The Sandbag Times Issue No:28


The Veterans Magazine

The Veterans’ Magazine

Issue 28 | 27 July 2016

Andy McNab

Ex-SAS Legend Andy

McNab tells the SBT

how he became an

author after war

The Chilcott


After the Iraq inquiry, is this

what the public expected?

The SBT News

This week’s latest national

and international news

from the world of Veterans

and Armed Forces


Ken Brooks


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SBT News

4 Attempted abduction at

RAF Base

A member of the RAF fought

off an attempted abduction

by two armed men

4 Soldier dies in Brecon

A soldier has died during a

training march in Brecon

5 Nuclear Sub in collision

with merchant ship

A RN Submarine is in

Gibraltar undergoing repairs

after a collision accident

7 US Air Force Officer

found dead in hotel

An Anti ISIS Air force officer

has been found dead in a

hotel room in UAE


12 Andy McNab

The Best Selling author and

SAS Veteran gives us a

personal insight into his life

20 The Chilcot Report

We look at the Fallout from

the Iraq Inquiry


Northern Ireland & the Troubles Pt 2 Page 14

Veterans Breakfast Clubs Page 24


17 The Historical Tommy


HTA takes a look at the

Battle of Agincourt

22 Have Faith

This week: Perfection

37 SBT Information

A page dedicated to back

issues, information, book

reviews etc

39 Veterans Radio


What’s happening on your

favourite radio stations

41 Time for a NAAFI Break

Fun & Games on the final

pages. We are always

looking for new ideas and

competitions from you

Editor: Pablo Snow

Tel: 01905 570590

Email: 3 |

RAF Marham incident being treated

as 'attempted abduction'

Police in Norfolk have

confirmed they're treating an

incident at RAF Marham as

an "attempted abduction."

The victim, who is in his

20’s, was out jogging when

he was approached by two

men who threatened him

with a knife. It's believed

that one of the suspects

Soldier dies while training in Brecon

A soldier has died after

carrying out a training march

in Brecon, Wales. Cpl Josh

Hoole, 26, from Scotland

had just completed an army

routine training march when

he collapsed. An ambulance

was called shortly after 9am

but was unable to revive

him. Cpl Hoole was

attending pre-training

organised by his own

regiment in preparation for

the Platoon Sergeants Battle

Course (PSBC). The run,

which involved an 8 mile

route from Dering Lines, is a

standard training test carried

out by all infantry soldiers

yearly to assess their battle

fitness. Last Tuesday was

the hottest day of the year

although the run began at

7am to avoid the day’s

severe heat. It is understood

there was water stops on the

route and each soldier was

also carrying his own water

canteen. It is still unclear

how Josh died and an

investigation is still ongoing.

shouted at the serviceman

and tried to grab him, but he

managed fight him off. The

second man then

approached the victim but

on noticing his accomplice

on the ground went towards

him instead, at which point

the victim ran off. Read

more here

The death comes 3 years

after 3 SAS reservists died

on the infamous ‘Fan

Dance’. All three died of

heat related injuries. Since

then strict safety measures

have been put in place to

safeguard soldiers training in

Brecon. Read more here

Thieves steal stones from ‘Lee Rigby’


Thieves have stolen a dozen expensive paving flags from a

memorial for murdered soldier Lee Rigby. The old Yorkstone

slabs were taken from the cenotaph and surrounding gardens in

the Rhodes area of Middleton. The gardens are home to a

bronze drum and plaque to remember the 25-year-old Fusilier,

who was hacked to death on the street in Woolwich, London,

by terrorists. The theft was discovered by council gardener

Steven Morrow when he turned up for work at the Manchester

Old Road site onWednesday, July 13. Anyone with

information should contact police on 101 quoting incident

number 1484 of 13/07/16. Read more here

More care needed

for former soldiers

forgotten to society

An Iraq veteran who was

injured by a roadside bomb

in Basra has told how he

went from protecting the

Queen to sleeping on a park

bench after leaving the army.

Former Corporal Joe Walker,

who also served in Northern

Ireland and Afghanistan with

the Royal Highland

Fusiliers, spoke out as a

damning report into the

plight faced by combat

veterans when they return to

normal life is published by

the The Soldiers, Sailors and

Airmen's Families

Association (SAFFA). It has

also been reported that a

young veteran has gone days

without food. Nick

Underdown, 28, has been

unable to get a permanent

job, sleeps on friends' sofas

and has had to go days

without food. The charity

said that three quarters of

working age veterans suffer

from long-term physical or

mental health conditions,

while more than half do not

have enough money for

essential items. The study

also found that most are left

jobless when they return to

civilian life, while some

have faced homelessness,

and has called for greater

support from government

and the armed forces for its

veterans. One soldier has

told the Sandbag Times that

after serving 22 years all he

has to live on is his army

pension of less than £600 a

month plus a reduced

housing benefit of £200 a

month. After rent and

paying his monthly bills he

has very little left for food

and essential items. He is

not entitled to any benefits

as he is deemed to have

more than enough to live on

despite being incapacitated

with PTSD and a heart issue

leaving him unable to work.

Read the ITV report here

| 4


Doctor puts sick veteran on death ward

Doctors at one of the country's leading

hospitals condemned a veteran to die

on a notorious 'death pathway' after

they wrongly decided he could not be

saved. Great-grandfather Josef

Boberek was admitted to

Hammersmith Hospital in West

London with a chest infection, but died

days later after doctors incorrectly told

his family that he was at death's door

and deliberately withdrew his fluids

and normal medication. A report has

revealed that the pensioner would have

lived had he received proper treatment.

Read the full story here

WW2 Veteran, 100, refused Care Home

Brent Council have refused to give a 100-year-old Second World

War veteran a place in a care home on the basis that he does not fit

the criteria, despite him being virtually housebound. Fred Hodge

currently lives independently in a third floor flat in Kenton that has

no lift and six flights of stairs, that has caused Mr Hodge to become

housebound. He has a life threatening medical condition, a bleed

into the aorta, which is inoperable due to his age and state of health,

and has been in hospital approximately six times since December

2015. A Brent Council spokesperson said: "We are absolutely

committed in supporting Brent’s elderly to get the care that they

need and we have recently increased Mr Hodge’s care, following an

assessment. While we have found that Mr Hodge does not currently

require a place in a care home, we are clear that his current

accommodation is not suitable for his needs and are working with

his family to identify suitable alternatives although no option has

been ruled out at this moment. Read the full story here

RN Nuclear Sub in collision with Merchant Ship

One of Britain’s newest

Astute-class submarines

has docked at Gibraltar

after suffering a

“glancing collision” with

a merchant vessel, the

UK Royal Navy

announced, emphasizing

that the HMS Ambush

suffered “absolutely no

damage” to her nuclear

reactor. The incident

happened at around

1:30pm local time on

Wednesday, when HMS

Ambush was “submerged

and conducting a training

exercise off Gibraltar,”

the Royal Navy said in a

statement. The Astute

class nuclear submarine

suffered “some external

damage,” with the Royal

Navy reassuring the

public that “absolutely no

damage” had been

inflicted on its nuclear

reactor. The Navy also

added that no one

suffered in the incident,

but the submarine had

been forced to dock.

There are no safety

concerns associated with

HMS Ambush being

alongside,” the Royal

Navy stated. The vessel

ship that the submarine

collided with suffered no

damage, according to

initial assessment. An

investigation is now

underway. The 7,400 ton

and 97-meter-long

nuclear submarine is

equipped with torpedoes

and Tomahawk cruise

missiles. HMS Ambush

is the first Astute-class

and cost more than £1.1

billion ($1.46bn) to

build. On Wednesday

the Royal Navy also said

that it had been

participating in drills in

the Mediterranean aimed

at “honing antisubmarine


capability.” Read more

on the collision here

Veteran made to pay for stolen medals

A war veteran who risked his

life in service of his nation has

been told he will need to pay

to replace his stolen medals.

The 91-year-old vet, who

served in the Second World

War, earned France's highest

honour – the Legion d'Honneur

for bravery. But they were

taken from him last month

during a burglary. The former

solder had left his six medals

on a kitchen work surface at

around 12.15pm on June 22, in

preparation for a thorough

clean when he came home

from a shopping trip. But they

were missing when he arrived

back home, along with his

wallet. Police believe someone

had broken into the house in

Wootton Park, Bristol. But he

has been dealt a second blow,

after the Ministry of Defence

said it would not replace the

medals for free. The MoD said

replacements for lost medals

were provided "at cost",

together with an administrative

charge. Among the collection

taken was a bronze 3945 star, a

bronze France and Germany

star and a police long service

medal – all were engraved with

the veteran's name, the

regimental number 2666006

and 5th Battalion Coldstream

Guards. Read more here 5 |


Veteran Crew Arrive In Liverpool On Their Epic

Bid To Sail Around The UK Coast

A TEAM of veterans affected by military

operations have arrived in Liverpool for a

quick stop-off before continuing on their

challenge to sail 2,000 miles around the

British Isles, on the International Paint

sponsored Turn to Starboard Round Britain

Challenge. The voyage, which is also being

supported by The Endeavour Fund, began in

Falmouth earlier this month. The epic

journey is expected to last eight weeks, with

the team of 38 veterans having stopped at

ports across the country including Ipswich,

Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Glasgow and

Liverpool, where crowds have been

gathering to cheer the crew on. The team –

many with little or no sailing experience –

are circumnavigating Britain anti-clockwise

on board a 92-foot replica tall ship to help

participants re-engage, reintegrate and gain

new skills to help start new careers

across the world. Some of the

veterans will sail the complete

expedition whilst others will join for

shorter sections of the voyage. They

will be joined by two additional yachts

also crewed by ex-serviceman and

women to meet the unexpectedly high

number of applicants. As part of the

stop-off, the Turn to Starboard ship,

Spirit of Falmouth, is berthed outside

Merseyside Maritime Museum in celebration

of a brand new exhibition marking 250 years

of the Pilotage Service. The veteran team

will greet residents at the In Safe Hands: The

Story of the Liverpool Pilots exhibition and

play its part in telling the story of the

Liverpool pilots and their vital role in

navigating ships in and out of the Port. Turn

to Starboard was set up three years ago by

former RAF leader and CEO, Shaun Pascoe.

The charity has helped hundreds of military

personnel suffering with physical injuries or

mental trauma by providing RYA courses

and family sailing trips in a unique and

supportive environment. You can read more

on the journey here

Big Hearted Taxi Driver offers veterans

free cab rides.

After hearing about the

experiences of friends in the

armed forces, kind-hearted

Cabbie David Gibson was

determined to help veterans by

making sure we “don’t wait for

November to remember”.

That’s the idea behind David’s

new venture to give free taxi

rides to veterans across

Scotland. So far, he has helped

more than 200 veterans on more

than 100 journeys, adding up to

more than £5300 in free taxi

rides. Many veterans have posttraumatic

stress disorder (PTSD)

triggered by their military

service and can’t use public

transport as they fear crowds.

David, 45, from Glasgow, said:

“We aim to fight veteran

isolation, a mile at a time.

Fares4Free was born

accidentally. I spoke to some

friends about it and we figured

that starting a charity to do a bit

of good could work. “Some of

the guys I know have served or

are serving in the RAF, Army,

US Marine Corps and US Army.

They spoke about the problems

faced in particular by early

service leavers and about the

delayed effects of mental health

issues on some veterans. Read

more on this story here

The Chelsea Pensioners visit Help for

Heroes at Tedworth House

A group of six Chelsea

Pensioners and staff of the

Royal Hospital Chelsea have

visited a Personnel Recovery

Centre in Tidworth, Wiltshire.

Tedworth House, run by Help

for Heroes, provides support to

serving and veteran members

of the Armed Forces who have

been wounded, injured or

become sick. As part of the

visit, the Chelsea Pensioners

were taken around the complex

on a tour of the residential

facilities and the Phoenix

Centre, a state of the art fitness

centre which comprises of

multiple facilities including an

indoor ski simulator and

archery range, both of which

the Chelsea Pensioners were

given access to. Joining the

Chelsea Pensioners on the trip

was Lt Col Rupert Lucas, a

Captain of Invalids at the

Royal Hospital Chelsea, who

said: “The In-Pensioners really

love going to Tedworth House

as they feel it is very

worthwhile to engage with the

Wounded, Injured and Sick

Personnel who are there.”

Chelsea Pensioner Dennis

Muir, who has been to

Tedworth House on many

previous trips, said “I feel that

we are doing something really

positive by going to Tedworth,

meeting the young men and

women and making them

smile”. See more here

| 6


Anti ISIS Team US Air Forces

Officer found dead in hotel room

A U.S. Air Force lieutenant stationed in the United Arab Emirates was found dead in her room Monday

and authorities were investigating the cause of her death. An Air Force spokesperson identified the

woman as 1st Lt. Anais A. Tobar, 25, according to the Miami Herald. The Department of Defense told

the paper that Tobar was in the UAE supporting a U.S.-led operation against the Islamic State. Tobar

was assigned to the Fourth Maintenance Squadron, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in North Carolina.

According to the Air Force Times, the maintenance squadron is responsible for maintaining the

equipment for the largest F-15E Strike Eagle fighter wing in the Air Force. The squadron contains 600

personnel. She was in Abu Dhabi when she was found dead. Mercy McGee, a longtime family friend,

told the Miami Herald that six airmen told Tobar’s family on Monday of her passing. “There are not

enough words to tell you what a loving and wonderful girl she was,” McGee said. “She was God-fearing,

deeply devoted to serving others and her country.” Fourth Fighter Winger commander at Seymour

Johnson Air Force Base Col. Christopher Sage released a statement, offering his condolences to the

Tobar family. “The entire base joins me in sending our deepest sympathies to the Tobar family during

this period of bereavement,” he said. “The bonds that tie the Air Force family together are strong, both

down-range and at home station.“This tragedy affects us all; put your arm around those who are grieving,

both personally and professionally.”

India launches massive

search operation for missing

military plane

An Indian military plane with more than 20

people on board has gone missing over the

Bay of Bengal, the Indian air force (IAF) has

confirmed. The Antonov-32 transporter

aircraft took off from Chennai (Madras) at

08:30 local time (03:00 GMT) last Friday,

bound for Port Blair in the eastern archipelago

of Andaman and Nicobar. It was scheduled to

land at 11:30. Four aircraft, 12 ships and a

submarine have been deployed to search for

the plane, the ministry of defence said. The

IAF operates more than 100 Antonov-32

aircraft. Aircraft, warships and a submarine

are involved in the search. Read more here

Canadian Armed

Forces teams

complete the 2016

Nijmegen Marches

Today marks the end of the

100th annual International Four

Days Marches Nijmegen in the

Netherlands. This year, more

than 200 Canadian Armed

Forces (CAF) members from

across Canada and Formation

Europe participated in the

marching event, and were

awarded a special 100th

anniversary edition of the Four

Day Marches Cross. The CAF

contingent, led by Colonel

Kristiana Stevens for the second

year, marched 40 km a day for

four days, an effort culminating

in a five-kilometre victory

parade. The parade was

attended by thousands of

spectators who cheered the CAF

contingent in commemoration

of the Canadian soldiers who

liberated the Netherlands from

Nazi occupation during the

Second World War. Originally a

means by which the Dutch

infantry aimed to increase their

long-distance marching and

weight-carrying ability, the

Nijmegen Marches have

evolved into an international

four-day event that draws more

than 50 000 civilians from over

50 countries, in addition to

military participants, to

challenge their physical and

mental endurance. The CAF has

participated in the Marches

every year since 1952. Colonel

Kristiana Stevens, Commander

Joint Task Force Nijmegen said:

“I could not be any more

appreciative of the strength of

character that our Canadian

Armed Forces members

demonstrated once again this

year at the Nijmegen Marches.

They completed this wonderful

challenge together, and that is

only a small reflection of their

capacity for harmony and

teamwork.” 7 |

The Muslim woman who refused an arranged marriage to train with the SAS

When business woman Azi Ahmed, 39, fancied

a challenge, she applied for the army elite –

and ruffled a few military feathers along the

way. There I stood: wearing a black business

suit and heels, CV in one hand, briefcase in the

other. "I’ve come to sign up for the British

Army," I said, trying not to show my nerves.

The Colonel stepped forward; an intimidating

man in full military uniform, wearing the

sandy beret I now know belongs only to

members of the Special Air Service (SAS). He

took one look at me. "I think there has been a

mistake," he said. "No, sir, I was invited to

apply," my voice was respectful but

determined, the voice I used when talking to

my Muslim elders. My journey to being the

first Muslim woman to train with the SAS had

begun. I was the rebel of the family. The

youngest of four, I refused an arranged

marriage and studied the arts rather than

medicine or education. I possessed inner steel

and was always keen to try new things. I

blame my mother. A tiny Muslim lady who

was a force of nature. She arrived in the UK

Would you

like to get



News Special

from Pakistan in the late 1960s, unable to

read or write, but that didn’t stop her. When I

started school and got my first library card,

she got me to borrow Ladybird books and sat

down and taught herself English. She was

soon fully literate, running her own kebab

shop and turning over a healthy profit. I was

a fast learner too, and by 26 I had my own

internet company and had just completed a

Masters in Media Technology. But I was

restless and up for a physical challenge. My

friend mentioned her partner was in the

British Army Reserves. It was a light bulb

moment. My father was born in India, had

been in the British Indian Army and served

on the frontline. Although he rarely talked of

his days in service, an episode of Dad’s Army

would send him into fits of laughter and

make him swell with pride. Intrigued, I sent

off for an info pack. When it arrived I read

the SAS was the ‘elite squad’ and found

myself ticking the box. Hadn’t my parents

always told me to aim high?... Continue

reading Azi’s story here

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| 8

13 TH -14 TH AUGUST 2016

• Battle of Britain Memorial Flight

• Red Arrows Flyover

• Military Vehicle Displays

• Vintage Military & Classic Aircraft

• Air Display • Arena Action • Tanks

• Pleasure flights in a Devon

• Living History Displays

• Tank Rides

• Militaria Stalls • Food Stalls • Beer Tent

• Main Marquee Entertainment







Care After Combat


Nicole Dopson

Telephone 01604 647770



June 28, 2016


When we heard that a member of the Armed Forces, who had recently returned from military

operations, was denied a discount in a major high street store, but a student in front of him was

given one, we knew we had to act.

Reward for Forces is a national discount scheme that offers serving members of the forces, veterans

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If you would like more information about this topic, please contact Nicole Dopson at 01604

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| 10

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Andy McNab

How Education Turned My Life Around

By Andy McNab

The Sandbag Times is

very proud to feature

Ex-SAS Soldier, Gulf War

Veteran and Best Selling

Author of the blockbuster

‘Bravo Two Zero’, Andy

McNab as he tells us of his

rise through the army and

how he became a

successful author

If you had told me, as a teenager, that I

would become a bestselling author and

work on Hollywood films, I would have

laughed and called you an idiot (or worse).

Growing up on a Peckham council estate,

we didn’t have many ambitions. I thought

I’d be a panel beater (not that I knew what

that was, but apparently it paid well), or get

a job on London Underground. I thought I

knew it all, especially the fact that education

was a waste of time! I went to nine schools

in seven years, and I hated every minute of

it. Couldn’t even bear the smell of schools.

I still can’t – boiled cabbage and floor polish.

All I needed was to get a council flat,

with or without a job, and a Mark Two Ford

Escort and that was me made.

Like lots of kids on the estate, as a

teenager I felt angry with people who had

shiny new cars or spotless motorbikes,

simply because they had stuff and I didn’t.

So I used to kick their cars and bikes in, just

because I could. I would vandalise people’s

shops, and mess up their goods, simply

because they had it, and I didn’t.

I was also angry at school, angry that I

had to be there when I didn’t see the point,

and angry that they kept putting me in

remedial classes, but I didn’t exactly do

anything productive in the classroom to get

out of them.

By the age of 16, I ended up in juvenile

detention. I was sent there for destroying a

flat full of nice shiny things that

someone else had worked really

hard for. I just didn’t get that

people had to work to get the

things that I smashed up or

stole, and to get work, you

needed to be educated. I just

wanted everything without

understanding how to get it.

At that time, the army

recruiting boy soldiers from

detention centres. I fell for the

recruiter’s patter that I was

going to become a helicopter

pilot, but at the very first day of

assessment, it became very clear

that the closest I was going to

get to a helicopter was probably

spitting at it! Like the rest of

Andy McNab’s latest novel for

young adults is published on 11th

August 2016. You can pre-order

it by clicking on the picture.

my intake, I could barely do my bootlaces

up. I soon found myself in an Infantry

Junior Leaders Battalion and committed to

six years of service.

After three months of being shouted at

and chased over assault courses, all the stuff

that infantry soldiers do, we were marched

off to the Army Education Centre. I didn’t

even know the army had educators. I

thought I was in the army now, why did I

need to learn?

But that was when my world changed for

the better.

I found myself in a classroom, alongside

about twenty other boy soldiers, with a

captain who was part of the education corps

in front of us. He pointed out of the

window towards the barbed wire fence and

the real world beyond.

‘Out there, they think you are all thick as

shit. But you are not, the only reason you

can’t read or write, is because you don’t

read or write. But from today that all


And it did. I soon learnt that the reason I

wasn’t able to join as a helicopter pilot as I

had been promised and had ended up in the

infantry instead, was because I had the

literacy and numeracy levels of an eleven

year old. I couldn’t even read a newspaper

like the Sun properly. As a sixteen year old,

I read my very first book. Janet and John

Book 10. It might have been written for

kids but that didn’t matter to me. I was on

my way to getting an education, and even

more importantly, understanding why I

needed one.

I began to learn to read and write

properly and much more besides. But the

most important thing I learned there, was

that we weren’t as thick as shit, we were

simply uneducated, and that the army could

turn that around. It does that for its recruits,

time and time again because not a lot as

changed. The literacy and numeracy levels

of entrants into the infantry is still the same.

The education setup by the MoD is

Europe’s biggest adult education system,

and it is a success story that the MoD

simply doesn’t shout loud enough about.

I now regularly visit the Army Training

regiments, schools, colleges and prisons,

talking to young people about the

importance of education. The main gist of

what I tell them is that people are falling

over themselves to help, teach and advise.

Make the most of all the opportunities you

get given, because you never know how

your life is going to work out, and if I can

do it, anyone can.

| 12

Click on Poster

for more details

and bookings

Northern Ireland

The Troubles – Pt2

The Rural War: Mortars,

snipers, roadblocks, just

part of the normal daily life

“Well, in fact, I stopped

going the main road, I

mean I haven’t been on

the main road to [work] –

you know, I only used it

for the first couple of

years, and then I discovered

that you could go up

by Forkhill . . . And that

checkpoint, I'd forgotten

about it, on the main road

there, it was scary, it was

closed in and there was

just the lookout point up

on the hill. And they were

always changing it, too.

One month it was this

route, and then they lifted

all the concrete bollards

and there was some other

route the next month, and

these signs up, 'No

Stopping Under Any


Anonymous interviewees,

Co. Down

The closure of most border roads during the

Troubles dramatically impacted on the

everyday lives of people living near the

border. For people whose journeys to work,

church, school, to shop, or to visit family or

friends were affected by road closures, almost

every aspect of daily life was made difficult by the

border. Accounts of borderland life in this period

are dominated by stories of people struggling to

deal with road closures: farmers whose farms

straddled the border constructing makeshift

crossing points to get to their cattle, or making

very long journeys by road to get to fields a mile

away across the border; people trying to find

routes to avoid delays at check points to try to get

to their jobs across the border in time; people

trying to attend their church across the border by

driving to the border, walking carefully across

cratered or blocked roads and being met on the

other side and ferried to the church by car by other

members of the congregation. Those living on

roads that ended at a crater at the border

experienced not only the serious inconvenience of

no longer being able to travel in that direction but

the strangeness of being isolated and restricted in

this way. For some people, living right on the

border meant having to somehow get children to

school since school buses wouldn’t travel to the

border, and living in a ‘no-man’s land’ where even

the security forces rarely ventured. However, the

Troubles in the borderlands were not only a matter

of road closures and checkpoints. Life along

borderlands was shaped by the presence of the

army and by paramilitary violence. While tension,

fear and violence characterised everyday life for

many in Northern Ireland during the Troubles,

areas along the border experienced the greatest

number of bombings, deaths and injuries apart

from parts of Belfast. Shootings and bombings

suspected to have been carried out by loyalist

paramilitary groups also occurred in the border

counties of Ireland; in the towns of Clones,

Monaghan, Swanlinbar and Belturbet.

The attempt to seal the border depended on a

very heavy military presence along the border in

Northern Ireland. Army patrols and checkpoints

responded to IRA violence in the borderlands and

provoked attack. Army checkpoints, RUC police

stations and army and RUC patrols were targeted

by the IRA. Members of the RUC or UDR were

targeted in shootings. Catholics that were judged

by the IRA as being collaboration with the security

forces, and Protestants with no connection to the

security forces were also murdered.

Bessbrook Mill, April 1987 - Photo Shane

(Sid) Barker

For some the appearance of heavily armed and

camouflaged soldiers in the otherwise quiet and

often sparsely populated countryside of the

borderlands became routine and taken-for-granted,

and for some a reassuring presence. For others,

seeing soldiers on lanes, fields and around farms

was a frightening and intimidating experience. In

some of the isolated parts of west Co. Fermanagh

and west Co. Tyrone, Catholic young men and

teenagers suspected to be involved in republican

organisations were subject to repeated intimidation

and harassment by security forces. The shooting

of civilians by soldiers at checkpoints also

contributed to loss of life in the borderlands and

anger and anxiety about the heavy military

presence. Many who were not directly in contact

with the security forces lived with a sense of being

under constant surveillance especially in the areas

of south Armagh and Tyrone where British army

watchtowers were built on along the hills near the

border and where the sight and sound of army

helicopters were part of everyday life. Farmers in

these areas report on cases of the death and injury

of farm animals frightened by helicopters flying

low or landing near them.

As in other parts of Northern Ireland, violent

incidents and the fear and suspicion they created

deeply damaged previously warm or at best

politely friendly relationships between Catholics

and Protestants in the borderlands. Patterns of

collective support amongst communities of small

farmers, Protestant and Catholic – helping at

harvest, sharing machinery, helping in times of

need – were destroyed. The strangeness of local

URD men formally asking their neighbours their

names and address as a requirement of their duties

estranged people from each other. The occurrence

of violent attacks intensified fear and distrust. As

members of the UDR became IRA targets,

Protestants living along the border in

predominately Catholic areas felt increasingly

vulnerable, sometimes moving away and

sometimes staying and living with constant fear

and the aftermath of attacks on themselves, their

family and friends. The degree to which

Protestant families were deliberately forced to

leave the borderlands as part of an IRA strategy of

‘ethnic cleansing’, moved away from poor rural

areas as other migrants did, or gradually ‘drifted

north’ as younger generations set up homes further

| 14

The Troubles Pt 2

away from the border, is fiercely disputed.

The tensions created by the Troubles in the

borderlands were not only between Catholics and

Protestants. Protestant farming families who

moved over the border into Northern Ireland for

safety were not always welcomed and there are

accounts of some returning. Those seeking refuge

from some of the most violent parts of Belfast in

the early 1970s and over the course of the

Troubles by moving to the border counties in

Ireland were often looked upon with suspicion.

Fear of violence spilling over from Northern

Ireland led some in the border counties of the

south to blame the nationalist community north of

the border. 'On-the-runs' – members of republican

paramilitary groups evading capture by crossing

into Ireland – were often more feared and resented

than welcomed. People in the borderlands have

also felt unfairly associated with violence by

others, either through the affect of a whole locality

being labelled as an IRA area as in what became

know as the 'bandit country' of south Armagh, or

by those who assumed that a person’s religion was

a straightforward indicator of their political

sympathies. While the border dramatically in

response to the cease fires of the mid 1990s, for

those that lived through the Troubles along the

border in Ireland and Northern Ireland, the

experiences of the Troubles in the borderlands in

Ireland and Northern Ireland has left an underlying

legacy of division, grief, anger and mistrust that

people say does not surface directly in their

dealings with each other but will take a long time

to completely dispel.

From The Soldier

Being stationed in South Armagh in ‘87 was a

nerve racking experience for anyone that served.

The threats were cold and eerie and gave you a

real sense of the danger lurking in what seemed

like every nook and cranny of Northern Ireland.

In our Northern Ireland training we were

briefed on the threat of the crude Mk10a Mortar in

use by the Provisional IRA. They were made from

old oxygen cylinders containing around 25lb of

HME (Home Made Explosive) and fired from a

car, van or truck. We were unlucky enough to be

on the receiving end of one of these at Bessbrook

Mill where a 16 tube attack was launched against

us. Three of the rounds that hit the camp exploded

injuring two soldiers who had just returned in a

civilian car. Thankfully both survived although

one was in a bad way for a few weeks. We were

definitely being watched over that day as the

rounds that went off exploded near a fuel tank with

roughly 10,000 gallons of petrol in it and a huge

gas storage tank. Miraculously, these 2 tanks were

unscratched. It doesn’t bear thinking about what

would have happened if one of those went up.

Another threat that put the fear of God into our

civilian vehicle drivers was the threat of driving

into a Illegal Vehicle Check Point (IVCP). These

were road blocks manned by the IRA with

anything up to 18 heavily armed men. Of course

these were only done for propaganda purposes but

there had been incidents where soldiers had

unluckily wandered into them..

I remember a sign in Crossmaglen some years

ago which read ‘Caution: Sniper at Work’. This

was a chilling reminder of the constant threat of

cross border attacks faced by our rural patrols and

the guys in our patrol bases along the border.

Between 1990-97 IRA Snipers claimed the lives of

9 British Soldiers along these borders.

The terrorist force the British Army faced in

these rural areas were highly determined, very

highly motivated and totally professional. It has

been said that had this been a official army they

would have been as professional as the SAS.

Their intelligence, planning and execution was

devastatingly effective and resourceful with many

of their weapons and explosive devices being

home made.

This turned the British Army into one of the

most effective anti-terrorist forces in the world.

Skills honed during a 30 year conflict resulted in a

very professional soldier.

Of course there were other threats, land mines,

culvert bombs, wheely bin bombs to name but a

few. But all in all, Rural Northern Ireland

presented so much more of a worrying time than

the urban threats of Belfast and Londonderry.

Of course it wasn’t all fear, bombs and bullets.

Bessbrook Mill was home to the busiest helipad in

Europe. Being taken out on patrol or being ferried

around in the RAF Puma’s and the ageing

Westland Wessex was a real thrill but not for the

weak-stomached. Pilots would hug the contours

of the earth in an amazing aerobatic display of

tactical flying but it still didn’t compare to the

AAC Lynx. Fast, low, stomach churning and

totally awesome. Yes, our very own Ricky can be

held accountable for turning a good many soldier a

funny shade of green. But we loved it!!

You never knew where

you were going to find the

road blocked. Or who

blocked it . . . But it was

like everything else, you

got up and you got to

your work every day. I

never missed my work

over it, you know, but I

never knew how I was

going to get, d'you know?

And when I taught . . . that

happened nearly every

day . . . If there wasn’t a

checkpoint, there was a

road block. And if the

checkpoint wasn’t maybe

a mile and a half long . . .

And if you turned round

and went another route,

you’d be followed, or

you’d be looked upon,

why did you go back."

Anonymous interviewee,

Co. Down

The Sandbag Times would

like to thank Queen Mary

University of London, in

particular, Professor Catherine

Nash for their kindness in the

use of their article, The

Troubles and Borderland Life. 15 |

| 16














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The Historical Tommy Atkins

The English victory at the Battle of

Agincourt gave birth to a legend that was

immortalized in William Shakespeare's

King Henry V. The battle took place in a muddy

farmer's field in northern France on October 25,

1415 and was one in a series of encounters

between France and England that has become

known as the Hundred Years' War (1337-1453).

The story begins two months before the battle.

Henry and his army had landed in France on

August 14 near the mouth of the Seine River. The

objective was to regain English territory lost to

France over a period of centuries. The first task

was to besiege and conquer a nearby town. Henry

was successful, but the time-consuming effort took

over a month. It was now early October. Henry

realized that his reduced force and the limited time

left in the campaigning season, meant that he

would not be able to press his attack on the

French. Instead, he led his army north in a "show

of force" that would end at the English port of

Calais and embarkation back to England.

As the English army marched north, it was

dogged by a French force intent on bringing Henry

to battle. The French were able to slip ahead of

Henry and block his path to the sea at Agincourt.

On the morning of October 25, the two armies

faced one another on a recently plowed field

muddied by an overnight rain and constricted by

woodlands on either side. The majority of Henry's

army was made up of archers; the remainder

consisted of armored knights who fought on foot.

His opponent's force consisted primarily of knights

who fought on foot and on horseback, supported

by archers. Although estimates of the relative

strength of the two armies vary, there is no

argument that the English were vastly


The two enemies faced one another,

exchanging taunts designed to provoke an attack.

Henry marched his force close enough to allow his

archers to unleash a hail of arrows upon the

French. The French knights charged forward only

to be caught in a slippery quagmire of mud. To

make matters worse, the French attackers were

unable to effectively swing their broadswords

because of the tight quarters of the battlefield and

the continuing forward rush of their comrades

behind them. Henry's archers fired lethal storms

of arrows into this dense mass of humanity until

the French began to retreat. The archers then

dropped their bows, picked up what weapons they

could find and joined the English knights in

slaying their foe. The setting sun left a battlefield

heaped with the bodies of thousands of French

The Battle of Agincourt

knights and the cream of France's ruling class.

The English had dealt their enemy a disastrous


“When the battalions of the French were thus

formed, it was grand to see them; and as far as one

could judge by the eye, they were in number fully

six times as many as the English. And when this

was done the French sat down by companies

around their banners, waiting the approach of the

English, and making their peace with one another;

and then were laid aside many old aversions

conceived long ago; some kissed and embraced

each other, which it was affecting to witness; so

that all quarrels and discords which they had had

in time past were changed to great and perfect

love. And there were some who breakfasted on

what they had. And these Frenchmen remained

thus till nine or ten o'clock in the morning, feeling

quite assured that, considering their great force,

the English could not escape them; however, there

were at least some of the wisest who greatly

feared a fight with them in open battle. 17 |

...The French had arranged their battalions

between two small thickets, one lying close to

Agincourt, and the other to Tramecourt. The place

was narrow, and very advantageous for the

English, and, on the contrary, very ruinous for the

French, for the said French had been all night on

horseback, and it rained, and the pages, grooms,

and others, in leading about the horses, had broken

up the ground, which was so soft that the horses

could with difficulty step out of the soil. And also

the said French were so loaded with armour that

they could not support themselves or move

forward. In the first place they were armed with

long coats of steel, reaching to the knees or lower,

and very heavy, over the leg harness, and besides

plate armour also most of them had hooded

helmets; wherefore this weight of armour, with the

softness of the wet ground, as has been said, kept

them as if immovable, so that they could raise

their dubs only with great difficulty, and with all

these mischiefs there was this, that most of them

were troubled with hunger and want of sleep.

...Now let us return to the English. After the

parley between the two armies was finished and

the delegates had returned, each to their own

people, the King of England, who had appointed a

knight called Sir Thomas Erpingham to place his

archers in front in two wings, trusted entirely to

him, and Sir Thomas, to do his part, exhorted

every one to do well in the name of the King,

begging them to fight vigorously against the

French in order to secure and save their own lives.

And thus the knight, who rode with two others

only in front of the battalion, seeing that the hour

was come, for all things were well arranged, threw

up a baton which he held in his hand, saying

'Nestrocq' ['Now strike'] which was the signal for

attack; then dismounted and joined the King, who

was also on foot in the midst of his men, with his

banner before him.

Then the English, seeing this signal, began

suddenly to march, uttering a very loud cry, which

greatly surprised the French. And when the

English saw that the French did not approach

| 18

The Historical Tommy Atkins

them, they marched dashingly towards them in

very fine order, and again raised a loud cry as they

stopped to take breath.

Then the English archers, who, as I have said,

were in the wings, saw that they were near

enough, and began to send their arrows on the

French with great vigour.

Then the French seeing the English come

towards them in this manner, placed themselves

together in order, everyone under his banner, their

helmets on their heads. The Constable, the

Marshal, the admirals, and the other princes

earnestly exhorted their men to fight the English

well and bravely; and when it came to the approach

the trumpets and clarions resounded everywhere;

but the French began to hold down their heads,

especially those who had no bucklers, for the

impetuosity of the English arrows, which fell so

heavily that no one durst uncover or look up.

Thus they went forward a little, then made a

little retreat, but before they could come to close

quarters, many of the French were disabled and

wounded by the arrows; and when they came quite

up to the English, they were, as has been said, so

closely pressed one against another that none of

them could lift their arms to strike their enemies,

except some that were in front...

[The French knights] struck into these English

archers, who had their stakes fixed in front of

them... their horses stumbled among the stakes,

and they were speedily slain by the archers, which

was a great pity. And most of the rest, through

fear, gave way and fell back into their vanguard, to

whom they were a great hindrance; and they

opened their ranks in several places, and made

them fall back and lose their footing in some land

newly sown; for their horses had been so wounded

by the arrows that the men could no longer

manage them.

[The French] men-at-arms without number

began to fall; and their horses feeling the arrows

coming upon them took to flight before the enemy,

and following their example many of the French

turned and fled. Soon afterwards the English

archers, seeing the vanguard thus shaken, issued

from behind their stockade, threw away their bows

and quivers, then took their swords, hatchets,

mallets, axes, falcon-beaks and other weapons,

and, pushing into the places where they saw these

breaches, struck down and killed these Frenchmen

without mercy, and never ceased to kill till the said

vanguard which had fought little or not at all was

completely overwhelmed, and these went on

striking right and left till they came upon the

second battalion, which was behind the advance

guard, and there the King personally threw himself

into the fight with his men-at-arms.

As the English continued to gain the upper

hand, King Henry received news that the French

were attacking at the rear of his army and that

French reinforcements were approaching. King

Henry ordered that all French prisoners be put to

the sword - an order his knights were reluctant to

follow as, if kept alive, these prisoners could bring

a healthy ransom:

"When the King of England perceived them

coming thus he caused it to be published that

every one that had a prisoner should immediately

kill him, which those who had any were unwilling

to do, for they expected to get great ransoms for

them. But when the King was informed of this he

appointed a gentleman with two hundred archers

whom he commanded to go through the host and

kill all the prisoners, whoever they might be. This

esquire, without delay or objection, fulfilled the

command of his sovereign lord, which was a most

pitiable thing, for in cold blood all the nobility of

France was beheaded and inhumanly cut to pieces,

and all through this accursed company, a sorry set

compared with the noble captive chivalry, who

when they saw that the English were ready to

receive them, all immediately turned and fled,

each to save his own life. Many of the cavalry

escaped; but of those on foot there were many

among the dead." 19 |

Chilcot Report

The Chilcot Report

The SBT looks at the Iraq Inquiry in the

wake of the Chilcot Report

Since Lord Chilcot presented his findings on

the Iraq Inquiry there have been many

opinions and emotions flying around.

Mostly at Tony Blair, but also in other directions.

We needed to let the dust settle a little before

writing anything about the inquiry.

Our report centres on the statement read out by

Sir John Chilcot on 6th July 2016. This statement

clearly defines the findings of the decision to go to

war with Iraq in 2003. Lets take a look at the

opening statement first. This sets out the purpose

of the inquiry and summarises the findings. It is

advisable to read the full statement so we can truly

understand how the findings were reached.

“In 2003, for the first time since the Second

World War, the United Kingdom took part in an

invasion and full-scale occupation of a sovereign

State. That was a decision of the utmost gravity.

Saddam Hussein was undoubtedly a brutal dictator

who had attacked Iraq’s neighbours, repressed and

killed many of his own people, and was in

violation of obligations imposed by the UN

Security Council.

But the questions for the Inquiry were:

• whether it was right and necessary to invade

Iraq in March 2003;


• whether the UK could – and should – have

been better prepared for what followed.

We have concluded that the UK chose to join

the invasion of Iraq before the peaceful options for

disarmament had been exhausted. Military action

at that time was not a last resort.

We have also concluded that:

The judgements about the severity of the threat

posed by Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction –

WMD – were presented with a certainty that

was not justified.

• Despite explicit warnings, the consequences of

the invasion were underestimated. The

planning and preparations for Iraq after

Saddam Hussein were wholly inadequate.

The Government failed to achieve its stated


With all of this in mind it is plain to see that

the decision to go to war was wrong. It is clear

after reading Sir John’s report that the UK was a

long way off legally, morally and tactically in it’s

decision to go to war. Many of us will be asking

questions now. I remember watching Question

Time just before the invasion and hearing so many

people asking Mr Blair questions about the

legality of the decision. It was clear to see that the

decision, despite going against the advice of many

in power and general public opinion, was that we

were going to war.

But now we know how the decision was made

the question has now got to be, if it was illegal

what actions should now be taken.

It is important to note that the Iraq Inquiry was

not designed to prosecute, but simply to find the

truth. Several MPs have called for former prime

minister Tony Blair to face criminal charges after

the Chilcot report criticised him for leading the

nation to war based on "flawed intelligence".

In a statement, Blair called the decision to take

military action "the hardest, most momentous,

most agonising" of his ten years in office and

accepted "full responsibility" for the


However, he stood by the decision to invade

and denied several of the committee's key

findings, including that military action could have

been delayed.

Sir John Chilcot’s Committee concluded Blair

had exaggerated the threat posed by Iraq – and in

doing so, critics say, deliberately misled MPs into

voting in favour of the invasion. A note to then-

US president George Bush assuring him that Blair

was with him "whatever" has also been cited as

evidence that the former PM "pre-committed" the

UK to the war.

Many families of the soldiers that died have

expressed that they want Mr Blair to stand trial.

There is even a petition raised for Mr Blair to be

put on trial for misconduct in office.

Considering that the Chilcot Report took 7

years to reach its findings I feel that a trial may be

equally far off. Although the Inquiry clearly drops

the responsibility at Mr Blairs doorstep. I feel

whoever takes on the job of the prosecution will

have to negotiate a very demanding political

minefield. That is not to say that it should not

happen but I fear it will be a very slow process.

Our conclusion is that we believe that the

Chilcot report shocked many people in its

condemnation of Mr Blair and the decision to go

to war. I know many thought it would be nothing

more than a cover up. This wasn’t the case. The

failures are clearly outlined and need to be

answered. Will Tony Blair stand trial? I don’t

know. I think most people believe he should. For

us the most important thing is to remember those

who acted on the government’s decision and

sacrificed so much. Our Armed Forces. We must

remember them above all. Their dedication to

protecting the security of our country should not

be questioned. Only those that make the decisions

to use them.

| 20

‘22’ Challenge

The Sandbag Times Sponsors take up the ‘22’ Challenge

SBT’s own Jacqueline Brooks commits to 22 push ups a day to

honour those who have taken their own lives due to PTSD

There I was sitting at my nice comfortable desk watching the

world go by in total peace and tranquility when our resident

squaddie and editor of the Sandbag Times walks in to my stress

free zone and announces he needs someone to take on the ‘22-a-Day’


When Ken and I volunteered to

sponsor the magazine we thought this

would be a nice easy number, after all,

all we have to do is say ‘Yes’ every now

and then and sign the cheques when

something needs to be paid for. What could

be simpler? Hmmm!!!

I had read in a previous edition of the

Sandbag Times of the terrible statistics over in

the USA of the amount of veterans that take

their lives every single day. Really? Do that

many actually commit suicide every day?

Speaking to Pablo made me realise the reality of the situation, not only

in the States but also here in the UK. Such a waste of young life that

could be so easily avoided if those who send our young men and

women to war would only have the decency to look after them when

they come home.

Ken and I were lucky enough to watch the premier stage show of

‘A Song For A Hero’ last year which really brought home the reality

faced by our heroes every single day while we, who enjoy the benefits

of our freedom paid for by our brave soldiers, fail to understand the real

price these people have to pay.

Thanks to our involvement with the Sandbag Times we now have a

much better understanding and have vowed to do what we can to help.

It has really brought this home to us considering Ken’s own

daughter is an officer in the army. You don’t like to think of your own

flesh and blood going through these issues but every day in the States

22 families go through the hell of losing a precious family member. A

son or daughter, a brother or sister, a mother or father, an aunt or

uncle, or a best friend. Lost to an illness which is still

underestimated and untreated in so many cases.

So this is me, my little contribution to

standing up for our heroes, home and

abroad. No matter the colour of the flag,

those that have stood up for what is right.

If I can make a very small sacrifice of

making my arms ache for 22 days then that’s

what I shall do.

Despite my willingness and dedication to show my support for our

heroes I still think Pablo is a git. I know he is unable to do the

challenge through health reasons but knowing that he asked me with

that evil little grin on his face makes me want to think of ways to get

even with him. As a good british citizen and a devout supporter of our

Armed Forces and Veterans I have made an oath to Pablo which I will

carry through with all my heart. I will get you back!!! 21 |


Ihave a confession to make. I am a perfectionist. I like things to be

done a certain way and if they are not done the way I like, then I

struggle to hold back & not go and make it the way I want it. I

guess that makes me a control freak as well!! My daughter gets

frustrated with me because I try to show her how to do things

‘properly’ (as I see it), instead of standing back and allowing her to

learn for herself. Allowing her to do things the way she does them.

After all we’re each unique and everyone has different ways of doing

things, what gives me the right to assume that my way is the best way?

I have to make a conscious effort not to interfere where my help has

not been requested. I also worry about people thinking that I am being

critical when actually in my mind I am trying to help. When I ponder

on this, I realise that I am being rather arrogant thinking that my way

is best. Arrogance is a trait I don’t admire in others and yet if I’m

totally honest with myself it’s a trait that I possess.

Now don’t get me wrong my need to have things just right helps in

some areas of my life, I am an excellent proof reader for example, but

it also has its downfalls. Singing is my passion but because I am such a

perfectionist I always feel that I could’ve done better. This kind of

perfectionism is self destructive. I am my own worst critic, which takes

the enjoyment out of singing. Why can’t I just accept that we’re none

of us perfect and show myself the same grace I would show others?

After all I keep saying that we’re all trying our best. Then I could

actually enjoy the thing I am so passionate about.

Sometimes I do things that I know don’t please God. I want to do a

good job of pleasing Him so I need to get everything right and when I

don’t, I end up hating myself. This is when I have to look to God. Noone

is perfect. I accept others’ imperfection and yet struggle with my

own. In fact I am harder on myself when I get things wrong than I

would ever be with other people. Why can I not accept that we ALL get

things wrong sometimes, even me, and that it’s ok.

It is God that sets the standard of perfection, through Jesus, God in

human form. Jesus came to help us really get to know Gods character,

and to be a role model. In this world the only one that has ever been,

and continues to be perfect, is Jesus. This is why, as I have said before,

he was the perfect sacrifice and the only one that could save us.

Does God expect us to be perfect once we decide to follow Him.

NO!!!!!! We cannot change ourselves. Only God can do that through

the Holy Spirit. However we do have the difficult job of surrendering.

That means accepting our faults and giving them up to God for Him to

change us. We can strive to change ourselves, I have spent years doing

this, but ultimately I know the only way I am going to be free from the

faults that I have is by letting the Holy Spirit do His job.

means that God refines us. He takes us from raw material to the

finished product, using processes.

In the Bible the analogy of the refiner’s fire is used to show how God

processes us.

‘He will sit like a refiner of silver, burning away the

dross. He will purify the Levites, refining them like gold and silver,

so that they may once again offer acceptable sacrifices to the Lord’

(Malachi 3:3)

We start off as a piece of rock with gold in it. What God wants to do is

make that gold as pure as possible. The rock is crushed into dust and

then put through the heating process (smelting). When a flame is

applied all the dross comes to the top and is skimmed away. This

process is repeated until the gold is pure.

We wonder why things happen. I have always believed there is a reason

for certain struggles. I try to be joyful in affliction but who enjoys

going through difficult times. The point is that these times are not

wasted they are part of the refining process. This process is a lifelong

thing. We will never be perfect whilst we live on earth, our goal of

perfection will be achieved when we reach heaven and stand face to

face with God. This is what I cling to when going through difficult

times, when feeling crushed. That there is a purpose in this trial and it

is helping me to move closer to God.

I currently have a habit that I want to stop. I know it is not good for me

and that it has an impact on the people around me. I hate this part of

me & want it gone but still hold onto it. I am having such difficulty

surrendering it to God. I know He is almighty, but a part of me holds

onto this because I feel that I need it and that it helps me. If I’m honest

I know it causes more harm than good, so why can’t I just give it up to

God? Surrender is a step of faith. When we surrender things to God it

gives us freedom, but it is so hard when you have always done

everything yourself, to let God take the driving seat.

When we surrender and let the Holy Spirit change us, we go through a

process which in church circles is known as sanctification. It basically

| 22

Have Faith

So is it good to be a perfectionist? It is important to be aware of

behaviour that is not beneficial to you or others, because if you are not

aware of it, it won’t change. You need to be aware so that you can get

to a point where you surrender it to God. Then watch as He intervenes

and changes you.

However with all this talk of our faults, of perfection and imperfection,

we can find ourselves at logger heads with ourselves. What do I mean

by this? I mean we end up disliking, even hating parts of who we are.

The most important thing to remember to help us move forward is to

accept who you are and that you are loved. That God, even though we

are imperfect, accepts us through Jesus. He loves us, even when we

don’t love ourselves.

He created us, so to Him we are as we should be; a work In progress; a

lump of clay in the potter’s hands. We can try to mould ourselves or we

can let Him (the master workman) mould us. I don’t want to spend my

life as a wonky badly made pot, after all I’m a perfectionist!! I know I

would rather let Him mould me lovingly into who He has created me to

be, because then I will be perfect, but throughout this whole refining

process I know that He loves & accepts me right here, right now, ALL


Until we learn to love ourselves, how are we going to accept God’s

love. Let’s see ourselves through His eyes.

I want to reassure you that however alone you are feeling right now,

you are NOT alone in your battle. Please message me if you have any

questions or if you would like us to pray for you or for someone you

know. Please contact me at

You therefore




as your heavenly Father

is perfect

Matthew 5:18 23 |

The VBC Website has now been revamped/redesigned and is now live.

There are several new features including a Post Code search facility that

brings up the five nearest Breakfast Clubs to your Post Code, and we now

have a News feature and links to the current issues of the Sandbag Times

and much more. To make it easier for people to get to it, funds have been

made available to allow the acquisition of more domain names.

The new address is and the old address is pointed at

the new site.

The main alteration is that the email addresses have changed from:-


The Chelsea Pensioners and the Veterans Breakfast Clubs.

I had the privilege to visit the Royal Hospital Chelsea on Friday, and

met with Jo Molendo, Welfare Officer to discuss how the Breakfast

Clubs and the Chelsea Pensioners could work together. My initial

thoughts were for Pensioners to "adopt" their home Breakfast Clubs,

and Jo thought this was a good idea. I explained about our extensive

network of Clubs and the Chelsea Pensioner who was at the opening of

the Preston Club, Harry, joined us and added his thoughts, all positive.

We were shown round and visited the Great Hall, the Great Chapel and

met many Pensioners. It was agreed that Jo would contact the editor of

their magazine Tricorn, and would work with her team to spread the

word. They are sending two Pensioners to the launch of the London

(STOLL) Breakfast Club on the 7th August along with any that want to

attend. I even met a Pensioner whose daughter lives in the next village

to me, small world. So the next time you see a Chelsea Pensioner in

your area, make sure to add them to your Club, quite a few are on

Facebook, or if they ask to join, make them very welcome even if they

live out of your area. Any questions, please pm me.

| 24

Veterans Breakfast Clubs

Denis & Barbera Scaife,

Retford VBC on BBC1

Our very own Denis Scaife and his lovely wife

Barbera have appeared on BBC1’s ‘Right On The

Money’. The money saving programme was full

of good tips and help for Denis and Barbera to

finally get their lives back on track after suffering

with PTSD following an incident back in 1997.

One night they were woken by a terrific crash as a

car had ploughed into a neighbours fence. Denis

went to investigate only to find himself being

assaulted by the driver of the vehicle in which the

driver had Denis by the throat. He was only saved

by the quick thinking of Barbera who grabbed the

assailant forcing him to release Denis. She told the

BBC “At the time I was frightened but looking

back it is quite funny as I grabbed the man by the goolies.” A

national newspaper reported on the story with the headline ‘Gotcha

Goolies’. However, the incident left Denis traumatised resulting in

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Because of the condition Denis has

been unable to work the hours he needs and money has become a

problem. However thanks to the team of ‘Right on the Money’

Denis and Barbera are now looking at a positive future. Denis set

up the Retford Veterans Breakfast Club and provides support for

other veterans that suffer from PTSD. The Retford VBC meets

9.00am every Saturday at the King & Miller, North Road, Retford.

All serving forces and veterans are always welcome.

22-a-day Challenge takes over the Breakfast Clubs

Its gripping the facebook world,

spreading across the country and

inspiring many to show support for

the ‘22-a-Day’ campaign. The 22 is

the amount of veterans that take

their lives in the US per day. A

shocking figure that has asked many

questions of those in power to do


The challenge is to complete 22

push ups a day for 22 days. It is a

great way to show support plus a

great way to stay fit. Our Dereck

(pictured left) has even given it a go

and is doing well. Jackie from the

Sandbag Times is holding the flag

up for us. Young Wayne Sharrocks

has been doing his own version as

he prepares to embark on his UK

film project of ‘Life After War’. If

you would like to take part just film

yourself doing 22 push ups a day

and post on facebook. Oh yes, don’t

forget to nominate a friend every

day to have a go too. 25 |

Grimsby VBC

16 this morning at

Grimsby breakfast

club, another great

morning had by all

Dundee VBC

Well a 400% increase

on week 3, we had 7.5

in attendance. Pictures

will explain. So its

onwards and upwards

Leigh VBC

12 today at Leigh

BC. Including an ex

royal marine turned

film maker

| 26

Veterans Breakfast Clubs 27 |

Canada Calling




Greetings fellow Veterans and readers of this fine e-magazine.

nicknamed SBT.

I get a lot of e-mails from fellow Vets. A lot contain jokes and humour.

Many are political in nature a la Trump lately.

There are quite a few on the state of the world, terrorism and so called

honour killings. What a lot of Veterans cannot seem to understand is

this rise in the use of the Burqa? I know during my service in Egypt,

Damascus, and even the Holy Land, women in full burqa were in a

minority. Such a shame to see some beautiful women hidden from

public view. My ex-apprentice brother Dave Davies sent me a

remarkable PDF with the colourful dresses and outfits Mid Eastern,

women used to wear. I share it with you as a PDF.

Where have all the flowers gone.pdf

It certainly is sad to see the world as skewed as it is. The colourful

cultural costumes, being replaced by a blanket giving absolute


I am happy to report that the

Province of Alberta has a

memorial plate for your vehicles

now if you live in the Province.

The Support Our Troops licence

plate honours current and former

members of the Canadian Armed Forces. The majority of the revenue

from the sale of this plate will go towards the Support Our Troops

Program managed by the Canadian Forces Morale and Welfare


The design features artwork in honour of the first four Alberta-based

Canadian soldiers whose lives were lost in Afghanistan in April 2002.

All Wars are terrible but Canada lost these 4 young men to Friendly

Fire from the USA.


The new plate is available for a one-time fee of $75 plus a $9 registry

agent service charge.


This plate is only available for vehicles registered in the passenger

class. You can order them in person at any registry agent location in

Alberta. To purchase this plate, you must show ID with an Alberta


Plate Numbers

The Support Our Troops plate cannot be personalized. This plate will

be issued in sequential order and mailed directly from the manufacturer.

Veterans Plates

The Support Our Troops plate does not replace the veterans plate and

you cannot exchange a veteran’s licence plate for a Support Our Troops


Cpl Ainsworth Dyer 24 Pte Nathan Smith 26 Pte Richard Green 21 Sgt Marc Daniel Leger 29

RIP Gentlemen your duty done. Canada will never forget you. Link

On a happier note, my next Canada Calling issues will be written in the

Land of the Maple Leaf. It has been it has been 28 months since I last

set foot in Canada. Looking forward to seeing my son, daughter, the

grandkids and friends. Then the weekend before I return to Scotland I

will be meeting up with old comrades of the RCASC in Camp Borden


One Hundred Years of Freedom


“Do you believe in life after death?” The CSM asked one of his


“YES, Sgt Major,” The young NCO replied.

“Well then that makes everything just fine,” The CSM went on. “After

you left early yesterday, to go to your GRANDMOTHER'S FUNERAL,

she stopped at the Guardhouse to see you?”

As is the norm I end this issue with a joke and a cartoon Have a safe

week, think of our troops and allies in dangerous parts of our world.

Nil Sine Labore


| 28

This event provides the Armed Forces

Community (AFC) with a great opportunity

to meet and network with potential future

employers and find out more about the

various industry sectors available.

Register for the event today, and you get

the latest updates and information straight

to your inbox. Just click the Register

button above, or phone 0116 254 5477.

As soon as you register for the event, you

can request your FREE CV Health-check!

Either request it today online, or you can

book a slot for the day of the event and

talk to our experts from Forces CVs. They

will give you honest and constructive

feedback about the quality of your CV and

its chances of success in securing you the

interviews you need to get the job you

want. If they think you need help or your

CV needs some small tweaks, they will tell

you. Why should you attend? By

attending this event you’ll have access to

hundreds of professionals from a variety of industries eager

to talk about their company.

As well as meeting with potential employers, you will be able

to find out about the different qualifications you may need,

and meet with potential training providers to help you gain

these qualifications.

If you’re looking to set up your own business, you have the

opportunity to meet with a variety of Franchises looking for

people just like you.

If you feel you need some help with amending your CV,

Forces CVs will be on hand on the day to offer free 10

minute appointments to review your CV.

If you like Tea & Coffee, we will also have a Networking room

available for you to enjoy free Tea & Coffee.

Bring your friends, family, partner or colleagues along on the

day as well, as there are opportunities available for all!

Follow this link to register and for more information

Our next event is our South West-Military Community Careers 29 |










| 30 31 |

Commonwealth Corner

By Andy Hope-Hall

In all these remembrance parades and

memorials, in the past not much attention

was given to the massive input from across

the world from the Commonwealth nations. It

is a fact that in both world wars, without the

unbridled support by the Commonwealth,

history would be vastly different today. From

the pages of the ‘British and Commonwealth

pages’ I found the following report. PPvt

Faulds must have been a Rhodesian serving in

the army of the then Union of South Africa,

given that he was buried in the Pioneer

Cemetery in 1950 some 30 years or so after his

amazing exploits in WW1. Having served in

the Rhodesian War and then served her

Majesty in various forms here, in future weeks,

I will have the pleasure of bringing to you all

stories from around the world. Your Rhodesian

Reprobate Reporter – Andy Hope-Hall.

Pvt William Faulds, 1st Battalion (Cape),

South African Infantry Brigade, was awarded

the Victoria Cross for his actions #onthisday 18

July 1916 at Delville Wood, France.

Notable South African heroes Pvt William

Faulds - Victoria Cross for bravery, the Battle

of Delville Wood 1916.

Battle of Delville Wood was a very

significant battle in South African Military

history, where 1 South African Brigade had

2536 casualties - 577 KIA - the bloodiest

Commonwealth Corner

engagement fought by a South African unit in

history - the painting is of Private William

Faulds who was awarded both the Victoria

Cross and the Military Cross. Here is his


"A bombing party under Lieut Craig

attempted to rush over 40 yards (37 m) of

ground which lay between the British and

enemy trenches. Coming under very heavy

rifle and machine gun fire the officer and the

majority of the party were killed and wounded.

Unable to move, Lieut Craig lay midway

between the two lines of trench, the ground

being quite open. In full daylight, Pte Faulds,

accompanied by two other men, climbed over

the parapet, ran out, picked up the officer, and

carried him back...Two days later Private

Faulds again showed most conspicuous bravery

in going out alone to bring in a wounded man,

and carried him nearly half a mile to a

dressing-station... The artillery fire was at the

time so intense that stretcher-bearers and others

considered that any attempt to bring in the

wounded man meant certain death..."

As a temporary Lieutenant, Faulds was also

awarded the Military Cross for actions at

Hedicourton 22 March 1918. This citation, for

the Military Cross reads:

"In the retirement from the line east of

Hendicourt, 22 March 1918, he was

commanding one of the platoons which formed

the rear-guard. He handled his men most ably,

and exposed himself freely. Though the enemy

pressed hard, he, by his fearless and able

leadership, checked them, and enabled the

remainder of the battalion to withdraw with

slight loss."

He later achieved the rank of captain. He

died 16 February 1950 and was buried in

Pioneer Cemetery, Harare, Zimbabwe.

The painting is an artist’s impression of the

action at Delville Wood for which William

Faulds was awarded the Victoria Cross.

From the book "Deeds that thrill the

Empire" Vol 5.

| 32 27 |


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To sign up just click

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| 34 35 |

A word from the Ed

We are getting a reputation of

mixing with the stars at the

moment. First Bernard Cornwell

and Daragh O’Malley, now Andy

McNab. Who next I wonder?

We’ve actually got a few ideas up

our sleeve. Keep your eyes open

folks. Lots of great stuff in this

week’s edition. We finally have a

Chilcot Inquiry article. I must

admit it was the hardest one I’ve

ever written. To write a neutral

report, even though it is only one

page, on such a difficult subject

was quite daunting. Hopefully

I’ve done a good job. We have a

couple of new articles and

additions to the team. Firstly, Jax

writes her first column for us on

our new Sponsor page. Although

I think I’m going to keep a low

profile from her for a few days as

I stitched her up to do the 22 A

Day push up challenge for the

SBT. I think she had a sense of

humour failure with that one (her

husband, Ken, found it hilarious),

but she is battling on like a

trooper even though her first

video looked more like she was

doing pull ups on the ceiling lol.

Keep going Jackie, it’s all worth

it! I would also like to welcome

our new Commonwealth Corner

writer, Andy Hope-Hall. Andy is

a veteran who has served in the

South African army as well as the

British army. Welcome Andy,

looking forward to reading your

articles. Part 2 of the Northern

Ireland article can also be found

in this week’s pages. I’d like to

thank Shane (Sid) Barker for the

kind use of a photograph from

South Armagh back in 87. Sid

was in Bessbrook Mill, as well as

myself, all those years ago.

Finally I’d like to say thank you

to Queen Mary University in

London for the kind use of much

of the article. That’s it. Check

back in next week for more. Px

Ways to find us

The Sandbag Times



A Song For A Hero

The Brand New Rock Opera which tells the truth of what

happens to our heroes when the killing ends. Packed with

incredible songs, breathtaking graphics and an emotional

rollercoaster of a story that will leave you asking

questions for a long time to come.”

Where Do They Go...

...When the Killing Ends

| 36


Street Soldier

Andy McNab


Chuck Hawthorne

Chuck is currently touring the UK at the moment

with his new album. A US Country singer who has

donated a track to Music 4 Heroes.

Tip: Listen to ‘Welding Son of a Gun’ I love it.

Sean Harker is good at two things: stealing cars and fighting.

One earns him money, the other earns him

respect from the gang that he calls family.

A police chase through the city streets is just

another rite of passage for Sean . . . as is

getting nicked. But a brutal event behind bars

convinces him to take charge and turn his life


Now he must put his street skills to the

ultimate test: as a soldier in the British army.

And the battlefield is London, where innocent

people are being targeted by a new and

terrifying enemy.

Undercover, under threat – only Sean Harker

can save the streets from all-out war.

Bravo Two Zero

Sean Bean

Jamie Bartlett

Kevin Collins

This is the true story of the most highly

decorated British patrol since the Boer war: an

eight man SAS team inserted behind Iraqi

lines during the Gulf War in January 1991.

Their mission was to take out the scud missiles

which Saddam Hussein was using to terrorize

his enemies, as well as to sever strategic

communication lines between Baghdad and

North West Iraq. But something went wrong

Sgt Andy McNab and his team were suddenly

thrust into a brutal game of survival.

Back issues of The Sandbag Times are available to download here

# $


" !











Osteopath 37 |

Veterans’ jobs

Store Manager

AVIS UK, Southend-on-sea - East of England

Salary Range: £24,000,

View Job Details

Rental Sales Agent

AVIS UK, Greater London

Salary Range: £19,000 + Commission

View Job Details

Team Leader

AVIS UK, Greater London

Salary Range: £21,000 + Commission

View Job Details

Field Service Technician

Green Recruitment Solutions

Salary Range: £28,000 - £32,000 + Overtime + Package,

View Job Details

Security Officer (48 hour shift)


Salary Range: £31,587 per annum,

View Job Details

Prison Security Officer - 8621

SERCO, - West Midlands

Salary Range: £15k - £20k,

View Job Details

Workshop Chargehand

FSR SOLUTIONS, - Greater London

Salary Range: £30k - £34k depending on experience,

View Job Details

Trainee Manager

AVIS UK, Cambridge - East of England

Salary Range: £20,500

View Job Details

Guest Services Mall Manager

VSG, Stirling - Mid Scotland and Fife

Salary Range: £9.40 p/h

View Job Details

Communications Manager


Salary Range: £22k - £25k

View Job Details

HGV Driver

H WICKS (LINDAL) LTD, Barrow-in-Furness - North West

Salary Range: £9 - £11 p/h

View Job Details

Cash in Transit Driver

MOBIUS RESOURCING, Hemel Hempstead - South East

Salary Range: £21848 - 23580

View Job Details

Casual Technical Assistant - 14341

SERCO - North East

Salary Range: £10 - 15k

View Job Details


EUROPCAR, Stevenage - South East

Salary Range: £7.50 p/h

View Job Details

| 38

Veterans Radio

Veterans Radio Net


“OUR” radio station “Yours and Mine”

By tuning in and commenting on our Live Chat Page

you take control of the station, you make it “Yours”

Come on in and make some new friends, have a laugh, pick

the music and tell us what you want to talk about

VRN, the NAFFI of the Airwaves

Keeping Veterans Stronger Together since 2012

With new presenters joining the team soon, VRN is going

from strength to strength

"Make yourself part of it"

Forces Online Radio

May 23rd saw the launch of a new military focused radio station

"Forces Online Radio". We are operating in direct support of the

The Centre of the Universe,

"Forces Online" page/site, that is growing rapidly, and needs another

ok so that's pushing it, but VRN is

string to its bow. Our aim is to bring you a diverse selection of both

music and topics, that either directly or indirectly affect the lives of our

Military personnel, and of course the Veterans. Basically, anyone that

is serving or has served. We value your input and hope that this is the

beginning of a two-way communication via the airwaves. It will

always be a "work in progress", as we adjust and adapt to the

requirements of our listeners. After all, without you, we have no

purpose. To get connected, please use the link below:

Other links that can be used for external connection are:


Real Audio:

Windows Media:

Jim Wilde

Director – Forces Online Radio

Military Veterans Radio

“Hands Across The Pond”

MVR is the place to be for great music, great company and

a deep love and respect for our troops and veterans.

We thank them for their service by providing a safe and

welcoming enviroment to meet and chat.


MVR also provides a support platform where you can find

links to get help and support for many veterans issues

So what are you waiting for?

Just click on the link and join us in the chatroom 39 |


The Young Rifleman

O; Lord it is hard to be humble

Frank When you’re is on a veteran my left in everyway

But on the way to becoming a

Charlie to my right


In Some front veterans of me get waylaid the ladder

I’m shivering with fright

The veteran’s brain gets scrambled

With stuff he can’t process

I have It makes a others’ bullet lives chambered

a misery

My But Bayonet the veteran doesn’t is fixed know this tight

My hands are now all sweaty

Then one day it happens

I got no sleep last night

The veteran’s life goes; BANG?

It falls apart around him




this he can’t



fallen silent


He does


not comprehend

for the first wave

The What Sergeant has happened to comes his life? along the


His kids, his marriage, his wife?

He tells us to be brave

Then he starts the spiral

He starts to lose control

So He we does not all know await what the is whistle


My sense says, go on flee

And then he is in the hole

I’m scared of all the things out

there The hole is deep. The hole is black

Every looks bleak

Of things they’d do to me

He starts to climb out the hole

But it keeps pulling him deep

I catch a glance at Charlie

The more he scrambles the worse it

We hear the whistle blow


I’m The climbing more he gets sucked up the downladder now

I hope Then he starts my to nerves panic don’t show

And the tears start rolling down

I take Then he just gets anxiety four steps forward

One Then mighty the pain in the stumble gut back

He is totally panic stricken

Now I’m laying in the mud

Then he starts to throw up

I can hear the mass attack

He does not understand what the

hell is going on

Then silence all around me

It is such the weirdest feeling

My Hanging eyes from gaze a yarn to the sky

Its then I see my whole life






he hollers

fleeting by

But nobody comes to help

That’s because they have gone

Why To a safer can’t place I no feel doubt my body

My eyes then start to weep

He is now alone in the hole



last thoughts

out of his witsare of mother

As He I’m does not drifting know what into dosleep

As he is stuck in the pit


Then he thinks of the family he had

He does not want to lose them

He finds the strength and pulls

himself clear

And starts to regain his freedom

Poetry Corner

Poetry Corner

He has to get rid of the demons

They are there every night

They are in the brain

Which causes pain?

This he has to fight

He wakes in the night

Having a fight

Sweating from head to toe

He shouts to his wife

But she’s in flight

Because he has lost control



Soldiers do not Welcome fade to grey to the new Page

They do not even dedicated fade away to the poetry that

Death has goneThey stand on you guard write. at heavens Please gate send in

Threat now passed You’ll find them your there poetry from 8 to til 8

My Heart is beating

Loud and fast Then if you’re lucky to get in

You’ll hear some music, a right old din

This week we feature the work

There’s no relief For just inside and on the right

of Karl Tearney. Karl is ex-Army

Nor wisdom tooThe Soldiers pub, a wondrous sight

Air Corps and a very talented

How I survived

A right old knees writer. up you will see

I’ve not a clue

Engineers, Tankies, Artillery

Air Corps, Paras, and REME

For time stood RLC, still AGC, and yes, the bloody Infantry

But yet so fast

My mind still there ©karltearney

It’s always last

He wakes in the morning

But can’t recall

The dreams he had in the night

He goes down stairs for breakfast

But his missus has taken flight

He gets on the phone and asks her

“Where the hell are you?”

She replies, “I can’t stay anywhere

near you”

The veteran is dumbfounded he

can’t fathom it out

Why the hell she has left him

But he is left in no doubt

He is back in the spiral

It is doing the same old trick

It is pulling him in deeper

Deeper into the pit

There is one fight he has to win

If he is to regain his freedom

He must get rid of the demons

So, if you see a veteran walking

down the street

Stop, think, look

Another time

For me to lose

Those memories

Leave lasting clues

Perhaps one day

When time goes slow

I’ll find those clues

And let them go


Does he look wounded physically?


Peter Ireland

| 40

NAAFI break



Come up with

a capti

ion fo

or Sg




nd wi

in a prize


Word Wheel

How many words can you find in the above Word Wheel.

There is at least one 9 letter word

Send in your answers, future puzzles, brainteasers, jokes, etc into 41 |

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