‘To ensure peace, one should prepare for war’ still holds true
15 November, 2019
• LIKE Albert Beale, (We need to reject warfare, November 7) I want peace but the maxim that to ensure peace, one should prepare for war, is as true today as ever.
I wore my red poppy this month to show support for the great work of the Royal British Legion and all those involved, or caught up in, war.
But most of all to remember those who died for the Crown, our country and Commonwealth, when called on to fight in support of our people’s decent values.
Not being prepared for war is a luxury we cannot afford, particularly as some 95 per cent of our trade is by sea – we should and we must defend our island, whatever the cost may be.
It is not always the case, as Mr Beale implies, that the majority of those killed in wars are civilians. In World War I millions more in uniform were killed, all told, than civilians; whereas in the World War II civilian casualties were twice those of uniformed personnel.
In the Desert Wars of the 1940s very few civilians were killed and, in the Falklands War of 1982, three Falkland islanders were; with the 1,000 service personnel who lost their lives on both sides.
War is best avoided, of course, and most service personnel certainly know that. But some wars may justifiably be considered just wars – World War II was one such and, my only experience of war, “Down South” in 1982, I certainly consider a just war, as do the Falkland Islanders.
Official remembrance events do not glorify war but they do offer an opportunity to reflect and to remember those who served and those who made the ultimate sacrifice, so that the likes of Alfred Beale may enjoy their lives, whatever their views and, likewise, former sailors like me may enjoy the blessings of the land and the fruits of their labours.
Many of us remember, too, those who served and survived but who bear the physical and mental scars of war.
Certainly, I remember my parents, both of whom served in uniform 80 years ago, and I remember the chums who lost their lives in the Falklands War as I reflect too on the horrors of war suffered by so many, both civilians and uniformed.
Mr Beale writes that he considers that these official events honour those who killed in war. I have never killed anyone and the ship in which I served in 1982 killed none either – indeed, she has a record of saving lives. Many of those who served in uniform in war never killed a soul but clearly many had to and did so.
And I am happy to admit that I would rather the allies – our side – won and, not to beat about the bush, that requires our personnel killing the enemy where necessary. None of us salute the killing, per se, but we do salute the winning of a battle on the way to ultimate victory.
One should surely reflect that the major wars of recent centuries, all of which resulted in victory for our forces, sometimes alongside those of our allies, were right in their time, whether putting a halt to the unwanted domination of Napoleon, of the Kaiser, of Hitler or of Argentina in the Falklands.
British forces have a good track record of winning wars against ghastly, often criminal, dictators. Saluting and supporting our forces is not done lightly, it’s done knowing they are and were a force for good – and our civilian population and those of our allies have been beneficiaries of the peace that followed.
Royal Navy (retired)
Reachview Close, NW1