Dear Sir,

MY wife and I are both in our 73rd year. I served in the British army for more than 37 years, my wife with me for 33 of those years. All our lives we have been proud to be British - but no more! We believed (mistakenly) that we lived in a democracy. Not so. It has now become plain that we live in a dictatorship - a truly devastating realisation after so many years - as the people, through their elected representatives, are not permitted to vote on a matter of extreme national importance (attacking and occupying another country) by the present Prime Minister. I lived through WWII, despite being bombed–out of three homes, so know at first hand how it feels to huddle helpless under the kitchen table while bombs rain down, killing, maiming and burning neighbours and friends all around you. The forces I served in were Defence Forces. The training exercises and manoeuvres we practised were to defend the west against attack from the USSR in the east. In all my years serving in British Army of the Rhine I never took part in an exercise that practised attacking the USSR, there were no plans to do so. “The War Office” of WWII became The Ministry of Defence around the time the UN was formed, reflecting the post war intentions of the British people. Now my country is going to attack another on the pretext that we are in imminent danger of being attacked by that country. A country (Iraq) that has no Navy, a laughable airforce and an army of ill-trained, ill-equipped conscripts that would have no chance against the British forces alone, never mind the American. The stated intention to start the War with 800 bombs and missiles in the first 48 hours sickens me. Political leaders and Military Officers will have prepared bunkers to hide in, the conscripts and their families will not. It will be a massacre of the innocent. What has our once justifiably proud nation come to? My wife and I attended the march last Saturday. The first time ever. It was dark, raining and cold and people could have been forgiven for not turning out, but they did. We could hardly move for the crowd which comprised of people from every walk of life, students (naturally), whole families, well-dressed men and women of obvious means, mums with children in pushchairs and organised groups from outlying villages. There was also a fair sprinkling of expats: German and Scandinavian as well as English. We felt a heart–warming solidarity with them all. Long may there be such people!

Roy Cowen, Palma