British NCO served with 27th Field Regt, Royal Artillery in Germany, 1989-1990; went Absent Without Leave prior to deployment to Gulf and returned to GB, 12/1990.
REEL 1: Aspects of period in GB, 1962-1986: family background, education and employment in Cheshire; story of joining the Army for 9 years’ service, 1986; basic training with Royal Artillery at Woolwich; posted to Hohne, Germany. Aspects of period with 27th Field Regt, Royal Artillery in Germany, 1989-1990: military and political situation; reaction to removal of Berlin Wall, 1989; awareness of crisis in Gulf; story of volunteering for service in Saudi Arabia and opinion of training; reaction to briefing about Arabs; story of being reprimanded for criticising Army driving ambulances during ambulance strike in GB; attitude to system of British military justice and reasons for deciding to go Absent Without Leave.
REEL 2 Continues: opinion of Michael Harbottle’s statement on soldiers’ rights; question of reforms needed to military system including problem of leaving before end of service; story of going Absent Without Leave prior to deployment to Gulf, 20/Dec/1990; opinion of Saddam Hussein and Western Allies; question of cowardice and need to justify decision; opinion of Army counselling provisions and Army padres.
REEL 3 Continues: Aspects of period in GB, 1991: attitude to treatment of conscientious objectors by Army; alternatives offered to fighting in Gulf; further description of going Absent Without Leave in Germany and GB; reaction of family; question of being put under surveillance; reason for wanting to go public over decision; reaction to outbreak of Gulf War; first contacts with anti-war movement; media coverage of case; reaction to being charged with desertion; public support for actions; released on bail, 8/1991; attitude to possible prison sentence; reason for not naming helpers; support from anti-war movement during rally in Hyde Park, London.
REEL 4 Continues: attitude to progress of Gulf War; activities with organisations Reservists Against the War and At Ease; support from other soldiers; story of giving himself up at Rochester Road Barracks, 9/Mar/1991; interview and charges; reason for being transferred to Parachute Regt prison; description of conditions in solitary confinement and morale during period of close arrest.
REEL 5 Continues: attitude to impending court martial; story of refusing to undergo psychiatric treatment; opinion of defence lawyer Jim Nichol; question of pay; formation of the Defence Campaign Fund; role of Amnesty International in case; support from MPs and media; effect of case on other soldiers who went Absent without Leave; further comments on being charged with desertion; opinion of Army and question of being imprisoned for beliefs.