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RECORD VIEW; No peace for brave soldiers.

"At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them" - but we will not pardon them.

That is the Government's harsh epitaph for the 306 British soldiers who were executed for "cowardice" and "desertion" in the First World War.

Eighty years later, we now know these men were not cowards nor deserters. Many were mere boys, others were brave men who had volunteered their lives for King and country.

Some were shot like dogs for trivial offences such as loss of weapons or leaving their posts in search of food.

They could never be accused of the old Army charge of LMF - "lack of moral fibre". All of them were pitched into the most obscene and wasteful battle conditions soldiers were ever asked to face.

In a more civilised and understanding era, we now know nearly all of those executed were victims of shell shock or stress - or were protesting at the stupidity of the donkeys who led our lions.

Armed Forces Minister John Reid speaks of the nation's regret and understanding.

But he sticks to the official line that, with the passage of time, we can no longer distinguish between those who deliberately let down their comrades- in-arms and those who were not guilty.

The concession that their names can now be added to books of remembrance and war memorials is only a step in the right direction.

"Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn." But, until they are pardoned, they cannot rest in peace.

Brief failure

ROBIN COOK has a lot on his mind, preoccupied as he is with foreign and domestic affairs.

He is notorious as the Foreign Secretary who can't be bothered with piles of paperwork and small details.

After the arms-for-Africa affair, his officials claimed he did not read the papers telling him of British involvement in Sierra Leone.

Now he has been given an unprecedented rap over the knuckles for failing to read a warrant properly.

Cook, a lawyer by training, failed to check the wording and did not notice he had signed the wrong warrant, making a GCHQ surveillance operation illegal.

As with the Sandline affair, Cook has blamed his civil servants for this latest blunder.

They should get him a pair of new glasses and a sign for his desk: "The buck stops HERE."

Doing the rounds

THE latest craze as a plaything and fashion accessory is the yo-yo.

It celebrates its 70th birthday next year and has had its ups and downs in its life. Now it is taking over from Tamagotchis and Teletubbies.

Why is anyone surprised? The whole point about the yo-yo is that it keeps coming back ...
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Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Jul 25, 1998
Words:446
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