Bandages or bullets ?
Posted by Big John on December 9, 2011
During the 18th and 19th centuries when soldiers in most British army regiments wore red coats with different coloured facings, cuffs, collars etc. musicians such as drummer boys wore uniforms in the ‘facing’ colour to denote that they were noncombatants and therefore it was expected that they should not become targets on the field of battle; for they also had another roll to play when the musket balls flew. They cared for the wounded and carried them from the battlefield. You could say that they were some of the first ‘medics’.
During World War 1 and World War 2 stretcher bearers and other medical personnel were identified by the red crosses on their armbands and helmets and they did not carry weapons, so it came as a surpise to me when I read that the first women in the British Army to kill a member of the Taliban in Afghanistan was a ‘medic’.
Now I know that this young lady was only defending herself against some fanatic who would not respect a red cross on her uniform, and that the arming of a ‘noncombatant’ is probably justified (and allowed under the Geneva Convention) in this case, but it came as an even bigger surprise to me when I watched “Ross Kemp – Back on the Front Line” on ‘Sky One’ the other evening and saw him riding in a ‘Jackel’ armoured vehicle where at one point one of it’s crew opened fire with a GMG (grenade machine gun) which is capable of firing 320 explosive rounds per minute. So hardly a ‘side arm’ for self defence, and yet the soldier handling this deadly weapon was also a ‘medic’ according to Ross.
War is a bloody awful business and men react in different ways to being in combat, but I find it hard to understand how a soldier who was trained to save lives could find himself in the position of trying to take them …
… on such a grand scale ?