Livewire - 14 September 2011

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By former Royal Green Jacket Steven McLaughlin, of St Annes, author of Squaddie: A Soldier’s Story

The death of Baha Mousa is a profoundly depressing stain on the British military mission in Iraq.

In war, dreadful things happen to innocent people, and mistakes are made, sometimes even against our own soldiers and allies, as incidents of friendly-fire attacks prove. But this wasn’t like that, for Baha Mousa was effectively beaten to death in cold blood.

When you’re part of an overwhelming force that invades a country, you’re never going to be popular with the locals. The one thing you must never do is give them moral ammunition to use against you. Many innocent civilians have been brainwashed by dictatorial rulers into believing we’ve come with the worst intentions. We must never prove them right; rather, we should take the moral high ground, by being better and more humane than those who rule them. It’s called ‘winning hearts and minds’ and it’s how you win a war. Without it you lose, every time. Baha Mousa wasn’t a terrorist, insurgent, enemy or troublemaker. He was a young, healthy, honest, hardworking family man with his life ahead of him. Our soldiers took it away. Shame on them. We need to say sorry to his family, and bloody well mean it, and compensate them as best we can, before they, or we, can move on.

Baha Mousa was in the wrong place at the wrong time, and the men into whose hands he fell were not in anyway representative of the proud, honourable and illustrious history of the Queen’s Lancashire Regiment. They’re a great Lancashire regiment, and it’s a tragedy this happened, but we must never forget a regiment is made up of individuals, and from time-to-time, those of a certain bent will do dreadful things. I just hope those who killed him search their conscience, and accept the gravity of their misdeeds. I had the honour of serving alongside the QLR in Iraq and know that 99 per cent of them are among the finest men and soldiers you could ever hope to meet. Nobody could be more saddened and remorseful.

l Apology: a picture of Sandra Singleton, specialist diabetes nurse for NHS North Lancashire, appeared, in error, alongside a Livewire article (August 24) by Mrs Victoria Elvy. NHS North Lancashire also wish to make it clear the article was not written in collaboration with the paediatric diabetes service.