Posted by talfanzine on November 3, 2008 at 5:59 PM

By Bre Abu - Tal Fanzine

When my grandmother passed away in the early 1990s I was going through some old photographs and found a card with the photo of a young soldier with a black ribbon attached. It was addressed to my Great-great grandfather and family from the War Department announcing the death of their son at the Battle of Loos in September 1915. He was aged 19 and conscripted into the Highland Light Infantry.

One year while travelling through France curiosity got the better of me and I visited the Commonweath War Cemetery at Loos and saw his name inscribed on a granite wall. No grave simply buried in a mass pit along with thousands of others.

When i got back to Glasgow I decided to try and find out what actually happened to him and his company in the battle. I visited the regiment's archives, stored in the museum on Sauchiehall Street.

I was given the officer in charge of the 10th Batallion HLI?s diary to read. On the day my great uncle was killed he was sent to attack a train line being held by the Germans. The officers ordered mustard gas to be fired in advance at the German positions. According to the diary, prevailing wind conditions hadn?t been considered and the mustard gas blew back into the faces of the Scottish troops. So there you have it. Chemical weapons and death by friendly fire...in 1915.

Do I feel like contributing to the Earl Haig Fund (to give the organisation behind Poppy Day its real name) because of this tragedy? Certainly not.

These lions led by donkeys deserve our thoughts and remembrance along with the many tens of thousands of conscripts slaughtered in Gallipoli and other places the Celt died for Anglo-imperialism. However, I won?t be contributing because nowadays the funds go to VOLUNTEER soldiers who have in my opinion collaborated with the ruling class in the name of imperialism in Korea, Ireland, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Recruitment in Scotland for the Crown forces is at an all time low and jingoism is the order of the day to reverse that trend for the overstretched British military. So now it?s mandatory poppies, minute silences and aggressive recruitment in our schools, colleges and shopping centres.

Remembrance this November should be for the great Scottish Republican Socialist John Maclean who stood in front of huge crowds during the imperialist slaughter of 1914-1918 and called for mutiny amongst the troops and class war. He was jailed several times for sedition and force-fed while on hunger strike. He died an early death in 1923. So on November 30th, the 85th anniversary of his death, remember one man who would never have worn a poppy no matter how much pressure he was under...

John Maclean, the fighting dominie.

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