The Veterans’ Magazine Issue 46 | August 2018
One Veterans Suicide Which Has Driven
A Nation To Act To Stop These Tragedies
SBT News Update
Plus all The Latest National & International
News from the Armed Forces & Veterans’ World
4 Suicides Unreported
MoD under pressure to
produce acurate stats.
5 Red Arrows Base To Shut
MoD proposes to close the
iconic base, RAF Scampton
5 Youngest Spitfire Pilot
WW2 Pilot Geoffrey Wellum
dies. A Hero remembered
6 Former Top Brass Calls
For Shops To Close
Calls to Close shops on
Armistice Day 2018 to mark
10 Danny’s Legacy
Mother Calls For Better
12 Rewind Tecnique
Dr David Muss Takes Us
Through His PTSD
26 Turn To Starboard
Victory For Veterans At New
13 Historic Tommy Atkins
On The Run
No More Falling Heroes
A brand new documentary investigating the
difficulties in transition to civilian life for our
Armed Forces Veterans. Page 14
29 Have Faith
40 SBT Information
A page dedicated to back
issues, information, book
42 Mrs Fox Goes To War
All the latest gossip and
letters from Little Hope
Editor: Pablo Snow
Magazine Manager: Matt Jarvis
Patron: Matt Neal
Albert ‘Robbie’ McRobb
News Media Manager
Recording Engineer and PR
THE VETERANS’ MAGAZINE
SBT NEWS August Edition firstname.lastname@example.org
CALLS TO IMPROVE INSUFFICIENT
VETERAN SUICIDE REPORTING DATA
The Government is coming under increasing
pressure and being accused of ‘turning a blind
eye’ after an investigation uncovered that there
was no system to record the number of UK servicemen
taking their lives.
The investigation comes in the light of an
increase in veterans taking their own lives in
2018. Despite the findings, the MoD still insist
that the suicide rate is lower than that of civilians
in comparison per 100,000.
Veterans Charities are insisting that the correct
figures are sought so the true scale of the problem
can be tackled effectively.
But, despite the yawning gap in official records,
there is evidence that a disturbing number of exsoldiers,
in particular among those who fought in
the most recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan,
are taking their own lives or attempting to do so.
Partial figures provided under FOI rules by NHS
mental health trusts show at least 35 suspected
suicides among veterans receiving treatment
Among the former soldiers to have taken their
lives this year are 29-year-old Kevin Williams,
who was the youngest British soldier to fight in
Iraq when he was deployed on his 18th birthday.
He took his own life at his home in Basildon in
March after being diagnosed with PTSD and failing
to keep appointments for treatment. His comrade
and friend, John Paul Finnigan, 34, who
served alongside him during some of the toughest
fighting in Iraq, also killed himself 12 weeks
The introduction of the NHS TILS system is one
way this issue may be tackled. This is being
rolled out across the UK by Dr Jonathan Leach.
GET HELP NOW: Combat Stress Helpline
0800 138 1619
| 4 www.sandbagtimes.co.uk
THE VETERANS’ MAGAZINE
SBT NEWS August Edition email@example.com
Youngest of ‘The Few’ Geoffrey Wellum Dies
The youngest Spitfire pilot
to fly in the Battle of Britain
has died aged 96.
Geoffrey Wellum died at his
home in Cornwall on
Wednesday evening, the
Battle of Britain Memorial
Trust said. One of the "Few",
the decorated veteran airman
was approaching his 97th
birthday. The former squadron
leader served on the front line
with 92 Squadron. Some of
his first combat missions
included the "dogfights"
above London and the Home
Counties for which the Battle
of Britain became known. He
was just 18 when he joined the
RAF in August 1939. Mr
Wellum went on to be
awarded the Distinguished
Flying Cross and was
promoted to Flight
Commander with 65
Squadron and later led eight
Spitfires from HMS Furious
to relieve Malta. The Battle of
Britain Memorial Trust's
secretary Patrick Tootal said
members of the charity's staff
and volunteers had been
"much saddened by the news".
Tootal added: "Only this week
Sqn Ldr Wellum had been
Outcry At Proposed Closure Of RAF Scampton
Proposed plans to close
the iconic base for the Red
Arrows, RAF Scampton
has been met with strong
opposition from campaigners.
Tobias Ellwood said: “The
MoD will close RAF
Scampton in 2022, relocating
the RAF Aerobatic
Team and others to locations
more fit for purpose.
The disposal of the site
would offer better value for
money and, crucially, better
military capability by
relocating the units based
The Royal Navy patrol ship
HMS Sabre has escorted an
unidentified Spanish warship
out of Gibraltar’s waters amid
ongoing Brexit tensions and
Spanish pressure about the
Rock’s future. Tourists on the
beach and on pedallos in the
seawater watched as the two
vessels sailed close to each
other. HMS Sabre is a patrol
ships currently part of
there.” Opened in 1916,
the Lincolnshire base was
the headquarters of 617
Squadron ahead of
bouncing bomb raids on
German dams in the Ruhr
valley in 1943. Lib Dem
Armed Forces spokesman
Jamie Stone said the sale
is “a huge blow to jobs in
Lincoln, as well as our
national heritage”. Shadow
Defence Secretary Nia
Griffith said: “There will be
a number of civilians working
at RAF Scampton who
talking enthusiastically about
attending the Memorial
Service at Westminster Abbey
on 16 September." Speaking
in 2013, Mr Wellum told how
he was sent out to fly while
still in his teens. "Somebody
said: 'Here's a Spitfire - fly it,
and if you break it there will
be bloody hell to pay'," he
said. "I ended with 146 hours
of flying time. Mr Wellum
stayed on in the RAF until
1960 and went on to write a
best-seller about his
experiences in the war - his
2002 memoir First Light.
Read more on this story.
HMS Sabre Chases Off Spanish Warship Near Gibraltar
Gibraltar Squadron, providing
protection and security to the
British Gibraltar Territorial
Waters. Spain and the UK
have wrestled over the Rock
for decades. A British territory
since 1713 and home to a vital
Royal Navy base, Spain has
long demanded its return. In
the years before Brexit, Spain
regularly slowed the border
crossing between the Rock
will be extremely concerned
about their future.
Former head of the RAF,
Air Chief Marshal Sir
Michael Graydon, said the
move cuts the number of
airbases available to military
aircraft and makes
each remaining airfield
more vulnerable to attack.
A No10 spokeswoman
said: “That closure is part
of a plan to deliver modern
and efficient military bases,
which will save the taxpayer
about £140million by the
end of the decade. More
and the Spanish mainland.
Gibraltar's future status has
also been a key part of
Spanish Brexit thinking,
Prime Minister Mario Rajoy
regularly raising the
position - even years before
the Brexit vote - has always
been that Gibraltar is part of
the UK and will not be
surrendered to Spain. More
www.sandbagtimes.co.uk 5 |
THE VETERANS’ MAGAZINE
SBT NEWS August Edition firstname.lastname@example.org
Former Military Brass Calls For All
Shops To Be Closed On Armistice Day
Royal Navy Veteran Who Wanted Police
To Shoot Him Died From Drug Overdose
A Royal Navy veteran who was
once at the centre of a five-hour
police siege died from a drug
overdose, an inquest heard. Neil
Emerson, who suffered from post
traumatic stress disorder, was
found dead at his home on
Oxford Road, Waterloo on
December 28. An inquest at
Southport Town Hall heard a
friend who went to the house
after being contacted by Mr
Emerson's worried sister saw him
slumped in a chair. Police
officers forced their way in but
the 53-year-old was not
breathing and was pronounced
dead at the scene. Tests found
alcohol at a level of 41mg/100ml
in his body. High levels of free
morphine were also detected,
which a pathologist said was
within the range associated with
fatalities. Coroner Graham
Jackson said there was no
All shops should be made
to close on November 11
as Britain marks the
centenary of the armistice,
two former military chiefs
have said. Armistice Day
Sunday fall on the same
date in 2018 which also
happens to be 100 years
since the cessation of
hostilities in the First
World War. The armistice
was signed between the
allies and Germany at
evidence that Mr Emerson had
intended to take his own life and
his sister said he appeared to be
"in good spirits" a few days
before his death. Albert Howard-
Murphy, coroners' officer for
Sefton, said: "Mr Emerson was
last seen at 11am on December
24 by his friend David Jones at
his home address. "On
December 28 police were asked
to go to the address due to
concerns for his safety."
Merseyside Fire Service was
initially called to the scene after a
police officer reported a faint
smell of gas, but no appliances
were found to be on in the
property. A post mortem
recorded the cause of his death as
a drug overdose. Mr Emerson, a
military veteran, had a history of
alcohol abuse, post traumatic
stress disorder and anxiety and
depression. Read More Here.
Compiegne, France, and
took effect on the
“eleventh hour of the
eleventh day of the
eleventh month”. A letter
to the Times, signed by
former head of the Army,
General Lord Dannatt,
and former first sea lord
Admiral Lord West
among others, read:
“Marking as it does the
centenary of the end of the
First World War, we
believe it would be right
to mark it by ensuring
that, as on Easter Day, all
shops are closed that
Sunday. “We urge the
Government to bring in
the simple legislation
necessary to ensure this
very special act of
remembrance in 2018.”
The letter noted the move
has been proposed and
supported by the Union of
Shop, Distributive and
Allied Workers at its
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New Veterans Centre
Opens In Southampton
By Colin Gaylor
A little over 20 years ago I had a dream that if I was ever to win
the lottery I would buy a house and turn it into a drop in centre
for our Veterans.
After service support, unlike your military uniform, is not ‘a one
size fits all’ which is why we need places like the drop in centres.
A place where you can come and get support, advice and
a hot meal.
I didn’t win the lottery but I did meet some people who shared
my vision and were able to put some resources behind the
vision. Tim Jones (Founder), Exforces.net, Sarah Austin (Chief
Operations Officer) and Danielle Doyle (Property Systems
Officer) Solent NHS Trust, and Caroline Hopper (Armed Forces
Covenant Programme Manager) Southampton City Council.
Our discussions centred on providing local Veterans with a
helping hand, whether that is by getting them out of the house
and in amongst company, connected with local support, into
housing and back into employment.
To achieve this, we are linking up with other organisations,
which will provide major support to our service at our new, dedicated
centre. The service will be run by volunteers, all of
whom will receive training to ensure we achieve real life
changes for people accessing our services.
Veterans Outreach Service will be a big part of our offer, with
the monthly meetings for help and support, and open for at
least 3 days per week until 2100hrs. We intend to increase the
service, with a view to going six days, dependant on volunteer
Solent NHS Trust has offered us a short term lease for the
Woolston Clinic, which will enable Southampton Veterans’
drop-in centre to become a reality and begin to raise a profile.
Southampton City Council have given us funding to run a
monthly multi-agency drop for the next two years which will
help establish the support services we offer. This drop-in will
be part of a network of drop-in's for Veterans and their families
around the Solent region.
training will be given to cover the essentials in both applications
and social media.
None of this would have been at all possible without the help
and generosity from members of the breakfast club, staff of
Solent NHS Trust and Southampton City Council and the
Solent Armed Forces Covenant Partnership. Now
Southampton Veteran’s Drop-in Centre is established. We will
be looking for a permanent base in Southampton and looking
to eventually establish more centres, ensuring that we can
reach the most vulnerable ex-service men and women in our
region. I would like to give a couple of example of where inter
agency network has been successfully use already.
I had a call from a guy in Retford who had been on a 6 week
cruise and was holding a breakfast club in the med on the
Arcadia. It was here that he met an 84 year old navy stoker and
his wife who come from Nottingham. Unfortunately, the stoker
was taken ill and kept in sick bay until they docked in
Southampton where he was taken to the Royal South Hants
and his wife put into a B&B in Hill Lane. Frightened and lonely
she called Retford who used the breakfast club network and
called me. Long story short Tracey wasn’t having her stay in a
B&B and told me to bring her home and that is where she
stayed over Christmas and new year when myself, Vic and
Gavin took them home after his surgery to Nottingham. It was
during this time we met Martell from Defence Medical Welfare
Service and have been working together ever since.
We received an email from an ex-soldier in Mansfield who had
split from his family and was about to become homeless, but
he had a job to start in a little over a week in Southampton but
nowhere to live. I contacted David from Help 4 Homeless
Veterans and with a little bit of email toing an froing and David
contacting SAAFA and between them he was found a home
and a couple of our breakfast club members helped him move
Two weeks ago I got a distress call from a vet who was in a dark
place and said he was losing his fight and his marriage. He felt
his meds weren’t working and asked for help. We talked over
the phone until he calmed down and I said I was going to make
a call to get him some help. I called Gary from Forgotten
Veterans UK. This guy now has buddy buddy support and so
does his wife.
The Woolston Clinic will have everything needed to help ensure
the Health and Well-being of our Veterans. It has a treatment
room for our volunteer nurse to perform a well-being clinic as
well as rooms that are to be used for group discussions or one
to one advice or support sessions with visiting guest agencies.
There is also a little IT suite for job searches, CV writing, looking
up information and maybe re-establishing contact with lost
family members. For those that may not feel too confident, IT
Do you have a story to tell or an issue you would
like to get out in to the public?
Then let us know here at the SBT
www.sandbagtimes.co.uk 7 |
With Jim Wilde
Hi folks, and welcome to
the Newsdesk. This
month, as Pablo will agree,
has been a very busy
month, from not only the
World Cup, the sizzling weather
and of course the constant stream
of news topics worthy of a mention.
You will have noticed that there have been a few
changes since the last issue. namely, the way
that we are reporting the news, and the daily
updates. We have put the audio
broadcasts/updates on the back burner for now,
whilst we try out the new video platform which
enables us to bring you live video content and
pictures to support the stories in the news. We
hope that you enjoy this new feature whilst we
develop the system, and grow our viewing audience.
This new broadcast medium allows us to bring
you all the latest in the Military and Veterans
world, whilst at the same time allows you to get
involved by sending in your clips and pictures to
be featured not only in the magazine, but in the
"Live" news updates each day. It may be that
you wish to raise awareness for a particular
topic, and have images you would like to submit
to go along with your comments. I have to be
careful I don't tread on Pablo's toes with my topics,
or steal any of his thunder though :) What
we would ask is, that you SHARE the posts wide
and far to get the message out there.
Over the last few weeks, one of the more serious
topics has been the increase in suicides in
the military and veterans world, and this really
does need to be addressed. In recent broadcasts
we have highlighted the fact that the
Ministry of Defence and Government does NOT
record veterans suicides, and this really does
have to change. This can only happen if WE get
involved. Sitting back behind our keyboards and
expecting the Government or MOD to address
these issues does not work. It is down to us.
In the last few weeks, there have been a number
of situations when a fellow veteran has needed
help, and the system has failed them, and continues
to do so. As a result, a number of sites
on Social Media have been set up with the sole
purpose in getting help to those that need it, in
a speedy and effective way. I cannot talk about
these issues without sending out huge respect
to the following organisations, who really are
going the extra mile to make sure we prevent
further casualties to the hideous disease that is
P.T.S.D. we have our very own walk in centre in
Worcester called the "Tommy Atkins Trust",
whose details are easily found elsewhere in this
magazine, and online.
A special mention has to go out to Jeff Williams,
a former Royal Marine Sgt Major, who has taken
GET HELP NOW: SSAFA Helpline
0800 731 4880
| 8 www.sandbagtimes.co.uk
up the mantle, along with Simon Maryan,
David Bellamy and the rest of the team at
"Veterans United Against Suicide"
(Facebook). These guys continue to raise
awareness, with regular updates, working
alongside "ICARUS Online", who very generously
stumped up the cash required to get
"Cpl B" RM into badly needed treatment,
which started this week. If you pop along to
their facebook page, you can see how you
can help, with donations etc for this worth
cause. ICARUS will be running an
"Immediate care Practitioner Course" in
Aberdeen from 29 - 31 August this year if this
is something you would like to get involved
Of course, none of this would be possible
without your support and input. if there is
anything you can do, in ANY capacity to help
raise the awareness of PTSD, by either donating,
or offering up some of your time it would
be most gratefully accepted. Just pop along
to any of the websites mentioned for further
Thanks again for taking time to read this, and
I look forward to your input and feedback in
order to further enhance the content, and the
means of delivery.
Drop us a line at email@example.com or
Until next month, be careful out there in the
heat, and always keep a cold one close at
hand, you know it makes sense!
www.sandbagtimes.co.uk 9 |
2018 has been an awful year with an increase in Veterans
taking their lives. In May, Danny Johnston sadly became
another of this years tragedies. But why? What is making
our heroes feel they have no other way out? Along with
Walking With The Wounded, The SBT investigates.
We cannot imagine what the families of
Veterans go through when a loved one takes
their lives. So many questions without
answers, so little understanding of what
drove them so far down that dark road. This
story has been repeated so many times this
Despite the many tragic stories that have
unfolded, the death of Danny Johnston hit the
headlines in a way which stirred so many
people to act. In particular Walking With The
Wounded, along with Danny’s family and
friends are working together to establish a
meaningful legacy in Danny’s memory.
Danny Johnston, 35, served with the Princess
of Wales’s Regiment and Special Forces.
While in the Army, he was highly respected
and well regarded by all those who worked
alongside him. But he struggled to adapt to
life post military service and suffered in
silence with mental ill health. Tragically
Danny took his own life in May this year.
There was a huge outpouring of support and
love when Danny went missing. We want to
use that and make a difference, and raise
£100,000 in Danny’s memory to support
other veterans and family members who are
suffering from mental health challenges and
to make a difference to their lives. All the
funds raised will support beneficiaries of
Walking With The Wounded, many of whom
are struggling with mental health challenges,
and many of whom are finding the transition
from the Armed Forces difficult. There can be
hope and there is support. We want to
encourage people to step forward and seek
help, and find their future. Through Danny’s
legacy we want to stop anyone else going
through the pain Danny did and his family
Incredibly, Danny’s mum has reached out to
the public in the aftermath of her son’s death
to appeal for something to be done to stop
more of our heroes ending their lives.
| 10 www.sandbagtimes.co.uk
GET HELP NOW
NHS TILS Self Referral Numbers
North England - 0191 441 5974
Midlands/ East England - 0300 323 0137
London/ South East England - 020 3317 6818
South West England - 0300 365 0300
"Danny was too special to die alone, the way
he did, after all he had fought for and against.
He deserved happiness and a future, to grow
old with a family of his own. The devastation
that losing such a special person has caused
us is almost too much to cope with and I
could not bear the thought of another mother
going through this hell. If we can save one life,
just one, by raising awareness, then the pain
of Danny's death might have some meaning,
and there could be no better legacy for him
Danny’s mum, Viv Johnston.
Very emotional and heartfelt words from a very brave lady.
The truth of the matter is, Danny hasn’t died in vain. The wish
of Viv for Danny’s legacy to save lives is living in so many
ways. With WWTW, in the fundraising they are doing with his
family, in the pages of this magazine which is created to
ensure veterans know where to go to get help, in OP
WAMITS, which was dedicated to Danny’s memory, in the
new NHS TILS and CTS systems which is a much improved
service to help veterans without the pain of lengthy waiting
periods, but most of all, the man himself. A very brave, very
likeable young man who gave so much. Despite his loss, he
continues to inspire others. No, he definitely has not died in
So this entire issue is dedicated to Danny’s memory, to his
family, in particlar the very brave Viv, his friends and to every
veteran who may be suffering today. If you are one of those
and need help then please, please let somebody know. If you
are unsure where to start, then please contact us or the
Tommy Atkins Centre, regardless of where you are in the
country. You will also find help throughout this issue.
JustGiving - WWTW/ Danny Johnston
www.sandbagtimes.co.uk 11 |
RTT Case Studies
The Tommy Atkins Centre in Worcester is
very pleased to have its very own doctor in
the form of Dr David Muss. But what makes
David so special is his ability to help our veterans
using his own technique called Rewind•
Minimizing the risk to the counsellor of
Trauma Therapy. This amazing practice is developing compassion fatigue, particularly
proven to help veterans with trauma injuries for those therapists involved with heavy
such as PTSD very effectively and quickly, workloads.
But what makes this treatment so special.
We let David explain.
The Rewind Therapy (RT) has become
internationally recognised as indispensable
to treat PTSD.
It is easily learnt; applicable to survivors
trans culturally and usually requires no more
than two sessions to bring about closure for
single traumas. The results are enduring** -
a follow up of two years showed no relapses
in that period of time. (RT) was first introduced
into the literature of Post Traumatic
Stress Disorder by myself (founder of this
association) back in 1991; ** "A new technique
for treating Posttraumatic Stress
Disorder". British Journal of Clinical
Psychology, 1991, 30,91-92. 19 policeman
with PTSD were treated with the Rewind and
followed for two years. All reported being
well, returned to work and there wasn't a single
relapse. The Rewind is different from
other imaginal exposure therapies because
no details are disclosed to the therapist
Hence the treatment is known as "closure
without disclosure" The benefits of non disclosure
• Minimizing the risk of the client being re-traumatized.
• There is no fear of disclosing sensitive information
e.g. In the case of servicemen, for
Dr David Muss
example, about deployment.
• For survivors of rape and sexual abuse the
benefit of not having to disclose details of
the event to a stranger is self-evident
The Rewind offers a way of permanently
stopping the involuntary recall by filing the
traumatic event so it comes under
control..Voluntary recall remains. For single
event traumas, two to three sessions at most
are required. For multiple event, such as:
combat, sexual abuse; domestic violence;
etc. each traumatic event can be dealt with
separately over separate sessions but,
depending on the way the involuntary recall
represents, can also be dealt with in one
session. The exact science of the Rewind
treatment,as for all treatments,is unknown,
but attempts have been put forth to explain
the mechanism by:
Changes in the integration of the memory
mediated by the modulation of arousal
(Dietrich,2000), and dissociation from the
traumatic sequellae (Dietrich et al,2000).
Bio Informational Theory (Foa et al.)
1997Treatment aimed at introducing new
information incompatible with some or all of
the memory structure at the root of PTSD
Classical Learning ( rooted in basic behavioural
the Traumatic Memory is associated with
implicit and explicit cues which evoke the
memory outside of the conscious control of
Dual Representational Theory (Cognitive)
Brewin , Dagleish, Joseph 1968Traumatic
memories are held in two separate
forms,explicit verbally accessible memories
and implicit situationally accessible memories
Temporal Dynamics Model of Emotional
Memory Processing (Diamond , Campbell,
Park et al (2007) based on animal studies.
Most recent thinking, based on neuronal
research, suggests the mechanism of the
intervention may be explained in terms of
memory restructuring through the mechanism
of reconsolidation Riccio,D.C.,
| 12 www.sandbagtimes.co.uk
HISTORICAL TOMMY ATKINS
On The Run
Written By Peter Macey
On the evening of 8th August 1918,
General Ludendorf, who had led the
German Army so successfully against
the Allies for most of the war described the
battle that had started earlier in the day as ‘the
Black Day of the German Army’.
The Battle of Amiens, also called the Third
Battle of Picardy was the opening phase of an
Allied attack that became known as the
Hundred Day Offensive which would
ultimately lead to the end of the First World
War. With the advancement in armour and
artillery accuracy the Allies managed to
advance over seven miles in one day, one of
the greatest advances of the war. Amiens was
the first major battle to involve armoured
warfare from both sides and marked an end to
trench warfare that had existed since the
beginning of the war on the Western Front.
The war and fighting in general had become
mobilised and the Germans were on the run.
As had become the norm of attacks in the First
World War they tended to follow the strategy
of bombardment followed by advancement
and Amiens was no different in that aspect.
The only real difference was the sheer scale of
both men and armour that the Allies were
moving forward with. The battle began at just
before 4.30 on the Morning of 8th August
when the British Fourth Army attacked north
of the Somme, at the same time the Australian
Corps were advancing South in the centre of
the British Forces and the Canadian Corps
were further South advancing alongside the
main Army. In the meantime the French 1st
Army opened its bombardment of the German
forces before starting its own advance just
under an hour later.
Once again mainly due to poor intelligence by
the German hierarchy the attack was totally
unexpected by the German forces and they
only started to return fire after the attack had
been going on for several minutes by which
time the positions where the Allies had been
entrenched had been abandoned for the
advance. The whole of the initial attack
involved British, Australian, Canadian, French
and American forces and just three hours later
they had travelled over two miles and captured
enemy positions with relative ease.
The Canadian and Australian forces advanced
quickly to the three mile mark by 11am and a
gap of fifteen miles was punched through the
German line South of the Somme by the end
of the first day. The British had less success
further North due to the terrain being tougher
to cross although the attackers did achieve
their first objective at Chipilly Spur.
Some thirteen thousand German prisoners
were taken by the Fourth Army with their
French counterparts taking another three
thousand. And whilst the body count was
rising with nearly thirty thousand German
casualties the Allies did suffer nearly nine
thousand of their own.
The reason for Ludendorf’s remark was not to
do with the Allied advancements. He was
referring to the morale of the German Army in
general. The German troops in large numbers
were retreating knowing they could not win,
insulting officers who tried to turn them back
and heckling any reserves who were
advancing to the front to support their fighting
The advance continued on 9th August but not
with the same successes of the first day of
fighting. The battle had widened on the north
and the south of the initial attack. Allied
infantrymen had outrun the supporting and
slower artillery and the initial force of more
than five hundred tanks that played such a
decisive role was reduced to only six that were
fully fit for battle within four days of the start
of the battle.
At this point in time the German Army on
Chipilly Spur commanded a wide field of fire
to the south of the Somme with their flanking
fire holding up the Australian Corps until late
on 9th August and the supporting Canadian
Army hitting congested roads which stalled
their advance. Communication problems also
came into play with the British 32nd Division
slowing have lost communication with the
On 10th August, there were signs that the
Germans were pulling out of the area they had
taken so successfully during Operation
Michael a few months before and the Allies
captured nearly fifty thousand prisoners and
five hundred German guns by 27th August.
The Germans had started the war with what
was called the Schlieffen Plan before the Race
to the Sea. This was slowed by the war on the
Western Front that quickly developed into
trench warfare and became something of a
stalemate for a number of years. The German
Spring Offensive earlier in 1918 had once
again given Germany the offensive edge on
the Western Front. But with technology
playing a bigger part in weaponry the Allied
armoured support helped, which came into its
own from November 1917 onward weakened
the German’s trench positions. Interestingly
the British Third Army with no armoured
support had almost no effect on the front line
while the Fourth, with fewer than a thousand
tanks, broke deep into German territory over
and over again.
The Battle of Amiens was another turning
point in the war and from this point on there
was no turning back by the Allies during a
period which became known as the One
Hundred Day Offensive running from 8th
August until 11th November 1918.
Were any of your relatives involved in the 100
day offensive? If so we would like to hear
from you at SBT and Forgotten Veterans UK
(FVUK). Please share your experiences of
those that were there if you can.
www.sandbagtimes.co.uk 13 |
At New Cha
Victory For Veter
| 14 www.sandbagtimes.co.uk
TURN TO STARBOARD
Armed Forces veterans pitted their sailing
skills against each other at the launch of a
charity’s new racing division.
More than 50 injured veterans took to the
water to compete at a special 3-day regatta
held at Gosport near Portsmouth last week.
In partnership with Help for Heroes and The
Endeavor Fund, the event was organised by
Turn to Starboard, the charity set up to help
those affected by military operations by taking
them sailing. Many of those taking part in
the sailing event had barely set foot on a
yacht, yet made the decision to brave the
waves and learn new skills.
Beneficiary Lt Cdr Jay Saunders said: “A
couple of weeks ago I was hiding in my bed,
but this regatta had me up and chasing a
win I would never have dreamed of. Thanks
to Turn to Starboard I discovered that my
PTSD can’t take control of me when I’m sailing
and the racing element has enabled me
to turn my anxiety into adrenaline, and of the
good sort. I found my competitive nature
returning and I needed to get to the front of
the fleet. I’m so thankful that Turn to
Starboard has helped me find a part of
myself that I thought that I had lost.”
Over the duration of the regatta the crew
were led by professional skippers on eight
racing yachts to compete in three races
around the Solent. Under clear skies and
enjoying gusts of 10 to 15 knots, ‘Team
International’ skippered their way to the finish
line at least eight boat lengths ahead of
their nearest friendly rival ‘Team ABF
Soldier’s Charity’. ‘Team Endeavor’ asserted
their dominance over the rest on the fleet to
finish in third place.
The event was followed by an awards ceremony
at Haslar Marina with trophies for the
winners and runners up.
Turn to Starboard Chief Executive, Shaun
Pascoe, said: “We’re really excited about the
launch of our new racing division this summer.
The sport of sailing helps individuals
affected by operations to get active outdoors,
regain confidence and learn new
skills to help start new careers in the marine
industry. With support from Help for Heroes
and The Endeavor Fund, we are able to
show people how sailing is a great way to
get active outdoors and enjoy the physical
and social benefits the sport can provide.”
Set up just four years ago, Turn to Starboard
has helped more than 1200 injured veterans
with many gaining sailing qualifications to
start new careers in the marine industry. The
Falmouth-based charity is aiming to raise
£100,000 towards a new training boat by the
end of this year.
For more information about Turn to
Starboard, or to make a donation, visit turntostarboard.co.uk.
www.sandbagtimes.co.uk 15 |
The Tommy Atkins Centre
Tommy Atkins Centre August
Hello from a very sunny
Worcester. We’re all making
the most of the glorious
sunshine here, though I
have to confess that Pablo
& I went to the Upton Blues
Festival last Friday evening
and the rain came down
pretty heavily for over an
Pablo, Dr Jonathan Leach and
I did our bit for Operation
WAMITS too by taking a walk
along the SAS route of the Fan
Dance on Sunday 15th. I’m pleased to
say I was sensible and only tackled the first
hill, though once I’d recovered enough I
managed to get up and down it twice. Pablo
& Jonathan completed somewhere in the
region of ten miles each of the SAS route (I’m
really not jealous!!)
It’s been fairly quiet at the centre this month,
though we have had a Peer Mentoring group
with Combat Stress, and have another on
31st July. Combat Stress have also run
several meetings here too, and I’ve assisted a
homeless veteran in finding a permanent
home. We’ve had an awful lot of support too
from our Worcester Breakfast Club members
who dug deeply in their pockets and
purchased some Jacqueline Hurley prints
kindly donated to us to raise funds, along with
some pens and keyrings from Woody Turner.
To date, thanks to their generosity were on
social media to let veterans know t have
raised £165, so thank you guys and girls.
Very much appreciated.
I’ve been keeping a keen eye out on social
media for missing veterans, and pleas for
help. If you want to do your bit please take
part in our Operation WAMITS campaign, take
a video or photo’s as you walk and post to
social media to let veterans in your area know
where they can go to find help.
Well people, don’t forget to slap on plenty of
sun screen if you venture out anywhere, until
next time stay safe, and please, please,
please get the message out there on social
media to let people (not just veterans) know
where your local veterans can go to find help
if they need it.
Over The Hills And Far Away...
Pablo & Dr Jonathan Leach Kick Off OP
WAMITS With A Jaunt Over Pen Y Fan
A warm, sunny Sunday morning in July was the perfect setting
for the SBT Editor and NHS Veterans Lead, england to
take a nice stroll over the beautiful Brecon Beacons in Wales
accompanied by Jonathan’s faithful hound, Jessie.
Heart disease and aged quite a few more years. The last 500
metres of the climb was definitely the worst but I battled on
until we climbed the last little struggle to the summit of Corn
Du. A swift walk across to the next peak and we were there.
Fun and suffering aside please do not forget what we did it
for. OP WAMITS. We posted on social media, we got our
message out to veterans in our area, now it’s your turn!
Armed with all of the mountain walking kit I could muster, first
aid kit, chocky bars, water pack, more chocky bars, emergency
bad weather kit (Yeah, really needed that!), even more
chocky bars, and anything else I could think of all wrapped
up in my gucci little day sack, we set off for the day, driven to
Wales by our old mate, Uncle Trevor with Jonathan and
Jessie following close behind.
Conditions truly could not have been any better. On arrival,
very keenly, we had a little stretch and then set off. Within
about 20 paces past the famed phone box, I regretted making
the decision of returning to an old stomping ground from
years before. But soldier on we must. And we did.
It was a very painful experience, I must admit. It had been
some years since I had walked the Fan, I had recovered from
GET HELP NOW: Tommy Atkins Centre
| 16 www.sandbagtimes.co.uk
Patron to The Tommy Atkins Centre
NO MORE FALLING SOLDIERS
What happens to Military Personnel leaving the
Armed Forces? And what can we do to help?
Shaun Johnson (Royal Horse Artillery),
Cassidy Little (Royal Marines),Phil
Campion (SAS) and Neil Davies
(Parachute Regiment), tell their inspirational
story of overcoming PTSD, addictions, homelessness,
amputations and attempted suicide,
as they investigate why military veterans are
struggling to cope with civilian life.
The Government promised the nation that
Military Veterans and their families would be
given priority treatment in health care and
housing, it was called the Armed Forces
Veterans struggle with physical and Mental
Health problems such as Post Traumatic
Stress Disorder and some self-medicate with
alcohol and drugs. And thousand of veterans
end up homeless, eking out a lonely existence
living on our nations streets struggling
Many of them fail to cope and refuse to ask
for help, some end up in Prison and for an
alarming and growing number; the way out is
The generous UK public raises money for
charities to help fallen soldiers; how is that
money used and what else needs to be
Is the Armed Forces Military Covenant working?
And are charities left to shoulder the burden?
The No More Falling Soldiers team will investigate
the Armed Forces Covenant, veterans
in prison, mental health/suicides, homelessness
and support/rehabilitation through military
charities and the arts and offer Dai4films
GET HELP NOW: Royal British Legion
0808 802 8080
| 18 www.sandbagtimes.co.uk
“I aim, to find
out why this is
can be done to
try and end this
Phil Campion - Former SAS
on Veterans Suicides in 2018
Dai4Films have been making
for all the major
UK and US Networks since the
1990’s. Across hard News stories,
investigations, feature films and
Comedy shows. Dai4films has a
fantastic raft of committed filmmakers
who voted the company
their filmmaking outfit of choice to
work with. So if it gets their creative
juices flowing, were filming
We are a Film and Television
Production Company that are
launching the project with many
years of experience producing
Network series and hit shows.
This is a project of passion for us,
as are veteran soldiers ourselves
and deeply concerned with the
issues the project will raise. We
have extensive contacts in the TV
production sector and many
promises of help to achieve our
We have the production equipment
either on lone or hired at
discount rates. Out team are prepared
to work on deferred wages
and already had offers of help on
We have via the participating
charities agreed access with our
project subject areas and personnel.
Most of our filming will be in the
UK but any international filming
will be hosted by Military
We are well versed in
Health and safety having
taken the required BBC
courses and will have public liability
insurance to cover the project.
Security will be by x-forces personnel
with many years of experience.
Experienced TV professionals will
do all our filming and with a real
commitment to the subject matter
and none of our filming will be in
dangerous or difficult areas.
Editor on No More Falling
It is so apt that we present the
work of Dai4Films and this amazing
documentary in this issue. I
believe that Veterans, no, the
whole of the UK need this documentary
to highlight what really
goes on. Not from a film companies
point of view, not from a
celebrities point of view but from
the view of people that can really
put across the reality of the
issues. Veterans themselves.
Only in this
way will the
be told. The
SBT is fully
the making of
www.sandbagtimes.co.uk 19 |
“My wife applied for me and life
has absolutely changed since I
started this journey. Being part of a
team again has enabled me to get
my confidence back. Being diagnosed
with PTSD was a massive
INVICTUS UK TEAM 2018
TRAIN AT TEDWORTH HOUSE
Prince Harry Recites Poem To
Mark 100 Days
Prince Harry has delivered heartfelt words in
a stirring ad for the Invictus Games 2018,
which take place in Sydney this October.
The Prince is one of several people to recite
a line from the poem "Invictus," written in
1875 by William Ernest Henley, as they go
about their daily lives. The cast also includes
Invictus Games Sydney 2018 competitor
Jamie Tanner in action at wheelchair rugby
training as well as other competitors and veteran's
widow Gwen Cherne and her daughter
in an emotional moment.
Read More Here...
Royal Australian Mint Releases $2
Coin For Invictus Games
A new $2 coin has been released ahead of
the 2018 Invictus Games.
The new coin features an image of a
wheelchair competitor to help celebrate the
spirit of unconquered wounded, injured and
ill men and women from the defence forces.
The Royal Australian Mint expects to release
2.3 million of the coins into circulation
between now and the games being held from
October 20-27 in Sydney.
The coin was designed by one of the Mint’s
own coin designers.
The military personnel representing
the UK at the Games in Sydney
later this year have been practising
at Tedworth House.
Sitting volleyball players from the
UK's Invictus Games squad have
been put through their paces in
They trained at the Help for Heroes
Recovery Centre at Tedworth House
on Saturday (23rd June) to ensure
they're mentally and physically prepared
for the event.
A team of 72 wounded, injured and
sick military personnel and veterans
will represent Britain in Sydney this
Places on the UK Team were hotly
contested this time around, with a
record number of people taking
part in trials across 11 sports.
415 hopefuls have been whittled
down to the 72 chosen by Help for
Heroes, with support from the MoD
and the Royal British Legion.
RAF Sgt Paul is recovery from
PTSD and views the Invictus
Games as a way to repay his family
for their unwavering support during
the darkest times in his life. He
step for me and I built on that by
using fitness rather than alcohol to
help me cope.
"Coming to these training camps
every weekend has given me my
life back, my family back and I’m
enjoying life again. It’s got me motivated
to become a sitting volleyball
coach, I want to do all the qualifications
and use the Invictus as a
springboard for my career.”
Former Private Pa Modou Njie was
discharged from the Army in 2012.
An amputee, he lost both his legs
(left leg below the knee and right
leg above the knee) in Afghanistan
after stepping on a roadside bomb.
Despite life-changing injuries, Pa
sees Invictus as his way of looking
to the future:
“The Invictus Games benefits me
both physically and psychologically.
Being a part of the team improves
my self-confidence and I’m able to
achieve my highest potential. All of
Team UK have really worked hard
to be where we are so it’s great to
all come together at these training
camps. Invictus sets a platform for
me and it’s a lifetime journey. It’s a
distraction from issues I face.”
Team members will compete in athletics,
archery, wheelchair basketball,
cycling, powerlifting, indoor
rowing, wheelchair rugby, swimming,
sitting volleyball, wheelchair
tennis and for the first time in 2018,
GET HELP NOW: NHS England Midlands
0300 323 0137
INVICTUS GAMES 2018
The Invictus Games Choir team up with Carly Paoli
A choir formed of members of the
Armed Forces who have been
affected by their service have
teamed up with classical star
Carly Paoli on her latest single
‘Liberty’. The Invictus Games
Choir, who feature on the track,
are a community choir for serving
and veteran personnel from all
services, who are wounded,
injured or sick, to help them in
Supported by Help for Heroes,
the Choir’s rehearsals and performance
opportunities build confidence
and provide a creative outlet
to help support the choir members.
The choir have now been
given the opportunity to sing on
Carly Paoli’s latest single ‘Liberty’.
The song is written by the
Grammy Award winning songwriter
Walter Afanasieff whose many
credits include hits for Celine
Dion, Barbra Streisand and
Mariah Carey. Featuring The
London Symphony Orchestra, the
song was recorded at Abbey
Road and Strongroom Studios.
Carly met members of the Invictus
Games Choir at the 2018
‘Soldiering On Awards’ and felt
the lyrics reflected the endeavours
of the group and asked if they
would like to record backing
vocals to enhance the track.
Speaking about ‘Liberty’ and
recording with the Invictus Games
Choir, Carly said “It’s really special
to have the choir singing with
me, they have all experienced so
much more than I could ever
imagine. The words in ‘Liberty’
say “from ashes…we’ll rise above
it all” and the members of the
choir are the epitome of individuals
who have done just that in different
circumstances and situations.
Being together as a choir
exemplifies that unity and the
healing power of music. Every so
often a song comes along that
has a powerful message. This is
such a song and I don’t think
there could be a more powerful
group of people to share such a
strong message with.”
Read More Here...
www.sandbagtimes.co.uk 21 |
GET HELP NOW
NHS mental health
care for veterans
Mental illness is common and can affect anyone (including
serving and ex-members of the Armed Forces and their
families). Whilst some people cope by getting support
from their family and friends, or by getting help with
other issues in their lives, others need clinical care
and treatment, which could be from the
NHS, support groups or charities.
Within the NHS, there are a range of
mental health services that provide
different types of care and treatment.
This includes dedicated mental
health services for service personnel
approaching discharge from the British
Armed Forces and veterans. By veteran
we mean anyone who has served for at
least one day in Her Majesty’s Armed
Forces (regular or reserve).
These services are called the NHS
Veterans’ Mental Health Transition,
Intervention and Liaison Service (TILS)
and the NHS Veterans’ Mental Health
Complex Treatment Service (CTS).
Both of these services are provided by
specialists in mental health who have
an expert understanding of
the Armed Forces.
NHS mental health care for veterans
NHS Veterans’ Mental Health Transition, Intervention and Liaison Service (TILS)
Accessing the TILS in your local area is quick and easy:
• If you are due to leave the Armed Forces, the TILS will work with the MOD to
offer you mental health support through your transition period and beyond.
• Both serving personnel approaching discharge and ex-forces will have a
specialist assessment two weeks after the TILS has received your referral.
Where appropriate, the TILS will aim to see you for your first appointment
two weeks after this. You will be supported by a military aware team who
will develop a personalised care plan with you.
• Your assessment may find that other NHS services can provide more relevant
support. If this is the case, the TILS will help you access these services, which
could include talking therapies or treatment for other conditions, such as
eating disorders or psychosis.
• If you have significant mental health difficulties that are
military related and have not improved with previous
treatment, you will be referred to your local CTS.
Accessing NHS mental health services
If you think you or your partner / spouse may be
struggling to cope, the NHS Veterans’ Mental Health
Transition, Intervention and Liaison Service (TILS) and
NHS Veterans’ Mental Health Complex Treatment
Service (CTS) can help.
Access to both of these services is via the TILS. You can contact the
TILS direct or ask your GP or an Armed Forces charity to refer you.
NHS Veterans’ Mental Health Complex Treatment Service (CTS)
Access to the CTS is via the TILS. This ensures that any previous treatment
and support has been considered.
This service provides a range of intensive care and treatment for people
with military related complex mental health difficulties, many of whom
will have experienced trauma.
Once referred to the CTS, the service will aim to see you for your first
appointment two weeks after this.
You will be supported by a military aware
team who will develop a personalised
care plan with you. This will include
arrangements for crisis care.
Supporting you and your
family to live a healthy life
We know that families can be
affected when their loved ones
are unwell, so where required they will be
supported to access local services to help ensure they get the
right care and treatment.
With your permission and where appropriate, they will also
have the opportunity to be involved in developing your care plan.
NHS Veterans’ Mental Health Transition,
Intervention and Liaison Service (TILS)
This is a dedicated out-patient service for
serving personnel approaching discharge
from the Armed Forces and veterans who
are experiencing mental health difficulties.
The TILS provides a range of treatment,
from recognising the early signs of mental
health problems and providing access to
early support, to therapeutic treatment
for complex mental health difficulties
and psychological trauma. Help may also
be provided with housing, employment,
alcohol misuse and social support.
NHS Veterans’ Mental Health Complex
Treatment Service (CTS)
This is an enhanced out patient service for
ex-forces who have military related complex
mental health difficulties that have not
improved with previous treatment.
The service provides intensive care and
treatment that may include (but is not
limited to) support for drug and alcohol
misuse, physical health, employment,
housing, relationships and finances, as
well as occupational and trauma focused
Accessing NHS mental health care for veterans
Access to both of these services is through the TILS. You can contact the service direct
(see below) or ask your GP or a military charity to refer you.
• North of England services: call 0191 441 5974 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
• Midlands or East of England services: call 0300 323 0137 or
• London or South East of England services: call 020 3317 6818 or
• South West of England services: call 0300 365 0300 or email email@example.com
To access these services you must:
• be a resident in England and have served in the UK Armed Forces for a full day
• be registered with a GP practice in England or be willing and eligible to register with a GP
• provide your military service number or another form of eligibility.
Both services work with a range of local organisations, including the wider NHS, charities,
housing, employment agencies and social services, to ensure the appropriate support is in
place for you and your family.
If you experience a mental health crisis before being assessed by the TILS and you are
not under the care of a mental health team, you can get help by dialling 111, booking
an emergency GP appointment, visiting A&E or calling 999. A mental health crisis often
means that you no longer feel able to cope or are not in control of your situation.
It is important to register with an NHS GP and tell them that you have served in the
Armed Forces so, where appropriate, you can access these and other dedicated services
For more information, visit NHS Choices at www.nhs.uk and type in ‘veteran’
During recent attendance of YES Society’s volunteers at various Armed Forces events, a few members of the public
have mistakenly thought that they were already supporting the Veterans Raffle, when in fact they were members
of the Veterans Lottery!
YES Society do not wish to discourage support of any charity supporting our Armed Forces Veterans however
none of the existing charities promoting lotteries reward the support of the public to the extent of YES Society, via
their Veterans Raffle.
YES Society apportion 40% towards Prizes in their Veterans Raffle whereas some lottery promoters are only apportioning
@ 3 – 8% which, in YES Society’s opinion, is totally unethical & immoral.
A spokesperson from YES Society stated that they would be deeply concerned if members of the public were to
accidentally commit their support to the wrong raffle/lottery. YES Society will continue to highlight their significant
benefits over the competition in the hope that even if someone should accidentally subscribe to the wrong
raffle/lottery, that they’d soon discover their error and switch accordingly!
Those already registered with the Veterans Raffle are enjoying prizes from £100 up to £25,000 each month, which
of course others aren’t offering, or certainly not with better Winning Odds than with the Veterans Raffle.
Whether making a single donation or entering the Veterans Raffle, on behalf of all the smaller specialist Veterans
Charities, YES Society would like to say a huge “Thank You”.
The Canuck Connection
As a cook trained in the
Canadian Army, I would
like today to mention a
few of the Duties carried out by
Cooks in the military. Call them
baconburners’ food service
techies, whatever the term
good or bad, cooks survive
and carry on. An army
marches on its stomach.
This saying, which attests to the
importance of forces being wellprovisioned,
has been attributed to
both Napoleon and Frederick the Great. It is recorded in
English from the early 20th century.
Military cook’s courses in all countries of NATO are all
run to the highest standards of Food Services. From
SQC to LQC ( small quantity cooking to Large Quantity
Cooking ). Cooks are responsible for the safe production
of food, menu planning, storage, Hygiene , whether it be
in the field or a base kitchen.
Imagine rising at 4 am to be on shift by 5am. Feeding
500 plus men and women. A hearty nutritious meal to
start their day. In the field this is far more interesting as
no civilian kitchen help are available to set up.
The night cook will have the burners primed and ready
for breakfast service. Depending on the size of the unit,
there may be a single cook or a few on shift.
The cook has an important part of the Morale of his
soldiers. Well fed happy soldiers can and will carry carry
out their duties far better than a disgruntled one.
Cooks from the military prepare meals from the newest
recruit to her Majesty our Queen, the Olympics, Military
Tattoos around the world.
Army catering is the butt of many jokes, but in the end
joking aside, who does a soldier depend on for his
Canadian Army Cooks Are trained so well that the Navy
wants us. That line said a lot after integration. Prior to the
integration of the Canadian Forces there were 3 Cooks
Schools. Hochelaga just outside Montreal for the navy.
Clinton for RCAF cooks in Ontario. Then there was the
RCASC Cooks School in Camp Borden Ontario. No
points for guessing which one survived….RCASC(S)
Many army cooks were posted to ships and a great
many of them loved it. I did 2 years on HMCS Yukon, 2
years which I did not like. Cooks are trained as drivers
and on ships they have secondary duties. Firefighters,
first aiders etc. Never the less I loved my overall trade.
Made many good friends over the years, and am still in
contact with a few.
That is it from CANADA CALLING for this issue. Last but
by no means least a bit of history from the ARMY: in
Armies march upon their stomachs, so old Bonaparte
• And thoughts like this have come to not a few.
There's a great sustaining power for the fighting men
• In a dixie full of hot and steaming stew. And our
hearts were singing praises as we backed our carts for
• To the grimy, greasy Army cooks who helped to
win the war.
Nil Sine Labore
Have a great Summer
Have You Walked A Mile Yet?
GET HELP NOW: NHS England South East
020 3317 6818
| 28 www.sandbagtimes.co.uk
You can’t throw a stick these days without hitting someone
that has a story to tell about footsteps, or taking the next step
or following someones footsteps, the list goes on.
Two weeks ago the footsteps thing was hammered into my
brain so hard but this time it was physical steps. Walking up
Pen Y Fan for the Op Wamits project really tested me out. Of
course it’s not an easy mountain to walk up but achievable
for most people with a basic fitness level. The problem I had
was two years ago I was diagnosed with cronic heart disease,
put on a critical list and rushed into surgery. It was
devastating to find out that this fit lad who loved challenges
was no longer fit enough to just wallk to the shops. Thankfully
the operation was a great success and, with medication,
it. The biggest one is, never give up. No matter how high
your mental mountain is, it has a summit. Keep walking, you
will get there. Sometimes you need a hand. I did. I focused
on why I was there, I remembered the long path I had walked
to get me to this position and I allowed God to help me the
last few steps. I read this passage the night before to help
Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have
taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind
and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the
goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward
in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3: 13/14
I conquered my past, I achieved my OP WAMITS, but the
biggest reward was the one I have been employed for. I was
able to turn around, hold out my hand and help others to the
summit. In my mind, I shall remain on the top of Pen Y Fan
as long as I am able to hold out a hand to my fellow veterans.
meant I could pick my life up again. It did take a long time but
I vowed one day I would go up the Fan again under my own
One step in front of the other, one at a time, you will make it.
Back to my recent effort, the last 500 metres felt like 500
miles. Every step felt like I was dragging two of me up there.
But I couldn’t give in. I had promised a lot of people, including
veterans that I would do it. In my mind, during that last 500
metres, I was carrying all of the pain of the last two years, I
was carrying the hopes of OP Wamits, I was carrying the
burdens of all of my brothers and sisters who I try to help but
the heaviest was carrying the will to go on.
Don’t get me wrong, I wont compare half an hours leg ache
with the suffering of our troops but there are a few lessons in
www.sandbagtimes.co.uk 29 |
BATTLEFIELD TO BOARDROOM
The Institute of Leadership and Management
British businesses missing key productivity
and skills boost by ignoring military
veterans, study shows
Businesses are missing out on key opportunities
to boost their skills base and productivity
by not effectively employing well-qualified
former military personnel, according to
new information released by The Institute of
Leadership & Management.
According to The Institute, 86 per cent of veterans
say business managers still don’t
understand how military honed skills can
transfer into boosting businesses on civvy
Coinciding with both Armed Forces Day (30
June) and the 100th anniversary year of the
ending of World War One, The Institute of
Leadership & Management has released its
new report Tales of Transition, which identifies
the barriers to helping ex-forces personnel
enter the civilian workplace. The report
also details the steps that business leaders
can take to support the transition of around
15,000 people1 who leave the UK Regular
Armed Forces each year.
The key findings and highlights from the
focus group research include:
• Military life – Participants felt that military
personnel had a strong culture of learning,
as around 30 per cent of their time in the military
is based around learning and developing
skills. It is also felt that the military
lifestyle creates a culture of strong team
work and continual improvement where
good teamwork is often considered more
effective than the actions of an individual.
• Barriers to employment – There is a stark
contrast between the language and corporate
behaviour used by civilians and veterans,
so it’s unsurprising that culture dominated
almost half of the sessions (46 per cent),
as a barrier to employment. Participants also
discussed issues in demonstrating confidence,
‘selling themselves’ to civilian bosses
and the struggles they faced when finding
employment at a similar skill level to the one
they were operating in while part of the military,
often due to biased civilian perceptions.
• Better transition – The group recognised
that a range of services are available to help
the transition for veterans. However, it was
believed that the most vulnerable and in
need of these services failed to access them,
as they were unsure about which options
best addressed their own transition.
According to The Institute of Leadership &
Management’s Leadership Redeployed
report, 86 per cent of survey respondents
Based on findings from a series focus
groups, the report reveals that veterans are
often being recruited to jobs that don’t match
their skill sets, which goes to affect productivity
when they’re not used to their full
At a time when the UK’s business community
could benefit from a productivity boost
and an uplift in skills, the research found that
service leavers often feel disadvantaged
when they enter competitive ‘civvy street’,
despite the years of varied training they’ve
received and the skills they’ve developed
during military service.
The focus groups were made up of representatives
from all three military services,
people who had left or were in the process
of leaving military services and civilians with
experience of employing service leavers. It
included representatives from Help for
Heroes, Deloitte LLP, Barclays UK VETS
Programme, Officers Association and ILM,
who discussed the key issues from both
employers and veterans.
| 30 www.sandbagtimes.co.uk
BATTLEFIELD TO BOARDROOM
said many employers don’t understand how
military experience transfers to other sectors.
Also, 69 per cent said many civilian employers
are not aware of the talent, skills and
attributes of ex-forces workers and so they
miss out on the full benefit of employing
them, even when they do offer them a job.
But it’s not all doom and gloom, as the
research shows the positive perspective veterans
have about the leadership skills
they’ve developed in the military and that
many people do make a successful transition
into civilian jobs. Veterans identified leading
a team, people management and communication
as the top three leadership capabilities
– all of which are crucial in the civilian workplace.
In addition, almost half (47 per cent)
of survey respondents said they described
the transition of their military skills into a civilian
environment as a positive experience and
41 per cent said it was easier to seek help
and develop a suitable support network in
civilian organisations (40 per cent).
Kate Cooper, head of research, policy and
standards at The Institute of Leadership &
“Members of the Armed Forces acquire
many new skills and capabilities during their
service, the skills and capabilities that modern
organisations need now.
“Our research encourages employers and
veterans to think again about how truly transferable
these skills and capabilities really
Spokesperson for Help for Heroes added:
“Help for Heroes fully supports the findings
of this report. Veterans are skilled, drilled,
proud and driven and employers need to
recognise the value former Service Personnel
can bring to their company. This research
highlights the barriers faced by those transitioning
into civvy life, and we hope leaders
will heed the advice given on how best to
support this transition.”
The partners behind the Tales of Transition
report have created an online central
resource hub to help businesses ease the
transition for any veterans they employ. This
comprehensive toolkit is available on The
www.sandbagtimes.co.uk 31 |
In the UK we have a huge number of highly successful Armed Forces
Veterans that have made the transition from the Military to civilian life.
We want to reward these veterans who have gone above and beyond
and excelled in their relevant fields. They will act as role models for
future service leavers.
We want to find the people who even during the most difficult periods
To learn more about the Veterans Awards please go to
Twitter - @AwardsVeterans
Facebook - Veterans Awards
Welsh Veterans Awards - 26th June 2019
English Veterans Awards - 25th September 2019
| 32 www.sandbagtimes.co.uk
Let your career take off with
BAE Systems in Saudi Arabia
We are looking for skills to support our fast jet platforms
(Typhoon, Hawk and Tornado) in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,
including Aircraft Technicians, Technical Instructor and
Operational Support, offering an excellent salary package
and a considerable range of benefits.
At BAE Systems, we provide some of the world’s most advanced, technology-led defence, aerospace and security
solutions and employ a skilled workforce of some 82,500 people in over 40 countries. Working with customers
and local partners, we develop, engineer, manufacture and support products and systems to deliver military
capability, protect national security and people and keep critical information and infrastructure secure.
For further information and specific opportunities please visit:
At BAE Systems, we help our customers to
stay a step ahead when protecting people
and national security, critical infrastructure
and vital information. We provide some of the
world’s most advanced, technology-led
defence, aerospace and security solutions
and employ a skilled workforce of more than
83,000 people in more than 40 countries.
BAE Systems Saudi Arabia provides customers
in Saudi Arabia with a wide range of
support and services in the areas of defence,
aerospace and security – for equipment,
facilities and infrastructure right through to
intelligence gathering. We are one of the
largest employers in the private sector with a
workforce of nearly 4,700, more than half of
whom are Saudi nationals.
For 50 years the work carried out here in the
Kingdom has played a crucial part in supporting
the country’s national objectives.
Today we’re committed to recruiting, developing
and retaining the brightest talent in our
industry as we look to build upon our proud
heritage and enjoy new successes through
our enduring partnership with Saudi Arabia
in support of the Kingdom’s strategy for economic
development via Vision 2030.
Many of BAE Systems Saudi Arabia con
tracts are within the Military and Technical
Services area. They include the provision of
contracted manpower for the support of PC-
9, Hawk and Tornado aircraft.
This activity covers flying instructors for training
Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF) aircrew,
ground instructors for training RSAF technicians
a spares and repair service for PC-9, Hawk
and Tornado aircraft.
GET HELP NOW: NHS England North
0191 441 5974
| 34 www.sandbagtimes.co.uk
FORCES RECRUITMENT SERVICES
We believe there is no limit to what we
can achieve together. As part of this
unique organisation, our people enjoy
career opportunities many people never
manage to find.
As a valued member of our team, you'll
enjoy much more than a competitive, tax
free salary. Whether you join us on your
own, or with a family, you can expect to
enjoy a superb new lifestyle. You'll see
that all the practicalities of daily life are
catered for, with accommodation and utilities
provided free of charge. You and your
family will have our full support whilst living
with us. And, with excellent facilities,
including medical centres, schools,
shops, swimming pools and gyms, each
of our compounds offers all the comforts
of home - as well as the opportunity to
explore a whole new world.
But it's not just about an attractive financial
and benefits package. You'll have the
chance to further your skills by working
on a range of exciting and cutting edge
projects. And, with the chance to gain
valuable experience beyond your job, you
could enhance your life as well as your
career. All in all, we think that you might
want to stay for longer than you expected.
To apply visit: www.saudicareers.co.uk
All appointments in Saudi Arabia are subject
to receipt of all necessary
Government and/or Customer approvals.
CAREERS IN SAUDI ARABIA
BAE Systems Saudi Arabia
offers a wide range of career
opportunities at many locations
and are actively recruiting a
number of positions within the
• Technical Specialist
www.sandbagtimes.co.uk 35 |
Veterans Breakfast Clubs
Armed Forces &
Veterans Breakfast Clubs
Leading Writer Rebecca Fyans
Shines at the Rising Star Awards
Leading Writer Rebecca Fyans has been named as a
Rising Star in Defence at a prestigious awards ceremony
in London, singling her out as an inspirational role model
in recognition of her tireless charity work championing a
cause she is so passionate about.
You don’t need to spend long with Rebecca to realise why
she was plucked from 1,250 high calibre entries, to win
the award. Her enthusiasm is infectious, she is positive,
approachable and fiercely determined to use her own
experiences to improve that of others, spreading a positive
message of life with someone that has Down syndrome.
After travelling across Asia Pacific in 2004 Rebecca
realised she wanted to do something different so joined
the Royal Navy in 2007 at the age of 27. She’s worked on
board HMS York, in Camp Bastion hospital in Afghanistan
and the shore establishment HMS Nelson, before finding
out she was pregnant in 2012.
Her son Sebby was born in 2013 with Down syndrome
“This is when my life changed for the better, forever” says
the hardworking mum of two.
“The Royal Navy allowed me to take a career break to
dedicate my time to ensuring he had the best start in life.
During this time I became closely involved with a children’s
charity, the Portsmouth Down Syndrome
"Volunteering as a charity Secretary, Trustee and new parent
liaison I have; delivered training to midwives on how to
give a positive diagnosis of DS; lectured college students
and educational professionals; spoken at charity events
and high profile dinners; been filmed for TV and organised
and taken part in multiple fundraising events.”
After four and a half years Rebecca returned to the Navy,
where she now works in Naval Legal Services at Navy
Command HQ, in Portsmouth and says she hasn’t looked
“I’m proof that you can have a full-time career in the Royal
Navy, a husband that also serves in the military, two children
- one with additional needs - and be a Trustee who
aims to inspire women to stay in the Armed Forces after
“The skills I’ve learnt in my role as trustee definitely benefit
me every day in my job in the Navy, likewise I bring skills
and perspective from my military career that has changed
the way the charity carries out its business.”
Rebecca’s husband Mike, a Marine Engineer serving on
board HMS Queen Elizabeth, is right behind her charity
efforts, which she says, just wouldn’t be achievable without
Armed Forces &
Veterans Breakfast Clubs
Is It A Bird? Is It A Plane? No, It’s Shrewsbury
AFVBC On Top Of The O2 Arena
On Saturday 7th July, in temperatures above
30 degrees, a team of 27 members from
Shrewsbury Armed Forces & Veterans
Breakfast Club (SAFVBC) climbed over the O2
in London to raise money for Blesma.
This event had been in planning since
January, but who’d have thought it would have
been on the same day that England played in
the Semi Finals of the World Cup!
Our team was joined by Brian Chenier from
Blesma, who came not only to support Clive
Smith but take photos for us too.
Every year SAFVBC undertake a challenge to
raise money for a selected military charity. This
year we chose Blesma after we were inspired
by one of our members Clive Smith, an ex
Royal Engineer, who lost both of his legs
above the knee whilst on his second tour of
Afghanistan in 2010.
Clive was a Lance Corporal and the lead man
on patrol of the Counter-Improvised Explosive
Device (C-IED) Task Force in Helmand
Province when he stepped on an IED, which
threw him 30 ft into the air.
On the journey from Afghanistan to Queen
Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham Clive’s heart
When he awoke from his induced coma he
then had the monumental task of recovery and
learning to live life as an amputee in the civilian
In 2016 Clive was awarded the ‘2016
Inspirational Award’, at the Soldiering on
Through Life Trust, which is a national recognition
award for the Armed Forces Community.
In 2017 Clive also took part in the Invictus
Games in Canada as captain of the
Wheelchair Rugby Team.
His challenge this year, as part of the SAFVBC
Team is to boldly go where no other above
knee, double amputee has gone before – Over
the Top of the O2.
You can read more about Clive and his inspirational
journey on his website www.letsgetlegs.co.uk
where you’ll see that nothing
slows him down too much.
The other members of the team were also facing
their own challenges on the day. Some
had fears of heights, some disabling illnesses,
some showed that age was just a number, as
our eldest member at 81 years young conquered
the O2 like he was still a teenager.
The start of the climb was one of the toughest
parts, the heat made it much harder.
For Clive it was especially tough as he had to
hold onto the guideline and then navigate his
safety line through a small metal gate attached
to the guideline. He had 88 of these gates to
get though. It was tough going and at times
Clive was literally using his hands to haul himself
up the dome on the path.
The camaraderie within the team was incredible.
Everyone spurring and cheering each
At the top of the dome, with beautiful blue
skies, we took in the superb views across
We took time to take photos and had a little
relief against the heat due to a slight breeze.
We flew the flags from the top for the AFVBC
network, SAFVBC and for Blesma. The flags
were donated to us by Newton Newton Flags.
Clive became the first above knee, double
amputee to climb the O2.
Before we went down the other side Katy
Newby woke up the Capital as she played
Reveille on her bugle, another first for the O2.
Going down the dome was slightly tougher,
especially for Clive who was being bounced
around by the rest of us. The path over the O2
is like a rubber trampoline so at one point we
stopped behind Clive, so that he could get
ahead of us, away from the bouncing.
The smiles from everyone as the took their
final steps off the dome were dazzling.
The sense of achievement obvious!
It was a great team effort by all.
We rounded the day off with a meal before
heading to the Union Jack Club for the night
to celebrate out great achievement together.
| 38 www.sandbagtimes.co.uk
| 38 www.sandbagtimes.co.uk
Veterans Breakfast Clubs
Our initial target to raise £5,000 has so far
been exceeded at over £8,500 the team are
now pushing to make £10,000
Anyone wishing to make a donation to the
team can find our Just Giving page via this link
and they will be able to choose which team
member’s Just Giving page to donate to
The Shrewsbury branch of Armed Forces &
Veterans Breakfast Club (AFVBC) was founded
by WRAF Veteran Amanda Cundall in March
2016 and is currently run with the help of 12
Meeting twice a month, the club members are
a mixture of veterans of all ages, from all arms
of Her Majesty’s Armed Forces, as well as
serving members and their families who get
together for breakfast and a healthy portion of
As well as breakfast gatherings the SAFVBC
get together for quiz nights, Summer BBQ’s,
Armed Forces Day events, Christmas Parties
and various other events throughout the year.
Last year at our venue we held a surprise
medal presentation for our eldest member,
Reg Steventon, who at 98 years old was
awarded the L’egion D’honneur after Amanda
secretly applied for it on Reg’s behalf when
she spotted that he was eligible for it from
some service records that he had. Sadly, Reg
passed away just 3 months after receiving his
medal but when he recounted the day he said
that “it was the best day of his life”.
The beauty of the AFVBC’s is their simplicity.
There are no complicated joining procedures,
no apologies are expected if a member cannot
make a gathering, no dress codes but best of
all is that they are completely free to join!
The aim of the AFVBC’s is to bring veterans
together in a safe, relaxed environment where
they can make new friends and meet up with
old ones over a tasty breakfast whilst swapping
To some the AFVBC’s have provided a lifeline,
especially as so many veterans, upon leaving
the Armed Forces experience isolation and
loneliness. Many suffering in silence with
PTSD, not knowing where to go for help.
Recently we have been recognised as a support
group by the Armed Forces Covenant
alongside SAFFA and RBL, which
is a great leap forward for the
organisation which is also registered
as a CIC (Community
For anyone wishing to join the
Shrewsbury branch of AFVBC
please contact us via our website
you can find us on Facebook
here. Click Link
To find your local branch of AFVBC simply log
on to www.afvbc.net and type in your town.
There are currently around 260 AFVBC’s
The SAFVBC would like to thank Toby Cavery,
not only for their support of the Armead Forces
Community but for their sponsorship of the
Shrewsbury Armed Forces & Veterans
Breakfast Club Team ‘Going Over the Top’.
Also huge thanks to Newton Newton Flags
and to Blesma for their support in organising
this event. Special thanks to Molly and Brian.
www.sandbagtimes.co.uk 39 |
A word from the Ed
Who’s bright idea was it for me to
go trapsing over a Welsh
mountain at my age? Oh yeah,
mine! I think I’ve covered the
launch of OP WAMITS in the
Tommy Atkins section so I won’t
bore you with any more details of
pain and glory. Ok, it wasn’t that
bad but so far, it seems myself,
Jane and Dr Jonathan Leach are
the only ones to have walked for
OP Wamits. Come on folks, we
need you to let veterans in your
area know where they can get
help. Just walk a mile around
your local park or through town,
anywhere. Just walk a mile!
Ok, ear bending over. Now to a
serious point. I’m sure I don’t
have to tell the readers of this
publication that we have a
problem in the UK at the moment
with Veterans committing suicide.
As far as we can tell there have
been 23 known deaths so far.
Lord knows how many are going
unreported and it has also now
been reported that the MoD are
not keeping any form of record
but hey, take a look at SBT Issue
19 from May 2016 (Yes, two
years ago) we made a point of
this which went mostly ignored.
Surprising how that one has come
back around. We can’t do
anything about the actions of the
MoD or the Government and I
refuse to get involved with the
blame culture but what I can do is
ensure that I do everything within
my power to make sure Veterans
know where to go to get the help
they need. Hence, throughout this
issue, I have put the ‘Get Help
Now’ blue banner all over the
place. No apologies for that one,
in fact, spread it about folks, you
may save someones life.
I think I’ve waffled on enough for
Keep up to date with our news
programme each day with Jimbo
and enjoy the sunshine while we
have it. Have a great Summer,
take care Pabs x
“The Bloody Things I Do For Charity!”
Ways to find us
The Sandbag Times
A Song For A Hero
Please download this album free of
charge, but I would like to ask you to make
a small donation to Danny Johnston’s Just
Giving link on Page 11.
Click here to access the album
| 40 www.sandbagtimes.co.uk
The Battle Within
By Neil Spencer
gripping, the battle
within is an
excellent read". Matt
Johnson, author of
best seller Wicked
emotional stress in
the space of 2 years
than the average
experience over a
lifetime. The fact that
you can still function is
testament to your
strength of character".
Came the words from the
doctor. 21st April 2004. A
day Neil will never forget. A young
fit soldier, he was on his first
combat tour as a member of the
mortar platoon in the 1st Royal
Welch Fusiliers when he was
caught up in one of the worst
suicide bomb attacks the British
faced during the Iraq campaign.
Camp Chindit, a small military
base located just outside Basra
was the scene of 2 deadly car
bombs that left 11 dead and
many more seriously wounded.
Blown 5 metres by the blast
and hit by shrapnel. Neil was
medically evacuated back to
the UK for treatment, but soon
realized like many others, the
real battle had only just
begun. This is the inspiring
true story of a mind that
cannot be broken
A Song For A Hero
Please download this free and if you like it,
donate a few quid to Danny Johnston’s
JustGiving page on page 11.
Inside RAF Brize Norton
Acompelling ‘inside view’ of the
Royal Air Force at their largest
base in the world. A 7 x 60min
observational documentary series with
unbridled access – never before granted by
the MoD. We spent six months with the men
and women based at RAF Brize Norton as
they flew around the world to destinations
including Afghanistan, Cyprus and The
Falklands; delivering troops, cargo and
dealing with emergency situations worldwide.
Back issues of The Sandbag Times are available to download here
www.sandbagtimes.co.uk 41 |
MRS FOX GOES TO WAR
Mrs Fox Goes
The Chronicles of Little Hope
1939 - 1945
Villager of the month:
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
“Stepping out with a new young man proved
jolly confusing to May at first and to be honest,
a visit to Hilda Ffinch didn't really help matters
You can catch up with the adventures of May
This month’s letter comes from Miss Barbara
Knockers, and it’s all about fashion. Slightly
disconcertingly, Hilda’s on hand with her usual
brand of sage advice...
The younger of the two Day girls, May lived
with her mother Holly and sister Dee in one of
Hilda Ffinch's 'Grace and Favour' residences at
the entrance to the rather grand Ffinch country
estate. A bit of a wild one, as the saying goes,
May did mean well when she joined the ARP
but experienced technical difficulties when it
came to the old 'lipstick or whistle first?' conundrum.
That said, May could always be relied
upon to keep scurvy from the door by charming
oranges from sailors, lemons from soldiers and
the very best bananas from the fly boys. ...
| 42 www.sandbagtimes.co.uk
THE CHRONICLES OF LITTLE HOPE
Letter of the Month
Dear Ms Ffinch,
I am having difficulty in finding an adequately
fitting brassiere on account of my fuller figure
and rather large bosoms. Sourcing ladies
undergarments is becoming more of an issue
by the day.
Could you recommend a regiment who might
gave a few yards of parachute material to
help keep my modesty?
Miss Barbara Knockers
Dear Miss Knockers,
I’m not at all sure, my dear, that the Parachute
Regiment has enough silk in its arsenal to cover
your assets this side of VE Day. Without wishing
to be overtly personal, I was on hand to witness
the hullabaloo caused at the greengrocers on
Thursday last when you inadvertently took out
two crates of Webb’s Wonder lettuce and poor
Mr Augustus Peabody on account of your sizeable
bosom commandeering his shop counter
and tipping the scales in his general direction.
The poor man cracked his spectacles rather
badly, although there’s some conjecture as to
whether this happened spontaneously on noting
your approach or on account of his having come
a cropper, as it were, when suffering facial contact
with a 2lb brass weight.
That said, one does appreciate the difficulties
you must be facing and, after much thought, I
think I may have the answer, I am sending you
a parcel (second class) containing two old colanders
and the front flap of a khaki tent, the latter
having been kindly donated by the Little Hope
Girl Guides (Beaver Patrol) which will hopefully
enable them to attain their bush craft badges,
thereby killing two birds with one stone.
Obviously, canvas alone will not suffice to keep
your barrage balloons tethered to the lawn, as it
were, but with a little ingenuity and some garden
twine I think that you may yet have the brass
neck to appear in public again.
Now, obviously, one is aware that we are constantly,
as a country, being exhorted by the
Government to save our old pots and pans for
making spitfires, but Constable Clink assures me
that no action will be taken against you for reinforcing
a canvas brassiere with said colanders,
particularly as – in a tight corner – they might still be
used to strain the greens, as it were.
If I might just add a little fashion tip before finishing,
do think on and remove the base of each colander
before covering them with said charitably donated
fabric, otherwise you may inadvertently adopt the
aspect of a dreadnought about to fire a couple of
I do hope this helps.
The Bird With All The Answers
Dear Mrs Ffinch,
Recently, during a charity tea party which I held
for the local ‘Saucepans for Spitfires’ campaign, I
was disconcerted to receive a number of complaints
about the crab paste sandwiches which I
carefully cut and served up on my best china tea
plates. I don’t mean to complain but there is a
war on and times are hard, and I’m quite hurt that
some of the villagers saw fit to spit rather than
swallow, as it were.
Where did I go wrong?
Mrs Winifred Slack
Dear Mrs Slack,
I myself attended your slightly unusual soiree, might I
suggest that you purchase your crab paste from the
fishmonger’s next time rather than the chemist?
Yours (still gargling with Jeyes Fluid),
The Bird With All The Answers
If you’d like Hilda Ffinch, The Bird With All The
Answers to address your own wartime problem,
then pop along to https://www.mrsfoxgoestowar.co.uk/hilda-finch-agony-aunt
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
www.sandbagtimes.co.uk 43 |
By Mike Woods
Given that we are in the throes of the hottest summer
since 1976, it seems appropriate to consider
poetry associated with the season. Shakespeare’s
sonnet number eighteen is a fine example of writing
in that form and is one of his most popular. It follows
the rhyme scheme he established - three quatrains
and a couplet with an abab cdcd efef gg pattern.
Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate.
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date.
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimmed;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance, or nature’s changing course,
But thy eternal summer shall not fade,
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st,
Nor shall death brag thou wand’rest in his shade,
When in eternal lines to Time thou grow’st.
So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.
William Shakespeare, (1564 - 1616)
The central opposition in the poem is the conflict
between death am immortality, while its simple message
is that a work of art can immortalise its subject.
The object of the persona’s love is immortalised
in the lines of the poem. The second line is
quite typically hyperbolic in the Petrarchan mode,
summer being presented as unpredictable in comparison
to the lover. The Elizabethan preoccupation
with mutability is felt strongly throughout. In the
kinetic flux of life, we seek permanence. Beauty is
fleeting in relationship to eternity but it can be captured
by the permanence of a poem.
Great art, of course, will also outlive the artist.
Shakespeare shows supreme confidence in his
work. Four hundred and two years after his death in
1516, those of us who are breathing and who have
‘eyes to see’ are still reading the poem so he was
clearly justified in writing what he did.
Characteristic of a great writer is the ability to both
assimilate and challenge tradition, and
Shakespeare certainly does this in the opening line
of this sonnet. Rather than launch into a paroxysm
of direct praise in comparing the lover to a summer’s
day, Shakespeare chooses to open the poem
in the form of a question. Being acutely aware that
love poems in the Petrarchan tradition feature poets
hyperbolically gushing in unqualified praise of the
lover using extravagant comparisons, Shakespeare
apparently subverts this by asking whether or not
the object of the persona’s love is worthy of being
likened to a summer’s day. The second line,
though, leaves us in no doubt that the speaker is
very much besotted with the object of his love,
being ‘more lovely and more temperate’ - exceeding
its beauty and being neither too hot or too cold.
He admires the beauty and balance of his beloved
| 44 www.sandbagtimes.co.uk
in contrast to the summer which can be excessively hot
when ‘the eye of heaven’ (a marvellous metaphor for the
sun) blazes at its height or disappointingly cold when
cloud covers its ‘gold complexion’. Beauty in all things
will fade and die but the persona argues that his lover’s
beauty will never do so, hijacking the short-lived season
itself by transforming into a metaphorical ‘eternal summer’.
Unlike the short ‘lease’ the summer has on beauty,
the lover well and truly owns the freehold, living forever
in the memory through the sonnet, a form that Charles
Tennyson Turner called ‘a moment’s monument’.
The summer is often seen by the press as the silly season
but some would argue that this is simply an extension
of the winter of discontent that began in
November 2016 when the election of Donald Trump
seemed about as likely as the discovery of a flying dodo
or water on Mars. One thing is for sure, this summer will
be eternal in the memory for all kinds of reasons.
DISCOVERY OF THE DODO’S BLACK BOX IN-FLIGHT
Truth – What is that? (Pontius Pilate)
If you are hearing this, I could well be dead,
so listen. I got the better of all birds,
the ones who laughed at me, the ones who said
my name is Portugese for crazy, nerds
who claimed it’s Dutch for lazy. Soft in the head
doves of San Francisco, charmed by his words,
preached peace, praised sun and moon. I broke bread
with them. They sang their songs in modal thirds. I
waddled as they trilled, and watched them soar into the
blue above my head, green pain
came pounding. It was then I knew the score.
I had to make Mauritius great again,
fit myself for flight, like my folks before.
Unlike a certain Disney duck, I’m real,
survived a flood of tears. That saved some face.
In Wonderland I won the Caucus race
and let you know to show I have appeal.
Half the lies they tell you are not true;
I flapped my dodo’s wings, and then I flew.
Win This Fantastic Title
This unusual and beautiful book collects together twenty
five of the often read, well-loved 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
Proud Sponsors of
The Sandbag Times
The SBT would like to
welcome Urban Prints,
Worcester as an official sponsor
for our magazine.
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