The Sandbag Times Issue No: 39


The Veterans Magazine

The Veterans’ Magazine

Issue 39 | January 2018

Mrs Fox Goes To War

The Chronicles of Little Hope

1939 - 1945

And so it begins...

SBT News Update

Plus all The Latest National & International

News from the Armed Forces & Veterans’ World


Supporting #TommyAtkins


SBT News

4 More Troops to Afghan

Number of troops deployed

set to rise to 600

4 Calls To Unite Charities

An MP has called for Mental

Health Charities &

Organisations to be united.

5 Prince Harry Pal Found


A Warrant Officer who

served with Prince Harry

has been found dead.

5 US Veteran Found Dead

in Parking Lot

Veteran dies after release

from VA in Freezing parking



By Emile Gessen

Page 10


8 306 Remembered

Soldiers shot at dawn

during WW1 remembered

10 Robin Hood Complex

Filmmaker & Veteran Emile

Gessen in Syria

20 Chronicles of Little


Hostile environments and

The continuing adventures

of Mrs Fox


7 Historic Tommy Atkins

Bosnia & Herzegovina

13 Have Faith

Choices and Blame...

18 SBT Information

A page dedicated to back

issues, information, book

reviews etc

23 Poetry Corner

Poetry and written art from

our readers

January 2018

Editor: Pablo Snow

Magazine Manager: Matt Jarvis

Chief Sponsor: Ken Brooks

Patro: Matt Neal

Honourary Patron:

Jacqueline Hurley

Additional editors:

Albert ‘Robbie’ McRobb

Jane Shields

Radio & Media Manager

Jim Wilde

Recording Engineer and PR


Vince Ballard

VIP Distribution

John Terry

Email: 3 |



SBT newS January Edition Ken Brooks osteopath

Sponsored by

More British Troops To Be Deployed To Afghanistan

British Troops deployed to

Afghanistan is set to rise to

600 to train Afghan soldiers

already in action in

Resolute Support. The

main initiatives are to

combat the increase in

suicide bombers and the

huge amount of IED’s

found during the last year.

Up to 85 troops from the

1st Battalion, Welss Guards

will be deployed on a training

basis only to train and mentor

Afghan forces which replaced

the NATO-led combat mission

three years ago. The troops

will be part of the International

Security Assistance Force

(ISAF) which has was

constructed in order to train,

mentor and further assist the

Afghanistan Forces with the

aim to defeat the ongoing

terrorist activities in the

province. The latest suicide

bomb in Kabul killed 41 and

injured 84 on a Shia Cultural

Centre on 28th December 2017.

The recent plans to increase

British Military presence in

Afghanistan comes after calls to

further increase support in the

area and assist Afghan Military

Forces. More can be read on

this story at

Calls To Unite Forces & Veterans Mental Health Services

A Plymouth MP and the chief

executive of the country’s leading

military charity for mental health

are calling for the establishment

of a national framework of mental

health care for veterans.

According to the Ministry of

Defence’s (MoD) medical

discharge report there has been a

“significant” rise in the number of

service personnel being

discharged due to mental health

related reasons in the last two

years. And the country's leading

veterans’ mental health charity,

Combat Stress is reporting a 143

per cent rise in veterans accessing

its support in 10 years.

Improvements to the system have

been introduced by NHS England

since April 2017 and include the

mandatory recording of the total

number of veterans each mental

health care trust or provider is

treating. Prior to April this was

not mandatory: information

revealed via a series of Freedom

of Information requests to all of

the UK’s mental health care trusts

in November 2016, revealed that

more than half of those that

supplied data, did not make a total

record of how many veterans they

were treating. Despite

improvements, there is an absence

of an agreed, statutory, unified

system of care for veterans for

every mental health care provider

to follow, nor an agreed, statutory

training or awareness programme

for mental healthcare

professionals to deal with the

specific needs of former service

personnel, resulting in a

“patchwork approach” to care

from one trust to another. This is

the exact issue the Sandbag Times

raised with the MOD in 2016. The

failings in the NHS system

reflected the inaccuracy of the

statistics given to the MoD and

the Government. It would be

interesting to see the ammended

statistics in due course.

Somehow, I fear the true figures

may never be truly revealed in

fear of a public outcry.

Manchester Blast: Royal Navy Veteran Honoured

A FORMER Royal Navy chef

has been hailed a hero for

rushing to the aid of victims of

the Manchester Arena terror

attack. Jon Morrey, now a police

community support officer, was

on patrol at Manchester Victoria

Station when the blast ripped

through the foyer of the arena

on May 22 last year, leaving 22

victims dead. Last night he was

one of four British transport

Police (BTP) officers, who were

first at the scene, to be

commended for their actions in

a special ceremony at

Manchester Town Hall. Mr

Morrey, 43, said he and his

colleagues were trained not to

run towards explosions but they

ignored that advice and were

treating the seriously wounded

within 60 seconds of hearing the

blast. Read More Here

‘Sir’ To Be Dropped

From Army phonecalls

Soldiers who answer Army

phones are no longer allowed

to use the word ‘Sir’ when initially

answering. The ruling follows

remarks that state it is no

longer gender appropriate and

updated. Colonel Steve

Davies, the army's assistant

head of employment, said personnel

should avoid gendered

terms such as 'Sir' because

they were "outdated". British

soldiers typically answer calls

from senior personnel with the

greeting, "How can I help you

Sir?" But it has been suggested

the last word be dropped.

The Defence Secretary has

halted plans to scrap the slogan

‘Army, Be The Best’ and

the Army Crest which was to

cost £520,000 in rebranding.

SBT: Is this how the MOD is

spending the Defence Budget?

| 4



SBT newS January Edition Ken Brooks osteopath

US Veteran Found Dead In Freezing Cold

Parking Lot After Being Released From VA

The family of an Army veteran is

accusing a Veterans Affairs

hospital of negligence after they

released the man, who was later

found dead in a freezing-cold

parking lot on New Year’s Eve.

Vance Perry, 57, moved from

Atlanta to Madison, Wisconsin

last month and was recently

picked up by a Veterans Affairs

van for a routine appointment for

paranoid schizophrenia. He was

then admitted for mental

instability, but was released last

Friday wearing just a light jacket.

They didn’t make sure that he

got in a car,” his daughter Erika

said. “He walked away.” A

hospital spokesperson confirmed

that Perry arrived via the disabled

American Veterans van program,

but said the hospital arranged for

him to take a taxi home, adding

that it’s “unclear why the veteran

did not utilize that transportation

and return home per the

discharge plan.” His daughter,

however, thinks the hospital

should have done more to make

sure he got in a taxi. Detectives

are currently investigating Perry’s

death, and a medical examiner has

indicated that he likely died of

hypothermia. His daughter and

her four other siblings are

considering taking legal action

against the hospital to bring

justice to their father. Meanwhile,

Paul Rickert of Middleton

Memorial Veterans Hospital

addressed the tragedy in a

statement: “We are terribly

saddened to learn of the loss of

this veteran. Prior to his death, he

voluntarily checked out of our

facility, which had no grounds to

prevent him forcibly from doing

so.” His family is still

determining when and where to

hold his funeral.

A decorated British soldier

who fought alongside

Prince Harry in

Afghanistan is believed to

have killed himself after

complaining to colleagues

about the treatment he was

receiving for PTSD.

Married Warrant Officer

Nathan Hunt, 39, was

found dead last week after

confiding to Royal

Engineers colleagues that

he was struggling to cope

with the effects of

battlefield trauma. He also

described the care

Sponsored by

Warrant officer Who Served With Prince Harry

Found Dead After PTSD Treatment Complaints

provided to him by the

Army as ‘useless’. The

father-of-one protected

Prince Harry when they

belonged to an army desert

reconnaissance unit.

Warrant Officer Hunt’s

highly dangerous role was

to identify roadside bombs

encountered by the elite

force as they crossed

Helmand Province on

secret missions to ambush

the Taliban. Prince Harry

has written a private letter

of condolence to Mr

Hunt’s family according to

Army Veteran Recruiting For PTSD Retreat

A former army veteran is looking for new recruits to join his

ranks at a retreat which supports soldiers who are battling

PTSD. Paul Marriott, 48, who was born in Blackburn and now

lives on River Road, Thornton, served in the military between

1986 and 1999 and recently used his pension to purchase

three-and-a-half acres of woodland on the banks of the River

Ribble near BAE. Over the last year or so, Paul has been

working the woods to turn it into a safe retreat, which has been

named called Belisama Retreat, for those battling PTSD.


retreat is being run by veterans 'for veterans' but is also there

for local groups like cadets, organised community youth

groups, to be taught bushcraft and shown the abundant wildlife

there. There are many planned projects for veterans to help

with their recovery at the retreat including, building badger and

otter viewing huts, teepee construction, bronze age hut and

tree house's and fishing. Read on this story here

Buckingham Palace

sources. WO Hunt’s

former colleagues accused

the Ministry of Defence of

letting him down. One

said: ‘Nathan was a

cracking bloke who saved

a lot of lives in

Afghanistan. He fought

the demons in his head for

years but it seems they

won in the end. He said

that the care he was

receiving for his condition

was useless and he was

thinking of getting out of

the Army. Read More 5 |

The Historical Tommy Atkins

The Historical Tommy Atkins



Written By

Peter Macey

This year in the Tommy Atkins Diary we will

be looking back one hundred years to the

events leading up to the Centenary of the

Armistice. But in between that we will also be

looking at other history changing events that

have occurred since that time. In the early

1990's British Servicemen were called upon to

take on a Peace Keeping role which was

quickly going to develop into something more

than just keeping the peace as Britain were

drawn into a conflict and witnessed some of

the worst atrocities carried out by former

friends, neighbours and work colleagues

against each other and the term Ethnic

Cleansing came into our language.

On 13th January 1993 two Warrior armoured

vehicles made their way along a road in the

area of Gornji Vakuf heading towards the main

town. Between them was an ambulance

carrying three female civilian casualties.

Earlier in the day the Warrior team had been

providing a personal escort for the

Commanding Officer of 1 Cheshires, Lt Col

Bob Stewart, who was visiting Gornji Vakuf to

try to broker a ceasefire between the Muslim

ARBiH troops and the Croat HVO troops.

Shortly after the negotiations started a call was

received requesting an armoured escort for an

ambulance and two warriors were assigned to

the job. The convoy of three vehicles set off at

around 1030, the lead vehicle commanded by

Corporal Furniss and driven by Lance Corporal

Wayne 'Eddie' Edwards, attached to the

Cheshires from the Royal Welch Fusiliers.

Eddie drove with his hatch open for greater

visibility and all seemed okay. Then around

twelve minutes after leaving the base as the

lead warrior crossed a bridge a single shot rang

out hitting Eddie Edwards in the head. Despite

the efforts of a senior medical officer in the

rear warrior Eddie died at the scene.

Wayne 'Eddie' Edwards was the first British

casualty in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Yugoslavia following World War II was set up

to include six republics; Bosnia and

Herzegovina, Croatia, Serbia, Montenegro,

Macedonia and Slovenia. There were also two

autonomous states, Kosovo and Vojvodina.

Each republic had its own branch of the

League of Communists of Yugoslavia with the

President for Life being Josip Broz Tito. And

under this regime the country became

politically and economically powerful in the

region with peace across the country. But in

May 1980 President Tito died and over the next

ten years the whole country and all the

individual republics became embroiled in a

fight for power and with killing men, women

and children on a daily basis.

Things came to a head in the early 1990's and

the United Nations with its supporting nations

including Britain formed the UN Protection

Force (UNPROFOR), established as a peacekeeping

force and included British deployment

of troops into Bosnia-Herzegovina in October

1992 under the codename Op Grapple.

But following the death of Eddie Edwards in

January 1993 the British Government changed

the philosophy to that of peace-making.

Following news of the first British casualty, the

Minister of Defence at the time, Malcolm

Rifkind, announced that a Royal Navy Task

Force would be deployed to the Adriatic which

included an Aircraft Carrier. This was to be the

first deployment of a carrier on active service

since the Falkland Islands War in 1982. The

British Government was determined that any

further attacks on British UNPROFOR troops

would be met with artillery and air attacks.

British armed forces from all three arms of the

Service continued to serve in Bosnia for

another fifteen years and would see more than

fifty casualties and many more wounded.

BRITBAT and its supporting sub-units won

great praise by becoming the guardians of the

only functioning main supply route into the

core of Bosnia and ultimately Sarajevo and

Tuzla. The maintenance of Routes Triangle and

Diamond would remain a critical combat

engineering task, the Royal Engineers carrying

out their usual high standards of work.

Three days after the death of Eddie Edwards

Bob Stewart managed to broker a temporary

ceasefire in Gornji Vakuf in order to lay a

wreath at the spot where Edwards was killed.

At exactly 2.00pm both sides paused hostilities

while four Warriors drove to the bridge.

Accompanying the British troops at the

ceremony were the commanders of the ARBiH

and HVO units. The Warrior Commander that

Eddie was driving, Cpl Furniss tied a wreath of

yellow and red carnations and pine branches,

spelling out the name 'Ed', to the bridge. After

a minutes’ silence the opposing commanders

saluted and the British withdrew. Hostilities

recommenced moments later.

Lance Corporal Wayne Edwards' funeral was

held at his home town of Rhosymedre, Wales

on 25 January 1993. In May 1993 Eddie's

Mother attended a parade at the Cheshires'

home base in Germany where medals for

service were awarded. She was presented with

her son's United Nations Medal by Lt Col Bob


On 1st October 2011, as a tribute to him and

the other peacekeepers that lost their lives

during the conflict, the Mayor of Gornji Vakuf-

Uskoplje renamed the bridge where the driver

was hit to The Lance Corporal Wayne Edwards

Bridge. The official ceremony was attended by

Wayne's sister, the British Ambassador the

Defence Attache and Col Bob Stewart.

Do you have memories of Op Grapple or the

Bosnian conflicts? However difficult they may

be to talk about you can guarantee there will be

others that will share your memories and we

are all here to support each other.

We would like to hear from you here at SBT

and at Forgotten Veterans UK. 7 |

Remembering The 306

There have been many infamies regarding the first world war

but few stand out as much as the butchering of 306 men that

were executed for cowardice in the face of the enemy or

desertion. Most of these did not have defence at their court

martial and evidence was ignored. The Sandbag Times looks

back at one of the biggest injustices of history and asks why

so many young men were shot for very little or no reason.

When I look at so many of our veterans

suffering from, what we now call PTSD, I

wonder how many of those would have found

themselves in a very different position a century

ago. Shellshock was very commonplace in the

trenches, in fact it was just after the First World

War in 1919 that the charity which we now

know as Combat Stress was born. However,

306 soldiers during the conflict died at the

hands of firing squads, condemned by

makeshift court-marshalls, very often without

defence and without crucial medical and other

important evidence which very well may have

saved their lives. The youngest being only 16.

The callousness by th Army Brass served as a

sick deterrent for troops not to desert their

posts or refuse to fight. The function of the

'threat of executions' was to a intimidate and

frighten soldiers in the battlefield....'Risk the

possibility of a bullet in battle or certain death if

one didn't do their duty. These are just a few of

the case files from that bloody time.

One 19-year-old, Pte George Roe of the King's

Own Yorkshire Light Infantry, was executed for

desertion, even though one witness told his

court martial: "[Roe] came up to me and asked


if I was a policeman. He told me that he had

lost his way and had been wandering about for

two days."

Another 19-year-old, Pte James Archibald of

the 17th Royal Scots, told his comrades he "felt

queer" while en route to the trenches at 6.30pm

on 14 May 1916. At 3pm the next day, he was

found asleep in a barn. He was shot by firing

squad three weeks later.

Pte Joseph Byers was under-age when he

enlisted in 1914. By January 1915, the war had

ground the young man down and he went

absent without leave. After being caught, he

admitted attempting to desert in the naive belief

that his honesty and contrition would earn him

a prison sentence. He was shot at dawn two

weeks later.

Pte Abraham Bevistein was one of 250,000

British soldiers who gave a false age to join up

and enlisted into the 11Bn the Middlesex

Regiment aged 16. But after only a month in

the front line the teenager suffered shell shock

after a grenade exploded next to him and he

went to the rear to seek help. After being told

by a medical officer that he was fit to return to

fighting, Pte Bevistein, a Jew from the East End

of London, wandered off and was arrested for

desertion. In a letter to his mother, he wrote:

"We were in the trenches and I was ill so I went

out and they took me to prison and I am in a

bit of trouble now and won't get any money for

a long time." The family had not known that

the teenager had joined up until he came home

in uniform. A few months later they received a

telegram telling them that Pte Bevistein had

been sentenced to death for desertion and shot

on March 20, 1916.

So, 100 years after the First World War, I feel

their are still many questions to be asked and

many lessons still need to be learned. But

before going any further I must state that the

306 were pardoned back in 2006. What

troubles me is a ‘Pardon’ is only a release from

sentence. The original sentences and charges,

no matter how ludicrous were never altered or

withdrawn. To me, thst is still those in charge

refusing to admit the truth. I often think if

things were the same today, if those in charge

still had the same ways of dealing with it’s

troops, how many would have been put up

against the wall. Thankfully, this is not the case

but there is still a refusal to recognise the

crippling effects on the mind. This brings me

to a final question. How many of our veterans

in prison have been ignored in the same way.

Agreed, not the same consequences but

certainly with the same degree of ignorance.

Men who have been subject to the most horrific

situations imaginable, have ended up in

situations that they have been unable to control

through traumatic illnesses. What does it boil

down to? The simple fact that those in power

cannot be seen to be the ones at fault. If the

MoD/ Government were to recognise this,

imagine how many libel cases would ensue.

Just a thought... Rest in Peace, the 306.

| 8


The Tommy Atkins Centre...

Here’s wishing everyone a successful and happy 2018. Here

at The Tommy Atkins Centre it’s business as usual. Since our

official opening in November the word appears to getting out

there about us. We have confirmed bookings from Combat

Stress to run assessments and one to one’s beginning mid

January, and will also be meeting with Herefords Defence

Medical Welfare Services in a few weeks time to see what we

can do to help each other out.

Thankfully the centre was quiet over the Christmas and New

Year period, but it’s all systems go from here on in. Our

psychotherapist is already providing invaluable help to

veterans here, and we have signposted a few people to

Combat Stress and SSAFA for further assistance. We’re also

trying our utmost to secure some government funding to help

towards running costs, so fingers crossed we can persuade

them our Centre offers a necessary and invaluable service to

our local veteran community.

We are open from 0930 – 1530 on Tuesdays and Thursdays

and always welcome any veterans who’d like to call in just to

have a look around, or to find out what we do, and especially

anyone who is looking for any assistance. We’re also looking

for several volunteers who can spare a few hours during

those days who’d like to become part of our team here at 26

Sansome Walk, Worcester.

Jane & Marie

Ken Brooks Osteopath

BSc. (Hons) Osteopathic Medicine ND DO


• Sciatica

• Back and neck pain

• Shoulder, elbow, wrist & hand problems

• Repetitive strain injuries (RSIs)

• Hip, knee & traumatic injuries

• Plus much more...

Call us on 01905 22264

Or email on: 9 |


The Robin Hood Complex

By Emile Ghessen , Producer of Robin Hood Complex

Former Royal Marines

Commando turned documentary

maker, Emile

Ghessen, swapped his rifle

for a camera to document

the plight of international

volunteers fighting Islamic

State in Iraq and Syria.

With no experience as a

film maker, he bought a

camera and booked a flight

to the Middle East, alone

and unarmed to document

the men’s motives to take

up arms against Islamic


The combination of Emile’s

family being Syrian, himself

being a former Royal

Marines Commando and

having attended the same

school as ‘Jihadi John’

gave Emile the inspiration

to make a documentary.

After several trips to the

region under fire and isolated,

Emile has created a

gripping feature documentary

that gives an intimate

insight into the motivation

of international volunteers

in his documentary, ‘Robin

Hood Complex’.

At a recent Q&A Session,

Emile allowed us in the

background of Robin Hood

Complex revealing what

inspired him to produce

such a heart touching and

exeptional film. Here are

some of those questions

You made a movie about men from the west

fighting IS. You have taken a lot of time,

effort and danger for it. Why would you do


I feel it’s an important story that people need to

know. We hear stories of people that have

joined Islamic State, but not so many stories of

people that join the kurdish forces to fight

against Islamic State. So I wanted these men to

have a voice. The reason I felt I needed to do

this is because I’m a former Royal Marines

Commando and my father is from Syria. I have

the military skills that could help fight Isis, I

have family in Syria affected by this war, but I

didn’t feel the need to go pick up a rifle to fight,

but these men did. That’s why I was so

interested in this story! I feel swapping my rifle

for a camera is far more powerful in this war.

You financed the film with crowdfunding. Two

questions: What kind of people have

supported you and your project? And: Only

a few professional media from the West

report directly from the countries about this

war and even fewer journalists are at the

frontline. The information comes from

freelancers like you and the rapporteurs of

the war-parties. How do you see this


I’ve done 6 trips to the region over 3 years

covering this war. I have self funded the whole

project myself. In 2016 when the offensive for

Mosul was announced, I wanted to be there,

but had no money so I asked for donations on

Gofundme for my flights and people were

generous to help me with my flight costs. Other

than this one trip, I’ve funded the whole thing.

It’s been tough going, I’ve nearly lost my house

because I haven’t had the money and my credit

cards are maxed out, but with determination

I’ve always managed to find some work when I

return in between editing to help fund my trips.

It will be a lie to say it’s been easy going,

because it hasn’t been. Robin Hood Complex is

a passion of love, so once I started it, I was

going to finish it no matter what. The advantage

I have is, my previous military skills. I turn up

somewhere on my own, I carry a sleeping bag

and jut live on the frontline. It’s what I’m used

to. I know what life is like on the frontline from

being a Royal Marine so that builds trusts that

often other journalists don’t get.

You're a military man. What were you doing in

the army?

I served in the British Royal Marines

Commando for 12 years. During 2000-2012. I

served three tours of Afghanistan one in the

mountains near the Pakistan border and two in

Helmand province and served during the

invasion of Iraq in 2003. I loved my military

career and was well respected. I just felt it was

time to move on so I decided to leave. Once I

left I went into the security sector doing body

guarding and anti piracy security in the Indian

Ocean. However, it didn’t interest me so that

how this journey started.

You called the movie Robin Hood Complex.

That sounds very psychological. Is it the

fighters' task to balance their own psyche?

Feeling better?

Many people ask me why I called it Robin

Hood Complex. I didn’t want to just call it

something like “Isis fighters” or that. I’ve

wanted to humanise these men. That’s what

Robin Hood Complex is about, it’s not about

men shooting loads of guns, it’s about

understanding who these men are. I haven’t

made this documentary to glorify their actions,

nor have I made it to judge them. So when you

think about Robin Hood as a character, he

stole from the rich to give to the poor! That’s

noble of him, but he’s still committing a crime.

So I wanted people to watch this documentary

and be open minded towards these men and

make up their own mind if they think they are

doing good or bad in the region.

You're an ex-military, many volunteers are

professionals. Did you also meet people

who didn't have military training? A german

volunteer reported once, he has met a lot of

absolute naive persons and that it was

difficult to rely on them.

I meet lots of men with no previous experience.

Yes I would say some were naive. We live in a

world where Hollywood and computer games

have glorified war and killing. For anyone that

has seen real combat knows it’s full of highs,

but also plenty of lows. You can’t unsee things.

That’s why so many men have PTSD from Iraq

and Afghanistan. War can be horrible. I feel

many of these men who have no military

experience think it’s a bit of a game. That when

you die you come back alive like in call of duty.

This clearly isn’t the case and many men have

been killed out there fighting as a volunteer.

Saying that, I’ve met several volunteers who

have no military experience and are respected

by the Kurds and other volunteers. Some men

bring different skills. But they all have their

own reasons for going there.

What is important to the locals about

volunteers? Their real military value or the

sign of the world that they are not alone?

These volunteers are of massive importance to

the Kurds. They treat these volunteer extremely

well. The Kurds all look at European countries

as brilliant places to live, so when you have a

volunteer that gives up his live back home to

become a unpaid volunteer sleeping on the

floor, eating rice and bread on the frontline,

they respect them. The Kurds feel the west

have forgotten about them in this war, but

these men and some women haven’t.

In all wars people die in a cruel way. In

many wars criminal excesses of violence

happen, but in my opinion the wars in Syria

and Iraq are special. I have never seen so

| 10


much unleashed violence and sadism - here

from Germany – in wars like in Eastern

Ukraine. What does do that to the


IS have been brutal. However all wars have

been brutal in some way or another. The

difference in the war with Isis is social media

and smart phones. IS have exploit these. Al

qaeda sat in caves with a shakey Camcorder

making videos, ISIS have gone further and

make Hollywood propaganda videos that can

then be delivered into your front room or

bedroom at home to your smart phone. That’s

why we can see their reign of terror. This is why

the Iraqi army ran away when they heard IS was

coming towards them. Isis have taken

advantage of social media and the fear this

gives us. This is what drives these volunteers.

They see it at home and feel they need to do

something about it. These volunteers use

Facebook to contact kurdish groups and they

also use social media to show the world what’s

going on from the other side. The world can

see the horrors of war much easier these days.

Russia declares the IS defeated - meaning

the end of big military operations in brigade

strength. This is far from being a peace as

we know it, nor it is a democracy like in

Switzerland. What do you think: will it go

better for the people there? A little better? Or

do the battles continue

IS are officially defeated on the battlefield. They

no longer have a caliphate like they did,

however we haven’t seen the last of them. Over

the coming months and years we will see a

massive insurgent campaign by them in Iraq

and Syria with an increase in suicide attacks on

civilian locals, we will see them exploit security

situations in other countries like recently in the

Philippines. We will also see continued terror

attacks in Europe from homegrown terrorists.

Be prepared for ISIS 2.0 who will become more

vocal on social media and I feel now the

attention will slowly drift away from IS, al qaeda

will make a come back. We can not say they

are defeated, because how do you defeat an


When the war ends, what happens then? In

Europe, people fear the return of IS fighters

and their families - but what do the

volunteers do? Do they go back and sell

furniture again?

Many of the volunteers that feature in Robin

Hood Complex have returned home and have

indeed returned to civilian life. They all tell me

they want to return, but if there is no fighting

what are they going to return to do? Are these

men a threat to national security, well that’s for

the security services to investigate. Many

volunteers that have returned to the UK have

been arrested under Terrorism law while the

police investigate them. None are yet to be

charged. So yes, most do just slip back into the

civilian work place.

In Germany, the war in Syria is often

compared to the 30-year war, because of the

engagement of foreign powers. Can you give

me your personal assessment of the role of

the West, the United States and Russia?

I’m very vocal on the West’s involvement in

Syria. I’ve stood in British Parliament and

openly said this. We fail the Middle East time

after time with our foreign policy. Syria was a

liberal peaceful country before the Arab spring

and the uprising of rebels funded by us. Russia

and Iran are allies of Assad and will never allow

him to fall unless they wanted him to. The

Saudis want rid of Assad and we supported

them in this thinking in 2010/11 he would be

overthrown. We supplied ‘moderate rebels’ not

that I believe there is anything moderate about

these rebels with weapons, money and training

that has been used to support jihadist groups.

We funded rebels in Afghanistan to fight the

soviets, we called these fighters “freedom

fighters” when they called theirselves al qaeda

and attacked us, we called them terrorists. The

west fail the Middle East time after Time,

because we don’t understand the cultural

differences. I personally feel ashamed by our

politicians who are often short sighted and

greedy. I believe we should all be held

accountable for the mass killing of people in

Iraq and Syria. The uprising was the start of the

fire and the west and Russia, Saudi and Iran

have all just kept on pouring fuel on the fire.

For far too long the war in Syria has been

ongoing. Is are just exploiting the power

vacuum. There are far greater problems now in

Syria than just IS.

I hope Robin Hood Complex opens peoples

minds to what’s going on in the region.

Check out ‘Robin Hood Complex’ at 11 |


Canada Calling

The Canuck Connection

Happy New Year!

In just over 2 weeks the 2018 Winter Olympics and

Paralympics will take place in South Korea. It was

nice to see that a South Korean group has purchased

tickets for Foreign Soldiers studying in Korea:

It is heartening to see that talks between

North and South Korea are taking place with regard to the Olympics.

Even the Orange Man in Washington has decided to postpone joint

Military Exercises with South Korea until after the completion of the

Games. Now the biggest Conundrum to face Canada’s military in many

a year. The current Government are planning on making Marijuana

Legal, This really will affect our Military.

It will be very difficult for our Military Leaders in these days of

Political Correctness, to change the Military’s view on Marijuana. On

face book I give you some of the comments thus far.

Carol Hutton: Easy. Simply make it a condition of engagement on

safety grounds.

We don’t condone drinking on duty in ANY amount so the same applies

to weed. And because it lingers in the system it’s easy to test for use

even weeks after. You use weed, you’re out.

Erra Jant: Best place to be in the kitchen stoned and surrounded by

food lol

Jillian Dawn : The big problem is that there is no accurate test to tell if

you are intoxicated or not. Piss tests aren't reliable because THC stores

itself in body fat, and when you start burning that fat it shows up in

your blood stream.

Patrick Buzzell : Well, well another dilemma for the Forces. What are

Police Forces saying about their organization, Fire Fighters, Judges,

Politicians, etc. Why has the "Think tank", of the Armed Forces always

tried to be Mr Perfect, ideal citizen and put the men and women above

normal citizens. By going that route many scams are devised to

counterman the authorities both in the officers and in the ranks. What

no alcoholic consumption for all in Afghanistan? I doubt that. If

members of the Forces have to be better than the rest of the Country's

citizens, I would like to know how come our Pensions are below our

regular citizens and why is it so difficult to get a decent medical

pension and assistance if Armed Forces Personnel are to be citizens

above the rest?

I look forward to reading any comments readers of SBT may have.

To end this article with a bit of Humour that was around before Political


HALT..yelled the Drill Instructor. He had noticed that a recruit was

turning LEFT when told to turn RIGHT, This had happened for a few

drill commands. He went up to the recruit and stomped on his RIGHT

Foot. Now he said when I call RIGHT TURN it will be the foot that is


Nil Sine Labore


| 12


Choices and Blame

Let’s start with Choices. I have to confess to being a bit of a

movie buff. I have all of the movie sites on my PC, Netflix, Now

TV, Sky Movies, you name it, I’ve got it. I have an extensive

collection of DVD’s including many comedy box collections, war

movies, action movies, musicals (Can’t believe I’ve just

confessed to that one) plus lots of old classics. Yet, when it

comes to watching a movie with my partner, it takes me an

eternity to find something we both like. I think back some years

ago when my dad bought his first VCR. He had just two or three

films and five TV stations to watch but all of us would sit around

the old box and have a good movie night. The trouble these

days is, we have far too much choice. We please ourselves and

make that decision on what we watch just by the way we feel

and what we fancy. We have that choice. The choice we make

may not be a good one but these days to rectify the mistake we

just pick up the remote, press a button and the job is done. Not

so easy in life.

natural balance of the world by intervening. He has to let us, as

individuals, make choices and stand by the consequences. That

way we learn and improve ourselves. Even wars, started by

men making choices. Not God. He cannot save us from

worldly events, illnesses, violence and conflicts. It would be

wrong for him to do that. But despite all of this it doesn’t means

that he has walked away. He is still there for us to talk to, to lean

on and to look after those that leave us. At times of pain, God is

our comfort, not our blame object. Just something worth

thinking about.

Ecclesiastes 9:1-18

Choices we make in life will have good and bad consequences,

but we have to stand by the decisions we make and learn the

lessons whether good or bad. This is because we are given the

free will to make choices. Bear this fact in mind for later in the


But all this I laid to heart, examining it all, how the righteous and

the wise and their deeds are in the hand of God. Whether it is

love or hate, man does not know; both are before him. It is the

same for all, since the same event happens to the righteous and

the wicked, to the good and the evil, to the clean and the

unclean, to him who sacrifices and him who does not sacrifice.

As the good one is, so is the sinner, and he who swears is as he

who shuns an oath. This is an evil in all that is done under the

sun, that the same event happens to all. Also, the hearts of the

children of man are full of evil, and madness is in their hearts

while they live, and after that they go to the dead. But he who is

joined with all the living has hope, for a living dog is better than

a dead lion. For the living know that they will die, but the dead

know nothing, and they have no more reward, for the memory of

them is forgotten. ...

Now to blame. Have you ever blamed anyone for something

that has happened only to find you were wrong? I have, on

many occasions. But there is one form of blame that makes me

very uncomfortable, unfortunately, I hear it over and over again.

When someone loses a loved one or there is a violent attack or

war I hear ‘There can’t be a God if he lets this happen’ or words

to that effect. It is very easy to blame someone when we can’t

explain what has happened. Our thoughts can get very

confused and we tend to strike out at any avenue that is open.

Unfortunately, God takes his fair share of the blame.

I have realised that God has to allow nature to take its course

even when events lead to major tragedies. He cannot upset the 13 |


Hi Folks, and welcome to Sandbag Times Radio New Year


Hopefully by now, most of you have recovered from the

festive season, and probably dealing with the flu/virus that

is doing the rounds and incapacitating folks. Just make

sure you heed your doctors advice, and get plenty of fluids,

stay warm, and most of all tune into your very own

Internet Radio Station "Sandbagtimes Radio".

The latter part of the year took it's toll on the station, both

from a bereavement aspect, with the loss of family members,

and then the health aspect. We go into the new year

with optimism, and a new drive and ambition to reach more

folks, and bring more variety to our listeners. Over the

coming weeks, we will be reshaping the schedule, and

hopefully bringing you an eclectic mix of interviews, and

podcasts to accompany you through your day. We aim to

bring on board new DJ's to give a fresh and needed angle

to the way we operate. We work in tandem with the magazine

side of things, and hope to reflect and discuss the

many topics that are found in the magazine. If you getting

into the media side of things, then drop me a line. We want

active and healthy debate and discussion, and I am sure

there are many out there that have sat listening, and have

an opinion/view on something they have read. well, lets

have you on air, and claim your media place within the


continue to strive to do this. We are still shaping our platform,

and it will continue to evolve in line with your

demands. Evening shows/podcasts are planned, in order

to cover times when listeners have mentioned they would

like something scheduled live in the latter parts of the day.

You will notice this in the coming days and weeks.

Your continued support of both the Magazine and the

Radio Station is greatly appreciated. If you have any suggestions

for how we can bring you a better more varied

service, then please let us know. Email me At Thank you, and spread the word!

Until next month, keep tuning in, and stay safe wherever

you are

Jim Wilde

As I always say, the radio can only work if we have the

attention and interests of our listeners at heart, and we will

| 14

TO ORDER PLEASE CALL: 01226 734222




Armed Forces &

Veterans breakfast Clubs


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:



Former Magic breakfast co-host Verity Geere has joined Richard

Hatch at BFBS Radio's Forces Breakfast Show, and they present the

‘Hatch & Geere Breakfast Show’

They want to feature a different Armed Forces & Veterans Breakfast

Club each week... they want to speak to a member of the featured

Breakfast Club on their show, have a little fun, and talk to the

AFVBC member about what it means to them, and what happens


It will be coordinated via Richard Massey and club Admins, but it

doesn’t need to be an Admin who speaks... so please have a think

about who you think is a ‘charismatic’ character.. who you think

would be good!!!

This should be fun!!

| 16

Veterans Breakfast Clubs



Veterans and serving members of the armed forces enjoyed a special Christmas breakfast yesterday, Saturday.

Members of the Leigh Armed Forces and Veterans Breakfast Club, who meet every Saturday from 10am to noon at The Thomas

Burke Wetherspoons pub on Leigh Road, hosted their 'Great Christmas Get together' which gave past and present military

workers the chance to see each other before the big day tomorrow, Monday.

MP for Leigh Jo Platt and armed forces charity Shoulder

to Soldier's founder Linda Fisher were also in attendance.

Founded by ex-serviceman Ian Parkinson, the club allows

armed forces personnel, veterans and their family

members mutual support and offers the opportunity to

socialise with people from similar backgrounds.

Members have praised the weekly event as they share a

similar sense of humour and outlook on life as well as

reminding them of the social lives they used to enjoy

during their service days.

The event on Saturday was supported by charities

Forever Manchester and The Jo Cox Foundation.


As many of you, in the AFVBC world may know,

the Sandbag Times is now available as a

printed edition. Unlike the online edition, we

cannot offer the printed copies for free as we

have to pay for expensive printing costs and

obviously, the postage. However, we have done

some number crunching and we are pleased to

say we can send out packs of 5 magazines for

£20.00. Unfortunately, we regret that we cannot

send out single copies at this time, hopefully

that will change in the near future as the SBT

grows. The prints are of exellent and

professional standard with 250gsm covers and

130gsm pages with stunning colour and

graphics. If you would like to order monthly

magazines for your club or send in entries, then

please email us at

This printed copy will be used to support the

Tommy Atkins Veterans Centre in Worcester. 17 |


A word from the Ed

Happy New Year folks!! We do

hope you’ve had a great Chrimbo

and a nice relaxing time, We’re

already for the up and coming

year now suitably refreshed.

Quite a bit on the agenda for the

year including the season launch

for our Patron, Matt and Team

Dynamics. We will be doing a

nice big editorial during March to

mark the start complete with a

forecast of all the races and where

you can watch them. The SBT

will be at quite a few of the races,

ensuring you all get the up-to-theminute

news on this years BTCC

2018. We will be visiting many

airshows, military shows etc, no

doubt with a few tickets to give

away in our competitions. We

halso have a few serious agendas

to cover too. Firstly, we will be

supporting the families of the

Deepcut Inquests as two inquests

are about to be re-opened. We

will also be getting involved with

the ongoing issue of mental health

for Veterans in the community.

There are still far too many

questions to be answered

surrounding the amount of

veterans that are suffering in our

community and we will stay

dedicated to finding the answers

from those that should be giving

them. We also have another few

agendas that we are working on

but we will stay quiet on them

until we are in a position to go

forward. A little bit of good news

is that a bunch of us are going to

play Para for a couple of days by

hurling ourselves out of a plane

and then doing the fandance.

Really, at my age? To be honest,

I’m not the eldest in the group.

We are calling it the ‘Airborne

Challenge’ and once we have

sorted out a pilot thats crazy

enough to take us up we will start

the fundraising bandwagon. All

funds raised will go to the Tommy

Atkins Centre. Speaking of

which, the girls are doing an

outstanding job there at the

moment. Big well done!! Px

Ways to find us

The Sandbag Times



“I remember when

Pontoon bridges

were made out of

wood and metal”

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

| 18


Arctic Convoys

By Richard Woodman

Black Hearted Rider

Will Kileen

OK folks, this is a very, very good slide

guitarist. I’ve watched this guy live once or

twice and am totally blown away by him. If

you like blues music then this month’s

selection is the one to listen to.

During the last four years of the Second

World War, the Western Allies secured

Russian defences against Germany by

supplying vital food and arms. The plight of

those in Murmansk and Archangel who

benefited is now well known, but few are

aware of the courage, determination and

sacrifice of Allied merchant ships, which

withstood unremitting U-boat attacks and

aerial bombardment to maintain the lifeline

to Russia. In the storms, fog and numbing

cold of the Arctic, where the sinking of a

10,000 ton freighter was equal to a land

battle in terms of destruction, the losses

sustained were huge. Told from the

perspective of their crews, this is the

inspiring story of the long-suffering

merchant ships without which Russia

would almost certainly have fallen to Nazi


Thank You For Your Service

Haley Bennett

Miles Teller

Joe Cole

Agroup of U.S. soldiers returning

from Iraq struggle to integrate

back into family and civilian

life, while living with the memory of a

war that threatens to destroy them long

after they've left the battlefield.

Back issues of The Sandbag Times are available to download here 19|


Mrs Fox Goes

To War...

The Chronicles of Little Hope

1939 - 1945

Villager of the Month

Mrs Fox’s Wartime Trivia: ..

Meet Rt Reverend Aubrey Fishwick ...

Harvest Festival was almost upon them and

once again the vicar was having a preparatory

tug in the vegetable patch...

The Right Reverend Aubrey Fishwick had been the

vicar of Little Hope for as long as anyone could

remember. Village rumour had it that he was actually

so old that he'd fought at Waterloo, although this

nugget of information may have had its origins in an

altercation with a porter on platform 3 of the station

with the same name in 1932. Either way, nobody

alive in 1939 had ever come across another vicar in

St Candida's vestry and it was pretty much taken for

granted that nobody ever would...

With his trusty housekeeper Agapanthus Crumb and

her spotted dick on hand to sustain him, Aubrey put

his best foot forward and endeavoured to steer his

faithful flock through the trials and tribulations of

War, going as far as to ensure that the villagers tea

supplies were not affected by rationing by stuffing

forty-eight hassocks, five sofa cushions and a double

mattress with contraband Darjeeling just before it all

went tits up and supply lines were cut off.

Ever faithful and trusty as they come, constantly polishing

his bell clappers in anticipation of victory,

Aubrey was definitely your man in a tight corner.

Providing you had cake. Obviously.

Did you know that during World War Two the

British Government, deciding that – with us

being British and all - we’d obviously need as

much tea as we could possibly get our hands

on to see us through and that consequently it

splashed out and bought every last ounce of

tea available on the world market? It is said

that in 1942 the amount of tea purchased by

the government outweighed purchased

ammunition, literally.

When Churchill said that tea was as important

as ammunition, he wasn’t kidding! Troops and

civilians supplied, the RAF went on to drop

75,000 ‘tea bombs’ over the occupied

Netherlands in a single night with the message

The Netherlands Will Rise Again, Chin Up!’.

The British Red Cross also made sure that

every parcel sent to POW’s contained a quarter

of a pound of tea.

| 20


Hilda Ffinch:

The Bird With All The Answers

Hilda Ffinch, Little Hope's very own Agony Aunt (page 5

of the Little Hope Herald) was easily bored and terribly

rich. She loved nothing better than taking on the problems

of others and either sorting them out or claiming

that she'd never heard of them if it all went tits up and

they had to leave the district under cover of darkness

having followed her sage advice.

turns to the state of his lance.

Colonel Ffinch regularly dips his bayonet into my Tigerclaw (a

particularly sharp brand of vinegar which we imported regularly

from the Chap Matahari Trading Post in Malacca Street,

Singapore, before the war) but I fear that it is both exhausted

and hard to come by these days, otherwise you’d be quite welcome

to dunk yours in too. Might I suggest therefore that you

thrust your dirty old weapon into a bucket of horse urine? The

ammonia ought to get a reaction going in next to no time. It’ll

come up a treat. Don’t let Mrs C endeavour to spit on it afterwards

however as it may be closer than she thinks after a good

seeing to and there’s every chance that she’ll have her eye out.

Incidentally, the information you have received pertaining to

whether or not jerry likes it up him is indeed correct, I can confirm(from

personal experience during a particularly riotous

Oktoberfest in Munich in 1928 when my box brownie went into

overdrive ) that jerry most certainly does not like it up him and

assuming the polar opposite has led to the downfall of many

an unfortunate submariner.


Hilda Ffinch

The Bird With All The Answers

Letter Of The Month

This month’s plaintive cry for help was sent in by poor

dear Charles, who is having terrible problems with his


If you’d like Hilda Ffinch, The Bird With All The Answers to

address your own wartime problem, then pop along to

to subject your personal crisis to her (hopefully) sober

scrutiny. Remember to give yourself a suitable wartime

alias! Letters will be answered online and a selection of

them published in next month’s Sandbag Times.

Dear Hilda,

If I may be so bold - I have a dirty bayonet and no matter

how much I rub it I cannot get the blessed thing to

shine, even my good old wife has tried by spitting on it

and then getting a bit of muslin and rubbing vigorously,

without success!

I’ve heard the jerries don’t like it up ‘em.

Please advise.

Yours, most respectfully


Dear Charles,

I do sympathise with your problem and would like to assure

you that you are not the only fellow afflicted by this plight in


It is common knowledge that when all is peaceful and rosy in

the garden a fellow is wont to take his weapon for granted

and often neglects to give the entire shaft a thorough rinse

with a good sharp vinegar at least once a week in order to

keep it in tip top condition, indeed, it is often only when the

Hun starts trying to kick a fellow’s back door in that his mind

Caption Competition

December’s Photo Caption Winner: Many thanks to all who

entered, some very funny captions indeed and it wasn’t easy

picking a winner! However, finally, congratulations to Nick

Stanley! @NickStanley3 for this corker

“Whilst fully behind the plan to

hang out one’s washing on the

Siegfried Line, Violet always

reserved somewhere warmer and

closer to home for the village

bunting .....”

January’s Caption Competition: Violet Millington and Mrs


The winning caption

will be published in next

month’s Sandbag Times

and also on the Mrs Fox

Goes To War website.

To enter, please go to

and e-

mail us or tweet us

@thesandbagtimes !

And finally: A Very Happy New Year from Mrs Fox and the

villagers of Little Hope! May 2018 be Your Year!

You can catch more of Mrs Fox and Friends at

or on Twitter @mrslaviniafox 21 |

Poetry Corner

Poetry Corner



Through My Eyes

You don’t know me or what I’ve done

You don’t care where I’m from

So I have a question for you

Why do you judge me the way you do

I wonder what it is you see

Every day as you pass by me

What’s on your mind, and in your head?

Looking at me on my cardboard bed

All I have left in this world is here

But all you see are the cans of beer

You try not to look, or stare

But I see your eyes, I see the glare

The disgust, I see it in your face

As if it’s me that’s a disgrace

But if you knew what I’d done

That look might be a different one

You go to work all clean and shaved

On a street of gold that’s nicely paved

But you have sent me off to fight

Without a care for my future plight

The drugs and beer, the homelessness

The dishevelled look and the tiredness

None of that is a choice I’ve made

I was a soldier of the highest grade

You don’t see that, you don’t care

Why should you, life isn’t fair

I don’t want pity, especially yours

But spare a thought for those of us that fight your wars


Brian Chenier

Redcap Funeral

I went to the funeral of a colleague the other day

Went to the place where brave soldiers lay

As I stood with friends in grief

The sight was one that beggared belief

A coffin draped in the union flag

Chests full of medals, not a time to brag

Red caps abound under arms

The sight of the scarlet and all its charms

Men and women with tears in eyes

A time for truth, not a time for lies

We are so proud of those that died

But what a waste of life we cried

As I stand and watch the proceedings

I find it hard to hide my feelings

I am angry, upset and very sad

What has happened has made me mad

But through all of this

There is a feeling that I cannot hide

And that’s a sense of immense pride

So day to day I do my duty

But not for queen or country

I do it out of a soldier’s pride

For those who went before and died.

of my Mind

I've been locked up, my freedom is gone

The windows have bars, the doors are all locked

But that's not what causes my pain

I'm a prisoner in my mind

I'm the one to blame

The thoughts that hurt me

And the feelings that haunt me

They're mine and I own them

Questions go un-answered, but how?

My suffering continues, I need a release

And I need it NOW

How do I unlock those doors?

How can I remove the bars?

It's really quite simple, I have the answer

I own my thoughts, I am their master

Taking charge is what is needed

And today that's what I'll do

I can control my thoughts,

Accept my feelings to release the bind

Accept my reality, no longer a prisoner in my mind

I am free, I have my release

I have liberty to think beyond the bars

My thoughts no longer go unchallenged

No longer the prisoner I used to be,

I am the master of my own mind

Today I start my new reality.

By Brian Chenier

Win This Fantastic Title

This unusual and beautiful book collects

together twenty five of the often read, wellloved

poets. Each poet is illustrated with an

original watercolor portrait by the talented

young artist, Charlotte Zeepvat, who

reproduces in pleasing script one of their

works, giving a biographical summary that

placed the poet firmly in the battlefield

context in which their work was conceived.

To have a chance at winning this

fabulous book, simply email your

poetry to:

By Brian Chenier 23 |

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