Iraq and Afghanistan keep the Legion busy

Iraq and Afghanistan keep the Legion busy
by Nicci Martel The Guernsey Press

THE Royal British Legion hoisted its flag at the Weighbridge roundabout yesterday to mark the start of Remembrance fortnight and the Poppy Appeal.

‘The fact is that, this year, the number of people in the British Legion who are under the age of 35 has trebled – and that’s hugely significant,’ said the major, who served in the army for 34 years.
‘Iraq, Afghanistan – these conflicts aren’t over yet.

‘These wars are affecting younger and younger people and widows with babes in arms are being left behind. The British Legion will be there to support them, to help with housing and education.’
The local Poppy Appeal raised more than £36,000 last year and the money will be used to provide financial, social and emotional help for ex-servicemen and their families.

Major Le Quesne said that no matter what people’s political opinion, the soldiers should not take the blame.

‘When I was a young man, I was rather gung-ho about it – but make no mistake, war is a dirty business. There are no sides to it.
‘Being able to bring relief to those in distress is perhaps the only reward.
‘Soldiers don’t like war. They are just the tools of politicians – they have no say, they do what they are told, and sometimes they don’t even know what the cause is,’ he said.

This year is also the 25th anniversary of the Falklands conflict, which has a special relevance to the legion’s local secretary, Kevin O’Kane, 57, who served in the three-month campaign. More than 200 British soldiers were killed and many more were injured.
Mr O’Kane said he was one of the lucky ones.
‘It doesn’t feel like it was 25 years
ago – the memories are as fresh as ever,’ he said.

‘I met up with some of the lads in London for a march and still now some of them suffer from post-traumatic stress. It doesn’t go away.’
* Poppies will be available from retailers and in workplaces throughout the Bailiwick. There will be a march on Remembrance Sunday, 11 November, from Elizabeth College to the war memorial at the top of Smith Street, where a service will be held

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