Furious Paratroopers have pledged to post their Northern Ireland campaign medals back to the Queen in protest at the ‘scapegoating’ of Soldier F – the only soldier charged with murder over 14 deaths at Bloody Sunday.
Angry veterans also plan to march on Downing Street and to picket the court when their former colleague, now in his 70s, is brought to trial over the killings of two civil-rights marchers 46 years ago.
And they are raising funds to provide Soldier F with an independent legal team because they fear lawyers appointed by the Ministry of Defence could put the Government’s interests first.
‘Warzone’: Soldiers behind an armoured barricade in Londonderry on January 30, 1972
Retired Paras have already met to plan their response to the decision to bring murder charges against Soldier F over the deaths of two protesters on the Londonderry peace march in January 1972.
The service medal with words altered on the clasp. The medal was awarded to members of the Armed Forces who had 30 days’ continuous service in Northern Ireland [File photo]
He will also be charged with the attempted murder of four other marchers. Soldier F has previously admitted firing 13 shots on the day and killing four protesters but he denies murder.
Writing on Facebook, one former soldier said he has decided to send back his General Service Medal with Northern Ireland clasp, which was awarded to members of the Armed Forces who had 30 days’ continuous service in Northern Ireland.
He wrote: ‘Tell them what they can do with our medals and how far they can shove them.’
Another wrote on social media: ‘The medals mean nothing when the very people who issued them are stabbing us all in the back.’
In protest at the treatment of Soldier F, veterans have also shared images online of the Northern Ireland medal with the clasp altered to read: ‘Sold out. Shafted. Betrayed.’
Ex-Paras intend to discuss their plans for a London march with the Metropolitan Police.
Hundreds of veterans from regiments across the British Army are expected to take part.
Last night, protesting Paras received the backing of former British Army Colonel Richard Kemp, who served in Northern Ireland.
He said: ‘While IRA terrorists were given early releases and Royal pardons, our soldiers have been hounded. Soldiers have been treated worse than terrorists.’
Soldier F is the only squaddie out of 18 originally investigated by police to be charged.
Thirteen people were killed and 15 injured when soldiers opened fire on marchers. One victim died months later.
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