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Royal Approval

It would appear that Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II shares my concerns about bravery medals. She recently, for the first time in history, took a soldier's bravery medal away from him. The rescinding of Major Andrew Armstrong's Military Cross appears to have opened a can of worms. A review is going on into all the bravery awards given out to the Royal Artillery in Afghanistan. The suspicion appears to be that some of the recommendations for the awards contained exaggerations and distortions. One has to wonder why it has taken so long for the Palace to become suspicious. The British officer corps has a long tradition of looking after its blue-eyed boys and a nice little bravery award can often help when promotions come around. And not all bogus citations are self-serving. One of the founders of the Special Air Service, Paddy Mayne, was recommended by his officers for the VC. He may well have earned the VC several times over - probably not for the action which led to the recommendation. His subordinates were more than a little economical with the truth. They concocted a recommendation that they believed pushed all the right buttons to spit out a VC for their boss. He ended up with a fourth Distinguished Service Order.  Some units keep score of the number of VCs they have won in their history as an indication of military prowess. Other units regard extraordinary deeds of valour as all in a day's work and seldom apply for them. I say the only recognition that counts comes not from the Queen or the chain-of-command, but from fellow members of the unit involved.

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