On the theme of war and remembrance…

Two things you should try not to miss this weekend… The BBC’s powerful adaptation of All Quiet on the Western Front as its Saturday Play… And for those of you with sufficient disposable income to be able to watch Soldier’s Stories on the History Channel… According to the blurb:

During The Troubles over 1300 British Military personnel were killed, 6000 were wounded and over 3000 civilians were killed. There were no parades and no hero’s welcome for the 300,000 soldiers who served in Northern Ireland and for those who came home their memories will last a lifetime.

Soldier’s Stories, presented by former soldier Ken Hames, provides a new and unique insight into the conflict in Northern Ireland and is based on the in-depth interviews conducted by veteran Ken Wharton for his books on The Troubles. It’s pretty personal stuff and the interviewees run from guys who when they were called out in 1969 thought the strange bugle call they were hearing was a joke… to still youngish men who saw out the last days of soldierly conflict…

The interviews are skilfully interspersed with scenes from the troubles… the mill on the Falls Road I remember was standing one week when were on our way to visit relatives in Beechmount, and gone the next… But what makes it valuable is that they are just talking to soldiers, and getting their angle on what happened to them… so you hear one guy talking about how his colleague got hit on the head and then next minute you see a soldier in black and white talk one of the side of the whilst his comrade vainly tried to warn him of what’s coming…

And there is the odd revelatory detail of one squaddie’s conversation with a policemen on the Shankill Road, and tells him, “Well, I’m not biased, but their houses are not as clean as ours”…

It’s a longish programme, probably slightly too long for the material.. and a strong focus on the mad days of the early seventies… And there’s a passage”I hear you knocking for 9th August…”, “Rubber Bullets (10cc)…” We’re all crazy now… (Slade)…

The bomb disposal guys whose technologies grew and developed along with that of the organisations who were planting them who had the most gruesome tales to tell both of what happened to their colleagues and members of the public who got in the way…

“I remember seeing a sheet of glass being blown across the street. It was travelling horsizontally as it hit the bloke and took his legs off, just above the knee…

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty