Herald Express (Torbay, Brixham & South Hams Edition)



IN my first opinion piece back in August 2021, I warned that “the kleptocrac­y that is Russia today poses a greater threat than the Soviet Union ever did.”

Just over six months later it invaded Ukraine and is making threatenin­g noises about the rest of Europe. And the UK has been singled out by Putin for special treatment, partly over the financial sanctions we imposed on him and his oligarch cronies, but mainly because we have been one of Ukraine’s staunchest and most reliable friends, despite that country’s own chequered past.

But we will continue to support it on a point of principle until the Russian people have had enough and stage another revolution, or Putin runs out of cannon fodder, having lost more than 420,000 troops already.

As to our European allies: France’s President Macron, by predicting that Nato forces could end up actually fighting Russians on Ukrainian soil, may have been posturing for home audiences but he also presented a gift to the Kremlin’s propagandi­sts in doing so. Still, the French have always talked a good war.

And the Germans? Recently the head of the Luftwaffe, Lieutenant-General Ingo Gerhartz, irresponsi­bly made a call on an insecure telephone line to discuss confidenti­al plans about certain British personnel movements “on the ground” in Ukraine, which was intercepte­d by Russian intelligen­ce, which gleefully made it public. Perhaps somebody should remind Hermann Goring’s successor that we are supposed to be on the same side nowadays. Apologies from the German government came there none.

So, with the leading members of the EU acting erraticall­y, and the Americans quite possibly soon electing someone for president who openly urged Putin to attack those Nato members who have got behind with their subs, where does that leave us?

Well, our army is now only the size of a militia, and recently one of the navy’s sea-to-air missiles inadverten­tly turned into a torpedo; while its newest aircraft carriers spend more time being repaired than at sea. Also, there is a £16.9 billion spending deficit for all of our armed forces.

And they said Britain’s security would be at risk if Jeremy Corbyn became prime minister. Cue ironic laughter.

But at least we locals can draw some inspiratio­n from one of our own, former resident General Sir Herbert Charles Onslow Plumer, who was made Freeman of the Borough on May 5, 1919. For it was he who was not only responsibl­e for changing the course of the First World War with a masterstro­ke of strategy, but he also came up with one of that conflict’s most memorable quotes.

Addressing his staff near Messines Ridge in Flanders, Belgium, on June 6, 1917, Plumer concluded with the words: “Gentlemen, we may not make history tomorrow, but we shall certainly change the geography.” Indeed, they did both. At 3.10 the following morning, 19 powerful mines that had been laid under the lines of the German 4th Army were simultaneo­usly detonated, killing 10,000 of their soldiers and injuring thousands more, and creating vast craters in the landscape. The explosion was described as being the loudest in human history and the most destructiv­e until atom bombs were dropped on Japan in 1945.

The message is literally loud and clear to mad Vlad Putin, don’t ever try

and mix it with Torquay chaps.

 ?? ?? » Jack Critchlow describes himself as one of Torbay’s not-so-retiring pensioners
» Jack Critchlow describes himself as one of Torbay’s not-so-retiring pensioners

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United Kingdom