Brian Pate and Iraq (Jan '07)
In a recent edition of the Evening Argus Brian reflected on the lessons of the Suez campaign back in July 1956. The 1956 invasion of the Suez Canal is remembered as a milestone in the decline of the British Empire.
The humiliating withdrawal of British and French troops from Egypt when the US withdrew political support brought down the Government at home and signalled the end of the colonial era.
Brian, 69, and other servicemen of 3 Para remember their part in the conflict with pride. He and other paratroopers were flown from Egypt to support a commando-led invasion by capturing the El Gamil airfield.
Brian told the Argus, ' We felt terribly let down by the political situation. The political cock-up contaminated what was a perfectly good military operation. If it hadn't come down to a ceasefire we would have taken the canal back very quickly, there's no doubt about that.'
He said the Suez conflict was similar in its controversy to the Army's current role in the Middle East. He said, ' There is always a political aspect there with Iraq and Afghanistan. You have got to seperate the political decisions and what happens militarily.'
Brian volunteered to become a paratrooper while on National Service. He believes today's youngsters would stand up to the same test if called upon and said, 'I'm absolutely confident that if push came to shove the prersent generation would be like we were.'
After the end of his National Service Brian trained as a psychiatric nurse and is now a cognitive behaviour therapist. (Edited , with thanks, from the Evening Argus. JH)