Letter of the week: Should soldiers stand trial for keeping the peace?

British soldiers on patrol in Northern Ireland during the Troubles.
British soldiers on patrol in Northern Ireland during the Troubles.

Many years ago I had a great job that I liked and enjoyed in the security business.

It had a benevolent side where I was involved in emergencies throughout the British Isles and abroad, and I became involved with humanitarian aid projects.

It was called The British Army.

One day Harold Wilson, Leader of the Labour Party and UK Prime Minister, phoned and asked me to do him a favour.

“I would like you to go over to Northern Ireland where there is a bit of a kerfuffle and help to keep the peace.

“Nothing untoward to worry about as I am giving you a small yellow card to keep in the top left-hand pocket of your jacket, which you can refer to should circumstances warrant it.”

OK, he didn’t exactly phone me but someone else did.

Off I went on my humanitarian mission to ensure the Queen’s peace on the streets of the United Kingdom and to stop certain people murdering certain other people.

In that deeply troubled province of the United Kingdom there was a man (let’s call him Gerald) who didn’t like me.

I had never met Gerald nor spoken to Gerald but Gerald really, really hated me.

One day while carrying out my humanitarian duties, Gerald – or one of his friends who was hiding in a very dark alleyway – waited until I had passed by then stepped out of the darkness and tried to shoot me.

To say I was shocked and taken aback was putting it mildly.

However, I composed myself.

Knowing the instructions printed on my little yellow card off by heart, and being armed myself, I turned and fired back.

Gerald, or one of his friends, scuttled away down the dark alleyway clutching his bum and limping.

Many years after this incident I have come to dread every knock on my front door.

Will I find a man with a red hat, a man with a blue hat or a man in a suit with no hat?

Will I now be prosecuted for defending myself while carrying out humanitarian aid on behalf of the Prime Minister?

Will I be dragged off to the Courts Martial Centre in Bulford at 79 years of age?

Will I be able to celebrate my 80th birthday with my family?

I often wonder what happened to Gerald and his friends who hated me and tried their hardest to kill me, and if they also fear a knock on their doors?

Oh no, I forgot.

Tony Blair, Leader of the Labour Party and UK Prime Minister, gave them all a “get out of jail free card”!

Edward Powell,
Birchill Gardens,

Last week's Letter of the week: Dog owners should take their pets elsewhere