The Betrayal

As a measure of the extent to which the world has been turned on its head since I was a young man, the title of this post probably sums it up. Barely a day goes by at the moment when I don’t despair at the gulf in my country between those who govern us and we who are governed.

For the first half of my working life, for 20 years, I served my Queen and country as a commissioned officer in the British armed forces. I served in the Royal Air Force’s embedded infantry Corps, the RAF Regiment. In the late 1970s and in the 1980s I completed what were known as ‘roulement’ tours of duty for 4 months at a time in Northern Ireland during ‘The Troubles’.

Securing communities during a civil war is probably one of, if not the most difficult of soldiering tasks. It’s virtually impossible to do anything right in the eyes of either of the warring parties. Patrolling is a challenge because you’ve no idea who is the enemy. All you know is that at any moment a peaceful urban or rural scene can explode into extreme violence; and explosions – literally – into extreme violence occurred frequently in those days.

Fast-forward to today. The British (Conservative) government is pursuing another retired soldier, an ex-Parachute Regiment SNCO, for attempted murder. Allegedly, in 1972, Sergeant O fired a round which caused flying debris which inflicted injuries on a citizen on the streets at the time. Sergeant O was decorated for bravery during the same tour of duty.

Meantime, under the Good Friday Agreement, suspected former terrorists were handed secret letters by the British (Labour) government granting them immunity from prosecution (since rescinded, it is believed, but there remains some doubt about the government’s ability now to mount successful prosecutions). Indeed, the late Martin McGuinness – the man who headed up the Irish Republican Army during its most murderous phase – became Northern Ireland’s Deputy Prime Minister without the slightest prospect of being investigated for his earlier career.

If prosecuting Sergeant O – one of many soldiers in the government’s firing line – isn’t gold-plated betrayal of those who risked their lives for the peace and security of the citizens of the United Kingdom, I don’t know what is. Both of the main political parties and, as usual it seems, their compliant political foot-soldiers, the political class, are guilty of an appalling desertion of their duty to the ‘Military Covenant’.

For some months I’ve been wondering how best to respond to this travesty but failed to identify what I thought might be an effective course of action, until now. Enter Colonel Tim Collins – he of the eve-of-battle speech (listen to it and see if you don’t weep) to his men in Kuwait before they crossed the Start Line during the Iraq War in 2003. I also served during the Gulf War of 1991 and, as it happens, the Falklands War in 1982. The purpose of this post is to share with my fellow servicemen (and women, of course) Colonel Collins’ proposed strategy for protesting against the political class’s betrayal of the British armed forces.

Action Plan

If you served in Northern Ireland either as a member of the armed forces or as a police officer, here’s what to do.

Write a letter to the addressees set out below. In your letter provide your name, rank and service number as it was during the time of your duty in Northern Ireland and the dates of your service in the country. Ask two questions in your letter: ‘Am I under investigation. If so, for what am I under investigation?’

Send your letter to: the Chief Constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland, Mr George Hamilton; the Home Secretary, Mr Sajid Javid; the Northern Ireland Secretary, Ms Karen Bradley; and the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland, Dr Michael Macguire.

Then, send a further copy of your letter to your Member of Parliament demanding that he/she pursues robustly a reply from each of the addressees of your letter; that is your right and your MP’s duty.

Here is a template of the letter proposed by Colonel Collins:


From: Mr/Ms J M Bloggs [Your name]

[Your Address]

See Distribution                                                                                                                          [Date]

[Handwrite Dear Sir/Madam]


I, [enter your full name and service number] served honourably in Northern Ireland in defence of my country, upholding the law, in the following periods:

[Dates from – to]

[Dates from – to]

[Dates from – to]

Am I under investigation by the Police Service of Northern Ireland? If so, please inform me of the details of the date, place and alleged offence(s) for which I am under investigation.

I have asked my MP to pursue robustly a reply from you to me on this matter.

Yours faithfully

[Your signature]


Chief Constable George Hamilton QPM
Headquarters PSNI
65 Knock Road

Rt Hon Kate Bradley MP
Secretary of State for Northern Ireland
Stormont House

Rt Hon Sajid Javid MP
Secretary of State for the Home Department
Home Office
Direct Communications Unit
2 Marsham Street

Dr Michael Maguire
Police Ombudsman’s Office
New Cathedral Buildings
Writers’ Square
11 Church Street

[Your MP’s Name]
Houses of Parliament
[Your MP’s email address]


Colonel Collins has pointed out that you could scan your letter and email it to each of the addressees which will save you the postage costs. Don’t forget to demand that your MP pursues this matter on your behalf. This means that you expect your MP to write to each of the addressees, demand a reply and share the replies with you. Colonel Collins also suggested that if you’re wary of using your home address, you could use the address of your Regimental Association (or Police Federation for police officers) for return correspondence.

I intend to do this – today. If you served your country during The Troubles in the armed forces or as a police officer, please would you do this too.


An acquaintance of mine, a local councillor politician contacted me about this post. He queried the wisdom of providing one’s name and service details to institutions in Northern Ireland. I replied by saying, first, it was of course Colonel Collins’ recommendation to take this course of action and I respect his proposal per se. Second, my personal view is that if we do nothing under these circumstances, the political class gets away with betraying the armed forces – and it won’t end. Third, if we’re cowed into not disclosing relevant service details then the protest becomes impossible or pointless. Fourth, I think one just has to have the guts to go public with one’s service details in a situation like this and calculate the risk of being taken out by the bad guys as a consequence.


An ex-military colleague of mine took a different view to my post above and emailed me accordingly. I asked permission to post my colleague’s views here, as follows:

The apparent unbalanced nature of the deal stands out like a blind cobbler’s thumbs, I agree. But it is an eternal truth of conflict that in every war in history, you end up sitting down with and living with your enemies. I am also deeply conscious that politicians, especially prime ministers, don’t get the easy decisions to take. A balance had to made by either Blair or Major between continuing the violence for the foreseeable future or making difficult concessions like this one. If this concession helped lay the basis for the IRA putting away their weapons, then I am not sure it was the wrong one. In any case, I may be wrong, but it is my understanding that the letters suggesting immunity for previous crimes have been rescinded. And I would agree that Martin McGuinness’s proper place is roasting in Hell and with any luck that is what he is doing. And I hope Jerry Adams joins him soon. But one cannot avoid the fact that they played an important part persuading their fellow murderers to give up violence.

Moreover, we in the Armed Forces were there to support the law. When all is said and done, the only thing that separates us from the terrorist is the rule of law. We are always answerable to the law and when we break it, we stoop to their level. Sgt O may feel  hard done by but he was there to uphold the law and knew it, or should have done, and if he broke it, he should not expect not to be answerable to it. I hammered this point into my Marines every day during [my Commando unit’s] tour in 1995. Abide by the law and I will stand by you. Break it and you’re on your own. Betrayal? A bit strong I’d say, and a bit too Daily Telegraph/Daily Mail/Sun for my liking.

Thank you for reading this post. Please click on any one or more of the social media buttons below to share the post if you agree with my sentiments. If you don’t agree with my sentiments, please comment and say so. If you’d like to follow me, please enter your details in the column on the right. Have a great day!




  1. Off topic, I know, but you really have to read this example of good old BBC impartiality – Trump in the tradition of Stalin and Mao:


    Liked by 1 person

    1. moraymint · ·

      The extent to which the so-called ‘Deep State’ (difficult to define, but one kind of knows when one is observing its apparent effects) is making its presence felt these days is quite significant. I really am not a conspiracy theorist. However, in the USA and in the UK in particular at the moment there do seem to be enormously powerful establishment, big business, political and media forces working to counter, delay and disrupt the popular movements characterised by Donald Trump and Brexit. All of these forces are unlikely to be being directed, organised and controlled by some kind of Dr No character, but they do seem to share some common values (elitism) and objectives (constrain/suffocate the peasants).

      I think the same may be happening elsewhere in the EU and in Scandinavia (think Italy, some of the Baltic states and Sweden, for example) and it makes me wonder where all this is heading?

      On the specific matter of the BBC’s views on Trump (and/or Brexit), I have largely given up on listening to, reading or watching any of the Corporation’s news output. I tend to draw my understanding of what’s going on in the world from a wide range of news and comment sources and then just dip into the BBC from time to time out of curiosity. Usually, I dwell in the BBC for a short time before my blood pressure requires me to withdraw rapidly.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Agree entirely, but comparing Trump to Stalin and Mao takes the biscuit. It’s also historically illiterate. The suggestion (from someone interviewed) that Trump supporters might shoot journalists is irresponsible in the extreme. I have submitted a complaint.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. moraymint · ·

          Good on you, sir!


        2. reallyoldbill · ·

          In my experience the BBC routinely ignores complaints with a dismissive and deeply patronising reply. The Corporation is one of many examples of institutions that project a veneer of public accountability (usually in order to justify public funding) whilst in reality being beyond anything but superficial scrutiny, effectively policing itself. I am not entirely sure when the “establishment” was so effectively infiltrated by left-leaning careerists, but my guess would be that it started in the 1960’s with the take-over of the higher educational system. There are very few university tutors who are to the right of the political spectrum, and even fewer who will openly admit to it if they are. Consequently leftish views go entirely unchallenged and students emerge with a majority accepting that only left wing views are acceptable. They then go into the “establishment” and slowly work their way into its heart. The results of that are now fairly plain to see.

          Speaking of infiltration, I am sure that I am not alone in being highly amused by the screeches of complaint by the likes of Anna Soubry and Nikki Morgan about the StandUp4Brexit strategy of encouraging Brexiteers to join the Conservative Party to better influence policy and take part in any leadership vote. Apparently only those sharing their “soft left” views are welcome in the party, and yet Soubry herself used to be a member of the SDLP so has been guilty of the very thing she now accuses others of doing. Personally, I can see an almighty clash on the horizon at the conference this year as a majority of members demand that the party repositions itself to the right of the spectrum where it traditionally used to live until the likes of Soubry, Morgan, Grieve and others dragged it on the left space vacated by New Labour. A recalibration of UK politics is long overdue in my opinion.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. tonydb21 · ·

            Sadly the clash did not happen.


  2. Julie Moore · ·

    Proud of you Moraymint … and all our soldiers then.. and now.. and in the future.. If only we knew what it was really like then… and now and how it will be in the future… Never doubt the respect we have for you all… Thank you……. Don’t let those bastards get to you…. Do what you must and know we support you

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Julie Moore · ·

    Proud of you Moraymint … Sad that you are being made to feel so upset with all this… Never doubt the real public support you (and our boys and girls) will always have… then… now and in the future…

    Liked by 1 person

  4. […] We re-publish this article with kind permission of the author. It was first published here. […]


  5. flyer · ·

    I’ve been reading about this, unbelievable stupidity or just plain nastiness, it’s hard to know what to say.

    I’ve had many friends that were in the army and spent a lot of time at sea with ex servicemen when I was young. Good blokes one and all and I enjoyed their company and trusted them for sometimes months at sea.

    The main problem with our armed forces, is the fact that they have to do the bidding of politicians in which I or anybody else now, have absolutely no trust or respect.

    In Northern Ireland and around the world, our armed forces were just doing a job that they didn’t ask for or necessarily agree with, they just had to get on with it. You can’t have armed conflict and not expect people to get hurt and mistakes do happen: inevitable.

    Just as I think our government, politicians, law enforcement etc can’t sink any lower, low and behold they do. Perhaps it’s time that in times of conflict, we put a rifle in their hands and sent them off to do their own dirty work, I’m sure they won’t like that, hopefully many of them won’t come back and they will not be missed.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Stuart Tyson · ·

    I was not personally a member of the armed forces.
    This does not alter my opinion of disgust at the treatment of service personnel now under investigation for alleged ‘crimes’.
    This is especially so in the case of supposed infractions of a historical nature. To consider reopening (or investigating for the first time) cases from 46 years ago is simply not going to provide a meaningful solution. The fact this case (of Seargent O) relates to Northern Ireland makes its outcome even more unlikely to provide any more truth simply because of the longstanding and continuing deeply held views around the original grievances.
    I hope support for Colonel Collins initiative is overwhelming from every former member of HM Armed Forces.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. moraymint · ·

      Thank you Stuart. I have been some getting great responses be email (the volume of those can be a bit overwhelming at times) and, as you’d expect, my military fraternity is on the warpath! I think it was a brilliant idea of Colonel Tim’s. To be fair, my MP, Douglas Ross, has already contacted me telling me that he intends to support me. They’re not all bad, of course, as well we know …

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Robert E Lee · ·

    This happened to me in 1983.
    Whilst I was never involved in a ‘shooting war,’ I had the misfortune to encounter injustice perpetrated by a senior officer against servicemen under my command. That state of affairs was instrumental in my taking precipitate action which had irrevocable consequences that resulted in me exercising my option to depart HM service at my 38 ‘option point’, thus earlier than I had originally planned to.

    The lead up involved me exercising what was described by my immediate superior (Wg Cdr) as the “nuclear option.” This I was willing to undertake, since I felt sufficently strongly about the matter under dispute to risk all. Having redressed the Stn Cdr and AMP (Air Member for Personnel) for their obtuseness and intransigence and not found satisfaction, I visted Mick Welsh, our Doncaster MP. I explained the situation and my greivance honestly and committed to accepting whatever decision was arrived at as a result of him tabling a Parliamentary question in the House for the then under- secretary of state for Defence, Jerry Wiggin MP.

    I believe it was less than a week between the PQ being tabled and my receiving a reply from the under-secretary that resolved my greivance to my entire satisfaction. The corollary being that I had signed my own career ‘death warrant.’ A price worth paying!

    The ex-servicemen currently being hounded should bring the maximum possible force to bear in support of their case. What is our Parliament for if it cannot protect its citizens?

    Liked by 3 people

    1. moraymint · ·

      Blimey, that took some doing! I had one or two occasions in my career where I had run-ins with senior officers. However, it never got to the stage of formal redress. I suppose you can at least live with your conscience on this one …

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Robert E Lee · ·

        My Wg Cdr was only a year older than me at 36 and had already had command of a Buccaneer Squadron. As a Navigator, that’s about as good as it gets. He was immensely supportive of my stance and he too exercised his 38 ‘point option.’ A far greater loss to the sevice than was I.
        He opined that my attitude and ability would have been “priceless” in wartime, but wasted in what was rapidly becoming a ‘pc’ peacetime service.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. moraymint · ·

          I probably know the Station Commander concerned, but best not declare here!


          1. Robert E Lee · ·

            Two of my students, Stu Peach and Simon Bryant were enobled as Air Chief Marshalls, a far more exhalted rank than he ever made. Remarkably, both were on the same ab-initio Nav’ course. They were a ‘handful.’———–Memorable times.

            Liked by 2 people

            1. moraymint · ·

              I was at Staff College with Simon Bryant. Good bloke …


          2. Robert E Lee · ·

            Two of my students, Stu Peach and Simon Bryant were enobled as Air Chief Marshalls, a far more exhalted rank than he ever made. Remarkably, both were on the same ab-initio Nav’ course. They were a ‘handful.’———–Memorable times.

            Regarding the way US ex-military are revered, I came across it first hand two years ago with a day trip around USS Midway, berthed at San Diego. I was asked if I was ex-service and I explained that indeed I was, but ex HM forces. I was congratulated, addressed as “sir” and given veteran’s rates for the day’s activities.

            Liked by 2 people

    2. meltemian · ·

      Sorry REL, ignore the down arrow, fat finger trouble!!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Jason · ·

    It is absolutely disgusting the way former servicemen are being pursued for basically doing what they were ordered to do (and risking court martial in the process if they disobeyed those orders).

    I have also experienced the US approach to servicemen, after regular service I spent a number of years in the reserves. My (US) employer, who had a former US Marine Colonel as the division head, he gave me as much time off (fully paid) as I needed way beyond the minimum that corporate policy provided for. His view was, someone needs to do this and we need to support them doing it, far different from my oppo’s experience with the British employers

    Liked by 2 people

    1. moraymint · ·

      Thanks Jason – and I’ve heard similar stories about reserve forces’ personnel myself …

      Liked by 1 person

  9. reallyoldbill · ·

    As someone else who spent his adult working life in uniform serving the Queen, and shed blood in the process, I applaud this post, MM. I was also going to quote Kipling to point out that disloyalty towards those who have served the state, often at risk of their personal safety and even life, at a time when their services are thought no longer in immediate need, is nothing new, but I see that drtimmorgan beat me to it. The line I was going to quote was:

    “It’s Tommy this an’ Tommy that
    and Tommy where’s yer soul?
    But it’s thin red line of ‘eroes
    when the drums begin to roll.”

    That was over 100 years ago, but I do think that two things have changed since Kipling’s day.

    Firstly, I think the public attitude towards service and ex-service personnel has changed, largely I believe due to the number of visibly wounded veterans from recent foreign campaigns who might not have survived in past conflicts and were therefore all but invisible; nothing brings home to people the true horror of war more than the sight of its victims in public view. The evidence for this new respect and affection is the sheer scale of support that is received from ordinary members of the public for veterans charities, although the fact that many of the projects they fund need charities is further evidence of government parsimony in this area. Quick to deploy, not so quick to support.

    Secondly, I cannot think of a time in our history when those who protected the state are treated worse by the state in respect of scrutiny and criminal investigation over historic allegations than those whom they protected the state against. That is, by any measure you care to use, perverse beyond belief. It is, however, yet one more depressing indication of the moral corruption that now seems to infest our political system and those who work within it. They need to be very careful over this: if the state chooses not to protect those who protect the state then it can only have one consequence in the longer term. Perhaps that is what they secretly want? After all, to judge by current political events, respect for the concept of the nation state seems vanishingly rare in our political class today.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. moraymint · ·

      Yes, the idea that there really is a global elitist movement towards eliminating nation states is not so far fetched. One only has to look at the likes of The Bilderberg Group, George Soros’s activities and the EU itself to find evidence of pressure to create a One World Arrangement. I know this sounds like conspiracy theory, but there’s a case for observing the maxim, if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it probably is a ….

      Liked by 1 person

      1. tonydb21 · ·

        Monnets blueprint is there to be read, he stated quite openly that the purpose of the Eu (and its original organisations) was to create a European superstate by stealth without the agreement of its citizens and to destroy national identity. Bilderberg is that idea expanded to a Global scale by the use of economic coercion. Soros has such a debatable past that he probably represents the idea of universal socialism but it is difficult to pin him down to any one set of values apart from his own self interest.


  10. I note that in the Daily Telegraph no comments are allowed. As a former Civil Servant, can I advise that it is best to all affected to write direct to your MP and ask them to write on your behalf to the Minister. Writing direct to the Minister means that the correspondence will be ‘treat officially that is a Civil Servant will reply directly and the Minister will not see the correspondence. There is also the risk that the letter will be regarded as ‘campaigning and treated accordingly. By writing to your MP, the Minister will have to see the correspondence and personally sign the reply to your MP thus having more effect. It is important to personalise the letter as much as possible.

    How a man can be investigated for injury or death caused by a ricochet is beyond me, but I suppose today’s government and officials would love to prosecute anyone who served in Burma who did not capture any Japanese but made sure that any visible Jap soldier was dead. The brutality of the Japanese to any captured or injured allied serviceman was unbelievable, and even when dead they tried to kill their enemy by holding explosives designed to kill. Terrorists deserve no sympathy or quarter as they are still the enemy whether wearing uniform or not.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. moraymint · ·

      Thanks jayengee; I shall consider amending slightly the post. Might be worth bearing in mind that in demanding that one’s MP pursues the matter robustly, the MP should (should) at least write to the Chief Constable of the PSNI to whom the letter is addressed primarily, and to the other addressees – that request of the MP is stated as such in the template letter as drafted – and expect (demand) a reply. Let me give a bit of thought to this and then I’ll decided whether to amend the post. Great comment, though; thanks again …

      PS I have indeed amended the post, jayengee.


  11. You are to be commended, MM, for making this stand and helping others to do the same.

    I strongly recommend Kipling’s poem “Tommy” from his book ‘Barrack-room ballads’.

    From memory:

    “And it’s “Tommy this!” and “Tommy that!”, and “kick ‘im out, the brute!”
    But it’s “thank you Mr Atkins”, when the guns begin to shoot”
    Yes it’s “‘ero of his country”, when the guns begin to shoot”


    1. moraymint · ·

      Thank you, Tim. The matter has been niggling me for ages. I was delighted when Colonel Collins came up with his peaceful, democratic proposal. Here’s the full poem ‘Tommy’ by the way: http://tinyurl.com/nbm683d


      1. Thanks for the link, to a poem which all your readers are likely to enjopy – Kipling so often hits the nail on the head.

        The Americans are very much better at this. They have the very best kit (everything from boots to bombers), are respected and looked after as veterans, and cannot (so far as I know) be prosecuted except in the most extreme circumstances.

        It wasn’t like that at the time of Vietnam – as a listen to Stevie Wonder’s “Front Line” (strongly recommended) reminds us – but they learned from that.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. moraymint · ·

          Yes, if/when an American discovers that I served in the armed forces, invariably they look me in the eye, extend their open hand and say, ‘Thank you for your service’. Usually, I fill up and am not quite sure what to say. It’s a British thing, I think …



“We do not believe any group of men adequate enough or wise enough to operate without scrutiny or without criticism. We know that the only way to avoid error is to detect it, that the only way to detect it is to be free to inquire. We know that in secrecy error undetected will flourish and subvert”. - J Robert Oppenheimer.

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