Wednesday, June 17, 2009

lost lives

I’ve been catching up on some very powerful TV programmes marking the fifth anniversary of the Iraq invasion on BBC iplayer. British military operations in Iraq have now come to an end and the last troops have packed up and left Basra. 179 servicemen and women will not be returning home though, having lost their lives whilst serving with the British Armed Forces. “10 Days to War” provided eight excellent episodes of a series of short dramas (see these two links). They included Tony Blair being given a TV grilling by a group of anti-war women and how the government tried to deal with questions of the legality and so-called justification of going to war: “the need to disarm Iraq, hopefully by peaceful means; if not we have to make sure that the will of the UN is enforced” (Blair). The last of the episodes focussed on Colonel Tim Collins (played by Kenneth Branagh), commander of the Royal Irish Regiment stationed on the Kuwait/Iraq border, rallying his troops just prior to engagement with an impressive speech (much reported at the time) that could have come straight out of Shakespeare’s Henry V. Absolutely fascinating and brilliantly executed.
I also watched two allied programmes entitled “The Fallen: Legacy of Iraq” (and update). The invasion of Iraq has always been controversial, but these films provide a voice for some of the people who have been most significantly affected by the decisions that took us to war. From how the withdrawal affects them and their hopes for Iraq and its people to whether they feel blame, anger or pride - for those who are still coming to terms with their loss, their thoughts on Iraq are powerful, varied and sometimes surprising.
The films also tell the story of Lance Corporal John 'Frenchie' Le Galloudec, a soldier who suffered severe spinal injuries after being shot whilst on operations in Basra. His friend and fellow soldier Corporal Rodney Wilson was fatally wounded trying to drag Frenchie to safety - leaving him with both physical and mental scars.
Powerful stuff which, at times, moved me to tears.

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