Bring our boys home: Women against the war Their sons, husbands and grandsons are all serving soldiers
And they are joining a major new campaign for the safe return of our troops from a war they believe is ‘based on lies’. They talk exclusively to Severin Carrell Published: 04 June 2006 Charlotte Wildgoose 31, Paderborn, Germany
WIFE OF 31-YEAR-OLD CORPORAL ON SECOND TOUR OF IRAQ
“I am so very proud of my husband and all that he has achieved as part of the most highly respected British Army. This respect has now been diminished by the Government’s decision to use them in this immoral and illegal war.
“The war does not correspond to the oath that he took. I know that he has to go, because he has been told to, not because he wants to. He should be serving his Queen and country, not Iraq or President Bush. The British Army death toll has risen to 113. Two more families have needlessly lost loved ones and there is now more blood on the hands of the Government.”
Nicky Bucknor 47, Nurse, Central France
MOTHER OF 19-YEAR-OLD ROYAL MARINE DUE IN IRAQ IN OCTOBER
“It’s an illegal war. I just think our military are being played with as if they’re toy soldiers. It’s as if Tony Blair and George Bush are playing the strategy game Risk. They don’t seem to be aware that they’re real people.
“Our troops signed up to defend their country when it hasn’t really been proven that Iraq was any real threat to us. They know that they’re not doing what they signed up to do, which is defend their country.
“I feel Tony Blair should be accountable. If you make a mistake in your job, and you haven’t got the good grace to admit it, I think you should be punished whatever your profession.”
Maggie Wheeler 65, Art Teacher
MOTHER OF JUDAH, 27, SERVED WITH GUARDS IN IRAQ AND JOSEPH, 23, A ROYAL ENGINEER DUE TO GO TO AFGHANISTAN
“We should never have gone into Iraq. It was obvious it would be just like Vietnam before we went in. All us ordinary people knew it was the stupidest thing to do. How on earth could we help people by bombing them? It was all so obviously wrong.
“I was disappointed with the whole of the Labour Party. They just seemed to be thinking about their careers. I’m not a pacifist but, as my sons were saying, we weren’t being threatened. There was no reason to go in there. They don’t have any foresight, and they don’t seem to be able to finish what they started.”
Janet Lowrie 46, Housewife, Dumbarton
MOTHER OF PTE PETER McCALLUM, 20, 1ST BATTALION, THE HIGHLANDERS, SERVED IN IRAQ LAST YEAR
“I spoke to a lot of the boys when I was in Germany, and they can’t understand why they’re still there because there are no WMD.
“Now it’s just pure murder. We lost another couple this week and we lost five last week. We must take them out and tell Blair we’re not standing for it any more.
“If we showed we were prepared to withdraw some, don’t you think the Iraqis would say, ‘If you’re prepared to do that, we will calm down a bit?’ We’ve got to think of them as well. Another 50-odd have been killed over the past week – that’s another 50 families that could do without the heartache.”
Dani Hamilton-Withall 42, College Lecturer, St Austell, Cornwall
MOTHER OF AN 18-YEAR-OLD SERVING WITH INFANTRY IN BASRA
“My son has been trained by the best – the British Army. I want to stress that as a parent I am very proud of my son as he carries out his difficult and dangerous duties.
“But I now have grave reservations about the legality of this war. I initially supported it because Saddam Hussein was in breach of 17 UN Security Council resolutions. However, the British and American governments failed to plan properly for the aftermath. Iraq is now effectively in a state of civil war. Bring the troops home while they still have dignity and honour as British soldiers.”
Marilyn Miller 46, Housewife, Washington, Tyne & Wear
MOTHER OF ROYAL MILITARY POLICE CPL SIMON MILLER, 21, KILLED AT AL MAJARR AL KABIR, JUNE 2003, AND RMP CPL JON MILLER, 27, DUE TO GO TO AFGHANISTAN
“Si and his five comrades were left isolated at a dilapidated police station on 24 June 2003. Under attack from a mob of 500 firing AK47s and RPGs, our boys ensured up to 50 Iraqi police escaped to safety while they stood their ground. That day we have to live with 24 hours, seven days a week.
“Si died not knowing that his country had lied to him; he died for all the wrong reasons. Blair keeps telling us that he takes all the risks and that he has to live with it. Well, it wasn’t your son that came home in a body bag.”
Flora Edwards 72, Retired, Campbeltown, Scotland
GRANDMOTHER OF PTE PETER McCALLUM, 1ST BATTALION, THE HIGHLANDERS, RECENTLY BACK FROM IRAQ
“I just want all our boys out of there. Why should we be fighting in a foreign land for what America decided to do?
“Peter always wanted to be in the Army. In a way, he has been betrayed and let down by the Government. These boys are 18 and 19, and there are so many being killed in Iraq. There were nine killed last month, including a woman. That’s ridiculous in one month.
“I was in the Army myself, as was my husband, in the 1950s. We were defending Britain and our territories. They should be defending places like the Falklands – that’s a different matter.”
Pam Bradley 44, Hairdresser, Staffordshire
MOTHER OF A 21-YEAR-OLD SOLDIER WITH 1ST STAFFORDSHIRE REGIMENT WHO SERVED IN IRAQ LAST YEAR AND IS DUE BACK IN OCTOBER
“I’m not criticising the Army. It’s the politicians who are abusing the oath given by the armed forces, because my son joined the Army to defend Queen and country, not to be used as a political pawn by Tony Blair and George Bush.
“On a personal level, my son has a young daughter who’s 12 months old and she’s hardly seen him. And his wife is only 19 and she’s having to cope with all this and a baby, and live a normal life. I’m watching my granddaughter being without a dad again.”
Kathy Vian 49, College Lecturer, Cornwall
MOTHER OF ADAM VIAN, 22, 2ND BT LIGHT INFANTRY, DID ONE TOUR IN 2003, DUE BACK IN IRAQ THIS AUTUMN
“We were told it was a just war because we were all led to believe that they had WMD. They’ve admitted now that perhaps there weren’t any, and with the rest of the baloney which comes out of the Government, I wonder, did they ever believe that there were WMD?
“I don’t think we’d ever sort it if we stayed there for 20 years. They’ve got their own government now, their own forces and their own police. The people there have pretty much always been at war with each other. I don’t say ‘out right now’ but let’s have a faster and steady withdrawal.”
Linda King 42, Teaching Assistant, St Austell, Cornwall
MOTHER OF PTE CHRIS KING, 1ST LIGHT INFANTRY WITH QUEEN’S ROYAL HUSSARS IN IRAQ
“This is the second tour of duty for my son. Obviously I’m proud of my son. I can’t dispute that British troops there are making life better to a certain extent, but enough is enough.
“I don’t want to make life bad for him but I want to speak out because it’s about time we stood up for what we believe in. I dread every minute, every hour, every day that I’m going to get someone on my doorstep saying it’s my son.
“When he first went out, he was really full of it and looked forward to going back. This time he can’t wait until he gets home.”
Marlene Parnell 63, Housewife, St Austell, Cornwall
GRANDMOTHER OF PTE CHRIS KING, 1ST LIGHT INFANTRY WITH QUEEN’S ROYAL HUSSARS IN IRAQ
“My opinion is that they shouldn’t have gone in there in the first place because I don’t think it was a legal war. They really should’ve gone into it further before they put the troops out there.
“My grandson was no sooner out of training and he was sent to Iraq. I just don’t think they should be out there. It’s only caused more violence over there, even among themselves.
“I think they’ve done more harm than good, and there’s a lot of things gone undone. The UN should have been in on it, more involved in sorting out more before they ploughed on in.”
Lynda Holmes 55, Nurse
MOTHER OF A 24-YEAR-OLD GUARDSMAN IN IRAQ
“Our forces are risking their lives for an illegal war. So many people have been killed. It’s cost so much money. My NHS trust has just announced job losses of 720 people. My department is under threat of closure, and this is happening all across the country. How are they finding money for Iraq when they haven’t got enough to put into the NHS?
“Innocent people have died. Those in the forces have died – they enlisted to protect their country. But all they’ve done is fight an illegal war for Blair and Bush.
“As a soldier, he’s proud of his regiment and of what he does. I’m not anti-Army. I’m not anti what my son does. I’m just anti this war.”
Mary Andrew 47, Housewife, Antigua
MOTHER OF 19-YEAR-OLD SERVING WITH 1ST LIGHT INFANTRY IN IRAQ
“My son hasn’t long passed out of Catterick. He flew straight from Germany out there, which, as a mother, I’m not very happy with. When you’ve young lads of 19, not long passed out of the Army, it’s a worrying situation. What effect is it going to have on them in later life? We ought to have kept our noses out.
“The Iraqis would probably sort it out better on their own, without us being there. They’ve got a government now of their own, and they need to be left alone to sort it out now. We got rid of Saddam for them; our troops have done their job and they should be brought home. They’re just cannon fodder.”
Gillian Sutton 43, Local Government Officer, Kent
MOTHER OF SOLDIER IN IRAQ ON SECOND TOUR WITH 1ST BATTALION, PRINCESS OF WALES ROYAL REGIMENT
“We’re quite sick of it, actually. I feel that the troops should come out, purely because I think Bush is going to lead us into a third world war, with either Afghanistan or Iran or who knows next. We just need to come out of his pocket and make a stand.
“I don’t agree with the war. We shouldn’t have interfered. I support our boys out there 100 per cent and I think they’ve done a brilliant job, but if the Yanks are going to be out there playing Robocop, we don’t stand a chance. Blair has treated the British Army as though they were expendable, but those boys