WE didn’t need to fill in paperwork last time I landed in Normandy

On D-Day, they defied fierce German shelling and machine gun fire to reach the Normandy beaches.

Seventy years on, and much frailer, our Second World War heroes have come up against a new adversary as they return for the landmark anniversary… French bureaucrats.

The authorities require veterans’ groups to complete lengthy forms at short notice or risk being turned away from the battle sites on June 6.

So, who is volunteering along with me to drive the tanks over those French bureaucrats?

51 comments on “WE didn’t need to fill in paperwork last time I landed in Normandy

  1. One really needs to be fair about this. Ever been to Normandy’s “invasion coast”? I know it pretty well & the areas around the beaches have been largely theme parked. It gets a hell of a lot of visitors. There’s just a limit to the number of roads, car parks & all the other stuff tourists require can be put in before there isn’t anything to go & see but other tourists.

    By the way. can really recommend Azincourt. The plywood cutout archers & knights in the hedgerows by the roadside are a hoot. It’s also very hard to discern who won. Doesn’t seem to figure very highly on any French family’s “historical sites to visit” list.

  2. BIS: Doesn’t apply to those who risked their lives to make it possible for them to have “theme parks” anyway. If they had sorted out the last lot of tourists( in field grey) who paid them a visit all on their own–then they can dictate terms to our lads going to re-visit the graves of their mates who didn’t make it home.

    The veterans should tell them to stuff their forms and arrive anyway with plenty of cameras and news hacks to record the French bureaucrats turning them away (if they dare). Then the world can see the measure of French gratitude–and our lovely EU pals can release that they are on their own from now on.

  3. Mr Ecks
    I’d sort of considered taking my own father, being he was sort of involved in D-Day. But trying to cope with an 88 y/o with waterworks problems, in a wheelchair, is beyond my capabilities. And I’m a sometimes French resident & used to operating in the country.
    I was at Point du Hoc on a run of the mill, midweek, rainy day & most of the Midwest seemed to be fighting for a view, Because for every Vet you seem to get half a dozen support personnel. And P du H’s way out in the middle of nowhere. The Brit beaches were more like invading Clacton. Off the plage you’re into town streets. So how are the frogs supposed to cope with unknown coachloads of elderly Brits all simultaneously needing disabled toilet facilities?
    it’s just a practicality thing.

  4. Yes Mr Ecks. very clever. Portaloos where? In what numbers?
    You any idea how long the invasion front was, north to south?

  5. @BiS I sort of get your point, but when your entire nation has been saved from destruction by a group of people A, then survivor members of group A ought to be able to visit at your expense, pretty much no matter what it costs, and they ought to be able to bring a few family members along too.

    Maybe they could bill the Krauts.

  6. @Interested
    Having gone through the major logistics problem of trying to get one old geezer 2 miles for a pub lunch, the idea of hordes of them descending unexpectedly on a place none of the people with them will be familiar with or speak the language boggles the mind. Bearing in mind the necessity of coping with their needs not only in the area but in transit, you could be looking at contingency requirements being set up would rival the invasion itself.
    Consider something. A heavy rainstorm, not unknown on the Cotentin in June (see 1944), could produce casualty rates amongst the vets several times that of the landings. And do remember. This isn’t just a Brit thing. The answer to my question was it generally takes me about 2 1/2 hours to traverse the landing zone. And the sites of interest stretch dozens of kilometers inland. in all it’s thousands of square kilometers of tight hedged roads & tiny villages.

  7. I hear you, I really do, but the point is the daft old sods want to go back and the French bureaucrats, many of whom literally owe their lives to these codgers, should do everything possible to accomodate them, up to and including installing travelators and disabled bogs ever 100 yards along the entire western seaboard of France if necessary.

    It’s part of the point that it’s a massive embuggerance to the locals. It should be.

  8. Tim Newman said: “Can we not drive a tank over our own petty bureaucrats first, before we move onto the foreign ones?”

    Drive over ours while loading up the landing craft, drive over theirs while disembarking at the other end.

  9. Do we have a tank left to roll over the bureaucrats in? I thought the last one was sold to pay the bureaucrats.

  10. The French weren’t particularly grateful 70 years ago, not sure why they should suddenly be so now.

  11. Rob, I don’t know about 70 years ago, but I do about 48 years ago:

    In 1966 upon being told that President Charles DeGaulle had taken France out of NATO and that all U.S. troops must be evacuated off of French soil President Lyndon Johnson mentioned to Secretary of State Dean Rusk that he should ask DeGaulle about the Americans buried in France. Dean implied in his answer that that DeGaulle should not really be asked that in the meeting at which point President Johnson then told Secretary of State Dean Rusk:

    “Ask him about the cemeteries Dean!”

    That made it into a Presidential Order so he had to ask President DeGaulle.

    So at end of the meeting Dean did ask DeGaulle if his order to remove all U.S. troops from French soil also included the 60,000+ soldiers buried in France from World War I and World War II.

    DeGaulle, embarrassed, got up and left and never answered.”

    http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/375563-ask-him-about-the-cemeteries-dean-in-1966-upon-being

  12. Also BIS–were what you suggest even the real reason for french “reluctance” –how does filling out long fucking forms solve it?.

  13. @Interested
    S’pose there’s never an opportunity missed to diss the French. But, as I said, i can see the organisational problems involved. Maybe we should be asking why better arrangements haven’t been made your side of La Manche so the frogs would know how many’s coming.
    Generally, the French are pretty good at organising support for events & as for bureaucracy, I’ve had a bit to do with fetes etc in both my old home village & couple of other places. Compared with the UK it’s extremely light & usually very helpful. Getting the central square & road closed & diversions put in around the lanes so it could host a funfair wasn’t much more than a phone conversation with Departement. None of this endless risk assessment/regulatory embuggerance. Just an acceptance consenting adults are responsible enough to sort out a bit of a jolly on their own doorsteps, because they might actually be the people who best know what they’re doing.
    As for the French gratitude for Brit wartime endeavours, maybe you should see the care lavished on the 16 graves in the churchyard, courtesy of the retreat to Dunkerque. That’s the village boneyard. Nothing to do with War Graves. What the locals do. Or the graves from the first war in the cemetery at Veaux-Berquin, up the road. A number of RFC amongst them.
    French politicians are, of course, a bunch of shits. Particularly deG. But they haven’t exactly got the patent on that have they?

  14. @BiS

    I’ve spent a lot of time en France, I absolutely love the country and the people, and God willing I will probably retire to the Hautes-Alpes, so I’m not (seriously) dissing them.

    I’m also conversant with their bureaucracy, and ours.

    But basically, whatever way you slice it, this is a bunch of old guys who watched their mates die to save the country and, in a supposed Europe without borders, they want to pay their respects without too much hassle from pen-pushers.

    I mean, it’s not top of my complaints about bureaucrats or politicians, or paperwork etc, but I can see how they might find it mildly irritating.

  15. @ John fembup

    Ah, you see, there I side with de Gaulle, rudeness and Gallic hauteur aside.

    Gratitude extends to being grateful (hence his rudeness was literally disgraceful, and this latest paperwork bollocks being similarly stupid).

    But it doesn’t extend, unless you wish it to, to having foreign troops stationed on your soil 20 years after the end of hostilities purely because it suits the geopolitical ends of your once-allies.

    The Yanks did liberate Europe from the Nazi yoke, but they didn’t do it purely out of the goodness of their hearts.

    Concomitantly, de Gaulle had to accept that if the Commies came pouring through Saarbrucken in 1967 he was (potentially) shit out of luck.

    As an aside, did the fact that he was prepared to risk that (of course dG had nukes by then) say more about his understanding of the power of the Soviet Union than that of LBJ/most other people ie that it was already a busted flush?

  16. @Interested
    I’ve been trying to read between the lines of the Mail’s story.
    It looks to me as if the French have been well aware the 70th anniversary is going to a big do. It’ll be the last decennial with any number of the participants attending. Next one will be a history book thing. so there’ll be a lot of people headed that way. No doubt they don’t want the vets being shoved aside by a horde of camouflage anoraks wanting to go play on the Sherman on the roundabout, so they have actually done some organising. Unlike the Brits who would either a) ban it for elfin safety reasons or b) do bugger all but get extra squads of parking attendants on the streets with haversacks of ticket books.
    So if the old geezers wanted to go there’s been ample opportunity to apply ahead.
    Now knowing the Gendarmerie, I’d be guessing if one came trundling up the road with granpa in his campaign medals & beret on board, they’d slap a permit on the windscreen salute & wave you through. M.le G, unlike his Brit equivalent, believing his role is to assist the citizen. He’s not a surly, knuckle dragging thug in a fluorescent stabproof & is trusted to carry a firearm with out shooting his foot or random passers-by.

  17. Concomitantly, de Gaulle had to accept that if the Commies came pouring through Saarbrucken in 1967 he was (potentially) shit out of luck.

    Hmmm. Or perhaps he knew full well the Americans and others would ensure the Russians were stopped or slowed before reaching France, and so could freeload whilst gobbing off from the sidelines.

  18. Now knowing the Gendarmerie, I’d be guessing if one came trundling up the road with granpa in his campaign medals & beret on board, they’d slap a permit on the windscreen salute & wave you through. M.le G, unlike his Brit equivalent, believing his role is to assist the citizen. He’s not a surly, knuckle dragging thug in a fluorescent stabproof & is trusted to carry a firearm with out shooting his foot or random passers-by.

    This.

    The British police would take barely-concealed delight in blocking the path of veterans and self-righteously lecturing them on “the law”.

  19. @Interested, “Ah, you see, there I side with de Gaulle”

    Then you are a good boy,

    But history suggests even deGaulle did not side with de Gaulle. He did ultimately force out all foreign troops, at least the ones who were still alive. But France did not “withdraw” from NATO. And de Gaulle almost immediately recreated in secret a defense arrangement similar to NATO.

    “In 1966 all French military forces were withdrawn from NATO’s command. France remained a member of NATO but had its armed forces under the control of the French government. However, in secret talks, plans were made to put French forces back under NATO command in the event of an invasion of Western Europe by Warsaw Pact states.”

    http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/nato.htm

    Regardless of this history, the asking of the question was on point, and de Gaulle’s refusal to answer was telling. Obviously, all the graves of American soldiers killed in France are still there. And thanks in no small part to those soldiers, so is France.

  20. A story told me from a SEATO naval cooperation meeting in the 60s by an old cable ship captain who was there – the main naval contributors were UK France US Australian and NZ. he French asked why meeting were always held in English – to which an Australian reply was: “Because the rest of us speak English and we ensured that you didn’t have to speak German”

  21. @BiS yes probably (and certainly in the case of the average gendarme). It doesn’t irk me too much, I just don’t like the sound of it. Bally frogs, don’t you know. (Joke.)

    I think re British coppers they would fall into two camps – those (particularly ex Mob, and Inspectors and below) who would go out of their way to help (outside the big cities, certainly) and the more senior ranks who would be greasy pole climbing and trying to paint them as nationalist hate mongers (or some such).

    @TimN yes that’s why I said (potentially)! And added that they had their own nukes by then.

    @Fembup eh? He wanted the live soldiers out and got them out. The question about dead ones wasn’t serious and was just LBJ making a point. I agree with LBJ’s sentiment personally, I just think France is for the French and, after a due period of reflection on their allies’ efforts (and 20 years seems enough), they were within their rights, however stupidly or dishonestly, to ask the Yanks to leave.

    (The length of reflection required varies with the arduousness of the request, and I think veterans should be able to go unhindered until they’re all dead, at which point les Français can sell tickets if they wish.)

    @Obligato the old ones are the best! It may well be true, mind.

  22. @Interested
    Yes. i’d quite like to see them fall into two camps. Preferably with lots of wire & dogs around them.
    I don’t pretend much dealing with higher rank police. just the lower ranks. the only conversation I’d want with most of them would involve a quiet corner & a baseball bat.

  23. Excellent.

    “I didn’t fight the Nazis just to be defeated by the French”

    Oh yes you did, mate, oh yes you did.

    Degaulle must go down as one the most thankless and embittered men in history.

  24. These people are trained and hardened killers who when last confronted a totalitarian government unleashed hell.

    If I was the French government, I’d be worried too.

  25. TImN

    “The British police would take barely-concealed delight in blocking the path of veterans and self-righteously lecturing them on “the law”.”

    Yes, that’s what happens when you are the unholy love child of the British tradition of sticking to the rules, and the European tradition of creating laws like an incontinence pensioner.

    It’s also been witnessed in the US recently during the ‘government shutdown’.

    We are seeing this process of criminalising law abiding people more and more across the west. I really don’t see how it’s going to be stopped TBH.

  26. I generally have no time for France and the French, preferring just about every other country, and enjoying any hance to have. Poke them, but I’m with BiS on this one.

    It looks to me like a cack handed attempt to make sure the real VIPs get the treatment and respect they deserve on what will be the last major commemoration with any of the survivors present.

  27. @BiS I’ve not personally had much trouble with the fuzz generally (maybe it’s you, though I doubt they bother you too much in your Andalusian redoubt) and they’re always well represented at our village memorial on 11/11 and the big one in town. But one speaks as one finds.

  28. I’m with BIS here….I can just see the Sun headlines as all those pensioners wet their trousers, faint, die because proper plans have not been made.

    The morons were warned!

  29. Interested – “But it doesn’t extend, unless you wish it to, to having foreign troops stationed on your soil 20 years after the end of hostilities purely because it suits the geopolitical ends of your once-allies.”

    I am not sure how it suited America’s geopolitical ends. A good case could be made that the Americans would have been much better off with Western Europe under Soviet control. It certainly suited French geopolitical ends that the Americans made sure that did not happen.

    “The Yanks did liberate Europe from the Nazi yoke, but they didn’t do it purely out of the goodness of their hearts.”

    Actually yes they did. It is hard to think of a single reason why America would care if Europe was under the Nazis or not. In fact the sensible thing would have been to have sold all sides anything they wanted, and left Europe to go to Hell in its own hand basket. The American intervention was purely from the goodness of their own hearts.

    “Concomitantly, de Gaulle had to accept that if the Commies came pouring through Saarbrucken in 1967 he was (potentially) shit out of luck.”

    True. But he knew that the British and Americans were in Germany. So he could hide behind their nuclear weapons. It was not the French that kept the Soviets on their side of the Fulda Gap. It was America’s Strategic Air Command. By the 1960s, Soviet planners thought they would be on France’s Atlantic Coast by Day Three.

    “As an aside, did the fact that he was prepared to risk that (of course dG had nukes by then) say more about his understanding of the power of the Soviet Union than that of LBJ/most other people ie that it was already a busted flush?”

    I disagree. I think he thought that the Soviets were Russians and not Communists. So they would be open to the same balance of power calculations any other Great Power was. He was not only wrong, he was comprehensively wrong. About everything.

    The mistake the British made was to be nice to him. They should have done a deal with the Americans and divided France into occupation zones. We could have got Anjou back.

  30. “We are seeing this process of criminalising law abiding people more and more across the west. I really don’t see how it’s going to be stopped”
    One way it might be stopped was demonstrated by the recent events at the Bundy ranch in Nevada. Several thousand people showed up to support him, even though he is undoubtedly breaking the law. The feds backed off, probably until after the election. Also, thousands of people have refused to register their guns in CT, also in violation of the law. This may be a trend; people have had enough. Of course, in the USA about a third of the population is armed, so the government knows a crackdown would not be as easy as it would be against a defenseless citizenry.

  31. @SMFS

    ‘I am not sure how it suited America’s geopolitical ends.’

    Well, presumably the Americans thought there was a case? Otherwise, I’m not sure why they wanted to expend billions of 1960s dollars on keeping the boys in France. What’s your explanation, if not for geopolitical ends?

    ‘Actually yes they did. It is hard to think of a single reason why America would care if Europe was under the Nazis or not.’

    It’s only hard if you don’t really think about it. The most obvious reason was that Germany (and Italy) declared war on the US after Pearl Harbour. You can ignore that sort of thing, but it’s unusual.

    I assume you accept that they had to fight an expansionist Japan – after that?

    Japan was allied to Germany, and unsurprisingly the US didn’t like the idea of an entire continent being under the control of a very advanced military led by an insane dictator, with the highly unpredictable Russkies, another very advanced military (in numbers terms certainly, but the T34 was a game breaker too) led by an insane dictator, just over the Alaskan border.

    Very easy in the 1940s USA to imagine that if you sit back and let things play out, the next thing is German U-boat wolfpacks off the east cost, Japanese subs off the west and Russian tanks coming through Anchorage.

    If you don’t believe me, check out Roosevelt:

    ‘The forces endeavouring to enslave the entire world now are moving towards this hemisphere. Delay invites danger.’

    In other words, you’re going to have to fight Hitler one day – better to do it sooner rather than later, while you still have the ability to base land forces just off mainland Europe, and while you have Britain, Free France and others (including nominally Stalin) still fighting alongside.

    ‘True. But he knew that the British and Americans were in Germany. So he could hide behind their nuclear weapons. It was not the French that kept the Soviets on their side of the Fulda Gap. It was America’s Strategic Air Command. By the 1960s, Soviet planners thought they would be on France’s Atlantic Coast by Day Three.’

    The French tested their own nuclear weapons in 1960. The Soviet planners, as we all now know, were dickheads.

    ‘I disagree.’

    It is not possible to disagree with a question.

  32. But insofar as it is not possible to disagree with a question, it seems to me that de Gaulle thought the Soviet military were not coming through into France now or ever, because the Soviets were not as strong as others thought they were. In that he was clearly right, because they didn’t.

    The whole history of our fear of the USSR is interesting; it can be viewed as crafty politicans scaring up a bogeyman which sophisticated observers saw through. I’m told that the US stock market stayed flat throughout the Cuban missile crisis, for instance, when one might have expected people to pull their cash out of US businesses and head for the hills if they really believe WW3 was imminent.

  33. @ZT ‘Several thousand people showed up to support him, even though he is undoubtedly breaking the law. ‘

    There is a problem with this, though.

  34. @Interested
    You do, indeed, speak as you find.
    I lived in one of the more desirable bits of London, which also happens to have one of the highest crime rates. According to the police’s own figures, 96 incidents in one month in our small street alone. I managed to live there for 12 years without seeing a single night time police foot patrol. Pure reactive policing. Didn’t stop them being rude, aggressive, intrusive when you did have the misfortune to come in contact with them. Far as I’m concerned they’re just another gang. I wouldn’t cross the road to piss on one if he was alight.

  35. Interested – “Well, presumably the Americans thought there was a case? Otherwise, I’m not sure why they wanted to expend billions of 1960s dollars on keeping the boys in France. What’s your explanation, if not for geopolitical ends?”

    You have an explanation in front of you – the goodness of their own hearts. You have rejected it without explaining why. I agree the Americans thought they had a case. They thought that having a free France was a cause worth fighting for. They may have been right. They may not.

    “It’s only hard if you don’t really think about it. The most obvious reason was that Germany (and Italy) declared war on the US after Pearl Harbour. You can ignore that sort of thing, but it’s unusual.”

    So nothing to do with their geopolitical ends at all. But also back to front. The Germans declared war, as Hitler said, because the Americans were already sinking their ships. Well, U-Boats. The American Navy was already, illegally, involved in the war. The fact that the Germans declared war on them does not make fighting them in America’s interests.

    “I assume you accept that they had to fight an expansionist Japan – after that?”

    Well no. They could have accepted Japanese control of China. They chose not to. Which turned out nicely for them and not so bad for the Japanese. Less good for the Chinese.

    “Japan was allied to Germany, and unsurprisingly the US didn’t like the idea of an entire continent being under the control of a very advanced military led by an insane dictator, with the highly unpredictable Russkies, another very advanced military (in numbers terms certainly, but the T34 was a game breaker too) led by an insane dictator, just over the Alaskan border.”

    And so it would have been sensible to fight them where America was strong – at sea. Not on land where the Nazis and the Soviets were strong. In fact the American Army did all it could to avoid doing so – despite their politicians – because their military were not insane. So allowing either or both to divide Europe would simply have guaranteed America had no competitor.

    “Very easy in the 1940s USA to imagine that if you sit back and let things play out, the next thing is German U-boat wolfpacks off the east cost, Japanese subs off the west and Russian tanks coming through Anchorage.”

    Hard to see how the Russians were going to get those tanks to Alaska. Given the Germans could not make it to Britain over a much smaller gap with a vastly better rail infrastructure. But whatever. As long as there were two of them still standing, they would not dare try to invade the US. The other would attack them in the rear.

    “In other words, you’re going to have to fight Hitler one day – better to do it sooner rather than later, while you still have the ability to base land forces just off mainland Europe, and while you have Britain, Free France and others (including nominally Stalin) still fighting alongside.”

    If. Hard to see how Hitler was going to be able to fight the Americans. Not until he had a victory in Russia anyway. What is more, a land power needs to retain a large Army. Which means they cannot compete with the US Navy and Airforce.

    “The French tested their own nuclear weapons in 1960. The Soviet planners, as we all now know, were dickheads.”

    The Soviets were good at what they did. Not running economies but on any military question, they were invariably right. The French may have. Doesn’t mean that the Russians didn’t think they could win. And they were probably right. Except for SAC.

    Interested – “But insofar as it is not possible to disagree with a question”

    There are plenty of questions it is possible to disagree with. Ask why women and Blacks under perform in any part of polite society and you will find asking some questions is not acceptable.

    “it seems to me that de Gaulle thought the Soviet military were not coming through into France now or ever, because the Soviets were not as strong as others thought they were. In that he was clearly right, because they didn’t.”

    Ignoring the fact that the Americans invented the nuclear bomb. Everyone except you is agreed the Soviets were strong enough. Even in 1939 they had five times as many tanks as the rest of the world put together. They invested massively in weapons that by and large worked. They intended to use them for something.

    “The whole history of our fear of the USSR is interesting; it can be viewed as crafty politicans scaring up a bogeyman which sophisticated observers saw through.”

    If you are a delusional Trot. We did not fear the USSR enough. Largely because their traitors in our midst worked hard to make sure we were disarmed and unaware.

    “I’m told that the US stock market stayed flat throughout the Cuban missile crisis, for instance, when one might have expected people to pull their cash out of US businesses and head for the hills if they really believe WW3 was imminent.”

    Shows how sensible those investors were. The Soviets could not send tanks to Cuba. No chance of war breaking out. They still won because Kennedy was weak.

  36. Interested,

    > it seems to me that de Gaulle thought the Soviet military were not coming through into France now or ever, because the Soviets were not as strong as others thought they were. In that he was clearly right, because they didn’t.

    Sorry, this doesn’t follow, because your logic here is assuming that the assessment of the USSR’s capabilities and the USSR’s actual capabilities are unrelated. But of course they weren’t. The reason the Russians didn’t invade Western Europe was that they would have faced significant resistance. To say “Ah, they didn’t invade, therefore the effort we expended on discouraging them from invading was all wasted” is an obvious fallacy; to say “They didn’t invade, therefore our decision not to bother discouraging them from invading (while letting others expend significant effort on discouraging them from invading us) was vindicated” no less so.

  37. @BiS

    Talking of TLDR 🙂

    I specifically said ‘outside the big cities, certainly’, and they don’t get any bigger than London.

    That said, I think your attitude is a litle short-sighted.

    There are roughly 32,000 sworn officers in the Met.

    Now, no-one under Inspector leaves the nick.

    Of the rest a large number are subsumed in various units – armed response, diplomatic work, the CID, traffic, the art and antiques squad, the various liaison organisations yadda yadda.

    Then factor in that they work three shifts and have to have time off. That cuts whatever is left of your original figure into four quarters.

    Now allow for the fact that they get sick, injured, need to go for extra training…

    At any one time, the number of actual operational street response cops in London available to come out to your old street when you call them, never mind just to walk down your old street, is horrifyingly small.

    They are policing 10 million people from Walthamstow to Barnes, and Croydon to Enfield, in a world where everyone has a mobile and a grievance, and a truly evil brew of political and race interest groups are watching their every move.

    I don’t know how many streets there are in the Met area, but there are 60,000 within a six mile radius of Charing Cross. Out from there it expands exponentially, one presumes.

    Take all that in, and then factor in that if they make an arrest two of them have to take the prisoner in, and the resultant paperwork will take half a shift and maybe more.

    They don’t have – just do not have – the manpower to walk down your street every night, and even if they did the criminals don’t walk, they drive, and they’d just move to the streets where the cops aren’t walking.

    Meanwhile, while they’re walking down your street deterring crime there’s a mass brawl breaking out at the Dog and Duck and there are no cops to attend because they’re all walking down your fucking street.

    Cue the retired landlord of the Dog and Duck, now living in Spain, moaning that they never came to sort out mass brawls at his pub.

    I think the police ‘service’ as a whole is shocking, and I could do a lot overnight to improve it.

    I also think that we need to control the cops and that lots of them are rude and obnoxious. I’m just not surprised by it. Everyone they meet wants to grief them up about something, wants more time and attention than they can give, they see the absolute worst side of humanity every day (and not just their colleagues), and not a small number of Londoners want to stab or shoot them. I’d be a bit defensive myself.

    Number of cops killed or injured in London since the birth of the internet: thousands.

    Number of key board warriors killed or injured in the line of posting since the birth of the internet: zero.

    Don’t blame the cops – not all of them, anyway. Most of them are just ordinary blokes, working in a terrible, humanity-corrupting system in a soulless city where no-one says hello to their own neighbour, never mind the bobby who’s late to their burglary. Blame the system!

  38. @Squander Two

    But that’s (obviously) not what I’m saying. Everyone knows (and knew) that the Soviets could invade Western Europe if there were no deterrent. Dad’s Army could invade Western Europe if there were no deterrent.

    The calculation de Gaulle made was that they would be deterred, whether by the existence of British and US troops in Germany or by his own nukes (not an inconsiderable deterrent in a war of national survival), or that if they tried it they would not succeed.

    In other words, that the additional deterrence – of further US bases in France – was unnecessary. That had to be related to his culculation of the Soviet strength, or will, and in it he was correct.

    And again, channelling my disagreement with SMFS, the French didn’t owe anything to the Yanks for staying in Germany, either – the Yanks would have done that irrespective of de Gaulle’s wishes, and even if he had demanded they leave.

    This was a time when the Yanks were going everywhere they could to meet the Commie threat (or arming the locals to do it by proxy).

  39. Interested,

    > But that’s (obviously) not what I’m saying.

    Well, we can put that down to poor wording, then, because it is in fact what you said. Which was why I replied. Sorry.

  40. @Interested
    For a start, in the 12 years I lived there I had dogs. They required an hour’s walk before bed so i probably covered about 4 miles, by various routes. Roughly the patch of our local nick. In that time, the only copper I saw on foot was a sergeant from the neighbouring patch visiting a mate. I asked him if he was lost & he saw the joke. This is for an area can put several hundred oafs on the street for a Spurs Saturday home match & at 11:00 pm has only two cars available for an area stretches from the Lea River to Hampstead Heath, from the North Circular Road to Hackney. We are, of course, proud to be enriched by the delights of Broadwater Farm, innovators in shortening policemen.
    It’s not the inadequate & poorly applied resources. That’s not to blamed on the constable & sergeant. It’s their total inability to appreciate most of the people out there are on their side. Or would be if they treated them with a modicum of respect. I don’t object to a vehicle stop. I’ve had four stolen. None recovered. We won’t count the van was spotted being dismantled on the Traveller’s Site they’re too scared to venture into. I do object to two assholes spending 10 minutes trying to find something wrong with it, its contents, paperwork or myself to unsuccessfully justify doing so. I object to meeting a police van in a narrow road, being obliged to reverse blind out into traffic, resulting in a minor collision, accused of driving using a mobile when there wasn’t one in the vehicle, by a c*nt of a copper driving the wrong way down a one way. The police break-in into a commercial premises because they couldn’t be bothered to read the search warrant address correctly & apprehending one of the light fingered b*st*rds trying to get several hundred quid’s worth of power tools out under his coat.
    I could go on at length. So could a lot of other Londoners.

  41. @Squander

    I said: “de Gaulle thought the Soviet military were not coming through into France now or ever, because the Soviets were not as strong as others thought they were.”

    The ‘others’ in this case are LBJ and his generals, who believed additional US troops in France, based of course on their assessment of Soviet military capability, were necessary for that defence. That is, they thought the Soviets were stronger than de Gaulle did, unless de Gaulle had a hotline to Moscow and a secret deal.

    This is not the same as saying (your recreation of what I said): “They didn’t invade, therefore the effort we expended on discouraging them from invading was all wasted.”

    I’m sure de Gaulle was happy with US expenditure in Germany (allied to his own nukes), and believed it money well spent, not ‘wasted’; he just thought that was enough. In this he was correct, unless you take the view that the USSR wasn’t really territorial and empire building in nature and only stopped in East Germany etc because they really liked the scenery there and didn’t much fancy the rest of Europe.

    That is, something held them back, and that something had to be the NATO strength that de Gaulle thought sufficient without US troops in France.

    It is also not the same as saying (your second recreation): “They didn’t invade, therefore our decision not to bother discouraging them from invading (while letting others expend significant effort on discouraging them from invading us) was vindicated.”

    It is quite different: de Gaulle’s position was, again, the Soviets are not strong enough to bust through NATO’s first line (Germany) so we don’t need a second line in France.

    Of course this was never tested, and we now know why – from the Soviet source material which clearly shows they knew they were beaten, militarily, in 1966 – especially in a nuclear world.

    The fact that I didn’t say ‘they never tried’, because we all know this and there isn’t the time to restate widely known facts such as WW3 never happened, doesn’t obviate this!

  42. @BiS

    1. Cops at footie matches are on their days off and paid for by the clubs. If your street wanted to stump up it could doubtless have had its own permanent bobby, on a rotating basis.

    2. You are very unlucky with cars.

    3. No, it’s not the PCs and sgts, which was a big part of my point – the point you disagree with?

    4. They have a problem with travellers – I said so above. It’s not fear of the travellers, there’s plenty of hard nuts in the OB, it’s fear of being hung out to dry by the bosses and losing their jobs for harassing a protected species. That’s not their fault, it’s the senior cops, the politicians and lawyers and quangos.

    5. You’ve met a cunt of a copper. Join the club. They recruit from the human race, there’s lots of it about. I guarantee you the average Met bobby meets more cunts in a day (not in uniform) than most of us do in a month.

    6. You think your vans should be exempt from roadside checks. Ok. I lived in London for years myself and I never once had a car nicked. I was roadside checked once to see if my tax was up to date (it wasn’t, she told me off and gave me a producer and no other penalty). Maybe it’s me?

    7. I can’t work out if you mean you caught a copper stealing, but if so I shrug and refer you to my earlier remarks re the human race. I add that the scrutiny on cops, and the penalties if caught, are far harsher than for you or I.

    8. We can all go on at length about stuff that pisses us off and you and I both do. The trick is not to extrapolate from the particular to the general.

    9. Regrettably we can’t prove a negative, but you don’t know how many times you (or others) would have been robbed, burgled or murdered by scum the cops have put behind bars.

    Since the prison population is at an all time high, the answer must presumably be ‘at least some’.

    10. 96 incidents in one street in one month? Sounds high to me but then I have a passing acquaintance with how they record crime. The system rewards the senior officers for creating crime reports, you see, as long as they can ‘detect’ them.

    So one dickhead smashing the wing mirrors on every car in the street = one crime if they don’t catch anyone, but 96 if they do. Lies, damned lies.

    Either way, I’ll bet it wasn’t 96 muggings, rapes or murders.

    You have no response to the obvious fact that they are run ragged and under an enormous paperwork, politics and stress burden (yes, there are bound to be freeloaders, human race again) and resort to anecdotes about your dog walking. You’re better than this, I think.

  43. “You have no response to the obvious fact that they are run ragged and under an enormous paperwork, politics and stress burden ”
    Oh, I know that’s the problem. But it’s what it results in.
    Who’d want to be a copper under those circumstances? What sort of people will put up with the shit?
    Two types.
    The ones who regard the period they spend interacting with the public with a uniform on as that regrettable part of their career before they can get comfortably behind a desk or some other specialist, well paid role where the shit is someone else’s problem. All they’re interested in is keeping their noses clean, fulfilling targets & accumulating brownie points.
    The ones who want to wear a uniform because it gives them the power to be an asshole. That seems to include quite a lot who take up policing after the military. Where they joined up to wear a uniform gives them power to be an asshole. Seems to be a lifetime calling.
    The sort of bloke who regards policing as a service to the public either doesn’t join the Met or goes somewhere else.

    As for policing football fixtures. i gather the police in the grounds are indeed rent-a-thug-for-the-day paid for by the clubs. The sixteen carrier loads parked down the Holloway Road awaiting final whistle havoc may not be. (The penalty of living in those few short miles between Arsenal & Spurs. You can never get away from the morons.)

  44. “I can’t work out if you mean you caught a copper stealing”
    Turned up at the unit I used to rent to find the door hanging off its hinges & the place swarming with coppers. A little whoops on their part. Warrant was for another along the way. Didn’t seem to deter them giving the place a good turning over before they left, though. The keeping me talking while his mate was getting a couple of cordless drills out was a nice touch.
    “the scrutiny on cops, and the penalties if caught, are far harsher than for you or I.”
    Oh FFS!, Do me a favour. This is real life, not fairy stories. Do you think I need the sort of grief fingering plod would bring?

    “6. You think your vans should be exempt from roadside checks.”
    Far from it.
    I used to get stopped regularly east of the Channel ports in France by the Gendarmerie. Looking for people smuggling illegals, drugs, whatever. Whole different experience. They’ve a job to do which they do efficiently & politely. They’re not on fishing expeditions.

  45. Interested – “I’m sorry TLDR – but you’re obviously wrong.”

    And it seems you are six. Good for you.

    Next time I will use shorter words.

  46. @BiS points taken.

    @SMFS, no, just try shorter posts, and learn that you don’t have to be right *all* the time.

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