Monday, June 11, 2007

War Stories Then & Now

There's news today from Afghanistan that the 60th British soldier has been killed in the fighting there, since 2001. He was from the 1st battalion the Grenadier Guards. Our perspective on war now has been totally changed by the coverage that the media and in particular TV offers. Every loss is scrutinized. In the 19th century during the second Afghan war at the Battle of Maiwand in July 1880 the 1st Grenadiers had 366 men killed. Of the 2,476 British troops engaged, facing 25,000 tribal warriors, the British and Indian force lost 21 officers and 948 soldiers killed. Eight officers and 169 men were wounded. The Grenadiers lost 64% of their strength. Back then with no photography on the battlefield people 'back home' had to rely on newspaper reports and paintings to give them some insight into what had go on. This is 'the Last Stand of the 66th Foot' painted by Peter Archer. Partly as a result of this action it was decided that regimental colours would no longer be taken into battle. The dog in the picture was the regimental mascot and he survived the battle only to be run over in London by a cab!

1 comment:

r morris said...

War is not pretty. There has always been an a delicate moral/political balance in allowing the press on the battlefield for just this reason.
Showing the horrors of war is not good for morale at home. And yet, since we the taxpayers are financing it and we live in a nation with a free press, we deserve to know. Last year it was reported that it is now against government policy to allow photos of coffins being returned to the States in military aircraft.

I have three close friends who have served two tours of duty in Iraq or Afghanistan. They are Idaho National Guardsmen. They are getting ready to go back--again--for their third tour of duty. How long before their luck runs out and they get it with an IED?