In an extraordinary incident, 200 British soldiers who were on their way back from serving their country in Afghanistan were diverted from RAF Brize Norton to Birmingham International because of the weather. At someone’s instance they were forced to change on the tarmac apron from their desert camouflage into civilian dress before being allowed into the airport buildings.

So reports The Herald today:

The soldiers at Birmingham were told by the pilot that their baggage was being unloaded on to the runway and that they must reclaim it, dig out their own clothes and remove their desert combat kit before they could proceed into the airport building.

It beggars belief that anyone should be allowed to treat our soldiers, who daily risk their lives on our behalf whilst on active service, in this way. It is fervently to be hoped that the person responsible for this demeaning and humiliating order is hunted down at once and given a very hard time for his actions, preferably involving some meaningful sanctions.


Many will suspect that this order came from the Airport management who will have doubtless been cowering under their desks in fear at the reaction of some of their customers at the sight of an Army Unit in full kit emerging, happy and relaxed into their midst.

As Birmingham International serves a cachement area with a sizeable Muslim Minority, you can bet your boots (size twelve, hob-nailed) that some Jobsworth did much pursing of his lips as he contemplated the inflaming or appeasing of this small portion of the public using the place before reaching instantly for the ‘appease’ button. Why upset the paying public when you can shove around some compliant squaddies instead?

The Herald also dug out an airport spokesman:

“There are no restrictions relating to clothing or appearance for those using the airport for public flights. However, the airport company has been advised that certain airlines may refuse to accept personnel in military uniform.”

There is, of course, a quite simple remedy for this: no uniforms, no charter for the airline.

This story exemplifies the mealy-mouthed appeasement by some gutless elements in our society of a small portion of our population, some of whom have only been here five minutes and who do not exactly hold dear British Values and British Institutions. We should stop doing this and tell them to like it or lump it, preferably somewhere else.


Even better we should hold monthly parades of returning units, colours flying and drums a-beating. The routes should be carefully selected to march through areas where these disaffected people live, just so that they might understand whose country this still is.

And meanwhile the Jobsworth whose daft and unpleasant idea this was should join the MoD Civil Servants whose booting up and down Whitehall I advocated yesterday.

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