This week saw the last of a melancholy series of memorials; the last salute, by the future Royal Wootton Bassett to those who have paid the price of delusion, of sanctimony, of cost-cutting orders from fools who have never smelt blood; of a set of hurried statements, of a total lack of appreciation of the history of nearly two hundred years of Muslim and British-Afghani history. The townsfolk of Wootton Bassett, itself a small market town in Wiltshire, began the very British salutes to the Fallen of this nation when Brize Norton base closed for renovations.
It happened almost by accident, as the Royal British Legion was holding its monthly meeting when the first cortege passed through on its melancholy journey. The mayor, along with the Royal British Legion members, decided that they would salute the remains at the town’s war memorial, and the tradition began. There was no fuss, a minimum of organisation, very little official involvement, mainly because the townsfolk did not want outsiders telling them how to salute the men and women who had died for Britain, and it is fortunately a fact that no senior politicians came to ‘support’ this sad series of salutes to the Servicemen who gave their lives in pursuit of some strange ideal of a strangled political mind.
The corteges slowly wend their way along the roads of this small town, and the salutes begin and end at the memorial mentioned before, and it is a deep and dark sign that the politicians hated this ‘ordinary people’s salute’ so much that when RAF Brize Norton was being enabled to receive the melancholy transports once more, the first thing to be announced was the end of those famous ‘slow convoys’ past the people who are the very backbone of Britain.
True, there is to be a ‘chapel of rest’ at Brize Norton, and a time set aside for ‘family mourners’, but the corteges will now go out of a disused side-gate, along narrow lanes, past a primary school and roadside chicanes and speed humps, so that the coffins of a failed, dismal and derisory war might sneak away from the flags, the flowers; but most importantly the cameras!