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My Grandfather was a soldier in WW1, he lost three brothers in that war.  he was in the great battles of 1917 and 1918 as a sapper and a machine gunner. He was captured by the Germans in the Kaiser Schlacht offensive in 1918 and was forced to labour as a miner.  After the war my Grandad served in India and Afghanistan. combating the contemporary version of the Mujahideen.   His men would sleep with their rifles strapped to their legs because the local Afghan  Pathans prized the Lee Enfleid Rifle above all else.  Any soldier who allowed his rifle to get stolen would get the shit kicked out of him.  

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During the 20's the Irish had a civil war finally resulting in the formation of the republic. Many men in my Grandfather's regiment were Irish or Anglo-Irish, himself included.  

   During the civil war Irish regiments were often stationed in places like India to keep them out of the way of the sectarian war at home. Some could not understand why they were subjugating  brown men for the British Empire whilst their compatriots in Ireland were being killed by Scottish and English regiments.  However, these men boldly took matters into their own hands and arrested their English officers as a protest of British policy in Ireland. The mutiny lasted for a while.  Finally the episode was drawn to a conclusion when the Republic was formed. All the ringleaders were kicked out of the army.  My Grandfather than found work at a collliery in Newcastle as an explosives expert. He became an active union organizer and took part in the General Strike of 1926.   he was arrested in the middle of the night and warned by Special Branch that the Army would pursue charges and lock him away.   So he backed off.   He had kids and settled down to live in London as a building engineer.

In 1939 he rejoined the British Army and took part in Dunkirk, then he defused bombs in London during the Blitz. He returned to France with Overlord and served as a Royal Engineer from Normandy to Arnhem and onto Germany. even after the foul treatment he recieved he still came back to do his bit.

He was was subjected to the most savage discipline and dirty tricks a democracy can hand out to a dissenting soldier. In spite of threats he stood up for himself while active as a soldier. Later on as a father he found himself with less options.  I wish more American and British soldiers had the same guts to defy illegal and abusive orders.  If soldiers defy illegality while they can, their nation may still be worth protecting in the future.

Originally posted to Salo on Mon Apr 10, 2006 at 10:15 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  It's not just soldiers; (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Kira April

    our country is deeply informed by the contradiction between majority rule and civil disobedience.  What happens when we feel the majority is wrong?  At best, we hope that history vindicates our decisions, but there's really no way of knowing.  

    It's a difficult world out there, after all.  I wish the Right would at least acknowledge that, once in a while.

    Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

    by pico on Mon Apr 10, 2006 at 10:58:23 PM PDT

  •  Great Story (0+ / 0-)

    The U.S. also has a much richer history of GI resistance than most people realize.

    "Tell no lies. Claim no easy victories" -- Amilcar Cabral

    by Christopher Day on Tue Apr 11, 2006 at 04:22:03 AM PDT

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