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POLL: Warriors & Writers

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Old Bear Inactive Member writes:

Gentlemen, as a great man once said, "I'm going to tell you a story". Hopefully it will explain my thoughts regarding this subject and cast some light on why I believe – to a degree – it is true. To do this, I need to give you some background, so bear with me.
I joined the police in England at 18 not having seen much of the world. I was big, physically fit and decently educated, but was not at all worldly wise. As such I was moulded by my experiences of the next decade. I was lucky enough to join during the decade of the greatest civil violence the UK had experienced in living memory and I was perfectly suited to what became called the PSUs, or more fashionably, the riot squad. I already knew from my time studying karate that not only did I enjoy violent confrontation, but I liked it. Needless to say I volunteered.
Lots of riots, in juries et al later, I particularly remember a day when we received a new commander. This bloke was known to be a political appointment. He had never served within a PSU and had an inglorious reputation as the sort of bloke who was always unavoidably detained elsewhere when the doo-doo hit the fan. He set up a particularly impressive lecture with slides and everything where he proudly told us how he was going to fix the ‘problems' in the unit. The ‘problem', such as it was, was that we were getting hammered in the press for being ‘Maggie's Jack-booted Nazis' having just been involved in the controversial Miners' Strike.
Nazrat will be pleased to know that my macho BS posturing was at an unbridled level and we were not at all ready to be given instruction by a bloke we considered a coward and an outsider. He had not been at Broadwater Farm; he had not been at Orgreave; he had not been at Toxteth; he had not been at the Beanfield; he had not been at St Pauls. I could go on but hopefully you get the idea.
So, to the present (and my apologies to those of you with the fortitude to wade through the about biography). Military history and war in general has been the love of my life. Unlike many though I am a genuine War Lover, regardless of the human consequence, of which I am fully aware. I'm not sure if that makes me a rarity here, or whether I'm simply more honest about it than some. As such when I read historians my first check is to see whether they have served militarily and in what capacity. The absence of such credentials does not mean that their work is going to be either bad or unworthy. There are always things to learn. However, when it comes to personal opinion about battles, soldiers and leaders, I look very carefully at potential revisionist opinion by a writer who has no experience of combat.
I believe that whilst everybody has a right to discuss all elements of war (like it could be prevented anyway), unless you have experienced combat first hand you should be wary of criticising historical figures who did. It's a fine line and certainly far more complex (as this post illustrates) than the cheap sideswipe I took which Bill picked up. In retrospect I don't object to Bill throwing this up as a poll because it's quite interesting to discuss, but if it is to be discussed it needs to be done clearly and without cheap shots thrown in return.
There, bearing even an element of one's private life to an internet forum is risky at best, but being as I have no intention of simply going away or quietly knuckling down I thought you at least had the right to know a little of what makes me tick. At 49 I'm long past being able to do very much other than posture a bit, but I apologise if this has unintentionally offended.

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Old Bear Inactive Member once wrote: "I happen to go by the quaint, old-fashioned theory that a man incapable of fighting shouldn't be writing about war."

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