Why Britain must finally remember

Today, Britain honours her own who perished in past wars.

From my physical vantage point here in Donegal and my ideological perspective as an Irish Republican, this Poppy thing in Britain becomes stranger by the year.

Of course, that which is cultural is not amenable to reason.

I accept that I don’t get it and that I never will, because this stuff is at the emotional level.

It would be like expecting David Cameron to understand how I feel about the West Mayo Flying Column.

I am not personally connected to any of this. I didn’t lose any family in either of the two world wars in the uniform of Britain.

I did have distant relatives in the US Army in World War II and my paternal grandparents were both active in fighting against the British in Ireland.

Subsequently, I feel somewhat detached from the British remembrance thing in that I have no dead soldier from Ypres, Kenya or Iraq asking me not to forget.

I have different reasons for remembering.

However, if today makes you pause to consider the reality of your genuine loss through war then you have my condolences.

Too many young working class men were thrown into the meat grinder of the battlefield, often for less than honourable reasons.

The Royal British Legion is a fine organisation, but I fear that darker elements within the British ruling class find this remembering of the fallen all rather useful for their current military predicament.

I have noticed that the wearing of the RBL Poppy appears to happen on UK television stations earlier and earlier every year.

I am told by journalist colleagues in Britain that it is a major problem if you want to go in front of the camera without a Poppy.

When I was a child in Scotland I recall that it was something that was only worn on Remembrance Sunday.

It appears to me that the RBL Poppy has now morphed into a quasi-government sponsored marketing campaign to support contemporary military operations.

Rather than a respectful act of commemoration, it is now a campaign rosette for current conflicts.

The Poppy became a sectarian symbol in the North of Ireland long ago and throughout the rest of island it is a problematic emblem.

However, what was once a subtle symbol of respectful remembrance in Britain appears to have become a seasonal badge for a carnival of reaction and revisionism.

I do not doubt the heartfelt emotions of genuine personal loss today from people remembering a father in the Falklands, a son in Iraq or a grandfather that they never knew because he died in the mud of Flanders.

However, I believe that the British ruling elite aren’t really grieving about the machine gun fodder of the Somme, but their own slow burn loss of global status after Versailles.

Only the deluded and the historically illiterate can think that the UK is still a major power in the world today.

Just think of the Suez Crisis of 1956 and what would happen now if something similar were to be attempted.

The British and French were in action in the skies above Libya last year.

Would this have happened without the express approval of President Obama?


The current US President’s paternal grandfather, Hussein Onyango Obama, was imprisoned by the British for political offences, and was tortured in a bid to extract information about the growing insurgency.

The Kenyan was left permanently scarred and debilitated by that torture at the hands of the British, and he was not alone.

In the years of the Mau Mau uprising, Britain ran a gulag in Africa.

As George Monbiot brilliantly outlines here, the British have much to be ashamed of in their imperial days.

He states that:

“The British did not do body counts, and most victims were buried in unmarked graves. But it is clear that tens of thousands, possibly hundreds of thousands, of Kikuyu died in the camps and during the round-ups.”

As he perceptively points out on his blog, the average British person is rather different to a Holocaust denier.

The neo-Nazis know that they are lying and are aware of the appalling crimes of the Third Reich.

Subsequently, there is a conscious thought process at work.

Many British people simply have no idea of what was inflicted on Britain’s colonial victims within living memory.

Here are some details from Britain’s “peace keeping operation” in Kenya.

“Large numbers of men were castrated with pliers. Others were anally raped, sometimes with the use of knives, broken bottles, rifle barrels and scorpions. Women had similar instruments forced into their vaginas. The guards and officials sliced off ears and fingers, gouged out eyes, mutilated women’s breasts with pliers, poured paraffin over people and set them alight. Untold thousands died.”

The British Army did this, dear reader.

Of course, they also lost soldiers in the war against the Mau Mau.

Some of those squaddies were blameless terrified conscripts, but some were gleeful sociopaths and undoubtedly guilty of war crimes.

One British officer described his actions after capturing three Mau Mau suspects:

I stuck my revolver right in his grinning mouth and I said something, I don’t remember what, and I pulled the trigger. His brains went all over the side of the police station. The other two Mickeys [Mau Mau] were standing there looking blank. I said to them that if they didn’t tell me where to find the rest of the gang I’d kill them too. They didn’t say a word so I shot them both. One wasn’t dead so I shot him in the ear. When the sub-inspector drove up, I told him that the Mickeys tried to escape. He didn’t believe me but all he said was “bury them and see the wall is cleared up.” [Anderson (2005), pp. 299–300.]

I find it interesting that the slang term used by this British officer for the Mau Mau fighters was “Mickeys”.

“Poppy fest” is instructed by a dishonest and dumbed down saccharine narrative that all the British war dead “died for our freedom”.

The subtext is that the conflicts have always been defensive in nature and entirely justifiable.

That could be true of the fallen of Finland, but not Britain.

Given the amount of invading that the UK has indulged in, the characterising of the British body count as a result of protecting the homeland is utterly risible.

Britain was not fighting fascism in Iraq in 1920, but battering the Kurds into submission so that they would not impede oil exploration.

The Kurdish fighters were acting in self-defence and their actions were entirely legitimate. The British were the problem.

Yes, a strange concept I will readily concede, dear reader, the British being the problem.

Since the creation of the RBL Poppy in 1921, the British forces have dropped bombs on defenceless Kurdish villages, ran death camps in Kenya, murdered unarmed demonstrators in Derry and, more recently, tortured innocent men to death in Iraq.

Some of the perpetrators of those appalling war crimes died serving the Crown.

The Poppy is for them too.

Those wearing it today need to acknowledge the fact that across the planet the forces of the Crown brought death and destruction to the innocent and the unprepared.

There is a cherry picking of the history of British military operations, a convenient misremembering of an army that in the imagination was always comprised of hapless, harmless Baldricks rather than the grinning shooters of Bloody Sunday.

Around the world perfectly sane, rational, morally grounded people do not see the British as the good guys and hold to that view with excellent justification.

Perhaps one year the British will truly remember their violent history, peppered as it is with war crimes, and that will mean recalling all of the innocent victims of British state violence.

Until then, these ceremonies are tainted with hypocrisy and the real working class heroes cannot be properly honoured.

Britain has yet to acknowledge and atone for the many crimes against humanity committed by her boys in uniform.

Lest we forget.

153 thoughts on “Why Britain must finally remember

  1. Mick

    Pep, being neither Irish nor an Irish Republican, no direct offence taken here. The freedom that you allude to is under threat, under the guise of defending those self-same freedoms.
    I’m not entirely sure how I am threatened by Iraq, Afghanistan or any other recent victims of attack and occupation but I am fairly certain that the proponents of Hawkish foreign policy are largely in control of the mainstream media. Hamas, a democratically elected administration, for example, are routinely described as militants. Isn’t democracy the reason for the presence in Iraq? Democracy but only when it conforms to our world view seems to be the message.

  2. SamBrowneBelt

    Apologies? Have you heard of Dresden, and Bomber Harris? One city, in one of “our” wars. Have you heard about the tens of thousands dead, after deliberate targetting of civilians?
    And have you heard “our” apologies?

  3. pep

    Mick. You are correct of course to remind me that anything I said in any of my earlier blogs re-martin mcguinness should have been prefixed with the word “allegedly” and should read this way. I apologise unreseservedly for any direct offence caused by this unintended error.

    Joe. Are you serious though? Since 1969, how many innocent civilians were killed and maimed across these islands by indiscriminate bombs laid and detonated by republicans, who later claimed responsibility?

  4. Mick

    Pep, yes of course there are more opinions out there than comrade Phil’s. You made accusations though and these were wholly unsubstantiated.

  5. Joe

    Irish Republicans fought for freedom, justice, equality for all citizens, and democracy for the Irish people in the form of national self determination. The British and the loyalists fought for the exact opposite of these things. Also, unlike the British and the cowardly loyalist Republicans did not deliberately target civilians as a matter of policy in a 30 year conflict.

  6. pep

    Remember those who died have bought you your democracy to safely object. Remember too to look for a wider information pool, theres more out there than phil’s blog……..

  7. pep

    Guys. Read what I’ve written more carefully please. Phils blog rails against british atrocities with ahistoric irish slant. I have never disputed those atrocities. I have simply pointed out more recent atrocities perpetrated in the name of irish freedom. Similarly I have advised that there have been british representative apologies on historic wrongs but no yet anythijng from an irish irish public figure whose hands are bloodier than most. Get the balance right please. Phil’s always thoughy provoking work needs this balance to ensure it allows fair-minded people to make their minds up with ALL the facts. It is very unfortunate that the poppy is perceived by some to be “owned” by ulster extremists rather than seen in its global state by those not wearing tricolour glasses. Should you choose not to wear or buy one tht is your right in a democrtaic society

  8. Mick

    Pep, I fail to see how the argument is hopelessly compromised. If there is a poppy equivalent for the PIRA that we are all expected to wear then I must have missed it.

  9. pep

    Phil. Youve taken the time to look out supporting clips but not to bring out more recent ones where british representatives apologise for past sins. Im not at all ignoring them and absolutely know that attrocities happened at the hands of soldiers and freedom fighters from most violent struggles over the decades. Contrition and apology is a sign of mature statehood. Interesting too that no link to martin mcguinness anywhere either – funny that. It would not support your glorification of the oppressed irish who dont of course drop their moral code. Of course mcguinness felt his own armys atrocities were justified for the irish cause…. Youve a hopelessly compromised argument as i said before. Pep.

  10. Phil Mac Giolla BhainPhil Mac Giolla Bhain Post author


    As drama documentaries on the Great War go, this is right up there.

    This is brilliantly told and Tilda Swinton’s narrative is quietly haunting.

    My point, once more, is that until the British state accepts that many crimes against humanity were committed by her army since the adoption of the RBL Poppy (1921) then any remembering of these genuine heroes is, in my opinion, tainted.

  11. setondene

    Good article. In the city I live in it seems that less and less people are wearing the poppy every year. I personally don’t wear it, though I always put money in the tin. The reason I haven’t worn a poppy for many years is that I got sick of all the anti-German stuff in the media. They should give it a rest, the War was 60 years ago. The British government are hijacking this. Together with Armed Forces Day and countless ‘homecomings’ they are deliberately militarising Scottish society. I believe Scottish recruitment into the British Forces has collapsed since Rose Gentle made an issue out of her son’s tragic death.

    1. Dal

      I’m curious to know why you put money in the poppy tin. Britain’s an industrialised nation that spends trillions on illegal/unjust wars. Therefore they should be able to subsidise those who pulled the triggers in occupied lands. Do they require your small change? Or are you merely a part of their political distraction?

    2. setondene


      The money in the tin goes to maimed war vets as far as I know. Since I don’t hate them and since they come from the same kind of working class communities as me it doesn’t seem like such an awful thing to do.

  12. Ben mcginlay

    Dan Thea the Mau Mau veteran spoke with dignity on recounting his grandfather and fathers fate at the hands of the British. I have no doubt of the violence and Ethnic cleansing that went on in Kenya, and the rest of Africa. Not just by Britain. It was a bit of European free for all. It is shameful that most indigenous people’s have been persecuted under the pretext of being savages. The natives in North America were killed by disease, and the Spanish, British and the Emerging American States under their Manifest Destiny policy. What happened to indigenous people’s was inevitable (in most countries),but how it happened was/is unforgivable. Amazing to think that the American constitution was based on the Iroquoian League of Nations. Talk about hypocrisy..I think the attitude of Britain is poacher turned gamekeeper.

  13. Mick

    Also, now having watched the second clip in full, I am proud to have been born in Britain but not consider myself British.
    I’d rather be stateless than subscribe to past shame.
    Nonetheless though: the great lie. Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori.

  14. Mick

    Phil, I stated previously that contrition for past sins, e.g. Kenya, goes a long way to ensuring that we do not visit atrocities such as those on others. We find ourselves though some 60 years later up to the same old tricks. My position always has been and always will dialogue over violence. The depths to which the UK state sink are not done in my name but they are perpetrated by the land in which I, through no fault of my own, was born. I personally have love for neither land nor state. Struggling to remember who said it and I am probably paraphrasing: where injustice is visited on one, it is visited upon us all.

  15. Mick

    Pep, no need for a big debate. I don’t disagree with anything you say in your last post. I personally have no problem with remembrance. I do though object to being expected to wear a poppy and to the celebration of Britishness of the type seen in the SW on Saturday.

  16. delbhoy

    We must remember that when we went to war it was to free nations under the tyranny of Germany. While we ruled over a third of the world and look what we,ve done to the Kurds and the palestinians. the racist bigots in South Africa and the racist bigots in the north of Ireland to name but a few.Ive no problem with the poppy but i wont be forced into it by the sevco fc klan or any other bigot. “oh the empire is finished no foreign lands to seize”.

  17. pep

    Mick. A healthy and constructive debate looms here. Thanks to phil for his always well-written articles that spawn and facilitate this debate. The clue to Remembrance Sunday is in the title – its not Celebration Sunday. I was happy with the Green Brigades stance this weekend. It was a mature gesture and did not embarass me and countless other celtic fans as they have done in previous years. They are entitled in a democratic society to air their views and show their preferences in a non-abusive and respectful manner – this they did. They and others who contribute to phil’s blog need to remember that celtic is a scottish club founded in scotlandby mostly (not exclusively) irish immigrants. They should also remember that our club probably has the broadest fan base from ethnic and religious backgrounds now in Scotland and we should proudly ensure we respect each other accordingly. Our friends

  18. Tam waterson

    Do I wear a poppy ? No
    Do I object to others wearing a poppy ? No
    Has the poppy been hijacked by far right factions ? Yes
    Should Celtic wear poppy on Hoops ? No
    Were They bullied in years gone by ? Yes
    Just my thoughts, now wait till September 2013 when the debate will start over again.

  19. Mick

    The Maths Teacher. Presume then that you weren’t over on the SW of the city on Saturday then? If you we’re, how was that for your thoughts on remembrance?

  20. Mick

    Strong words Pep and certainly one way of interpreting the content of the article.
    Do you consider that the wearing of the poppy is now a prerequisite rather than choice? Is Remembrance Sunday now an expression if support for militarism? Has the ‘lest we forget’ the senseless slaughter been forgotten?
    War is an ugly business and ‘dirty’ war of the type visited upon Ireland uglier still. Tit-for-tat violence and collusion of security forces, the State, apparatus and therefore state-sanctioned murder, is unforgivable. Times have moved on there though thanks to people of vision on all sides.
    The death of millions is not, to my mind anyway, a reason for celebration, but rather a time for reflection and remembrance, primarily that we as a nation do visit such horror on others.
    Contrition for past deeds goes a long way to ensuring this.
    Lest we forget indeed.

  21. pep

    Best to check phil, I think…. Nudge, nudge. Selective amnesia is most obviously applicable currently to those in political positions of power in northern ireland who co-ordinated acts of outrage against scottish, irish,english men, women and children indiscriminately in the name of irish freedom. Stop harking back to british atrocities that were equally unacceptable without facing up to major issues closer (and more recently) to home. Please apply balance and openly and honestly avoid your blogs double standards. I enjoy your blog phil and acually agree with some of your points. Here though you are hopelessly compromised. Pep

  22. pep

    Lest we forget….the dead at the hands of the british, french, japanese, american, kenyan, iraqui, etc, etc. Oh, and those many innocents at the hand of the irish who”freed” a country. One mans freedom fighter is another mans terrorist. Pro rata per size of forces – how many innocents were killed in the troubles (incl uk bombs) since 69 between the british army and the various sectarian “armies”? I know where my money is. This most modern war conveniently forgotten by those who decry the british bogeyman – at least we have forgiven with a mature 21st century attitude…….

  23. Graeme Robertson

    I applaud the article. To quote ‘those who do not know histories mistakes are doomed to repeat them’. It is quite right to have this discussion. However, views are subjective. When I think of the poppy it conjures up memories of something written over 90 years ago by Wilfred Owen.

  24. Mick

    PaulMc, we don’t need consensus. What we need is dialogue, respect for differences in opinion and support for majority rule. Consider the new move for secession in the US, following Obama’s victory. This is a real threat to ‘democracy’.

  25. Mac Tomas

    Geographic proximity is the fundemental issue where territorial disputes are concerned. The very fact you mentioned The Falklands as a British “Colony’ should on its own alert you you to the fact that Britain has no moral claim on The Malvinas. How about piling back into Hong Kong & taking it back off the Chinese ?. The fact you site some one describing the Falklands as her home makes no difference to justifying the ridiculous expense of a British presence off the coast of Argentina. It will still be her home if the territory is under Argentinian administration. Or perhaps the thought of being governed by Latinos is the real fear of the pampered ‘Falklanders’. Better off with good old John Bull than those swarthy foreigners.

  26. Dal

    Your comments are shocking and indifferent to what’s happening in the present. Britain has been obliterating parts of the Middle East, all for greed and power. Yes, civilisation should oppose John Bull, illegal conflicts and barbarity.

  27. John from Essex

    Hi Phil

    Here’s an interesting link to a brave Irishman who also felt compelled to stand up and be counted against the evil forces of Nazism – and gave his young life in the defence of all the people of these islands including those who would deny the right of free speech to those who do not share their warped sectarian views.


    Note also the Wikipedia hyperlink to another brave Irishman belfast Solicitor) with the same name who was cruelly murdered in front of his family by loyalists with more than a strong possibility of security forces collusion?

  28. Ben mcginlay

    Spartacus McDonald, I’m not in anyway religious. But I think it is quite a harsh statement to make that ‘ it is not difficult to feel superior to anyone who believes in supernatural beings’ . I like to look at the big picture and I think there must be more to living and dying. There could be spiritual and supernatural dimensions, there could also be life on other planets. If you are interested in this look no further than Graham Hancock. Fingerprints of the Gods, The Mars Mystery and Heavens Mirror are a great place to start. There is also Supernatural. These books are mind blowing and certainly make you think about your whole existence.

  29. HoudiniBhoy

    The overiding factor that I am beginning to see from many websites and forums is that the mean of the Poppy is subjective, it is what it means to you. Whilst I respect every one elses opinion from yours Phil to James McClean’s decision not to wear the Poppy on his Sunderland shirt, I thought I would at least have to try and give you a different point of view.

    Putting political objectives and agendas aside I would ask people to take a look at the boys and girls on the ground and what their motive were. Fundamentally, a job! A career from someone who would have them and the opportunity to get away from a life that was no life at all. My first point in case is a young lad called Vincent who at 19 years old was killed in a training exercise in 2004 when the Lynx helicopter hit a power line in Brno, Czech Republic. That boy was my then partner’s brother and watching the burning wreckage on Sky News was a very difficult thing to take. It is men like Vincent I remember. To say the armed forces over the years have just been filled with murders and evil men is like saying all men are rapists because there were 15940 reported rapes in 2010/11 in England and Wales.

    There is good and bad everywhere and whilst I firmly believe those breaking the Geneva Convention should face criminal charges often people are caught up in the carnage of war. That does not excuse murder, not one bit. But men are but men and they are fallable.

    I have been serving the crown in one form or another since 1989 mostly the Royal Fleet Auxiliary and a stint in the Royal Navy. I, like many others, got out of a life that promised me jail, drugs and who knows, possibly crime? I am simply one man but here a few things I can put my name to. I have taken food into a starving Freetown, Sierra Leone, sailed up unchartered flood waters in Mozambique, rescued many lives at sea; the latest being the Princess Melissa off the coast of Oman, released Yemeni fishermen from the clutches of Somali pirates and prevented pirates from getting onboard a chemical tanker. These are just a fraction of what I have done and if I’m just one man how many other men and women out there, past and present have done good things, things that should be remembered?

    I am not fooled by the British Government’s agendas, I’m not naive but I’m here and I make the best of what I do, I am sure there are many people out there who feel the same way. I am certain there are countless people out there who have done the same in years gone by.

    Finally, whatever you think about governments, what ever you think about the futility of war many GOOD men and women died so that we can all have this discussion now and whilst the significance of the Poppy may leave a bad tast in the mouth for some, that sour taste has been afforded you by the loss of life whether you like it or not.

    For me the Poppy is for the men and women at the coalface, there’s no romance, there’s no mis-guided ideals, just the plain fact that people have died to free those who would be free too!!

  30. Neil

    We would be better remembering what Wallace and the Bruce did for us and what country tried to wipe us off the face of this earth and is still continuing in countries afar.

    That country cocked up Pakistan/India – the former Yugoslavia – brought us into war with Aregentina over the Malvinas, an Island that we never knew existed until that conflict.

    Oh and another country just a few miles of the coast of Scotland

  31. paul

    gentlemen ,and ladies,we and i include myself in this should read back some of our posts , we are making this issue even more political,can we not draw a line under this and observe the poppy and the act of remembrance as it should be , in the the memory of those who gave their lives for freedom , or, are we going to forever snipe,argue over every point of every conflict ? every army in every conflict has committed acts they would not have done under normal circumstances ,the british , americans , french ,germans , italians,spanish(civil war) and even the irish , if you put young men into a situation were they see death of friends ,civilians and even the enemy on a regular basis it will effect them , and sadly things will happen that should not happen , this is NOT an excuse but a reality ,sadly, only the dead have seen the end of war.LEST WE FORGET.

  32. George Collins

    This is exactly why I said we should wear the White Poppy instead of the Red.

    The red symbolises the blood of the fallen soldiers of Britain; the white for an end to war.

    Say no to the legitimisers of war; because, as David Swanson says, War is a Lie.

  33. Mick

    And by the way I couldn’t care less if Rod the mod wore a tea cosy on his head on the Graham Norton show. This isn’t the X factor.

  34. Mick

    I’m not sure now where to go with this. Is a profession of Irish Republicanism as expressed by Phil to be considered offensive because there are others who hold diametrically opposing views? Is political divergence to be discouraged because we hold differing opinions? Our rights, our freedom of expression, of speech, our right to freely congregate are under threat. Grave threat. We all have our opinions but these will mean nought if our right to express these is nullified. Respect the fallen of WWII in the right way, fight for our rights to freedom.

  35. Spartacus MacDonald

    Let’s not look to the Irish Free State as a model to follow. A country dominated by a socially and culturally repressive Catholic Church.
    No bosses and no priests!!

    1. PaulMc

      Wow, aren’t you out of touch. The Catholic Church have lost their power and respect in Eire. Still, as long you believe that, you can consider yourself superior to them. Sorry it’s not true, you’ll just have to find something else to latch onto to boost your self esteem.

    2. Spartacus MacDonald


      The reference to the Irish Free State was a historical one and not about the situation in the Irish Republic today. It was linked to Phil’s comments related to the role of the IFS during WWII. It’s certainly not difficult to feel superior to those who still believe in supernatural beings and all the smoke and bells used by priests to dupe the masses. Unfortunately the social and cultural influence of the Catholic Church still pervades many aspects of Irish life. It will take generations for that to disappear. The sooner the better!!

    3. PaulMc

      Well, on one thing you said, besides a few others, we will eternally differ. I feel neither superior or inferior to anyone regardless of faith or the lack thereof. To each their own.

  36. Mick

    Paul, the graveyards of Northern France and Normandy are poignant reminders of the cost in human life of war. Remembering also therein lie the remains of the military dead. Civilian dead lie in civilian graves elsewhere. My point is that war should be remembered as ultimately a waste of a generation. Dialogue, not weaponry. The increasing militarism of Armistice Day does not show respect to the fallen, it serves as a conditioning for the next generation to accept their fate. Bear in mind also that WWII was visited upon us, we did not go in search of that conflict.
    Could I also ask for your opinion on Switzerland, Sweden etc. who also ‘stood idly by’?

  37. Dal

    There is something distasteful about this whole poppy thing. It breeds ugly nationalism. It’s been hijacked by the extreme right. Cameron et al use it as a political distraction.

    1. Ian ferguson

      Dal, You are correct in what you say, The poppy has been turned into a right wing symbol of Jongoistic pride, not a reminder of the fallen in the Great wars.

      Armistice Day has turned into a Celebration of the Armed Forces, not a Remembrance of conscripts on all sides who fell fighting for their “Betters” be that King or Kaiser.

      They were ALL Lions led by Donkeys…. Lest WE Forget.

      There is No Glory in our present wars abroad, they were & are illegal & a different generation of Donkeys are in command.

      That disgraceful display at Ibrox was what?

      It certainly was NOT a respectful Remembrance of those who fell in past wars nor was it a demonstration of a desire to live in peace in the future.

      The whole poppy issue & Armistice Day have denigrated into a right wing farce,complete with delusions of granduer & a longing for days of Empire, long gone by.

      Britain is NOT a World Power, we should not be interfering in Foreign wars & should be spending our tax at home to help OUR Aged, sick & needy etc & rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure.

      Our investment in the young should be educational & craft based, not everyone is Uni material but all our youth have work potential & that should be developed.

      All the Death & Glory nonsense should have no place in a Modern Multi cultural Britain.

      Remember & Respect the dead, HELP the living.

  38. paul

    mick , i have total sympathy with yourself and anyone who lost family and as i said i have total respect for anyone who put themselves in harms way ,but i feel the people who have allowed the poppy to become a political statement are missing the point the more they wear it the less others can claim it for themselves mnay brave irishmen fought and died in major conflicts and i think they should be remembered but the extremist part of irish republicanism have made them feel ashamed , for what ? fighting for the free world , and phil, you want a pat on the back for the donegal corridor and for the royal navy using some petrol pumps? again while the free world were liberating auchwitz and belsen , really.

    1. Phil Mac Giolla BhainPhil Mac Giolla Bhain Post author

      I was merely pointing out the facts of The Free State’s role during the Emergency.
      Verified,facts,not opinions.
      Try it.

  39. Broxy Bore

    This is a topic where I am deeply conflicted. Whether it is one just war or a number of them, the people who laid down their lives deserve to be remembered so that – if for no other reason – we try to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

    However, a means associated with Haig? No thanks. Rememberance Sunday morphing into the month before? No thanks.

    It started out as, and should remain, a day of rememberance which, if you choose to observe it, you do. If you choose not to, respect the right of others to do so as – in a very classy act on the part of the Green Brigade on Sunday in my view – the Green Brigade did on Sunday.

    If you don’t want to wear a poppy, don’t but a minute to contemplate the people who go roped into stuff like WW1 and WW2, coupled to the notion of war dead of whatever side should be respected.

  40. MacTomas

    The Falklands war was an obscenity. A Thatcherite stunt to prop up a failing Tory government, & to cement the Ladies place in History. Lets get this straight. The Malvinas don’t belong to Britain. The cost of keeping & indulging a group of sheep farmers in the “South Atlantic” is a grotesque waste of revenue.
    Also, not really sure it’s a subject that should inspire a daft Joke !

    1. Blogiston

      Having lived through that time, and more importantly working beside a nurse who is a Falkland Islander, I know your revisionist version of the Falkands and the Falklands War is pure bilge. The provenance of the islands is one of the most studied of all territorial claims in recent times. The British claim and establishment of it as a colony predates the entity of Argentina by three centuries. France has a better claim than Argentina under international law. The whaling colony present there since the early nineteenth century consisted of Scottish and Welsh inhabitants the ancestors of the present population. Only a handful of “South Americans” have ever lived on the islands. Contrary to your recollections of the events of Friday 2 April 1982, Argentina invaded the Falklands for domestic political reason and not the other way around, as you assert. There’s no doubting that Thatcher ‘seized the day’, as any politician would do. The daughter of the sheep farmer I work with sees the Falklands as her home, her country…this is not an Ulster Planters situation as a by-product of British imperialism.

  41. Spartacus MacDonald

    Time to break the union! Vote for an independent country where we can try to build a citizen’s democracy fit for the 21st Century!
    Arise, ye workers from your slumber,
    Arise, ye prisoners of want.
    For reason in revolt now thunders,
    and at last ends the age of cant!

    Vote YES for an independent Scotland!

  42. john mckee

    Lost relatives in the war of liberation(one murdered by the tans} Also had relatives fight against the Nazi obscenity suffer wounds and in one case death.
    I have no problem with a genuine and respectful rememberance for the fallen on both sides of all conflicts but the British celebration complete with members of the Saxe Coburg dynasty sporting uniforms and medals never honestly won is disgusting.
    I wonder if the ceremony at Ibrox on Sunday was inclusive of those Roman Catholic soldiers who died defending the right of Rangers not to sign Roman Catholics.

  43. Mick

    Paul, no shame here. My maternal grandfather is counted among the fallen, as are those of millions of others.
    The fight against fascism at that time was just and in essence a fight for freedom of expression, including the right not to wear a poppy.
    This fight did not end in 1945 though. Fascism is alive and well in many quarters of our society. It is usually characterized by hatred, intolerance, polemicism and a disregard for reasonable, fact-based argument that are at odds with an entrenched world view that is usually in conflict with societal norms.

  44. Joe

    Can anyone tell me even one Just war Britain has been involved in since 1918, apart from the WW2 ? Kenya, Malaysia, Suez, Ireland, etc its one long list pillage and murder aroung the globe.

    1. Blogiston

      C’mon Joe, the Falklands war was just. Don’t play the polarisation game the other side plays, i.e. everything black or white, or in their case orange or green. You need to read Shades of Grey 🙂

  45. miki67

    Brainwashed Brits : the nastiest people you will ever have the misfortune to encounter. ‘The Bulldog Breed’….they are truly awful in their comfortable ignorance and their love of etreme violence. They revel in it.

  46. Tom

    @Shay mallon. You’ll have to revise your estimation of Rod Stewart as he wasn’t wearing a white poppy. The white flower was just a normal white flower as a button hole. Rod wore the red poppy pin/badge on his left jacket pocket. A similar red poppy badge was also worn at the Celtic game by Rod.

    1. shay mallon

      if rod stewart did indeed wear a poppy on the graham norten show thats his own business and i stand corrected as i thought he was standing up to the poppy facists,having said that welll done frankie boyle and a big well done to james mclean,matha buchailli.

  47. Tom

    @SamBrowneBelt Rod Stewart was wearing a Poppy on the Graham Norton Show. If you look at You Tube footage you will see a small Red Poppy, probably a metal broach type, on his left jacket pocket. He also wore a small type Poppy at the recent Celtic game. Some people mistakenly thought he was wearing a white poppy on the Graham Norton show. It was just a normal button hole.

  48. Antonious F

    wear one or not, personal choice. it is right to remember those who DEFENDED when threatened. Now i am no historian, but i remember reading somewhere that it was Britain who invaded and attempted to subjugate the Irish, killing millions in the process (when you include their actions or lack thereof during the famine). Their actions and reasons for going to war in more recent times are no different that those they fought against in WW2. it was certainly not to defend the freedom of the west.

  49. hang 'em high

    great article phil, THE BRITS and their class system, they are without doubt the most racist society on the face of the planet, Scotland out Britain britain out of IRELAND FOR GOOD,THE ONLY PERSONS i called “Sir” where my teachers and my parish priests.

  50. Ian ferguson

    The context of the poppy has become completely different than first envisaged.
    Originally it was a sadness for the fallen, that is not the case now.

    The Poppy Appeal this year was launched with a concert in Trafalgar Square.

    Pixie Lott told the audience that “I would encourage everyone to show their support for the brave men and women of our armed forces and to wear their poppy with pride.”

    The Poppy is now about supporting our armed forces and we should wear it with pride, if you do not subscribe to our participation in illegal wars & the glorification of our youth being killed & maimed, you somehow become some sort of traitor in the eyes of the jingoistic.

    We had involvement of the Armed Forces in the opening ceremony of the Olympics as if they somehow fulfill the Olympic ideal.

    How many young British soldiers have been killed or wounded in Iraq & Afghanistan & for what purpose? How many CIVILIANS have been killed or maimed by the Armed Forces?

    Britain is now a small Nation with delusions of grandeur, we can’t afford to help our old or sick properly & our infrastructure is in serious decline. Our youngsters can’t get jobs but we waste money in a vainglorious attempt at imposing our views onto others & spend Billions of pounds on arms we cannot use.

    The poppy has been hijacked & the sooner people admit it the better, in fact the sooner they realise that there is no Glory in a coffin ride through places like Brize Norton nor any in our youth being maimed in an illegal war we can’t win.

    Britain cannot fight a war & should not want to, why are we first into any conflict without the proper equipment & training?

    If Britain would cast off it’s delusions of being a World Power then maybe the poppy could go back to being a symbol of the sadness & futility of war & not the celebration of aggression it has become.

  51. PaulMc

    I’m all for solemn commemorations of the millions of war dead. What I cannot abide, however, is the poppy being used as a means of testing allegiance and loyalty to Britain. Certain football teams should not be using it as their own little “Rule Britannia” fetish either.

    I’ll wear one again when it is a choice that can be freely made without some right wing/nationalist nutter demanding to know why someone is NOT wearing it.

  52. Mac Tomas

    I’ll always doff my cap to “Anyone” who took time out of their day to fight the Nazis. My own grandfather sailed on two ships that were torpedoed while serving with The Merchant navy in Atlantic convoys.
    1939 – 46 was Britain’s “Finest Hour”, but it did little before & has done little since to be proud of. Phil has eloquently covered that.
    The current vogue of pious poppy wearing reached a crescendo at The Ibrox half time on Saturday. It was turned into a grim Unionist Rally making a mockery of the ideal of quiet memorial. The recent concoction that the November Remembrance is to honour all the fallen of all war just doesn’t wash amid the waving of giant Union flags & the bellowing of nationalistic ditties. That was political event ! a reaffirmation of the Peepels belief that they have a position of esteem within her Majesty’s Empire. Remembering “your” war dead ?, not really, smug, sanctimonious, piety ? For many of the teddy bears I suspect this to be the case. The parading of scarf twirling exploited squaddies on the Ibrox pitch on the eve of Remembrance Sunday can charitably be described as a sad spectacle. I’ll keep what I really think to myself.
    The day also resonated with grotesque Irony. The very institution that wallows in its fawning admiration for Her Maj’s Armed Forces didn’t pay it’s taxes. So much to be proud of !!!!

    1. Ben mcginlay

      Totally agree mate. The so called commemoration gets bigger every year. The hand picked armed forces paraded don’t even realise they are being used for this planned industrial strength jingoism.

  53. andy murray

    Those who had no choice and had to go to war and died in a foreign country ~ I blame their greedy governments for their death, those who jointhe british army and are quite happy to murder for money ~ you take that risk when you accept that first wage packet.

    1. alfredthepict

      Whilst I agree with most of what you said about Britain,s imperial past ( and you can include every other empire that ever existed ) Please do not compare the sacrifices of the seconed world war to any ” action ” taken to ” police the empire ” World war two was ( most of the time ) indeed Britains finest hour. The consequenses of defeat by Hitler does not bear contemplating. Ask the Poles or the russians. Eamon De Valera could see only too well what the consequenses would be for all free peoples, hence is covert help for the British and later Americans. The poppy has indeed been hijacked for other reasons but let us not tarnish the memory of ordinary men and boys who did their best to rid the world of Hitler.

  54. Ni Ghiolla Poilin

    When all is said and done here. The poppy is really all about raising funds for the RBL to support current families and injured. Whether you want to buy one and wear one is up to you…but it is correct to say that there is almost an expectation in the UK, that it is politically to wear one. The RBL now has a longer window to encourage poppy sales for fundraising and many families are reliant on their help for a range of problems.

    I have been interested in WW1 particularly after reading Birdsong. If you visit the cemeteries in Northern France, you cannot be other than overwhelmed by the waste of life. The German graveyards are sadder still, as they have no flowers on the grave which are marked by black crosses. However, what is eery in these cemeteries is the sight of so many Stars of David marking the graves of the German Jews who paid with their lives for Germany in the First World War.

  55. jimatno9

    phil i’ve bought the book (dowwnfall) and read your blog virtually every day. my celtic played in belfast and my grandad’s nephew is a belfast celtic legend but that wouldn’t matter other than to offer the view our underlying beliefs are from the same base but affected by life experiences.

    i will wear my poppy with pride for my granda and his mates who fought for freedom including irish freedom and most of all for those irishmen who because of 1916 ended up in death on the wrong side

    My granda survived, but damaged as so many, and was a part of the british legion organisation,

    I know about the atrocities of the british army but i know also about the poor british sqaudiie who paid for british government policies they had no say in forming.

    So i will wear my poppy with pride for my granda’s mates who seem to me to lie in flanders fields lost and alone and for generations of decent inoccent english, welsh, scots, zulus, germans, russians, poles, jews and gypsies who i feel i can honour by wearing a poppy.

    if that makes the british government feel i am complicit in their crimes or their enimies a ‘lundy’ so be it.

  56. Alan

    No revelations here. Interested in your motivation to write this today given you “feel somewhat detached from the British remembrance thing”.

  57. Mick

    I’m fairly ambivalent to wearing a poppy. Each to their own. Having 16 pounder guns pitch side and troops frolicking around the stadium is nothing short of a re-affirmation of the perceived superiority of a group of people over others masked behind Remembrance Day. Nowhere else on the island was this type of ‘remembrance’ evident. One wonders why?
    Phil, please re-post the link to your piece on the Emergency. It’ll come in handy for posters such as Paul, the myth peddler.

    1. paul

      in response to mick and to your link phil, about the “donegal corridor” if its fact who really cares ? your country to its eternal shame stood on the sidelines while the free world fought against the biggest threat the world has ever known and that is why you cannot wear the poppy , out of shame , but i will salute every man who crossed the border or who crossed the sea to enlist.

      1. Phil Mac Giolla BhainPhil Mac Giolla Bhain Post author

        The Donegal air corridor was vital to the winning of the battle for the atlantic.
        The role of cork harbour as a re-fuelling port was also key in the hunt for the Bismark.
        The Irish Free State had no casus belli apropos Poland and-crucially-no air defence capable of fighting off the Luftwaffe.
        They were also in a territorial dispute with the UK (Articles 2 & 3 of our constitution).
        These facts are not in dispute with anyone with a modicum of historical literacy.
        The Irish Free State was a vital covert ally of the allies.
        The Emergency could he styled De Valera’s finest hour.

    2. SamBrowneBelt

      Their brass necks are blowtorch-resistant; rob the public purse of £140m which could have gone towards their “heroes”, and then try to grab what they see as the moral high ground by parading their “heroes” on their pitch.

      They truly have no shame.

      I won’t wear the poppy, as it’s been hijacked by the pro-military expansionists, as well as by the “trailer trash of a dead empire” (copyright Phil). I do, however, respect those who fought in the World Wars. As for any of our “adventures” since then? Not in my name. Instead I’ll be thinking about the victims of our adventures.

      I also notice that Rod Stewart din’t wear the poppy on Graham Norton’s show on Friday.

  58. Dal

    Everyone knew that you wouldn’t express sympathy about Iraqi/Afghan civilian fatalities. You simply couldn’t care less.
    A great irony about your club. The BNP/EDL operate at Dark Ibrox. The ‘Billy Boys’ derives from some guy who subscribed to nazi ethos. So why make a hullabaloo about those who stood against fascism? Some consistency is required.

  59. paul

    the minutes silence at celtic park was reported as very well observed , as it should have been , it was not about glorious wars or conflicts but as an earlier post said about the ones who did not come home , every army has indulged in things that would not be imagined in “civvy” street and this will happen again but those who attack the British army have selective history what about the innocent children murdered by the ra ? i think the men who actually fought in 1916 would be ashamed of their actions ,and remember we are on these sites debating because of the men who did not return .LEST WE FORGET.

  60. Guillermo

    How ironic that the wealthy capitalists for whom these “wars to defend our shores” were fought in the first place are the same tax dodgers who create the need for a poppy charity by starving the public purse.
    Instead of smugly brandishing their poppies they should be hanging their heads in shame that tins have to be rattled under people’s noses every November(or mid October as it is now) to keep the memory of the fallen alive.
    Capitalists have no national allegiances. A quick buck is a quick.
    The identikit of these types during the Second World War would be ‘shares in Krupps munitions manufacturers and shares in Wimpey construction’ – lovely jubbly. And don’t tell me it doesn’t go on.

  61. Ignoranceisnodefence

    Interesting comments through the thread re wearing a poppy to respect the servicemen / women who died in service….. Perhaps the funeral of Larry Marley would be a good example to show the respect the Brits showed our fallen soldiers… The bastards wouldn’t let us bury our volunteers and used each funeral as another opportunity to keep the croppies down …. go youtube it and then come back in support of any Irishman wearing a poppy for Britain’s dead servicemen!!!

  62. Eamon Ó Maolmhuaidh

    Great piece Phil as usual.My father who served in a Tank Regiment in Korea noticed the TV presenters wearing poppies weeks ago and he was annoyed about it.His father my grandfather served in WW 2.He was taken out of a coal mine,he was a coal hewer(its on his wedding lines) and conscripted into the Royal Engineers-he served in North Africa,Italy France,Germany and eventually ended up in Palestine-where he was ordered to stand guard and shoot on site anyone who disembarked from boats carrying survivors and refugees heading for shore.Those boats carried people liberated from the death camps in Europe(perfidious albion).He never wore or supported the wearing of poppies.His father (my great grandfather recieved medals in WW 1 for attacking a turkish machine gun post-he also was bayonnetted from his ankle to his hip.The medals were never displayed-from what my grand father told me: he was not proud to display “memonto’s of murder”.And as for Earl Haig’s Fund-that was seemingly enough to send him into a furious temper. My father never talks about Korea,My grandfather only once spoke of the war-just to say he lost his fear of going back down a coal mine.War is not the fault of the men on the ground but it is their actions they are culpable for.

  63. Alexander kerr Murphy

    Phil, as much as I respect your views and support your Blog, as a Celtic Fan from an Irish Catholic background, on this occassion I cannot relate to your Bitterness, sure we can all understand your view, BUT, this is a day to remember the Dead,The Fallen, innocent Men and Woman who gave their Lives in support of no real reason, just in the Name of their Country, could be any Country, with Unemployment of under 25s across Europe reaching 50% we may well soon face the same situation again !!

    That is what is important TODAY, not what has Happened, but what can occur in the very near future in Europe.

    1. Ralf

      Very well said Mr Alan Kerr Murphy, Phil has his views which everyone is entitled to have, rememberence Sunday is a sombre day of reflection, its not a day for having a debate which can be left to other times during the year.

    2. PaulMc

      Yet again, the point is missed. No one would object to the poppy appeal if it was solely about remembrance of the dead, tragically it has been purloined over the last decade or so by the worst elements among right wing jingoistic nationalist lunatics who are found among the BNP, Tories and some supporters of certain clubs (alive or dead).

      The poppy appeal will be tainted by extreme nationalism and pro government propaganda as long as the majority of good British people remain silent in fear of being accused of disloyalty for not conforming to wear a paper flower.

      Is this the free speech the generations who fought in the world wars died for?


  64. Dal

    In true John Bull fashion you will smack anyone who takes umbrage. Let’s be thankful that the imperialist forces didn’t send you too Iraq, Derry, or Malvinas.

  65. Spartacus MacDonald

    Lest we forget!! The whole point is that we have forgotten. Those that fought in the trenches were condemned to live through the depression of the 1920s and 1930s. When they dared to strike the full force of the repressive state apparatus was used against them. Those who fought in WWII have been abandoned by the retreat from the welfare state that they fought to build. Two years ago I met a homeless ex-soldier who had just come home from Afghanistan. Lions led by donkeys! I do not wear a red poppy as it is an affront to the men who fought and died. It is symbol of hypocrisy and blatant jingoism.

  66. RPM

    Phil it should be noted that a certain General Douglas Haig was a leading light in the “Poppy Day Appeal” and the British Legion movement. this is the same General Haig who gained the title “Butcher of the Somme” he didnt who’s soldiers got killed as long as he achieved his objective which more than most he didnt.

    His recklessness with human life is one of the reasons i’ve never bought a poppy.

    copied from
    Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig: World War I’s Worst General

    Visiting the Somme battlefield in northern France is largely a matter of going from one Commonwealth Graves Commission cemetery to another. The graveyards are everywhere, some of them very small, comprising only a handful of white Portland marble stones, many bearing the inscription, A Soldier of the Great War / Known unto God. One sees so many of these cemeteries and so many stones—along with the vast memorial at Thievpal bearing the names of some 70,000 British soldiers whose bodies were never recovered—that after a few hours of it, you feel numb. Overwhelmed.

    The magnitude of the battle still stuns the imagination. The Somme was an epic of both slaughter and futility; a profligate waste of men and materiel such as the world had never seen. On the morning of July 1, 1916, 110,000 British infantrymen went “over the top.” In a few hours, 60,000 of them were casualties. Nearly 20,000 of these were either dead already or would die of their wounds, many of them lingering for days between the trenches, in no man’s land. The attacking forces did not gain a single one of their objectives.

    read more…

  67. Jamie

    It is everyone’s personal choice to wear one.

    Yes, some elements use it as some kind of political weapon for and against.

    Phil, you do not need to wear one, but you also do not need to comment on it either.

    1. Ben mcginlay

      It is everyone’s right to wear or Not wear a poppy, the same as it is to comment or Not to comment. That is called a democracy, and the last time I checked, we are living in one. I was proud of the Green Brigade today, instead of in the past with their protest through banners. They made a decision just NOT to be there for the minutes silence( as is their right in a democracy). That way they exercise their right and at the same time do not upset others who wish to be there for the minutes silence, which by the way was held with respect and to a man in the ground before the kick off..people should NOT be vilified for not wearing one, and vice versa….end of

  68. Celtic Rebel

    Three points Phil.
    1.All the torturing that Japan did in WW2 they copied from Britain.
    2.You stated The Falklands,you surely meant The Malvinas Isles.
    3.What on earth has a bloody tank in Ibrox stadium got to do with football?


    The British Armed forces, like ALL armed forces the world over, have committed atrocities and we condemn these as all good people must – in fact all organisations have ‘skeletons in numerous cupboards’

    My late father served in the Royal Artillery during the Second World War – I am proud of him.

    Britain has done more good than harm in the world – I will wear my poppy, with pride, to Celtic Park today – Hail Hail!!!

    1. Phil Mac Giolla BhainPhil Mac Giolla Bhain Post author

      “Britain has done more good than harm in the world”.


      I think you get today’s “historical illiteracy” prize…

  70. East End Pat

    The British media have to shoulder as much blame as past governments when looking back at Britains actions in past conflicts and invasions. They have been compliant in that they only highlighted glorious victories, and outrageous atrocities against British forces.

    In my life time, I looked at what happened in NI 30 – 40 years ago, when the British army committed attrocities against their own citizens. The British media done as they were told (especially during the Thatcher years), and very seldom reported murders that would put the army in a bad light, choosing instead to headline any murders of British personnnel.

    I also question why the British need the poppy appeal ? Surely a country should look after anyone who served in their armed forces (and their dependants).

    The poppy is also worn as a badge of honour amongst the klan. In my opinion all this hypocrisy should be banned and people should make up their own minds whether to honour the dead.

  71. andy murray

    A poppy just like religion, its an individual choice! Why are people made to wear them? Why especially was Paddy McCourt made to wear one on his top last year? Disgusting! Ps no problem people remembering the dead or loved ones, but remember these existing soldiers are being awarded medals for the amount of people they have killed! A life is a life!

  72. shaunbhoy

    god God bless all those who fought for my freedom in this country Scotland the home of the famous Glasgow Celtic I understand there was a large number of Celtic players at the time who had to leave our grate club to fight for my freedom against fascism and the Huns I will b wearing my poppy to the game the day and if anyone has a problem with it I will probably put them on their back side.
    Ps I am ashamed of some of the posts on hear what happened to Celtic bn open to all religions and backgrounds

  73. Ben McGinlay

    ‘Cherry picking’ is the key here. History is normally one sided and by that i mean, who wrote it. Sadly that is the theme, and readers will take from it what they want. most people take it as fact. that is where the problems lie. I totally agree with Britain fighting in the two World Wars. But i am uncomfortable with most of the rest. there is usually an ulterior motive behind the others. Fossil fuels, Land,Rare minerals and Strategic places for trade etc. The old British Empire, in my opinion has a lot to answer for. Personally i don’t agree with the wearing the Red poppy. Jingoism is rife in Scotland, and i do NOT see it getting better.

  74. paul

    the british remember and wear the poppy as an act of rememberance and the irish dont because they are too ashamed because they aided the enemies of the free world , kept their lights on so the lufftwafe could navigate, re-fueled u-boats ect,and sent the blueshirts to fight in the spanish civil war and also sent messages of sympathy and wreaths to the german consulate when the furher died ,and the proof that you are still against freedom of speech and expression is that you wont post this .LEST WE FORGET.

  75. Spartacus MacDonald

    It’s strange how the wearing of the red poppy has now become so important. In the 1970s and 1980s it was barely a matter of comment. I wonder why this is the case? It’s quite simple, the veterans of WWI and WWII knew it was a load of hypocritical nonsense stoked by jingoism and nationalism. I spoke to many veterans of Flanders and not one of them supported the “Earl Haig Fund”. They knew the truth, that their lives had been sacrificed for Empire. My father fought for the duration of WWII in the war against fascism. By the 1980s, living in Thatcher’s Britain, he had little time for the crocodile tears about our war dead. Tell that to the old who cannot heat their homes or cannot receive care at home due the capitalist cuts. It would have been better to have turned the guns on our lords and masters than fight against our German brothers in the trenches.

  76. Bill

    An interesting article. I accept that the British Army did carry out atrocities in India, Kenya etc. I suspect that some of these incidents were rogue elements in the army acting outside the acceptable boundaries; however it is unsettling that the opposite is also quite probable. One point to consider : “Ours not to reason why…” . My grandfather was conscripted into the army and fought at the Somme. He didn’t really have a choice at the time. I believe he conducted himself with honour and saw many good men die on both sides. The young victims of such wars deserve to be remembered. He would have denounced the atrocities you speak of and would not have tolerated any of it. So, people wearing poppies may be remembering all kinds of things; some of those things will be worth bringing to mind.

    1. Phil Mac Giolla BhainPhil Mac Giolla Bhain Post author

      “Rouge elements”?
      What happened in Kenya was a policy-go toe links provided and educate yourself.

      Do think that “rouge elements” somehow got away with a prolonged bombing campaign against civilian targets in Kurdistan?


  77. Andy

    bhramblejelly – thank you for the compassion and dignity of your post.

    Many of us wearing a poppy today are fully aware of the crimes committed in the name of the United Kingdom and have no problem in condemning them. The position of a section of Irish Republicans to Remembrance Day was meanwhile made clear on 08 November 1987 at Enniskillen and we still wait to see Bloody Friday, Kingsmill, La Mons, Birmingham, Warrington and a host of other deliberate attacks on civilian non-combatants condemned by those that seek to claim the moral high ground on here.

    Whether or not the attitude of Irish Nationalists is influenced by the safe haven provided by the Republic to mass murderers such as Andrija Artukovic, Celestine Laine and Pieter Menten after WW2 I will leave to others to answer.

  78. corcaighbhoy

    Frankie boyle wore a white one on tv too but Roy keane wore a red one .sad as he was told had to wear it on tv as soon as he came off screen he took it.off so his cousin told me being from gods county myself I was angry he wore it and so where his family in cork after what we got from the tans and the butchers apron .off to the game today I bet there’s a banner or booing goes on then we will be the bad guys again Ho Ho nothing changes there tiocfaidh ar la

  79. GPB

    “The real working class heroes ” brilliant pice Phil refreshing reading on this day that’s been hijacked by racists, bigots and the powers that b to pressure you into wearing a symbol of our great countrys brave men , well il proudly not b supporting such nonsense never have or will and won’t feel guilty whatsoever TAL

  80. Ian ferguson

    Great article Phil,

    I now await the usual hysterical reaction against what you have written.

    The British Army has committed atrocities everywhere they have been stationed, Concentration camps for Boer women & children in South Africa, where they died in their droves. You have already mentioned the atrocities elsewhere.

    Add to this the killing of UNARMED civilians, There is a statue to the lunatic “BOMBER” who went out of his way to murder the Kurds.

    On the ground quite a bit of shooting went on, in Boston, India, Ireland, Cyprus, the Middle East etc there are famous accounts of unarmed civilians being shot down in cold blood.

    In these modern times the Poppy, along with the “Butchers Apron” have become political weapons to use to berate those with anti war or anti jingoistic feelings.

    The poppy has long since ceased to be a symbol of respect for the fallen, it is rather a symbol, in a country with a craving for a Military power long since gone, which makes our modern “cannon fodder”, the equivelant of those led by the donkeys, more acceptable.

    Any failure to embrace this “Poppy Culture” is treated almost as treasonable & the reactions of the poppy fascists is akin to the sending of white feathers in WW1.

    Check the reaction to the anti war stance of Jon Snow when he decided to wear a WHITE poppy for Peace, it was as if he had desecrated a war grave.

    I have sympathy for the casualties on all sides in wars, it is normally the ordinary folk who bear the brunt, I have NO sympathy for our Government leading our country into illegal wars & using the poppy to glorify yet another generation of dead & maimed.

  81. Dal

    Suffice to say the British establishment only refer to military casualties. They completely steer clear of civilian fatalities in Afghanistan. The awful term ‘collateral damage’ is their usual grotesque riposte. Not once have they expressed sympathy for the million souls slaughtered in Iraq. The four million who were displaced are a mere afterthought.
    Picture the scene today. Dignitaries and politicians standing erect at Whitehall, pontificating and uttering the same old cliches. Simultaneously planning the next conflict with Iran. Doubtless they’ll send more pawns to a premature death and organise jingoistic hysteria to distract the masses.
    The British establishment are dangerous. There is no other way to define them.

  82. bhramblejelly

    I will wear a poppy today at Celtic Park, as elsewhere, in memory of my forebears who left these shores to take arms against Facism, losing lives, limbs or their youth.

    I will remember my Grandpa’s silent tears as an eldery man, recoiling in horror of the sights forever burnt into his consciousness as he and the young boys with him liberated the concentration camp at Belsen. These hellish sights coming hard on the heels of hand to hand combat missions with the enemy through The Netherlands and into Germany are so horrific that I cannot imagine them even now.

    I will remember him and his like, quiet, dignified and brave. Also petrified, horrified and many treated appallingly by the British Government for the remainder of their lives.

    I will wear my poppy as a reminder of that. It doesn’t need to mean more to me than the simple reminder that I have and I do not ask anyone to wear one nor judge those who don’t. My Grandpa didn’t wear one that I can ever remember.

    Of course the poppy is now being rolled up with Help Our Heroes and being politicized. However uncomfortable I am with that, it doesn’t change my feelings on wearing it and why I wear it.

    On a similar vein I will shortly go to Mass, wearing a poppy yes, but when I go there I will not think back to the atrocities carried out in the name of God by men of the cloth or men of arms. I will think of my own relationship with God, what it means to me and not what it means to others. I will not be concerned about any message, any symobolism, I convey to anyone else through this act of worship and rememberance.

    It’s a helluva load we all carry in life without needing to be offended by someone wearing a poppy or someone not wearing a poppy.

    1. Dal

      Bmramble jelly
      Not once did you refer to the thousands slaughtered in Iraq by allied cruise missiles. We’re now in the 21 century. People are suffering because of Britain’s oil greed induced conflicts. In many respects that is similar to’fascism’.

    2. Al

      Why should he mention that Dal? He’s clearly outlined the reason he want to wear it and what it means to him. Unlike some people (on both sides of the debate) he’s not trying to force these views on anyone else. Which in some respects is similar to fascism.

    3. Blogiston

      Good for you. And my son’s in the Cadets, so he is taking part in the event this morning. That said, I am aware how the poppy has (inevitably) become a symbol that the klan want to claim as their own – that’s the polarisation politics game they play. The more they claim the symbol the more they devalue it for everyone…I’m sure there is a marketing theory associated with brand self-destruction. If there is, they’re doing that.

    4. Mylesy

      What a shame, as Joe say’s that the poppy means something very different to people. I and many others hold value to it’s true original purpose – to remember the sacrifice that ordinary men and women gave their lives – their LIVES people – for others. This is the stuff of heroes and there has to be a way of remembering and honouring this.

      I think it’s also right and honourable to highlight the wrongdoings (gross understatement, forgive me) and misuse of the British army since the great wars, but can we not do it separately from this? I understand it’s a useful time and perhaps an attempt to balance the ‘propaganda’ that comes out at this time, but it is hijacking the poppy to mean something different and causing a divide amongst people when really they do not necessarily have differing views.

      Not wearing a poppy or wearing a white poppy is great if that’s what you want to do. I totally understand why the poppy means something very different to some. But let’s make this a clearly different argument and let’s keep the united rememberance and respect of those normal folk in the great wars a great and powerful thing.

  83. shay mallon

    absoluteley spot on phil,and the revisionists here in Ireland really make me vomit the way they promote british imperilism and try to re sell us our history re the british forces in our country, by the way my estimation of rod stewart has gone way up as i see he wore a white poppy on tv last nite and did not bow to the poppy facists.

  84. Kenny McCaffrey

    Good piece Phil, thanks for that. I’m wearing one today, because of what it means to me: to me, it
    a) is in honour of all the people who have fought and died because some political/military/religious leadership have encouraged them to do so, and
    b) commemorates the last time in the West that the majority of working class people willingly signed up to die for them (ie, WWI – they needed conscription after that).
    To me it is one of the saddest – disgusting, even – aspects of the warped view of history/life held by a large part of the north of Ireland that the idea of the poppy is some sort of badge of protestantism.
    That wasn’t why it was started, and shame on anyone for trying to claim it for hatred (from any angle).
    Over here in London, I believe a majority of ordinary people still see it for what it was meant to be – honouring all the dead, of all sides.
    Of course, many here have also come to swallow the jingoism that has become attached to it – especially the type championed by discredited media outlets such as the Sun. The result is that many in a whole new generation doesn’t even see the problem of some posting poppy images on facebook, for example, alongside the words ‘try burning this’ or ‘I don’t care who it upsets’.
    To me, poppies are for people, and are personal – those of us who want to fight against tyranny and evil, and all wars, should also be fighting to educate the next generations about what they mean, and against these disgusting people who want to use it to promote their own outdated, evil agenda.
    I know what I’m wearing mine for, and it’s not for queen, country or any religion.

  85. Rusty

    Why wouldn’t I? The line you’re taking is a bit naive. Plenty of Irish republicans and people who sympathise with the IRA on here but it doesn’t mean to say they agree with everything done in the name of Irish republicanism.

  86. Rusty

    This type of article comes up every year from the usual Brit hating types. The rest of us will take a little time today to remember those who gave their lives to ensure you and your ilk could enjoy your annual sneerfest without fear of persecution. Have fun guys.

    1. Ralf

      Phil, why are you having a go at Rusty?, all war crimes are bad regardless. A great thing we have is freedom of speech, otherwise you wouldnt be allowed to be writing these articles in first place.

      1. Phil Mac Giolla BhainPhil Mac Giolla Bhain Post author

        I’m writing this from the Republic of Ireland.
        Who won MY freedom of speech?
        A clue… it wasn’t the British Army.

        War crimes aren’t “bad” they’re criminal and the perpetrators are criminals.

        Do you accept that the British Army (eg Kenya) have committed War Crimes?

    2. Ralf

      Equally the treatment of Thomas Walsh, Martin Walsh, Pat Reid and many thousands more at the hands of De Valera’s government, thousands afraid to return to Ireland, doesnt make it right either.

  87. Aidan Collins

    This nails it for me. As someone who grew up in Belfast in the 1960s, as a resident of the Falls Road, poppy facism was overbearing. Add to that 30 years of RUC and British soldiers making our life hell, has tended to make the poppy less of a loveable memorial for the Fallen, but more a badge of identity. Life under British/Unionist rule has formed my opinion of the poppy. Why others can’t simply acknowledge my right to not wear one, galls me.

  88. tallybhoy

    Never worn a poppy in my life – and I never will. I’m over in Italy and I am detached from what is happening over there.

    The poppy symbol has been systematically hijacked by some less salubrious members of society over the years. Earl Haig – a mass murderer who sent millions of young men as ‘lambs to the slaughter’. No thanks!

    A cousin of my late mother perished on the Eastern front in 1941/42, as did two of my father’s boyhood friends – young men in their late teens who never returned, not even in body bags.

    My father, myself, other members of my family and the surviving brother of one of those young men – now aged 90 – will pay our own quiet respect in our own way.

    People should be free to do what they want – not what they are told to do!

  89. Andy fitzpatrick

    As David Cameron stands at the box in the house of parliament with his poppy on ship after ship leaves port with a deadly cargo of weapons to set sail for Saudi Arabia and other dictatorship, the hypocracy of there democracy.From Dressed to derry, bloody murder,from Rwanda to Bosnia where they stood by and watch 10s of thousands die before they lifted a finger.

  90. Stephen McCormack

    A well written article Phil, which no doubt with provoke emotions from all sides of the spectrum. We also have to remember that history recalls the brutal execution of the leaders of the 1916 rebellion by the British was a major turning point in the history of the island of Ireland. The arrested rebels were paraded through Dublin to boos and jeers – and yet within days, the rebels had gone from ‘villains’ to heroes after the executions were announced after the event. The shock and outcry from the public lead to the rise of Sinn Féin and in the 1918 General Election they swept the polls winning 73 seats and now had a mandate to demand a Republic for the island of Ireland. In more recent times the atrocity of Bloody Sunday brought the crimes of the British Army to the worlds attention. However, as history shows, the families of those murdered only received an apology for the “unlawful” acts nearly 40 years later. Bring those responsible to justice is still ongoing and surely is required to heal the wounds of the past. On a personal note I have no problem wearing my poppy as a mark of respect for family and friends who fought in the “Great Wars” however I also have noticed over the years that the original cause appears to have been hijacked.

  91. Ignoranceisnodefence

    Another good piece Phil and I feel vindicated (although not needed) for my comment on someone’ FB post last night re the poppy being worn at Celtic Park :

    “Should not be worn at Celtic Park nor on the hoops. Many Celtic players and supporters lost their lives fighting in wars, many more were /had family members and ancestors murdered by those serving the crown and I wonder what Wanyama’ family would think given what the crown done in Kenya……”

    British history…or rather the history of what the British inflicted on other peoples and nations is very colourful indeed with one colour standing out more than any other….. crimson, claret,ruby, POPPY call it what you may but it will always be blood red to me!

  92. The Little Gentleman In The Black Velvet Waistcoat

    Well said and this should be out there for all to see, but it is not. It takes the likes of you to spoil their party, keep up the great work.
    History is written by the victors…….but now we have new media and bampots like yourself, the truth is finally out there.

    If Big Vic does not wear the flower, will he be chastised by MSM who nothing of the past…..or maybe they just care not for teh truth.

    I read you pages often, great great work and many thanks for keeping educated.

  93. andy b

    war is often never the answer and history is always written by the winners…or by the ones with the media. i will say a prayer for the fallen innocence but not for the ones who held the guns

  94. andy murray

    Phil nothing changes, the klan still using remembrance sunday as a points scorer and trying to make them look like a decent organisation! How low will they go?

  95. Dominic Reville

    Britain has been the most successful exporter of violence in history and for me the poppy and remembrance services only glorify this fact. All of those commemorated on this blood-soaked day were at least being paid and fed unlike many of their victims throughout the years.

    Now that conservation has become fashionable we congratulate ourselves for our supposed ethical superiority for merely leaving peoples as we find them, but historically (and not too very long ago) the list of the raped and plundered by the Union Jack was longer than your arm and even at home the xenophobic racist dynamic has always been a Great British tradition (when will we see the first black British leader? Never I would wager….).

    Where is the commemoration for the million-plus innocent dead of the recent limited skirmish in Iraq? Where is the plastic flower for those children who hadn’t a penny and lost first their homes then their families and then their lives as direct result of Allied shelling or lack of protection. Until there is a symbolic gesture of acknowledgement of British culpability in their senseless murder I will never wear a poppy or observe a minute’s silence.

    I defer to the wisdom of decorated war hero Harry Patch who understood the senseless shame and guilt associated with the British war machine when he said: “politicians who took us to war should have been given the guns and told to settle their differences themselves, instead of organising nothing better than legalised mass murder.”

    And I suggest those politicians and the journalists and poppy-fascists, who jump to the call of the commemorative bugle, take a moment to reflect on the words of war-poet Siegfried Sassoon whose words letter was read aloud in the houses of parliament: “I have seen and endured the sufferings of the troops and I can no longer be a party to prolonging these sufferings for ends which I believe to be evil and unjust…On behalf of those who are suffering now, I make this protest against the deception which is being practised upon them; also I believe it may help to destroy the callous complacency with which the majority of those at home regard the continuance of agonies which they do not share and which they have not enough imagination to realise.”

  96. Joe Paterson

    This will be thought stirring for some, unpalatable for others and old news for the rest of us, its not what many want to hear or read, particularly today, its not how the picture is painted, but its bang on the button.
    Expect the usual “outrage” from those who are either fearful or unwilling to explore the darker side of the british war machines inglorious history.
    Keep telling it like it is fella.


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