This time of year is one a reflection for many former servicemen. Some drop into maudlin moods while others, after an appropriate hour of remembrance, enjoy being twenty one again with other old salts over a beer or two when they mostly agree that 'things aren't what they were,' while mostly disagreeing on who did what, when and where. It was ever thus.
Oddly, the people who tend to spend the least time mulling over events of the past are the young soldiers of today who usually have far too much on their plate to sit around thinking about what went before. They will change. We all do.
Most of us have moments we focus on. Perhaps family members we knew or heard of when growing up or friends who didn't make it. It's easier, if more pained, than dwelling for example, on the enormity of the losses on the Western Front.
I tend to flip and flop between them all. This year though, I would like to mention the men and women who die in training. Most of us know someone who died in a training accident. It is just a fact that when you join your 'at work,' risks become elevated by the very nature of the munitions and heavy kit from tanks to fast jets that servicemen spend their lives in close proximity to.
No one treats these tragic events, when they occur, lightly but they are seldom remembered by the collective body. Even the regiments themselves don't really keep a permanent record of lives lost in training. In fact, only at my children's school have a seen memorials to those who died in this way. The point is though, the casualties don't have a choice how it happens. It just happens. Other former servicemen will appreciate just what a lottery it can all be.
Here then, are three young men who I knew who were taken, all good guys, all on their first or second tours,
Lt Phil Pickering RA Killed in an adventure training accident in Canada
Lt David Wilson RA Killed in a RTA in Sennelager
Lt David Agnew RHF Killed in a helicopter accident in the Oman