Sybil’s Dodgy Dossier

Correspondence between number 10, FCO and MP:

Dodgy Dossier

Approximate text (from OCR scan):
JIM DOWD MP Lewisham West

Mrs Sybil Coady 111 London Road Forest Hill



020 7219 2686 (Fax)

26 March 2002

Thank you for your recent letter regarding the Prime Minister’s approach to Government foreign policy.

Given your obvious concerns in this matter, I have contacted the Prime Minister with a request for his response to the points you raise and as soon as I have his reply I will contact you again.

Best Wishes

Yours Sincerely

Constituency Office: 43 Sunderland Road, Forest Hill, London SE23 2PS Telephone: 020 8699 2001 /020 8291 5607


From the Direct Communications Unit

3 April 2002

Dear Mr Dowd

I am writing on behalf of the Prime Minister to thank you for your letter of 26 March with which you enclosed correspondence from Mrs Sybil Coady of 111 London Road, Forest Hill, London SE23 3XW.

The Prime Minister has asked me to arrange for a Minister in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to reply to you direct.

Yours sincerely


Mr Jim Dowd MP


Our reference: 146424/02

Foreign & Commonwealth


London SWIA 2AH

~ April2002

From the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State

Jim Dowd Esq MP House of Commons London SWIAOAA

~ ~:/L-.

Thank you for your letter of26 March to Tony Blair, enclosing one from your constituent, Mrs Sybil Coady of 111 London Road, Forest Hill, London SE23 3XW about Iraq. I have been asked to reply as Minister responsible for relations with Iraq.

I know some people fear imminent military action against Iraq, but they need not. No decision has been made on military action. It is not imminent and certainly not inevitable. We intend to consider the way forward in a calm, measured and sensible way.

The choice in the end will be Saddam’s. All he has to do is comply with the demands of the United Nations, including by allowing UN weapons inspectors back into Iraq to make sure he has dismantled his weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programme. That was something he promised to do after the Gulf War. Indeed, it was a pre-condition of the cease- fire back then.

Saddam runs one of the most, if not the most detestable regime in the world. Political opponents are routinely tortured and executed. Saddam has invaded his neighbours and, uniquely for any dictator in the world, has used chemical weapons against them and even against his own people.

Our policy toward Iraq is not confined to the threat ofWMD. We care about the problems ordinary Iraqis face living under the current brutal regime. This is why we have worked hard, within the UN system, to remove restrictions on the flow of humanitarian goods. Unfortunately, the Iraqi regime frustrates our efforts by failing to order the humanitarian supplies the UN oil-for-food programme provides for, and the Iraqi people need. It is Saddam Hussein, not the international community, who is indifferent to the suffering of ordinary Iraqis.

The United Nations supports our taking a strong line on Iraqi compliance with UNSCRs because only then do we have a chance of convincing the Iraqi regime to allow the inspectors back in. When the UN inspectors were there doing their job they uncovered

significant evidence of Saddams weapons of mass destruction programme, despite the Iraqi dictators’ efforts to disrupt their work. Their reports pointed to the regimes attempts to conceal significant parts of their weapons programme. For the last three years there have been no inspections because Saddam made the inspector’s work impossible. All the evidence indicates that Saddams weapons programme has accelerated since then.

So, I’m afraid doing nothing, simply putting our heads in the sand and hoping the problem will go away won’t work. We learned over Al Qaida and the Taliban, the Balkans with Milosevic and back in the 1930s with Hitler that the cost of not acting or delaying action against such a terrible threat exacts a far higher price in death and human suffering in the end.

Sadly, sometimes military action is necessary. But we always take it only as a last resort. As I said at the start of this letter, no decision has yet been taken on Iraq. I hope it will not come to military action. But the ball is firmly in Saddam’s court.

Yours sincerely

Ben Bradshaw

Foreign & Commonwealth Office

Foreign & Commonwealth Office King Charles Street Whitehall


Sybil Coady

III London Road Forest Hill London SE233XW

DQ_Q_ M~ CoOJi~

Thank you for your recent letter about Iraq. I have been asked to reply.

I am of course aware of the considerable media speculation that the UK is preparing for imminent military action against Iraq. But the speculation is just that – speculation. No decision has been taken. But it is true to say that we, like the UN Security Council, the European Union and Iraq’s neighbours, continue to have serious concerns about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programmes. Because not only does the Iraqi regime have these weapons, the potentially horrific capabi I ities of which threaten the security of the region and the world, the regime has also shown, with its extensive use of chemical weapons against Iran in the 1980s and against the Iraqi people of I-Ia I abj a in 1988, that it is prepared to use them. Saddam Hussein remains the only leader in world history to have authorised the use of nerve agents.

We know that the Iraqi regime has these weapons because UN weapons inspectors working in Iraq from 1991 to 1998 found the evidence. For example, the Iraq is admi tted possessing large quantities of chemical warfare agents including Sarin, Tabun, Mustard Gas and VX Gas. They admitted producing deadly biological warfare agents such as anthrax, botulinum toxin, gas gangrene and aflatoxin. And they admitted hiding these and other weapons in desert sands, caves and railway tunnels. At the end of i998, however, Iraq’s persistent obstruction of the work 0 f the UN inspectors finally forced them to leave, although they were still unable to account for 31,000 chemical munitions, 610 tonnes of precursor chemicals

used to produce VX gas and 4,000 tOIU1es of chemicals for other munitions. We believe that the Baghdad regime is still hiding these weapons in a range oflocations. More importantly, we have seen evidence, much of it based on sensitive intelligence, that in the three year absence of weapons inspectors, Iraq has persisted with its chemical and biological weapons programmes and that it is developing ballistic missiles capable of delivering these weapons to targets beyond the 150km limit imposed by the UN. This would allow Iraq to hit countries as far away as the United Arab Emirates.

Faced with this threat, the international community’s most pressing demand is therefore that Iraq allow weapons inspectors to return and finish their work. If there is nothing to hide, the Iraqis should have no problem in allowing them to do so without preconditions. Saddam Hussein knows that the UN Monitoring and Verification Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) and International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) teams have been ready to get to work in Iraq for almost two years. He knows too that we are looking for real disarmament. But instead of co-operating with the UN weapons inspectors, he indulges in propaganda stunts, making phoney offers for British inspectors to visit under controlled conditions.

It is not just in the key area of disarmament where Iraq has failed to co-operate with the UN. During the last twelve years the UN has imposed twenty seven obligations on Iraq, including that the regime end its repression ofIraq’s civilian population and co-operate in accounting for the Kuwaitis and others missing since Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990. Iraq remains in breach of23 of these obligations. In the face of these obstructions our diplomatic efforts will continue. But Baghdad must understand that we cannot allow Iraq to reject the will of the international community and to pose a threat to regional and world security forever.

Until the Baghdad regime complies, the rigorous controls which have helped to contain Iraq for the last twelve years must remain. This is a point on which all members of the Security Council are agreed. These controls have played a vital role in frustrating Saddam Hussein’s ambitions. Nonetheless the human rights record of the Baghdad regime – a regime which thinks nothing of using rape, torture or assassination to silence its opponents – remains notorious as one of the worst in the world. Although the United Nations Security Council and the UN Commission on Human Rights have consistently condemned the repression of the civilian population, Iraq continues to flout UN resolutions and ignore its international human rights commitments. We agree with many others, including other governments in the region – that Iraq would be a better place without Saddam Hussein. But while he remains and continues to refuse to co-operate with the UN, so too must UN controls.

Meanwhile Iraqi propaganda continues to try lay the blame for the suffering in Iraq at the door of the UN rather than at the gates of Saddam’ s palaces, where it truly belongs. Unfortunately many well-intentioned people continue to be taken in by Saddam’s lies. The truth is that the UN allows the Iraqi regime access to more than enough money for all the humanitarian goods the Iraqis need. Indeed, according to a senior UN official’s recent report, the UN’s “oil for food” programme continues to make an “ocean of difference” to the lives of the Iraqi people. Since the programme began in December 1996, over $32 billion worth of goods – not just food and medicine but a wide range of goods helping to rebuild Iraq’s infrastructure – have been approved for export to Iraq. Furthermore, the Sanctions Committee have agreed a list of over 16,000 items which are “fast-tracked” to Iraq, and which no longer need to be referred to the Committee but simply notified to the Secretariat. More than $8 billion worth of contracts have been processed through this accelerated procedure. As a result under “oil for food” last year, the UN’s humanitarian spending per head in Iraq was higher than government spending in equivalent areas (such as housing, health and education) in Egypt, Jordan, Syria or Iran. All of this has been achieved despite Iraq’s refusal to accept UN resolutions. How much more would be possible if the Iraqi regime put the Iraqi people first and began to co-operate. In northern Iraq, where the Iraqi regime’s writ does not run, for

example, the benefits of the “oil for food” programme are even more clear. The infrastructure of the north continues to improve, despite Baghdad’s attempts to hamper the UN programme there. Child mortality rates in northern Iraq are now lower than before UN sanctions were imposed. Although under the same UN sanctions, they are lower than the rates in the centre and south of Iraq. And they are still falling.

The UK remains at the forefront of efforts made by the international community to improve the humanitarian situation in Iraq. Since 1991, the UK has donated approximately £100 million in aid, both bilaterally and via the EU, making us one oflraq’s largest donors. The Department for International Development has allocated £9 million this financial year for humanitarian assistance to the people oflraq. Our programme in Baghdad-controlled Iraq focuses on the rehabilitation of hospital, water and sanitation infrastructure. In the northern governorates, our programme includes assistance to vulnerable groups, village rehabilitation and de-mining projects.

In contrast, Saddam Hussein prefers to spend money on statues and monuments to himself, not on medicines; and on weapons, not welfare. The regime has, for example, again cut Iraq’s spending on medicines under the “oil for food” programme. At $40 million, the allocation for the first six months of this year is a quarter what it was for the first half of last year. And yet the Iraqi regime is planning to build a $25 million Olympic stadium. The Baghdad regime has failed to respond to a six-month old UN proposal to improve child nutrition. And yet it has found time to make plans for a two-week programme of festivities “celebrating” Saddam Hussein’s birthday this year. While Baghdad claims that “oil for food” cannot meet the health needs of the Iraqi people, it has submitted contracts to the UN in recent weeks for over two billion cigarettes and almost 200,000 television sets. Overall up to $3.5 billion of funds regularly lie unspent by Iraq in the “oil for food” account. And a further $1 billion of humanitarian goods already approved by the UN for import into Iraq are denied to the Iraqi people, blocked by the Iraqi regime’s failure to process them.

The truth is that it is Saddam who allows the Iraqi people to suffer. We prefer to see them prosper. This is why we worked so hard in the UN to introduce the “oil for food” programme – the largest such programme in the UN’s history – and why we have led the way in proposing new arrangements to improve the flow of goods to the Iraqi people while maintaining control on the Iraqi regime’s access to WMD and military-related items. By unanimous adoption of UN resolution 1382 in November 2001, the Security Council agreed to implement these arrangements in May after further consideration of a Goods Review List. This list will mean no sanctions on ordinary imports, only controls on military- and weapons-related goods. It shows that we are focusing on the fundamentals – containing the threat that Iraq poses to its neighbours from its WMD and denying Iraq the opportunity to attribute the suffering in Iraq to UN controls rather than its own shortcomings. After further consultation with the Russians, who asked for more time to consider the list, we hope that these arrangements will be in place by the end of May.

The Iraqi regime opposes these arrangements, just as it opposed the offer, in UN resolution 1284, of the suspension of sanctions in return for its co-operation with UN weapons

inspectors. While Iraq remains in breach of this and its other international obligations we do not rule out any means of persuading it to comply. We have made it clear that any decision we make will be taken carefully, cautiously and in accordance with international law. But Saddam Hussein should be in no doubt that if he continues to refuse to allow weapons inspectors into Iraq to remove the threat, he will have to live with the consequences.

Further details of the UK’s policy on Iraq may be found on the Iraq pages of the FCO website at

Yours sincerely

Natalie Gowers

Middle East Department

The Army

Few aspects of modern life are more different than the conditions endured by soldiers in the 18th century army.

Our soldiers today still fight, endure wounds, amputations and death but their conditions of service are so much better that they would be astonished if they read the accounts left by their ancestors who fought in Spain and Portugal during the Peninsular wars against Napoleon.

The 18th Century soldier besides fighting had to himself undertake the duties of the commissariat, as such provision was utterly inadequate. This applied to all the absolute necessities of life, food, clothing, shelter and medical care and travel.

Most of the earlier wars were fought in other countries and the armies endured long and dangerous journeys in sailing ships before they could even meet their enemies. The soldiers often arrived weakened by sea sickness and battering for days by storms.

After their arrival they travelled overland mainly marching on foot, aided by horses, ponies or donkeys. The greatest problem for both our army and their French opponents was provision of food for men and animals.

Modern armies enlist some women, not so 18th Century armies though one or two women did fight disguised as men. But some women followed the army in the Peninsular War and were officially recognised. The usual number was 6 per regiment. Some were of great help to the soldiers, others brawling, drunken nuisances. All endured incredible hardships. They were both a help and a burden to the soldiers who themselves had to provide for their needs as well as they could. How inadequately is shown in the example of one sergeant who secured a small pigsty for his wife to shelter in when on the march, she worked hard to clean it but was dispossessed by the adjutant’s clerk. She then spent the night in the open with her husband, the two of them sharing his blanket. for four years both officers and men had to sleep under the stars and in their later years many peninsular officers and men suffered greatly from rheumatism.

When tents were supplied in the last year of the campaign the situation for a modest woman was equally dreadful. Sergeant James Anton wrote in his memoirs that the tents were in theory to house 18, in practice it was usually less. On one night 11 soldiers lay in it with the Sergeant and his wife. They all stretch out with their feet to the centre, every man’s head below his knapsack. One half of the blankets were below them, the other half on top so that they all lay in one bed. At daybreak every man got up folded his blanket, strapped it to his knapsack and was ready for the march. As for the poor young woman she could scarcely sleep waiting for the dawn.

“I now resolved, if possible not to mix blankets with so many bedfellows again because at that time the whole of the men were affected with an eruption on the skin similar to the itch, and their clothing was in a very filthy state, owing to it being seldom shifted, and always kept on during the night. I now set about erecting a hut for self and wife.”

With the help of others he finished his temporary hut in a day. His wife’s apron did service for a door and when up they were not disturbed. He made more weatherproof huts in the following days but did not long enjoy them as the call to orders soon came. the camp and the hut were abandoned as the march began.

John Spencer Cooper, a sergeant in the 7th Royal Fusiliers, recounts an even greater hardship on the march. “After passing through an immense forest of pine trees, nearly all of which were remarkably crooked, a soldier’s wife was delivered of a child after we had halted for the night. Next morning she was placed on a horse and marched with the column.”

Sergeant Joseph Donaldson likewise was amazed at what the women who followed the men in the Peninsular campaign endured: marching often in a state of pregnancy, frequently bearing their children in the open air, in some instances on the line of march by the road side and suffering at the same time all the privations to which the army was liable.

“In quarters on the other hand they were assailed by every temptation that could be thrown their way and every scheme laid by those who had rank and money to rob them of their virtue. Their starving condition was often taken advantage of by those who had it in their power to supply them.”

Most of the soldiers wives were stouthearted. Bridget Skiddy was one of them. She was married to a private in the 34th Foot, and carried her husband, his knapsack, and musket when he could go no further during a retreat:

“an’ me back was bruck intirely from that time to this, an’ it will never get straight till I go to the Holy Well in Ireland, and have Father McShane’s blessin’. “

These women were tough and hard-bitten, no better and no worse than their men. Their language and propensity for looting was a perpetual source of irritation to the Provost Marshall, yet Wellington knew his army could not manage without these stouthearted women. They succoured the wounded, mended the clothes, cobbled their shoes and helped them to retain their basic decency.

The wives of Officers also worked and suffered. John Luard records that Susan wife of Charles Dalbiac hurried out from England to nurse her husband through a fever he had contracted in the steaming valley of the Guadiana, in doing so she braved the disapproval of the commander in chief who very much disapproved of officers’ wives accompanying their husbands on campaign.

Colonel Dalbiac later wrote to a friend:

“Whenever the Regiment took to the field Mrs. Dalbiac accompanied me on horseback and such was the case on the day of the battle of Salamanca. She remained near the extreme right of our position, whence the heavy brigade of the cavalry had moved for the attack…here she had the fortitude to remain during the whole of the action, tho’ so completely within cannon range that shots from the enemy’s guns frequently raked up the dust near her horses feet. Of this incomparable wife I will only add that with a mind of a most refined cast, and with a frame alas too delicate, she was when in the field, a stranger to fear.”

For many hours after the battle she believed her husband had been killed. She spent the night searching the battlefield for her husband’s body. It was a horrifying experience. The wounded were lying suffering under the stars and being plundered by soldiers and camp followers. All the dead bodies were stripped naked by their own troops. They thought little of it as they suffered such privations, needed good clothes and knew they too might soon be dead.

Susan Dalbiac survived this ordeal and found her husband alive the next morning and rode at his side in the triumphal march into Madrid. Mary Anton was left behind as the army crossed the river Adour. While waiting for the bridge to be repaired she was asked by another woman to look after her loaded colt. This animal would not move when the time came. She was in despair when a grenadier came up. He noticed that she had a horn with the masonic arms cut into it. The sight of these talismanic hieroglyphics inspired him to help her with the colt and move safely on.

A sidelight on the thinking of Peninsula soldiers on more general problems is given by Sergeant Anton who encountered Jews in spain and shows a high degree of tolerance for his time.

Sergeant Anton on Jews in 1829

“A considerable number of Jews reside on the rock of Gibraltar. not a few of the mercantile speculations are conducted by them. They are not excluded from any civil employment, and it is rare to find one of them betray any public trust confided to him.. When we witness their mercantile abilities, their devoted attachment to a religion that hurts not the nation in which it is tolerated, it is somewhat surprising that they are not held in more esteem than they really are. Like the Society of Friends, they form no hostile intentions towards the state which gives them protection; they set up no rival-ships for converts, to cause jealousy; their religion is that from which we have partly drawn our own, and that to which we refer in many cases for religious observances. If these people have acquires a bad name for extortion and usury, it may justly be ascribed to the many arbitrary impositions to which they have been subjected.”

The extraordinary and almost total lack of provision of food during the Peninsular campaign is made startlingly clear in the memoirs of Sergeant John Spenser Cooper. the picture he paints is almost surreal. the soldiers seem almost mad in their hunger.

“The commissary having no bread for us, we were marched into a newly reaped field of wheat, of which each man received a sheaf instead. Laughable it was to see hundreds of soldiers bearing away their burdens, but we could make little use of the corn for want of the means of grinding it.”

“Notwithstanding our weak state through want of food, we had to drag the artillery by ropes up some steep mountains, as horses could not keep on their feet. Great numbers of these animals died. Men looked like skeletons. Our clothing was in rags; shirts, shoes, and stockings were worn out; and there was no bread served for six days. All we got was a pound of bad lean beef for each day. Happy was the soldier who had a little salt.”
Later they halted on the steep banks of the Rio del Monte. They had to cut holes in the hill to rest in at night to prevent themselves sliding down the steep hillside.
They had no tents, not even blankets. how did they sleep?

“We slept in the open air. The greatcoat was inverted, and our legs were thrust into the sleeves, one half was put under us, and the other half above. The knapsack formed our pillow. Thus arranged and with the forage cap pulled over our ears, we bid good night to the stars, and rested as we could.
We frequently went down to the river, pulled off our shirts, washed them with or without soap, knocked them well on the flat stones, and then hung them on the rocks or bushes, picked off the vermin, and when dry put them on again.”

At camp near Badajoz they were afflicted with scorpions. One crept up the sleeve of a soldier’s great coat while he slept. His arm turned blue and he was in hospital for several days.


“I had an attack of dysentery; this was succeeded by fever. A large blister was put on my back and one on each instep.”

Blister plasters were designed to act as a “counter irritant” to alleviate pain. The plaster, applied to the skin, caused a red spot or blister. The idea was that blood beneath the plaster and the whole “bulk of blood in the body” would set forth to the reddened area. The artificially created inflammation, it was thought, would draw the blood away from the afflicted part of the body and hence ease any “pain and suffering.”

One of the worst causes of suffering was being moved by the primitive transport available. Cooper was moved on a cart drawn by two bullocks. The slow pace and jolting were unbearable. The slowness in receiving attention was the next problem. The numbers of sick and wounded always being far greater than the soldier orderlies there to tend them. Cooper was left on the cart until night. He was then helped up the steps of a convent and laid down on the cold flags at the stairhead and left there until removed by order of the surgeon. He was carried into a corridor among 200 sick and dying men.

“My appetite and hearing were gone; feet and legs like ice; the three blisters on my back and feet unhealed and undressed; my shirt sticking in the wounds caused by the blisters; my necessaries lost.”

He asked a woman belonging to the regiment to bring him some tea and gave her some small loaves he could not eat, but she forgot to bring the tea. Some days later he was moved in small covered wagon drawn by mules to Elvas. He relapsed again. The orderlies were brutes. In spite of all his appetite and strength began to return. The doctor allowed him more bread and a pint of wine a day and he recovered. Orders came to march to join the army at the other end of Portugal. In spite of his weakness he managed the first day’s march of 8 miles. Thereafter he grew stronger but his problems were not over. He and his companions had sold their blankets and greatcoats on the route to buy bread coffee etc. On arrival they went up before the Colonel who wanted to know where the kit issued to them at Elvas had gone. Lost, stolen or worn out were their replies. At last the Colonel said:

“It astonishes me that you Light Company men sly and keen as you are, should have been so unfortunate.” It was more astonishing that we escaped flogging.”

After a 4th bout of fever while quartered in a convent in Guarda he tried to improve his appearance by ripping up and turning the inside of his trousers out. In the process he ran the needle deep into his knee joint, but by taking great care managed to remove it without breaking and suffered no more bad effects after but stiffness.

The alternative thinking provoked by the extreme lack of food is shown in this anecdote.

” While in the village of Avarios de Cema in an old house we probed as was usual the earthen floor with a ramrod, and we found a box in which was a bag of Indian corn. This was taken by one of our men who had been a miller to a windmill at some distance. He set it going and ground the corn, of which we made several messes of passable porridge.”

Later passing through a wood they found several bags of meal and tried dumpling making but the stuff would not stick together.

“When boiled the dumplings looked like little frightened hedgehogs. To get a mouthful I had to pick a lot of prickles from the mass. The stuff turned out to be unsifted barley meal and was meant for the french cavalry.”

After the battle of Vittoria where they nearly captured King Joseph who seeing his danger sprang from his carriage and mounted a horse and gave them the slip; the famine turned to feast. Among the enemy stores they found sacks of flour, leaf tobacco, and hundreds of bullocks and sheep.

Cooper made and baked several loaves which were rather burnt and milked a goat from which he had a splendid supper. Three days march later he came upon his brother who was famished. He and his companions had been obliged to eat bean tops for three days.

“I was happy to supply him with some badly burnt cakes, some flour and a little money.”

note: From “Seven Campaigns” by J.S. Cooper. Late Sergeant in the 7th Royal Fusiliers.
Carlisle: G. & T. Coward, Ltd.

The conditions of soldiers

Apart from the danger and suffering inevitable in their calling from battles and travel to foreign lands there was much suffering from the conditions of every day life imposed upon them by their profession. Such necessities as food and clothing which their commissariat should have supplied in reasonable quality and quantity were often lacking. As Napoleon said an army marches on its stomach and both french and English soldiers suffered.

The problems of logistics and supply in the Peninsular War loom large in Douglas’s memoirs. His ability incisively to illustrate the fundamental factors inhibiting the mobility of the British Army in the Peninsula is vividly illustrated in the following extract (pp 62-3):

“The pursuit commenced at all points. But this proved to be one of the hungriest marches we encountered during the war. Nor will it appear strange how this could happen when rightly understood. Say the troops marched four or five leagues each day at least, while the Commissariat mules with their provisions were not able to make three or three [and a half]. Thus every day we were getting further away from our own rations, without the smallest hope of relief on our front.”

James Anton in his retrospective of Military Life details problems caused by the care of hair in 1804.

“a general order was issued for the Army to discontinue the tying of the hair, and to have it cropped.
Never was an order received with more heartfelt satisfaction than this, or obeyed with more alacrity.
The tying was a daily penance, and a severe one, to which every man had to submit. Every morning he had to daub the side of his head with dirty grease, soap and flour until every hair stood like the burr of a thistle, and the back was padded and pulled so that every hair had to keep its due place. It was no uncommon circumstance for us when on the guard bench and asleep to have rats and mice scrambling above our heads eating the filthy stuff with which our hair was daubed.”

Harry Ross-Lewin confirmed this description.

“When I joined the Militia in 1793 all military men wore their hair clubbed, that is each had a huge false tail attached by means of a string that passed round the upper part of his head, and over it the hair was combed and well thickened with powder of flour; a plastering of pomatum or grease was then laid on; a square bag of sand was next placed at the extremity of the tail, rolled up with the assistance of a small oblong iron until it touched the head and tied with a leather thong. After the arrangement of the tail, the officers’ foretops were rubbed up with a stick of pomatum, a most painful operation, especially on cold mornings, and often calling the salt rheum to the eyes. When this was over the Friseur retired a pace or two for the purpose of frosting, which was effected by means of a elastic cylinder filled with powder. It let fall upon the hair a light shower of powder. Lastly the powder knife prepared the head for parade by arching the temples and shaping the whiskers to a point.The men powdered only on dress days.

John Skipp enlisted when he was 13 looking forward to a merry and exciting life. his first experience was disillusioning.

“I was taken to a barber’s and deprived of my curly brown locks. My hair curled beautifully , but in a minute my poor little head was nearly bald, except a small parch behind which was reserved fora future operation…having my hair tied for the first time. A large piece of candle grease was applied first to the sides of my hair, then to the hind long hair; after this the same kind of operation was performed with nasty stinking soap.”

Like the other men he suffered having a bag of sand poked into the back of his head round which the hair was gathered tightened and tied with a leather thong.

“When I was dressed for parade I could scarcely get my eyelids to perform their office; the skin of my eyes and face was drawn so tight by the plug that I could not possibly shut my eyes.”

Fortunately for the soldiers the queue was fazed out in 1808.


In museums and book illustrations we see how new or decently preserved uniforms looked. But when in use on campaign they were almost unrecognisable.

James Anton wrote:

“The clothing of the 91st. Regiment had been two years in wear. some had the elbows of their coats mended with grey cloth, others had one half of a sleeve of a different colour from the body. As out march continued daily no time was found to repair shoes until completely worn out, this left a number to march with bare feet or as we termed it “to pad the hoof”. The men with no shoes were made to march in the rear of the brigade, their feet cut or torn by sharp stones or brambles. The raw hides of newly slaughtered bullocks were cut up to form a sort of buskin or substitute for shoes for the bare footed soldiers.”

John Shipp also wrote on clothes:

“I was then paraded to the tailor’s shop and deprived of my new clothes-coat , leathers and hat for which I received in exchange red jacket, red waistcoat, red pantaloons and red foraging cap. I was exceedingly tall but my sleeves were rather longer than my fingers and the whole hung on me.”

Shipp went on to have an original army career. At the age of 15 he was sentenced to 999 lashes for desertion, but this was cancelled by a humane CO. he was then promoted from the ranks not once but twice. and twice sold his commission.

Wives of Soldiers

The Government allowed six wives to embark on service to every hundred men. women with more than 2 children were never allowed. The others should be of good character and were of use and comfort to all doing their washing and needlework. More than this some were heroic.

The rules of the 95th Rifle Corps stationed at Shorncliffe, Kent specified that Needlework should never be given out of the regiment by the Quartermaster, that a charity fund should assist sick women, the children of the regiment should be under its care, should be well and cleanly clothed and regularly attend school. This seems a high standard for the time, but all changed on foreign service. Those who went overseas were selected by ballot. On campaign they were to march or ride donkeys ahead of their husbands to prepare meals and bivouacs though in practise this was often impossible.
The wives of Officers also worked and suffered. John Luard records that Susan wife of Charles Dalbiac hurried out from England to nurse her husband through a fever he had contracted in the steaming valley of the Guadiana, in doing so she braved the disapproval of the commander in chief who very much dis approved of officers wives accompanying their husbands on campaign. Colonel Dalbiac later wrote to a friend:

“Whenever the Regiment took to the field Mrs. Dalbiac accompanied me on horseback and such was he case on the day of the battle of Salamanca. She remained near the extreme right of our position, whence the heavy brigade of the cavalry had moved for the attack…here she had the fortitude to remain during the whole of the action, tho’ so completely within cannon range that shots from the enemy’s guns frequently raked up the dust near her horses feet. Of this incomparable wife I will only add that with a mind of a most refined cast, and with a frame alas too delicate, she was when in the field, a stranger to fear.”

For many hours after the battle she believed her husband had been killed. She spent the night searching the battlefield for her husband’s body. It was a horrifying experience. The wounded were lying suffering under the stars and being plundered by soldiers and camp followers. All the dead bodies were stripped naked by their own troops. They thought little of it as they suffered such privations, needed good clothes and knew they too might soon be dead.

Susan Dalbiac survived this ordeal and found her husband alive the next morning and rode at his side in the triumphal march into Madrid. Mary Anton was left behind as the army crossed the river Adour. While waiting for the bridge to be repaired she was asked by another woman to look after her loaded colt. This animal would not move when the time came. She was in despair when a grenadier came up. He noticed that she had a horn with the masonic arms cut into it. The sight of these talismanic hieroglyphics inspired him to help her with the colt and move safely on.

William Green late Rifle Brigade wrote his memoir “Brief outline of his travels and Adventures.” He was in the retreat to Corunna under Sir John Moore. The march was 250 miles.

“We had no tents. A blanket had to be served out to each man; we marched from daylight until dark; the bullocks were driven before us; and slaughtered as they were needed; they had little or no fat on them. But if we had time to boil our mess well, we counted more of the soup than the meat, as it was so tough. But it was not often that we could do this. We seldom halted for more than two hours; and having wood and water to seek to cook our victuals, before we could do so, the order would be given to get under arms and get on the march.”

In spite of the dreadful conditions of war some extraordinary examples of compassion were recorded. Near Cacabellos a soldier had been tried by court martial and was sentenced to be hanged. He had the rope round his neck, fastened to the branch of a tree and sat upon two men’s shoulders, with a cap drawn over his face, waiting for the signal for the men to let him drop, when Sir John Moore, with a loud voice, said “If I forgive this man, will the army be answerable for his future good conduct?” Our brave Colonel said “Yes?” and the word “Yes” went round the ranks three times, and the man’s life was spared.

Claire Rayner Obit.

Claire Rayner was a nurse in the Royal Northern Hospital when Tony and Eric were doctors there. She and her husband lived in Cecil Road Muswell Hill as well as us. So they became friends.This was in 1960.

We had outgrown our flat and needed to buy a house. One days the Rayners came round and said there are some new wates houses in London road Forest Hill which might suit you. They were still being built and surrounded by mud. We bought the last. It was the first house we had looked at … we were like that..thus we left north London.

Claire's husband put up some curtain rails for us. That was in August and in November we had to go to Borneo just before Ros was born. Unfortunately due to our years abroad we lost touch with the Rayners.

Eric wrote a history of the Royal Northern Hospital and asked me to make the index. Had this been done a few years later Claire would have featured in it as a nurse who became a journalist and an agony aunt of National repute.

University of Manchester Scientists win Nobel Prize for Physics

 University of Manchester scientists win the Nobel Prize for Physics

Coup for UK Physics, as two University of Manchester scientists are awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics for their discovery of graphene.

Professor Andre Geim and Professor Konstantin Novoselov have been awarded the highest accolade in the scientific world for their pioneering work with the world’s thinnest material, graphene.

This represents a landmark achievement for Physics in the UK, as it is the first time an academic or academics have received the Nobel Prize for Physics while on the staff of a UK university since 1979.

Graphene, with the potential to revolutionize the electronics industry, was discovered by Professors Geim and Novoselov at the University in 2004. It has rapidly become one of the hottest topics in materials science and solid-state physics.

Professor Novoselov, 36, known as Kostya, first worked with Professor Geim, 51, as a PhD-student in the Netherlands. Andre Geim joined the University of Manchester in 2001, Kostya Novoselov followed Geim to Manchester in 2004. Both of them originally studied and began their careers as physicists in Russia.

The award of the Nobel Prize means there are currently four Nobel Laureates at The University of Manchester.
Professor Geim said: “This is a fantastic honour. People have been talking about graphene as a possible prize winner for a number of years so for the community in graphene research it hardly comes as a surprise.

“However I personally did not expect to get this prize. I slept soundly last night because I never expected to win it.

“Having won the Nobel Prize, some people sit back and stop doing anything, whereas others work so hard that they go mad in a few years. But I will be going into the office as usual and continuing to work hard and paddle through life as usual.“I have lots of research papers to work on at the moment which all need writing up so I will be carrying on as normal.

“I have a fantastic working relationship with Kostya. We worked together in Holland and then I managed to bring him to England with me.“Very often I fall out with people who don’t work hard but I have never fallen out with those who work as hard as Kostya.”

Professor Konstantin Novoselov said: “I was really shocked when I heard the news and my first thought was to go to the lab and tell the team.“I didn’t know until this morning when I had a call from Stockholm.

“We have had a fantastic seven years working together on this new material graphene.
“The University is well suited to this style of research- we have excellent facilities.
“It’s great to be a young academic at The University of Manchester and I’m grateful to everyone who has collaborated with us.”

Since the material’s discovery, Professor Geim and Dr Novoselov have published numerous research papers in prestigious journals such as Science and Nature, which have demonstrated the exquisite new physics for the material and its potential in novel applications such as ultrafast transistors just one atom thick – making it a potential successor to silicon – and sensors that can detect just a single molecule of a toxic gas.

A team of materials scientists and physicists from Manchester recently reported that graphene has the potential to replace carbon fibres in high performance materials that are used to build aircraft.

University of Manchester President and Vice-Chancellor Nancy Rothwell said: “This is fantastic news. We are delighted that Andre and Konstantin’s work on graphene has been recognised at the very highest level by the 2010 Nobel Prize Committee.

“This is a wonderful example of a fundamental discovery based on scientific curiosity with major practical, social and economic benefits for society.”

Vice-President and Dean of Engineering and Physical Sciences Professor Colin Bailey added: “This is a truly tremendous achievement, and is a testimony to the quality of research that is being carried out in Physics and more broadly across the University”.

At aged 36 Konstantin Novoselov is the 13th youngest of the 189 Physics Nobel Laureates. He is just one member of the next generation of brilliant academics the University is attracting who walk in the footsteps of iconic figures in their field.

The long-term impact of E R Langworthy’s generosity

The Langworthy chair held by Andre Geim was founded through a bequest of £10,000 by E. R. Langworthy in 1874 for the purpose of endowing a Professorship in experimental physics.  It began in Owens College which became the Victoria University Manchester and was held by the University’s first Nobel Prize winner Ernest Rutherford who won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1908.

Andre Geim becomes the third Langworthy Professor of Physics at Manchester to win the Nobel Prize for Physics. The first was William Lawrence Bragg who won the prize in 1915. At 25 years of age Lawrence remains the youngest Nobel Laureate ever across all disciplines. Lord Patrick Maynard Stuart Blackett, who succeeded Lawrence Bragg and held the chair between 1937 and 1953, won the Physics Prize in 1948.

The endowment continues to support the Langworthy Chair today.  The far-sighted generosity of E R Langworthy has therefore directly supported the work of four future Nobel laureates, including Andre Geim’s award 136 years after the endowment was created.

The future of scientific enquiry in the UK

This announcement comes at a time of national debate in the UK around the future of ‘pure’ science funding and freedom of movement for the world’s top scientists.

Professor Martin Rees, president of the UK’s Royal Society commented “It would be hard to envisage better exemplars of the value of enabling outstanding individuals to pursue ‘open-ended’ research projects whose outcome is unpredictable.  These two brilliant scientists were attracted to the UK by the promise of adequate funding and a supportive environment in a first-rate university. There are surely important lessons to be drawn by the Government from the Nobel Committee’s decision.

“The UK must sustain our science at a competitive level in a world where talent is mobile and other countries are advancing fast – and eliminate immigration restrictions that would impede the in-flow of talent. The UK’s investment in the physical sciences is paying off and needs to be sustained.”

 The award has attracted major national and international press coverage:

The Independent

The Nobel Prize that was made in Manchester

The Daily Telegraph
How pencil lead and sticky tape led to Nobel Prize

The Guardian
Nobel prize for physics goes to Manchester University scientists

In the USA: USA Today, New York Times, Los Angeles Times

We're absolutely delighted to announce this and we'd love to here your messages of congratulation, your hopes for Physics in the future and anything on which you'd like to comment. Please use our discussion board (scroll to the bottom of the page) for this story on Your Manchester Online. To post a message online you'll need to register, if you've not already, using your Alumni ID: