Richard Benyon MP - quality blog post "Riflemen" 14/7/09

In Full:

[quote="Richard Benyon MP] More years ago than I care to remember I had the best job in the world. I was the Platoon Commander of 9 Platoon, C Company, 1st Battalion The Royal Green Jackets. Many years later that Platoon still exists in but in the newly formed 2nd Battalion The Rifles. Last week 9 Platoon were ambushed in Sangin losing 4 men and suffering many casualties. The Platoon Commander, Alex Horsfall, was seriously wounded losing an arm and a leg. Few of the men I commanded would still be serving and any that are would be in other places doing other jobs, but a sense of comradeship remains between old rifleman and those who suffered this horrific attack.

I served in a quieter time on the streets of Belfast and in Northern Ireland’s border country. The men under my command were forgiving of my mistakes, unfailingly cheerful and generous in nature. Coming as they did from urban Britain, they used their inner-city savvyness to cope with the complexity of our role. I saw them defuse confrontation with a quiet dignity and switch to a professional aggression at the moment it was needed. I know that the same spirit exists in The Rifles today. I don’t know if I could have coped with such a tragedy but I do know that this is when the regimental family comes into its own. All ranks are equal in death and equal in how they are treated for their injuries. The Rifles will mourn their dead properly when they have time and they will rally round their injured keeping them part of the family that is the Regiment. Until then they have to keep going. Their Commanding Officer Lt Colonel Rob Thompson put it in a way that was almost Kiplingesque,

“We turned to our right, saluted the fallen and the wounded, picked up our rifles and returned to the ramparts. I sensed each rifleman tragically killed in action today standing behind us as we returned to our posts and we all knew that each one of those riflemen would have wanted us to ‘crack on’.”

In Parliament we argue about our mission in Afghanistan. We talk about equipment and helicopters and the corruption in the Afghan Government. But at the centre of our concerns should always be the awesome bravery of those who step over the blood of their fallen comrades and just get on with the job. When 2 Rifles returned from a bloody tour in Iraq the Battalion Second-in-Command told me that if anyone doubts the so-called “playstation generation” they should see them in war. They are every bit as courageous as their great-grandparents were in more heroic times. Yes, as the bodies come home it is a time for sadness but I have also never been more proud to be a rifleman. [/quote]

The link:

Very dignified and shows that once a soldier always a soldier. Despite hanging up my uniform ten years ago every mention of a death in service brings a lump to my throat and the sight of Ramp Ceremonies and/or corteges passing through Wooton Basset seems to increase the hay fever symptons!

If I still lived in his constituency he would get my support next time round.


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Richard Benyon was well thought of by his troops, from what I have heard. he is also a trustee of H4H, and a good friend of the services.

Good post. I think we were all touched by the messages of support.
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