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Wings Over Scotland

The story of a soldier boy

Posted on August 23, 2014 by

“Soldier boy” was an affectionate nickname given to me by my father before he passed away. It was both said with pride and his way of calling me a dunderheid.


Dad was an intelligent, cerebral, well-read man, anti-war and pro-independence. He tried to convince me in a variety of ways not to “sign your life away”, including leaving a collection of DVDs for me like “Beneath Hill 60”, “Cross Of Iron” and “My Boy Jack”, as well as many war poems. He also highlighted my distaste for authority. But he failed to stop me. I signed up.

Scottish independence was a different story.

I’m a soldier in the “Ubique” Royal Engineers – “first in, last out” as our esprit de corp goes. There’s a big push for people to register and vote in the Scottish referendum on the British Forces Broadcasting Services (BFBS), repeated more than hourly because encouraging people to vote is good. Let’s be honest, though – the real reason is because the forces are seen as a bastion of No. But don’t be taken in.

Signing up was easy and it wasn’t. On the application paperwork there was a tricky question. I put the form to one side and gave it some serious thought.


I was then advised that I was British and should fill the form in accordingly, to avoid any awkward questions on nationalism or holding “extreme views”.

But I’m used to identity conflicts. My two Glaswegian grandparents made an interesting contribution. My grandma was a Catholic and a Celtic fan, and my Grandad – an armed forces veteran himself – was a Protestant and a Rangers fan, so you can picture their house on Old Firm day: my granny supping her Bells-and-coke cheering the green mob, and my grandad drinking Special Brew next to her shouting on the blues. (Comically, dodgy tickers in old age meant that games were watched only after finding out the result.)

It was at Grandad’s funeral we discovered that he secretly supported both Rangers and Celtic. This was a seismic shock to my own identity as well as for others in my family. As a toast to the life-long trickster (famed for selling half-full cigarettes and whisky in the Middle East, or giving me a Rolex as an “heirloom” that after 10 years’ loving protection turned out to be a fake), one half of us at his wake sang “You’ll Never Walk Alone” followed by the other half with “Simply The Best”. Yet I was reliably informed that had they lived to see the day, both he and my granny would have voted Yes.

“As in football, as in life”, was my dad’s catchphrase. But the point here is that identity is multifaceted. It’s not a dichotomy, nor are seemingly-conflicting elements necessarily mutually exclusive. The fact that I’m in the armed forces and Britishness plays a part in my self-awareness and identity does NOT preclude any other elements contributing to my sense of who I am.

My comrades and I are a mixed bag. There are a lot of Scottish soldiers who are sharp, charismatic, with a strong sense of injustice. The community of serving and ex-servicemen and women holds what some may think is a surprising amount of Yes voters, as well as people who “don’t have enough information” and still haven’t made their minds up.

I’ve just started a fledgling “Forces for YES” Facebook group, there’s also “Veterans for Yes” as well as other military-related groups. Many more, due to Queen’s Regulations, don’t feel too comfortable being overtly political. My point is we exist – the forces vote is not a foregone conclusion, and it’s certainly not the ramrod for No it’s often perceived and portrayed to be.

Our glorious and individually mongrel, hotchpotch, patchwork identities are exactly that: glorious and individual. The variety of people who consider being “a Scot” as part of their identity is itself part of my identity. That may be hard to follow, so I’ll say it clearly: being inclusive, open minded, friendly, and multifaceted is very much part of for me what being a Scot is all about.

I am a “soldier boy”, a dunderheid, a football man. I’m a quarter Welsh, Bahrain-born, Dunblaner, nomad, living in Germany married to a Canadian, and I’m Scottish. I’m all of those things at once, and I’m voting Yes.

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    100 to “The story of a soldier boy”

    1. bookie from hell says:


    2. Camz says:

      Ex-Terrier and I would never sign up for HM Forces now. There’s too much of a chance that it would be used to force our foreign policy down another nation’s throat.

      I’d much rather be part of a Defence Force, and even as I enter my 40s, I would volunteer for one, if needed.

      Signing your life away is one thing. Signing your life’s meaning away is completely another. I might sign my life away, but only for the right reasons.

    3. Croompenstein says:

      Would you serve in any new Scottish regiment Rory?, just wondering what will happen with guys like yourself if you will get a choice or what?

    4. jon esquierdo says:

      Very good article that is well written

    5. heedtracker says:

      Scots, Irish, English, USA and I am voting Yes.

    6. Sandy Brownlee says:

      Just excellent. Thanks for that!

    7. scunnered says:

      from one dunderheed to another

    8. jon esquierdo says:

      Croompenstein, The armed forces will be asked if they want to join the Scottish regiments. An independent Scotland will go back to the old historical regiments as it is easier to recruit if a regiment is associated with a geographical region

    9. Croompenstein says:

      Thanks jon I wasn’t sure how that was going to happen but it’s probably something else the Establishment will drag their heels on and try and hold us back (if they are that way inclined 🙂 )

    10. Brian Mchugh says:

      Loved this story. I spent my early years in a forces family; Yorkshire, then Celle/Germany… I also had both sides of the Glesga footy thing, so very much relate to Rory’s piece.

      Here is another kind of soldier I was perusing on t’interweb this morning…

    11. macart763m says:

      First class post ‘Soldier Boy’.

      Well said. 🙂

    12. Onwards says:

      Great article.
      The multiple-identity aspect shows that you can’t just make assumptions.

      YES voters can be English, rangers supporting, ex-forces guys.

      It’s all about wanting the best for Scotland, instead of a UK focused on London.

      People can hold whatever identities they like after independence, and you don’t have to be ruled by Westminster to be British.

    13. Findlay Farquaharson says:

      Was 4 years in the army 78-82, hated it. Pretty sure most scots i knew would have walked home to scotland to serve in a scottish army, i would have.

    14. YESGUY says:

      Nice one RORY.

      Me to ex forces and served all my time in England where i had many brilliant friends but i was always a Scot first.

      And the rUK guys respected that too. Told many on here not to believe the hype about Armed forces being NO certs and that wherever we went the Scottish ID followed us .

      Still have a huge fondness for the English folk who always made me welcome and those memories will stay with me for ever. Forces pals are pals for life.

      I am a YESGUY and if you asked my old oppo’s they would say “of course he is , he never let us forget it ”

      Excellent star to the day.

      Popping off to Leith MINI FESTIVAL in a hour or so.

      hope to see wingers aplenty. Mind wear your badges folks. If i see you i will introduce myself.

    15. Kenzie says:

      When I was a serving soldier, the officers didn’t hesitate to advise (sic) the lower orders as to how they should vote and it just so happened that they always suggested the same party they supported, which was invariably the Tory party.

    16. Stuart Black says:

      Thanks Soldier Boy, great piece.

    17. Barry Blust says:

      Well written Rory! Fascinating and enlightening tale. From my perch we look all a mix of various mixtures… but at the core is where we might look for integrity. Yours is in find nick!!

    18. yerkitbreeks says:

      Enjoyed your article. I wonder if the Army has changed in 100 years. My dad enlisted in the Royal Artillery for the First War ( where the Scottish mortality rate was 14% compared to the English/Welsh 5.5% ) and commented to me around 1960 or so that although he became an officer by the end of the war he knew he couldn’t make a career as he hadn’t gone to the right schools.

      The Establishment which runs the UK depends on uniformity and the military is a key element of it, just as are politics, financiers etc, so presumably the ” right schools ” bit still applies ?

    19. Robert Peffers says:

      If there is a certainty after this referendum it is twofold.

      One – Scottish politics will never be the same again if we Win, Draw or Lose this plebiscite.

      Two – The independence movement is not going to stop fighting for Scotland, Win, Draw or Lose the Plebiscite.

      If Yes then YES activists will continue to campaign for a better independent Scotland and, if either draw or lose, they will still campaign for a better and independent Scotland. If the Bitter Together folks think we are all going to curl up and crawl into some dark corner and take what is coming to us in silence they had best think again.

      The whole modern campaign today is only now taking place because people like me, in the dark days, did not crawl into a dark corner and die. We YESSERS are indomitable. Remember the lines, “And we can still rise up and be the nation again”.

      Let us, though, win it this time, YESSERS, for my kind of older Scottish Nationalists would really like to spend whatever time still left to us in an Independent Scotland that we have fought for throughout all our adult lives.

    20. Its about time scotland was run by a scotland goverment in scotland

    21. todayinscotland says:

      New posts, please share

      I’m Going With Plan B (Not That One)
      Are We The Bad Guys?
      I am #YesDespite

      todayinscotland | The Referendum Blues

    22. Dcanmore says:

      My father was 15 years in the army including two tours in Aden, then a further 20 years working for the MoD and a member of the British Legion. Like my mum he was an SNP voter, a supporter of independence, voted YES in 1979 and voted YES/YES in 1997. Both of them are no longer with us but my father was convinced that Scotland was heading for independence within 20 years after the vote to re-establish the Scottish Parliament.

      And I’m convinced dad’s prediction will come true 🙂

    23. Tommy Kane says:

      Respect, young man.

      Proud of all our servicemen and servicewomen

    24. pete the camera says:

      @Robert Peffers says:
      23 August, 2014 at 12:02 pm

      “If there is a certainty after this referendum it is twofold.

      One – Scottish politics will never be the same again if we Win, Draw or Lose this plebiscite.

      Two – The independence movement is not going to stop fighting for Scotland, Win, Draw or Lose the Plebiscite.

      If Yes then YES activists will continue to campaign for a better independent Scotland and, if either draw or lose, they will still campaign for a better and independent Scotland. If the Bitter Together folks think we are all going to curl up and crawl into some dark corner and take what is coming to us in silence they had best think again.”

      After a YES win we need to sort out all these career politicians and get people with go in the blood to take use all on a road to prosperity leaving no one behind or forgotten, no one trampled underfoot by the greedy few, freedom for all.

    25. heedtracker says:

      From the. Herald

      “Westminster confirmed that the leaflet had been sent out to all UK government employees, including civilian and military personnel in the MoD, but insisted that the matter was not a political one. A source said: “It is Government policy to maintain the UK and as such it is not a ‘political issue’ and we are not politicising civil servants or the military.”

      Which is also how the top of the DWP explained their “non political” vote NO. Or Else conduct. First it’s the DWP and now it’s the MOD. This is a level of UK state intervention in a democratic process way beyond anything anyone could have foreseen, haha! And they have the gall to state publicly they’re not political.

      If all sectors/dept in Scotland are operating at this level of intervention and still calling themselves impartial or neutral, I have a bad feeling about this.

    26. heedtracker says:

      At what point do quangos like the Electoral Commission act sulu running 18th Sept and counting the vote becomes like our chums here

      ” MoD, but insisted that the matter was not a political one. A source said: “It is Government policy to maintain the UK and as such it is not a ‘political issue’ and we are not politicising civil servants or the military.”

      The UKOK Electoral Commission is owned/run by a former BBC ligger.

    27. Col The Viking says:

      Sort of on thread – out knocking the doors, few indigenous English folk saying they are not going to vote at all, not their business, etc – anyone got any handy links or info to help address those concerns, as well as excellent article above!


    28. Robert Louis says:

      As YESGUY mentioned above, I hope nobody minds this O/T so early on, but this afternoon, Leith is hosting a ‘Leith says AYE’ festival.

      There will be stalls all over leith walk from many different indy groups, such as women for YES, business for Scotland, and almost all the others too, and so on. In addition there will also be a screening of the movie ‘Scotland Yet’, in the Calton centre (just off Easter road, near the top with London Road), plus a major Q&A session chaired by the MEP Alan Smyth.

      It’s going to be a great day. Bring your undecided friend/wife/husband/partner/relative/granny/neighbour/dog, so they can have ALL their questions answered.

      Oh, and today there actually is sunshine on Leith 🙂

      Details here:

    29. Ewan MacKenzie says:


      My great uncle made a career in the army, going from Private to Major. On his application form, under ‘education’ he put ‘Maryburgh Public School’, which is what it said above the entrance to his small village school. Not sure if that was a fortuitous accident or if he knew full well that it would help him.

    30. galamcennalath says:

      @Robert Peffers

      Agreed. If No win then it will only by a few %. Ordinary Scots have awoken like never before, or perhaps like not for a very long time. This has become a classic revolution with the masses versus the establishment. Like all revolutions there are those who fear change and think siding with the establishment will retain status quo. We all know the status quo has been confined to history. This will become clear sooner, or later. I hope sooner.

      My grandparents were keen on Home Rule when it was on the cards 100 years ago. My mother was keen when there was no active SNP. I remember her discussing it with the late Jo Grimmond. I wore an SNP badge to school in the late 60s. My believe that Scotland should be governed by Scots has never faltered.

      I’ve gone OT in this reply, apologies. This is an excellent and informative article from Rory. I look forward to the day when Scotland has a Defence Force protecting us at home and peace keeping in the world, rather than Imperial Forces projecting power. I’d like to hear how serving service personnel feel about being in a SDF.

    31. gerry parker says:

      Veterans for Independence.

      Put this in your diary and go along if you can.Thursday 28th August 2014.

      Westerton Hall
      82 Maxwell Ave
      Glasgow G61 1NZ.

      Westerton Hall: 0141 942 2679 Event Facilities: * Signing for the Deaf * Loop System for Hard of Hearing * Disabled Access

      The event will be on Livestream.

    32. bookie from hell says:

      bbc debate Monday

      in the first debate AS asked AD to name two more powers for scottish parliament,AD looked mortified.

      on Monday AS should ask name one new power

    33. Robert Louis says:

      Robert Peffers,

      Wholly agree with all you say. Even if (unlikely), there is a NO win, we will all still be here campaigning the very next day.

      Nobody ever said it would be easy, and other people better than me have worked all their lives for this.

      I and others will be more determined than ever. Things truly will NEVER be the same again – something which may come as a shock to Westminster, the Tory Government and their Labour stooges in Scotland.

    34. Grouse Beater says:

      First rate essay, intelligent, perceptive, and truthful.

      A strong voice against the British establishment that’s doing its best to undermine free will in the forces.

    35. heedtracker says:

      Why the head of the Electoral Commission retired and someone called MacQuarrie took the £200k a year DG hot seat

      And he’s “defiant” apparently. After several years of BBC in Scotland annihilating democracy in Scotland, just the idea of putting a former BBC man in charge of our referendum is insane, or brilliant, depending on how you’re voting.

    36. norrie says:

      Who’d of thunk it two Bahrain born yessers. Awahli hospital 1956.

      Salam Alaikom

    37. paul mccormack says:

      Brilliant! Tolerant! Brilliant! Pluralistic! Brilliant!

    38. Habbie Simpson says:

      I served 5 years in a Scottish regiment, of the British Army, but always considered myself Scottish, not British, i will be voting Yes in September, and although probably too old now would happily sign up for a Scottish Defence Force

    39. heedtracker says:

      @ Nana Smith, interesting from Japan, so same MOD that’s NOT political is currently telling all military personnel and their families to vote NO, but that it’s not politicising their neutrality ha ha.

      We’re paying for the DWP and the MOD and the BBC and no doubt a whole host of departments to attack Scottish democracy.

      “When the ministry of defense in London says the nuclear submarines housed in Scotland are a little too dangerous to be relocated to certain parts of England, the people of Scotland know they are being taken for fools. They see that Scotland is not a valued part of the United Kingdom; rather, it is a place to be placated with false promises in the hope it will continue to fall for the lies of Westminster millionaires.”

    40. Robert Craig says:

      Very good article and by the way no buying the dunderheid descripter one bit. Me? A former soldier who served in the middle-east … Bahrain until 2003. Now live in Canada with my N.African wife and daughter who was born in Bahrain (American Mission Hospital) – Indenpendence supporter since 1989; No Vote BUT a definate YES supporter who’s managed to persuaded several more family members to vote YES come Sept 18.

    41. goulashman says:

      A sensitive, beautifully written account. I too have a ‘mixed’ heritage – married to a Scottish girl – US /Dutch/Canadian – now a long time resident in Scotland. For a variety of reasons we are voting YES, not least because of the unique opportunity to build a society with values of responsibility far different from those being developed/destroyed in the rest of the UK – to build upon a society with a politic already thankfully with an ethic and a morality far more aware of the need for government to care for the vulnerable, the young and the ordinary than the ideology becoming common to the Tory/LibDem/Labour axis in Westminster.

    42. gerry parker says:

      @ CynicalHighlander.

      Thanks for the link. I know Thistle was anxious to get people along to the hall.
      I won’t be able to make it, but I’ll “see” you online.

    43. fred blogger says:

      amazing article.
      we can do it, we have a dream.
      we SHALL overcome!

    44. Proud Cybernat says:

      Brilliant article Rory.

      BTW–what’s a dunderheid?

    45. heedtracker says:

      @ Nana Smith, lots of nuclear pollution news in Japan Times

      The Forth and Fiife’s has been heavily polluted by the MOD but who knows what Faslane and Coulport are like. Even Swallows are showing genetic damage around Fukushima.

      Channel 4 news called Alex Salmond a hypocrite flats week for extending Scotland’s two nuke power plants operations until 2023, yet they are all attacking a Trident nuke strike free Scottish future.

    46. Dr Jim says:

      Do what you can,when you can,if you can,and if it’s not enough,do it again.
      I heard that somewhere, and it seems like a good idea.
      Back to my dark room now.

    47. Douglas Macdonald says:

      Presumably, those soldiers and families, who are entitled to a vote in the referendum, will not have their “voting papers” censored prior to it being inserted into the ballot box. If not, what’s to stop military intelligence (MI5) substituting genuine ballot boxes/voting papers with their own version of what the voting opinion a la Westminster? I feel that this is yet another opportunity for the voting fraudsters to be about their business.
      In my opinion, this is a well-written and informative essay by Rory Gemmill. Well done!

    48. Brian Powell says:

      By the way: So, Jeremy Hunt, UK Health Secretary, has promised faithfully that the Scottish Health Service will be safe from privatisation, at least through the Transatlantic Trade deal that is on its way.

      Doesn’t say anything about the squeeze on the block grant that is the first route for companies to get access.

      People of England, he is promising to ‘protect’ the Scottish Health Service, but yours, unfortunately, is staying on the butcher’s block.

      We are now looking at fear in it’s purist, distilled form. A whiff will create vomiting terror in Together, all reason and ability to think gone. No lie unturned.

    49. boris says:

      O. T. but relevant

      Westminster politicians Clueless About the Origins of Money

      The Westminster parliament exercises total control over the lives of all Scot’s. The body politic sustains 2 houses, (comprising a greater number of highly paid and otherwise financially cosseted politicians) than the, Peoples Republic of China”.

      The abject incompetence of this group of, “political masters” in Westminster has, in recent times, brought the UK to it’s knee’s. The level of debt carried by the UK is second only to the USA, who operate an economy many times larger. Projections are that the debt will never be reduced to a manageable level and the UK treasury will be committed to servicing the debt, (payment of interest only) forever. What a legacy to hand over to our children.

      But how did the nation get to this state. “Easy answer”, said the Chancellor, “Alistair Darling” sitting in one of his 3 taxpayer funded homes watching television as the, “City of London” burned. Blame the bankers not me or my friends. But surely our highly paid politicians, of all persuasions should have been aware of the impending financial disaster, since the, “Sub-Prime Mortgage Scandal” had surfaced in the USA 6 weeks before impacting on the UK.

      A recent survey of Westminster politicians, of all persuasions revealed one of the key reasons contributing to the disgraceful lack of action which should have ensured the UK would be protected from the excesses of a financial market that, (with the full support of UK politicians) was operating against the interests of the UK taxpayer. The survey, commissioned by the reform campaign group, “Positive Money”, found that of the total number of politicians;

      1. 80% lack basic understanding of where the UK’s money comes from.

      2. 71% believe that only the government has the power to create money.

      3. 9% said they didn’t know who creates the nations money.

      4. 12% only, correctly responded, “Yes” in response to the statement, “New money is created when banks make loans, and existing money is destroyed when members of the public repay loans”.


      Positive Money, reported,

      “the troubling findings show that the UK government is still ill-prepared to see the warning signs of another financial crisis.”

      “MPs have no chance of understanding the house price bubble unless they know these basic facts about money.”

      “The financial crisis was caused by banks that created too much money and lent it recklessly. We’re now in danger of repeating the same mistakes.”

      “Prevention of a second financial crisis can be achieved but the risk of a, “housing bubble” needs to be constantly monitored and addressed.

      “The government should introduce measures stripping banks of their power to make new money.”

      But Scotland need not remain in, “the madhouse” that is Westminster. We have an opportunity in the, September referendum to break free and regain our rightful place in the world as an independent nation. Vote, “Yes” to independence.

    50. goulashman says:

      Douglas MacDonald’s comment does make a valid (and worrying) point about the possibility of interference in the voting procedures by Unionist intent: judging from the powerful and ideologically far right variety of support the NO campaign has together with their threatened vested interests, such possibility seems very real. This apparently happens with sickening regularity in America: a sharp watchfulness here is required. UN monitors?

    51. Dave Lewis says:

      Great article very enlightening. Guess what I am also an ex serviceman 24 years in the Royal Navy served in Polaris Submarines nearly all my days. I was a weapons engineer/ Supervisor. I now work in the only shipyard left in Glasgow. I am a Welshman who has lived up in Scotland since 1974. I am voting YES , in fact just back in from Canvassing for YES in Clackmannanshire even managed to hijack a Swiss film crew who we’re filming the local BT team. They BT were not to happy when two cars covered in Yes flags and posters rained on their parade.
      The film crew stopped us and interview one us and then came to the YES Hub to do some filming.

      The reporter commented that the YES team was full of happy smiling faces. Whilst the BT team very serious looking.

      The canvassing was good well lots of YES voters, more car stickers and posters given out.

    52. msean says:

      That was a great read,thanks.

    53. Jim Thomson says:

      @Douglas Macdonald 1:35 has a good point.

      We (Wings) have election agents to cover the majority of the Scottish polling stations. Has anyone got the right to monitor the voting within military bases or whatever version of postal voting that applies to them?

      If not, why not?

    54. I reckon they can get 4 x Ballot Boxes fitted into each Lambeg Drum exported from Ulster for their march in Embra on Sept 13th – 5 days before the IndyRef.

      AND this SNP Govt is ignoring the subject (see previous post). Turning a blind eye.

      Cyprus, Gibraltar and every overseas base with an untrackable number of Ballot Boxes.?

      The Electoral Commission are depending upon Scottish National Gullibility.
      Where are their independent invigilators on overseas bases.?

    55. Kenny Ritchie says:

      I’m ex-Black Watch myself (4 years), and it’s a hell Yes from me.

    56. We can be thankful that there is only 82,000 Army personnel and would supply APPROX 8,000 VOTES – max.
      Navy and RAF BASES.?

      But why should “they” stop at only Scottish Military personnel to rig the ballot.

    57. les Wilson says:

      Yup, we can expect ballot boxes to be nobbled, it is what they do, especially glorious Labour, the Westminster MOD are another who will willingly cheat us. Beyond contempt.

      If they do this, we must find a whistle blower and force another one, where they would definitely be swamped.

      Our hope is the misjudge the number of votes, so let us hope we swamp them with YES.

    58. John H. says:

      galamcennalath 12.28
      Losing isn’t an option.Even if we lose by only 1/2% it will be defeat, and Westminster will treat us accordingly.
      We must win this one.

    59. Fortunately we have ONE MILLION SIGNATORIES on the Declaration of Independence.

      We need to inform other Scots about the potential vote rigging and ballot box rigging so they can correct anomalies in the system.

      On an 80 per cent turnout, we need only another 500,000 votes to get our Freedom.

      It is so close – I can taste Freedom.
      Bring it on.

    60. A Dunblaner! – It had to be a good article. 🙂

    61. EdinScot says:

      @ WantonWampum

      If its based on an 80% turnout, then half of 2.4 million voters is 1.2 million. So we know we have already 1 million people having signed the yes declaration which leaves us having to get another 200,000 votes.

      So i agree with you WW that we’re a hairs breadth away from tasting freedom.

    62. Rory says:

      Cheers to Rev for posting it,

      I’m 6 hours behind in Canada, and was at the dancing last night. To explain my absence.

      If I get offered I would love to be part of the SDF.I Would jump at the chance.

      “Signing your life away is one thing. Signing your life’s meaning away is completely another. I might sign my life away, but only for the right reasons.”

      I couldn’t agree more.

    63. niall says:

      Bill, we’re everywhere 🙂

    64. annie says:

      A young women at work whose husband is ex forces was chatting about the indy ref, when I told her I expected her husband would be a No she said he was a confirmed Yes and she was still gathering information before making her decision. Just goes to show, never assume.

    65. Murray McCallum says:

      I loved reading this. What a great family background Rory described.

    66. bjsalba says:

      I wonder if some of the forces thinking about their Independence vote have their view coloured by remembering mates getting P45s while on duty in Afghanistan or Iraq, especially the ones who were within days of qualifying for full pensions.

      The phrase “Do as you would be done unto” springs to mind.

    67. Rory says:

      I hope everyone enjoyed it.

      To the old and the bold, you could get my “forces for yes” or the “veterans for Yes” group on facebook shared and hopefully it catches some more wee lost souls eye.

      Also whilst we are sharing. I’ve found voter apathy, distrust, and hatred of politicians is great common ground when opening a dialogue with someone (no or don’t knows). The common ground gets rid of any defensive position and allows them to see. Then BOOM, Mcrone repoort, BOOM wings over Scotland. Send them on their merry way to enlightenment. I’ve had a pretty high conversion rate by the time they come to speak to me again: 4 in 4.

    68. Not Richard Wilson says:

      In the 1980’s I was one of a group of guys, just left school and couldn’t wait to join up. We were all probably fitter than a lot of athletes (hard to believe now).
      One of the first to go reported back that he had to stand in front of everyone else and shout that he was a Scottish W#nker. We all knew this was part of breaking you down before building you back up but that was it for the rest of us, we didn’t join up.
      If only there had been a Scottish Defence Force then.

    69. Silverytay says:

      A couple of things slightly O/T
      I left school in 69 at the age of 15 to start an apprenticeship and there was a retired gentleman there who worked part time .

      To cut a long story short he was in the royal navy first world war and merchant navy 2nd world war and had been torpedoed three times and a staunch independence supporter .
      It is for people like him and others who have went before us plus for future generations that we have to win this .

      Second point is that slabs foreigner scares are working on some people .
      My wife was out with a friend last night who told my wife that her mum had been a YES voter until someone had told her that A.S was intending flooding Scotland with foreigners .

      The only people I know of that go on about foreigners is slab .

    70. Onwards says:

      If we gain independence, then it is obvious that there will still be very close co-operation between the Scottish forces and the British forces.

      We would work hand in hand.

      Anyone who claims differently, or that we would be shut out of NATO by getting rid of Trident.. they obviously haven’t looked at a map.

      We have a strategic position in Europe, a large sea area already used for huge NATO exercises, remote and unpopulated areas for missile ranges and low flying, long runways, radar domes etc etc

    71. Big Del says:

      Great article. My son in law is in the Royal Navy. He is leaving real soon. He was telling me that they, (personnel that live in Scotland, have been “advised” at a boat meeting to vote NO by their captain. He is one of us though but shows the lengths they are going to, doesn’t it?

    72. First off I am an ex-Royal Navy man who was in the Falklands War. Coming up the road today I was thinking about the UK state.
      During ”The troubles” in N. Ireland we had a thing called Jaw-Jaw. This was where the British Gov stopped anyone on the Republican side from being heard in their own voice. On TV the Republican spokesman’s mouth was moving while an actor spoke the words, but we could never be sure whether those words were what the speaker was actually saying. One you can be sure of was the way the actor was speaking was not the way the speaker was saying it.
      Psychologically the public were duped. The sound of jaw-jaw worked wonders to make you against the speaker.
      What the UK Gov is doing now is just like then.

    73. Blair paterson says:

      I had my 16 th birthday in Germany serving in the 2 nd battalion the scots guards back in Britain I did all the royal duties palace ,tower Bank of England e.t.c.the English people I met and served with could not have been kinder and I have many fond memories of those times and people I am now75 years old but if I had a vote I would be voting yes

    74. manandboy says:

      Slightly OT but I bet that after a Yes win
      many No voters will pretend that they voted Yes
      leading to a scarcity of identifiable No voters.
      That will be weird as it will surely lead to some
      strange consequences.

      Perhaps a lie that some will take to their graves?

    75. Further to my last about Jaw-jaw. It teaches us if you can’t get your point across and your views are suppressed as the jaw-jaw policy was designed to do. Then can we be surprised when violence is the outcome.

    76. Rory says:

      Awahli hospital 1886, hey brother!

      Dunderheid is one of a plethora of Scottish words to mean idiot.

    77. David Smith says:

      Anybody concerned about TTIP should put their name to this petition.

      Incidentally if the new SDF can find a role for a 50 year old knacker like me I’d happily sign up!

    78. bald eagle says:


      Awahli hospital 1886, hey brother!

      what age are you by my counting you are 128 what the hell are you on and are you allowed to sell it

    79. Rory says:

      well spotted: i am in fact Conor McLeod!…


    80. Thistle says:

      Scottish Independence Live Events are running their own event
      “Veterans for Independence” on the 28th at Westerton Hall, Bearsden, Glasgow.

      10+ veterans will be saying why they are voting for independence, including Keith Brown MSP, Minister for Transport and Veterans.

      Please show your support and come to the event if you can make it.

      We will be LIVE STREAMING this event so if you cannot make it watch online and share and tweet the live stream link.

      More details and live stream link via our website…

    81. tartanpigsy says:

      Briliant post Rory

      Heedtracker – I have a gut feeling that we ARE at the tipping point we all thought way back would have come earlier this summer,
      BT can’t compete with the scale and range of us Yessers, As long as none of us relent from now til the early hours of the 19th we are unstopable.
      I love every one of you who have done whatever YOU could where and when you could.

      We are rewriting the history of these islands as we speak.
      A week ago I was unsure, Now I’m not

      So many heroes and heroines you all know who you are.

      No let up, #C’monScotland

    82. BornOptimist says:

      Although the Forces may not be a bastion of the status quo it is often enough for the No campaign to raise unanswerable questions about an uncertain future to convert a dithering individual to a No voter.

      Uncertainty is a winner for the no vote as it’s easier to live with the de’il you know than the one you don’t. It’s a decision based on sloppy thinking but the process is nevertheless built into the herd mentality and dna of humankind: ‘Don’t go for change because you might regret it’ is a reassuring thought for them.

      I’ve just had a perfect example of this when having a lengthy telephone conversation with one of my sisters. I’ve never known her to make a political statement other than standard criticism of ‘politicians in suits’ in her life and only see her a few times a year. Our conversation indicated quite clearly that the referendum campaign has raised her level of political awareness. Unfortunately she has also swallowed the No argument hook, line, and sinker, basically because of uncertainty about the future.

      Pointing out that the future is uncertain whatever the vote and pointing out the alternatives opened by a YES vote has given me no traction whatsoever as she is able to trot out all the standard arguments in favour of the status quo. Until I can see her face to face or get her to read some quality literature or listen to alternative podcasts everything I say to her will be filtered through the same veil of defensiveness.

      That also raised another problem. I cannot read a crystal ball and thus cannot guarantee that getting her to change her mind will be in her best interest. As I don’t live in Scotland and wold only indirectly share the costs/benefits of the referendum do I have the right to try hard to get her to change her mind. I can argue that change in Scotland would be beneficial in England but there’s that crystal ball thingy again. I don’t know. Should I shut up, or what? I’m uncertain and tempted to hush up and do nothing.

    83. R-type Grunt says:

      Canadian from Scots and I’m voting Yes! Great article!

    84. Stevie says:

      Great read – thanks for sharing

    85. tartanarse says:

      I am a former soldier serving from 1994 to 2000. I have always been pro independence and openly so much to the annoyance of many in Army. I always noted my nationality as Scottish on official forms for which I was chastised on many occasions.

      I served with many fellow Scots, a lot of them Rangers h=fans from central and west Scotland. I only ever met one Scot who would have voted no and he was from Irvine.

      A questionnaire went round in 1999 asking if Scots soldiers would leave to join an independent Scottish army. I don’t know the answers to this but I have to say everyone I ever talked to about it said they would.

      Personally I would have never left Scotland for the army if there had been any decent prospects, but given that we are run by Wesminster, our country was and still is, shit.

      I would far preferred to have played football, went canoeing and drunk beer in a free Scotland than doing six month on six month off tours of foreign countries for Blighty.

      Whilst in the army it was commonplace for Scots to be called, sweaties, Jocks, haggis munchers, skirt wearers and porridge wogs. All of this was of course to be taken as banter. Needless to say more than a few folks felt a Dundonian response to such delightful terms of endearment.

      Scots soldiers were another reason the English wanted Union. Nothing has changed.

      We need fear nothing at all from the Forces vote. Theres simply not enough of them to worry about for a start. Also, the Army is not exactly encouraging of the admin for this and in any case as I have explained I think that most will vote Yes.

    86. steven Seagull says:

      @ Manandboy


      Reminds me of the crackin novel “Shibumi”. By Trevanian.

      In a discussion about occupied France:” The fulanas who gave the Boche the clap”..” The bar owners that charged the forces of occupation a few cents more.”..

      All freedom fighters. Meanwhile betraying their Jewish neighbours to the Gestapo.

      Just like naw Quisling labour/tory ("Tractor" - Ed) scumbags.

      Like Vichy Broon and Darling offering up their busted butts , tae another invader like Hitler/Stalin..

      They already did. Scum of the earth.

      -Je me souviens-

    87. dodgardiner says:

      Ex-Sapper myself, have other Yes supporting ex-Sapper friends (one who is a mega-Rangers fan as well).
      Scottish self-determination cuts across many boundaries and ‘groupings’ – nice to hear it from a serving soldier.

    88. Muscleguy says:

      I’m Scottish but I don’t sound it having grown up in NZ,and acquired citizenship there. Only once has it been an issue on the doorsteps. An older undecided woman apropos of nothing towards the end of our conversation asked if I was. All those doors and it has been an issue once and only in a curious way, not an aggressive ‘what are ye pokin’ yer nose in oor affairs fer’ way.

      I love this campaign and wish I had got involved much, much earlier. We had more first timers yesterday so it is not too late.

    89. Tom Platt says:

      This is a brilliant article IMO and most comments are of the same quality. Thanks for letting me read them.

    90. john j says:

      Great piece. I was born in England, English mum, Scottish dad; I’ll be voting Yes.

    91. john j says:

      Incidently, I’ve never seen that photograph of John Lennon and Elvis before.

    92. Peter Macbeastie says:

      I, like many others commenting, am ex military, in my case I did seven years in the Royal Navy, most of which was ok, sinking incidents and UK Government excursions to the Northern Arabian Gulf notwithstanding.

      The Navy, I was greatly pleased to find, was not disapproving of the grumbling from the ranks that Iraq wasn’t what we were being told it was. I had my DO tell me that it wasn’t just in the junior rates messdecks; the wardroom had the same suspicion.

      But I digress. All the time I was in the Navy, carefully raising and lowering the White Ensign and the Union Flag at Colours and Sunset, I wanted to be both in the Navy and under Scottish authority. Because I couldn’t be both at the time, I settled for the one I could achieve.

      In an independent Scotland my belief is that the Royal Navy, British Army and RAF will recruit from Scotland as they recruit from Commonwealth nations and, indeed, Ireland. We will be no different. I, however, cannot see a time in my life where I would have stepped past a Scottish Defence Force to join the UK set up. Had we been independent when I was looking to join I would have worn the uniform of the Royal Scottish Navy. I would not have even considered the Royal Navy.

      With regards to believing the military is likely to be all No voters; experience leads me to not believe that. I know of several lads I used to work with who would lean to a yes if they had a vote (they don’t, they live in Hampshire now) and my old mate Jimbob Squarepants, Geordie lad, now stationed at RNAS Yeovilton, who not only thinks that Scotland should be looking after her own affairs, but that Scotland should absolutely be better off if we are doing so. He would be a rock solid Yes vote, would be my still serving mate Jim, if he was based in Scotland.

      Ex military? One of the two SNP councillors in my ward is ex Royal Navy submariner. Numerous SNP MSP’s are ex military. One of my mates on Facebook, another solid Yes, posted a picture of his certificate of service a while back… twenty-two years in the Army, done and dusted. They all, without doubt, served loyally in their former roles. It didn’t prevent them believing Scotland should be independent, and it does not prevent me. In point of fact, some of the things military service has involved Scots personnel in over the last few years in particular has probably shoved more and more towards Yes. The British Government has used the military as a blunt instrument to do their bidding; no more about the defence of the UK than an apple is the same as a jumbo jet.

    93. Nick says:

      Born in Paisley, lived in South Africa, seen one country achieve independence and freedom, I would like to see my Scotland do it too. We vote on the 18th to decide HOW we vote in the future, not on a WHO. Remember the current politicians can be replaced only if we vote YES, not if we vote NO.

    94. Dave Coull says:

      Great article, Rory. My dad, like yours, was “an intelligent, cerebral, well-read man, anti-war and pro-independence”. He was also ex-Black Watch, and yet he thought me something of a dunderheid when I signed up. I notice you describe yourself as “Bahrain born”. Was that in married quarters? I was based at RAF Muharraq, in Bahrain, 1961 to 1962

    95. Wullie B says:

      Am ex QO HLDRS and Highlanders,bot of whom no longer exist due to changes,I know plenty Jocks and a fair few Ruperts who are yes voters, just waiting for a Walts for Yes group, made up entirely for all 22000 who were on the Iranian Balcony back in 1981 lol , as stated plenty of support in the ranks for a yes, many are disillusioned with the way conecutive Westminster governmnents have treated the ordinary Jock yet overstretching them ,

    96. Rory says:

      Na, My parents weren’t forces. My Da was out there doing something HR related. Good pay and career i think were the reasons

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