James Clarke Masthead
February 13 2012 at 11:05

Britain has dispatched Prince William to the Falkland Islands in a helicopter for search and rescue operations – though nobody’s fallen into the sea since Boxing Day 1998. I think William is there to watch for commandoes sneaking ashore to claim back the islands for Argentina. They last tried it in 1982.

But, one wonders, what would Britain do if, once more, they invaded the Falklands?

After all, Britain recently reduced |its army and axed hundreds in the Royal Air Force, including six air vice- marshals.

And the Royal Navy? It played such a major role when Britain beat Argentina 2-1 in the 1982 Falklands War.

A reader with friends in high places in Britain (such as the Chiltern Hills) tells me the Royal Navy is getting new destroyers.

The first two were named HMS Daring and HMS Dauntless. But the naming committee, after pressure from Brussels, renamed them HMS Cautious and HMS Prudence. The next five will be HMS Empathy, HMS Circumspect, HMS Nervous, HMS Timorous and HMS Apologist.

“They comply with the very latest employment, equality, health and safety and human rights laws.

“For instance, the new user-friendly crow’s nest comes equipped with wheelchair access.

“Live ammunition has been replaced with paintballs to reduce the risk of anyone getting hurt.

“Stress counsellors and lawyers |will be on duty 24 hours a day and each ship will have its on-board industrial tribunal.

“The crew will be 50/50 men and women, and balanced in accordance with the latest government directives on race, gender, sexuality and disability. Sailors will work a maximum of 37 hours a week in line with the EU’s health and safety rules – even in wartime. All the vessels will have a maternity ward and nursery situated on the same deck as the gay disco.”

He says tobacco will be banned throughout the ship but dagga allowed in the wardroom and messes. The Royal Navy is eager to shed its traditional reputation for “rum, sodomy and the lash”.

It has begun by replacing. Sailors now splice the main brace with Diet Coke.

Seamen no longer salute officers because that’s elitist. Instead they have to say, “Hello sailor”.

All notices will be printed in 37 different languages and Braille.

The White Ensign will no longer be flown because it is considered to be offensive to minorities and the Union Flag is now considered intolerably imperialistic.

The newly renamed HMS Cautious is due to be commissioned soon in a ceremony conducted by pop idol Screaming Mike Crackpot of Spitafield.

This is all a bit spiteful of course. It reminds me of when Alan Coren, one time editor of Punch, wrote about Dunkirk where, in 1940, 330 000 Allied soldiers, trapped by the German army, were heroically plucked from the beach, often by privately-owned boats that had sailed all the way from England.

Coren wrote of “the need for the Dunkirk spirit today”. Then he pondered: what if the British had displayed today’s spirit at Dunkirk?

He envisaged today’s army wading chest deep into the sea at Dunkirk while being strafed and bombed by the Germans. A small civilian craft manned by a weekend sailor invites them aboard.

A British soldier, queuing with his grumbling mates in the sea amid the debris of smashed boats and sinking vessels says, “I’m not bleeding going in that! I’m not bleeding going home in no rowing boat… Got brought here in a bleeding troopship. Ten square feet per man.”

“Regulations!” agrees another. “All laid down. Nothing about going back in no bloody rowing boat.”

“Not even got a roof on,” says another.

“What happens if it rains cats and dogs halfway across?” And so it goes on.



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