So often when we feel that we are repeating history, it is almost always, the negative, tragic sort.
As we have already seen, young Dab Furley’s was a life cut tragically short at the age of only nineteen at Miranshah in Waziristan, in 1919.
If only the powers that be had read about the young man who perished in the middle of nowhere in northern Nigeria in mid-December 1903.
Old Nottinghamian, Lieutenant Cyril Amyatt Wyse Amyatt-Burney was slaughtered by the natives in the village of Deckina in northern Nigeria. He was leading a force sent by British authorities who were keen to restore the King of Ankina to his rightful position, after he had been ousted from the throne by a usurper:
Lieutenant Amyatt-Burney was:
“…a zealous officer and a young man of promise and energy.”
His body was never found, just a bundle of some of his blood stained clothes, secreted away at the back of a native hut.
In 1937, another Old Boy, Lieutenant E.S.R.France, of the 3/7th Rajput Regiment, was to sacrifice his young life in the Shahur Gorge, on the Manzai-Wana road, on India’s North-West Frontier.
He was with twenty nine colleagues of the 3/7th Rajput Regiment:
Lieutenant France, who had left the High School only five years previously, was just twenty three years of age.
Literally as I wrote the stories of these two tragic deaths, though, news came in of the 454th member of the British Armed Forces to be killed in Afghanistan during the present era. He died in hospital from his wounds on Thursday, July 24th 2015. Why not click on this link, and have a quick look at the 454 young people lost? the 454 families traumatised for ever? the 454 little photographs that mean so much to the people who know what they represent:
Michael, popularly known as Cammy, was a reservist and he died at Birmingham’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital. His fellow soldiers said the 32-year-old was an “outstanding soldier” who was always “determined” and “courageous”. Michael had a wife and four children.
“Lance Corporal Campbell epitomised everything a reservist in 3 R Welsh should be – dedicated, professional and willing to volunteer on operations wherever he was required, a true Welsh warrior. The battalion has lost a charismatic and loyal friend and our thoughts and condolences are with his wife Chrissy and his wider family at this very difficult time.”
“Everyone who served alongside Lance Corporal Campbell will be devastated to learn of his passing. He joined the battalion during our pre-deployment training and fitted seamlessly into his platoon and company. He was an outstanding soldier and very talented junior commander: skilful, determined, measured and very courageous: he set an excellent example to those around him.”
It is tragic that he has died three years after his initial wounding and the thoughts and prayers of all of us are with his family at this most difficult time.”
“I was deeply saddened to hear of the tragic loss of Lance Corporal Campbell yesterday. I had known him for a number of years; he was a true reservist with a huge amount of operational experience under his belt. A larger than life character, always upbeat, at the heart of things and looking for the next challenge.”
Major Charlie Carver said Lance Corporal Campbell was “one of life’s true characters. One of the reasons that he was able to fit seamlessly into the company was his keen sense of humour; he excelled at the banter which only soldiers seem to understand.”
Major D Evans, described him as ‘reliable and professional’, adding:
‘Cammy always brought a smile to your face with his wit and cutting sarcasm and he was always on hand to pass on his experience to the new, and not so new, members of the company.
When I learnt that he had volunteered, yet again, to deploy on what would be his fourth tour, I told him that he had done enough already, his reply was “Well someone has to go and look after you, Boss.
That is what Cammy was truly about. He was a team player, who was committed to serving his country.
Michael had joined the Army Reserves in April 2002 and was working as a platoon radio operator in October 2011.
He was wounded in the stomach while crossing a road in Helmand Province on April 3rd 2012, having been confronted by “accurate, heavy and sustained enemy fire”.
This enemy fire was returned, with Lance Corporal Campbell and his fellow soldiers vigorously attacking the Taliban firing positions. The Ministry of Defence said in a statement:
“Despite being wounded, Lance Corporal Campbell continued to suppress the enemy, drawing fire on to himself so that the remainder of the multiple could cross an open and exposed area to get into better cover.”
Michael was evacuated by helicopter first to Camp Bastion and then to Birmingham’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital, where he was readmitted earlier this year. Initially, his recovery had appeared to be going well, as he left hospital to go to Headley Court, the military’s specialist rehabilitation centre for injured servicemen and women. Michael initially had to use a wheelchair but fought back and learned to walk again. All this time, though, he had to return to hospital for a series of operations.
Lance Corporal Campbell had served on a number of other tours, including Iraq, and proved to be a “highly capable soldier”, the Ministry of Defence said.
Defence Secretary Michael Fallon described Lance Corporal Campbell as
“proud and professional, a dedicated family man. The tributes of his comrades describe L/Cpl Michael Campbell as a popular and committed soldier devoted to his regiment and his family. Proud and professional, he epitomised the ethos of the Army reservist and he had completed numerous tours of duty in Afghanistan and Iraq. It is particularly tragic that Michael Campbell should die of wounds after such a period of time and I send my deepest condolences to his family and loved ones at this sad time.”
Sergeant Paul Thomas, who served with Lance Corporal Campbell, told the large crowd at his funeral:
“His knowledge and enthusiasm rubbed off on all around him, especially when guiding the younger members of the platoon. He had truly found his calling in life. He was hugely proud of being a Royal Welshman and even more so of his family. A better man you could not find.”
And here’s that link that I mentioned at the beginning of the article. This one page of the Internet is a singularly humbling one. It contains the names of every single person who died in Afghanistan.
Every single person in this list had parents, perhaps brothers and sisters, maybe a wife or a husband, perhaps children, certainly friends and acquaintances, perhaps a pet, a hobby, plans to do things, places to visit, a garden, a car, all those things that make life so attractive. But no more.