who has ended up doing a job, if you can call it that, which just happens to revolve around their all-consuming passion. As a result of this good fortune, what I do occasionally rules my life 24/7 to the point that if I’m not working by necessity, I’m doing by choice.

Thankfully, my son has also become infected with this passion and no doubt, as the years pass by, the two of us will continue to enjoy our shared obsession not just because we’re father and son, but because…well, because we’re blokes. And as we grow older, we’ll talk about the good old days and how things were much better back … er, now, and moan about how it all went wrong. Which of course, it surely will. Because the thing of which I speak is of course, the glorious, but all too often disappointing game that is football. And if you follow football, as anyone who watch the pathetic efforts of our nations supposedly finest players in South Africa will be acutely aware, the chances are that you’re going to spend a good portion of your supporting life feeling depressed.

To be honest, I guess that’s where the main attraction lies for me. I am after all, a natural pessimist and so it stands to reason that football is my ideal sport. After all, if you go to a game expecting to be disappointed, anything else is a serious bonus!

But the other benefit the great game provides is that the pre-match pub has replaced the traditional campfire as the place where stories and legends are both told and heard. And who can deny the pure unadulterated joy which comes from hearing about someone else’s misfortune or the simple thrill of trying to work out if someone is lying through their teeth or not.

The problem of course, is that every so often, you are expected to contribute. And tragically, I have one of those footballing stories that tread the fine line between bizarre and bull. A story that I still have difficulty believing even though I was the central figure. In short, I once saved a penalty taken by my own team in a game that we lost. Confused? Oh, it gets worse than that. Much worse.

You see during my time in the RAF, I was the manager of our Squadron football team. A team, who I have to admit, were rubbish. The sad thing was, I was also a member of the defence and as we were leaking goals at a frightening rate, I eventually got to the point where I dropped myself.

Anyway, come one particular match, against the side who were top of the table, we all turned up as normal but due to circumstances beyond their control, the opposing side only had ten players arrive. However, as they were superior to us in every aspect of their play, they were quite happy to play us with ten men, which, if nothing else, was pretty demeaning for our lot.

Of course, the inevitable happened and just before half time, in the only attack we had managed to mount during the previous forty minutes, their keeper got seriously hurt and was carried off. They were now down to nine men and it looked like the game would have to be abandoned, at which point, sensing at least a point for my lads, I offered to go in goal for them promising faithfully that I would, of course, be totally impartial!

Following various warnings from their captain and bearing in mind that we had only threatened their goal once in the first half, they reluctantly accepted my offer and I took my place in goal against my own team! But such was the lack of skill exhibited from my own players (this gets confusing) I had nothing to do for the rest of the half and at the break, gave my own team a rousing pep-talk designed to get them playing well enough to score a goal against me.

However, as the second-half progressed, my own team remained pegged back in their (our) own half but the team I was in goal for still could not score. It had just began to look as though we (my real side) may well get that elusive point when suddenly, a hopeful punt from our defence  (and that’s our as in my own team) released our centre forward who came charging toward me followed by their defence (the team I was playing for) who clearly who had little faith in my saving their skin. As our striker entered the box with me firmly rooted to the line, they hacked him to the ground and the ref awarded a penalty.

This now meant that I was standing on the goal line, facing a penalty about to be taken by a player from my own side who could well end up securing their (our) first win of the season, and against the top of the table side. Their (their) whole side were now giving me dire warnings of what would happen if I didn’t at least make an effort to save it while my lot were shouting at me to let it in. Meantime, I was trying to let our centre forward know that I would go to my left by using exaggerated eye movements etc, and it seemed that judging by the wry smile on his face, he had got the message. As he ran up, I dived to my left and he, thinking that I had been telling him to put it to that side, put his shot exactly where I ended up with the result that the ball hit me and bounced back into open play.

 Such was the shock of my actually saving a penalty taken by my own side, that their (their) defenders won the ball, screamed up field and scored whilst my own team remained rooted firmly to the spot in total disbelief. Inevitably, as soon as the whistle blew, the repercussions began. And eventually, after a blazing row, I resigned my position as manager and never played for the team again.

 You see, I told you. Unbelievable.