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Doctor’s Log - Star Date 23012020

Change your opinions but keep to your principles

Some things never change

The Daily Telegraph

04th November 2017

The Armed Forces can never represent society

“Sir - The New Defence Secretary states that he wants to see the Armed Forces “properly represent” modern society.

I welcome him warmly, but in my own service, the Royal Marines, we refuse entry to members of the Communist Party, the middle aged, the deaf, the blind, the mentally ill,the physically deformed, the drug addicted, the short, the fat, the infirm and the medicated.

We recruit people whom we gauge, through rigorous admission tests, to be capable of reaching a state of supreme mental and physical fitness. We train them to kill with their bare hands, to handle lethal weapons, to live for long periods away from home, and to survive arduous conditions. We train them to fight and go to war.

That is not the job description of a normal, all-inclusive employer, or representative of modern society”.

- Lt Colonel Ewen Southby-Tailyour OBE

In 1978, Lt Colonel-Southby -Tailyour was the officer commanding of a small Royal Marines detachment that was posted to the Falkland Islands. The following year he was promoted to major. It was then that on his own initiative he sailed around and extensively charted the waters around the islands and had a 100+ page notebook filled with data on harbours, inlets and landing spots. This work, for which he was elected the UK's 1982 Yachtsman of the Year, and his personal knowledge of the area would later prove valuable in the Falklands War. During this campaign he was the inshore navigational adviser to the amphibious commanders prior to leading the major landings. He was appointed OBE and recommended for the DSC.

Some things change

The Daily Telegraph

20th December 2019

A Falklands veteran has got his medals back and received an apology from the Ministry of Defence in a historic court settlement in a case brought by Liberty, the human rights organisation.

The former radio operator, who now lives in Southampton, served in the Falklands War, did six tours of duty in Northern Ireland, was posted to the Middle East and was seconded for two and a half years to a leading NATO task force.

He was awarded a Long Service & Good Conduct Medal and three Good Conduct badges – all stripped from him when he was dismissed because of his sexuality, on the grounds that his conduct was reportedly ‘prejudicial to good order and naval discipline’.

On receiving the apology and on being told that he would have his medals restored and a new scheme set up for others like him, Joe said: “I should have always been judged on the basis of my exceptional service and not my sexuality. History has shown us that a person’s sexuality has no bearing on how they perform in times of conflict. So many LGBT people were forced out of their wonderful careers and the consequences were devastating.

“It has taken me 27 years to resolve this and I had to take the MoD to court to get here. But I would like to acknowledge the apology finally offered to me today and urge the MoD to continue to do all it can to address the continuing and serious effects of its discrimination on LGBT veterans.”

While serving, Joe had to keep a large part of his life secret. In his first days of training it was made clear that he could not be open about who he was.

The MoD has issued the following apology:

“Back in 1993, because of his sexuality, Mr Ousalice was treated in a way that would not be acceptable today and for that we apologise. In Mr Ousalice’s case, he was a former radio operator who served his country in the Falklands War and the Middle East, as well as six tours of Northern Ireland and was awarded a Long Service and Good Conduct medal in 1991 which we will now return to him in person. We accept our policy in respect of serving homosexuals in the military was wrong, discriminatory and unjust to the individuals involved.”

Military Humour is timeless

And finally…………………

Discounted Railcards for Veterans – A Good idea?

I journeyed together with the Executive Officer to our Wrexham Offices some two weeks ago. We car shared the outward-bound leg, but I used the train for part of the return journey, given it was more cost effective.

I was dropped off at Didcot (Thomas the Tank Engine land) and caught the train to Reading (journey time approx. 20 minutes). Managed to catch a good connection from Reading to Winchester (journey time approx. 45 minutes).

Waited for a train to Fareham (just over 2 hours 20 minutes) and finally arrived at Fareham (journey time 40 minutes approx.). A man barely alive!!!! Fantastic news to hear the discounted veterans’ railcard will allow veterans to save a third off most rail fares and is expected to help up to 830,000 veterans who do not currently benefit from any other discounts.

However, sadly in my case it may not prove to be particularly cost effective. I am the proud holder of a Senior Rale Card (a distinction I share with our founder Jim Davidson OBE) and celebrated my 112th birthday last year……….I still incidentally lie about my age; I’m 114yrs. Having waited an indeterminable time for a connection to Fareham from Winchester the resulting increase in blood pressure was palpable. I am also prescribed a diuretic and desperately wanted to void my bladder. The emerging situation was further compounded by the Gents toilet being out of order. Fortunately, the train eventually arrived and although a potential catastrophe was narrowly avoided I could of course have ended up at the RHCH Winchester, Emergency Department, joining the lengthening queue of waiting ambulances (sometimes 23+) and developing either pressure sores or a chest infection or both whilst waiting on a trolley to be triaged. The next time I travel by rail I will take a catheter kit, a Portaloo and some Valium.

Dr Nicholas Murdoch