Official Military Blog Posts

Soldier dies after incident at army barracks in Oxfordshire

The Ministry of Defence confirmed the death took place outside of training exercises. Photograph: Graham Turner for the Guardian A soldier has died after an incident at a British army barracks, the Ministry of Defence [1] (MoD) has confirmed. The fatality occurred on Friday at St David s barracks in Bicester, Oxfordshire. It took place outside of training exercises and involved one individual, the MoD said. An internal military investigation is ongoing into the death of the soldier, who is believed to have been male and in his 20s. It is understood there were no suspicious circumstances. A spokesman for Thames Valley police said: Thames Valley police was contacted by South Central ambulance service at 11.52am after reports of an injured man at St David s barracks, London Road in Bicester. Officers attended the scene where a man was found to be in a critical condition. Despite attempts to resuscitate the man, he sadly died at the scene. The death, which is currently being investigated by Thames Valley police, is not believed, at this stage, to be suspicious nor involve a third party. The man is believed to be in his 20s. The soldier s next of kin are being informed. References ^ Ministry of Defence ( Continue reading

Four-legged British Army mascot is promoted to LANCE CORPORAL for his baa …

A British Army mascot has little to be sheepish about after being promoted - for good behaviour. Private Derby XXX - who happens to be a ram - is the regimental totem of the 2nd Battalion The Mercian Regiment. After eight years serving, he was promoted to Lance Corporal in a special ceremony. The ram was presented with his single stripe as the army unit celebrated its formation day at Dale Barracks in Chester yesterday. He is the 30th in a line of mascot rams running back to the Indian Mutiny War in the mid-19th Century. Lance Corporal Derby XXX joined the regiment in February 2014. PA Staff: The ram gets pay and holiday leave like all the other soldiers His career has seen him switching on the Christmas lights in Ashbourne and meeting Prince William. He has his own army number, gets paid to buy his rations and gets holiday leave during mating season. Throughout the ceremony, the ram was flanked by Ram Major Corporal Philip Thornton, from Mansfield, and Private Stuart McLean of Denton, Manchester. PA Tradition: The regiment has had rams since 1858 Commanding officer Lt Col Ben Wilde said: "This is the latest in a long line of Derbys to have served as our regimental mascot. "Not all of them are as well behaved as our newest was today - he is well deserving of his promotion." Continue reading

WWII's French Colonial POWs

Introduction A Soldier s Story In the evening of June 16 , 1940 , a reconnaissance regiment of the ninth German tank division appeared at the eastern gates of the French city La Charit -sur-Loire. Paris had fallen two days earlier, and the French army was preparing a new defensive position on the Loire River. Establishing bridgeheads on the left side of the Loire was therefore a high German priority. After disarming 500 French soldiers in La Charit , the reconnaissance regiment moved to capture the bridge linking the town with a suburb on a small island in the Loire. A French sapper team, however, blew up an arch of the bridge when German motorcyclists appeared, and thirty French soldiers opened fi re from the island. In several hours of combat, the Germans drove these soldiers away and captured a small, still intact bridge between the island and the mainland west of La Charit . The reconnaissance regiment guarded the bridges without incident until it was relieved by advance sections of the 205 th Infantry Division in the evening of June 18. These men immediately tried to take possession of a bridge over a canal two kilometers west of La Charit , but they encountered resistance and took the bridge only after a second attack the following morning. Meanwhile, other soldiers of the 205 th Infantry Division discovered at the station of La Charit a train with top-secret French documents, which Hitler used in a July 19, 1940, speech to claim that France, Britain, and Belgium had planned a joint attack on Germany. In the evening of June 19, German construction specialists made the destroyed arch of the bridge passable again. Fighting near La Charit had ceased by that time. The French defenders in this sector were dispersed soldiers collected at the bridge of La Charit just before the arrival of the Germans and a small group of reinforcements from a military school in Bourges, a town farther west. Some of the soldiers from Bourges were black Africans. One of them reported that the Germans, after gathering the prisoners, selected the black soldiers and lined them up against a wall to massacre them. The black soldiers brie fl y conferred and agreed that they would die shouting may France live and may black Africa live! Fortunately, a French lieutenant intervened, pointing out that the Germans themselves had congratulated the French for their spirited defense, and he convinced the Germans not to carry out the massacre. The black soldier who reported the incident after the war was L opold S dar Senghor from Senegal, at that time a teacher at a high school in Saint Maur-des-Foss s outside Paris and already a renowned thinker who had published articles and speeches about black identity ( n gritude ). After capture, Senghor was sent to several POW camps in northern and northeastern France. He suffered in these overcrowded and undersupplied initial camps, but he was spared the harsh transfer to Germany that 40,000 prisoners from the French empire had to endure in June and July 1940 before most of them were sent back to France on Hitler s orders. Not much more than an anecdote is known about the fi rst four months of Senghor s captivity: According to a white French prisoner, a German guard approached him and began rubbing his fi nger against Senghor s skin, trying to see if the dark color stuck to his fi nger. The guard was dumbstruck when Senghor said in German, Nein, das ist nicht Kohle! ( No, this is not coal! ). Senghor was formally registered as a POW in the camp of Poitiers, Frontstalag 230 , in October 1940 . (Frontstalag was the term for German POW camps near the front and in occupied countries.) From this moment on, an anonymous report by Senghor from June 1942, which I identi fi ed, gives a fuller picture of his captivity experience. In Poitiers, Senghor experienced a brutal camp commander who once ordered a guard to shoot and kill a hungry black prisoner who had stolen a potato. The food rations were insuf fi cient and of poor quality (rutabagas and half-rotten potatoes), and the prisoners predominantly French colonial soldiers were housed in drafty hangars without heat in a camp that turned into a vast swamp after every rain. Senghor described these conditions in the poem Camp 1940 that he published in the collection Hosties noires (1948): It is a huge village of mud and branches, a village cruci fi ed By two pestilential ditches. Hatred and hunger ferment there in the torpor of a deadly summer. It is a large village surrounded by the immobile spite of barbed wire A large village under the tyranny of four machine guns Always ready to fi re. And the noble warriors beg for cigarette butts, Fight with dogs over bones, and argue among themselves Like imaginary cats and dogs. Download the full excerpt here [1] . References ^ here ( Continue reading