Theodore's World: Four Feathers To The 15 British Sailors

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April 09, 2007

Four Feathers To The 15 British Sailors

This is a movie that is one of my favorites. The Four Feathers, produced in England in 1939. I loved it so much I bought the video. It was remade a few years ago, but nothing can compare to the original, it is the best.

A British army officer, Harry Faversahn, trains all day and even has time to conquer beautiful Ethne. With that Harry decides to leave the army, but good things do not last forever, so in the evening of his engagement party his regiment is call to arms to Egypt to fight against the wicked Egyptian rebels. But Harry refuses and so his former best friends send him three feathers, a sophisticated way to call him a coward. But the fourth, ah! the fourth one is the most terrible of all because it is Ethne who gives it to him.

So our hero is an outcast, nodoby loves him, nodoby cares for him. And Harry proving that after all he is a Favershan, embarks to Egypt to save his comrades. Disguised as a mute native he saves them all. Crosses the dessert, saves Durrance (who is in love with Ethne too), saves Willoughby and Burroughs from a dreadful prision and evidently gives back each of the four feathers.

This movie celebrates courage and determination. Something that the 15 Brits taken hostage will never be able to do. Oh they are trying the I am a Hero now thing, but that is just not the case. They handled this wrong from the get go imo.

This movie I mentioned came to mind not when the 15 sailors were taken hostage, but when they were released. They are just not the " Let's Roll" character that sets a person apart and each thing they are doing now confrims it even more. I don’t have a lot of sympathy or respect for the way these hostages handled themselves. It definitely is not a shining moment for the British military. It does not live up to the proud history of their military.

And to make matters worse once they were released, some were effusive in their praise for the Iranians, apologizing yet again for their intrusion! sheesh!

Let's compare something here.....

From the 15 hostages:
* We were blindfolded and subjected to interrogation

* We were told we faced seven years in prison if we did not 'confess'

* Iranians entered Iraqi waters deliberately to detain us. Fighting back was not an option

* We were 1.7 nautical miles away from Iranian waters

* We were under psychological pressure and mind games

* Faye Turney was isolated in a cell away from the rest of the crew

* All 15 of them had been blindfolded, handcuffed and pushed against a wall by their Iranian captors

* they heard the sound of guns being cocked - and believed they were about to be shot by firing squad.

They were fed three times a day and given cigarettes. They were given clothes and slept on blankets. There certainly was nothing “brutal” about their treatment. The soldiers, and one must keep in mind they were soldiers, decided to roll over and cooperate with their captors almost immediately with little evidence of overt coercion.

But wait that is not all, now there are book deals being made. The former captives are expected to make around £250,000 between them. Faye Turney, the 26-year-old seawoman, is likely to get the most profitable deal. She is said to have sold her story for £150,000 in a joint contract with a newspaper and ITV.

In contrast let's look at a different kind of Britt:

John Peters came to the world's attention in January 1991, when his bruised and battered face flashed onto television screens around the world. On the first day of the Gulf War, a British Tornado bomber crewed by John Peters and John Nichol was shot down over Iraqi territory and the two men were captured. After four days of mental and physical torture, they were forcibly shown on Iraqi television. It was John Peters' disfigured image that became a potent symbol of Saddam Hussein's ruthless aggression.

John's powerful and moving story focuses on how he coped with both the brutal physical and mental pressure inflicted on him by his captors. His dramatic and sometimes harrowing experiences reach deep into our innermost minds, showing us how we can overcome even our worst fears and nightmares. He inspires and motivates people with his own dramatic account of his experiences during Operation Desert Storm. His war was not all as he expected - it became a seven-week ordeal of torture and interrogation testing John Peters to the absolute limit and bringing him close to death.

Thinking about these things and comparing it to our troops that were taken hostage and prisoner in other wars, such as Vietnam. I will NEVER forget the brave American troops, prisoners of former wars, who endured years of captive isolation without disclosing any information, even under torture. And England has its own Greatest Generation, troops who fought a determined and superior enemy while vowing never to surrender. As Churchill observed, that was England’s finest hour. I have posted on here at TW of Brits that have been brave, I have thanked England for their support in our war against Islam. But when it comes to these 15, they reflect on their country and their military and what a pity it is they will not be able to hold their heads high knowing they did all they could, and that their whinning of their so called torture is making them look even worse.

Heroes show up when the time calls for it, these 15 did not show up. For these 15 the 4 Feather comes to mind.

Posted by Wild Thing at April 9, 2007 10:24 AM


You are absolutely correct WT. So many British and American troops have benn taken POW or hostage, and have shown extreme courage and faith.

One blackeye on us though. The three American soldiers who were taken prisoner in Bosnia. They were heavily armed, but surrendered. Then praised their Serbian captors. Then wrote a letter of thanks after release. They were chastised by most of the American military esablishment, including veterans. They did not do book deals, yet. And, they were rewarded with medals by their immediate command in an effort to cover up a humiliating screw-up.

Our military, and Britain's, need to revamp immediately the Rules of Engagement and Codes of Conduct. When I was in, in Vietnam, very little came down from command regarding being taken prisoner. We just did not want to be taken POW, so in Vietnam it was pretty well accepted you fought to the death. As a flyer I carried a sidearm with a last bullet for me if forced down.

This episode with the Brits goes against centuries of proud tradition, but I am afraid the stalwart Lion of England has become cancerous. Margaret Thatcher may be the end of the line as a true English leader. Lots of British military are still the best, but their mighty miltary is being downsized and disarmed, esp. the Royal Navy. Rule Brittania is about to be history.

Posted by: TomR at April 9, 2007 01:35 PM

Great movie WT, I have a copy in VHS format.

I think one of the most telling statements I heard in the news media was: "the United States and Great Britain need to go before the United Nations and revise the rules of engagement". WTF???

Well, one thing is for sure, the ROE are far too pacified when we have to play the 'Mother May I' game.

TomR is right, in Vietnam you didn't wan't to become a POW, I always carried one frag, just for me, ground soldiers weren't treated as well as our flyboys and often ended up horribly butchered.

In Vietnam I had my ass ripped to tatters several times for firing back with out special permission in a free fire zone, always with the same excuse, it was "friendly fire". Bullshit!!! , it isn't friendly if they start it first and it sure as hell isn't friendly if you are about to be overran.

Hell we can't trust our allies to cover our six or even to defend themselves. Did those sailors in broad daylight, play the game of 'halt, who goes there?', 'advance to be recognized', 'what's the password?' The mother ship must have been armed with spitballs because their commander sure didn't have any.

They've allowed themselves to be intimidated into not prosecuting the vigil against external, arms, nuclear materials and foreign fighters being shipped into Iraq. Thank God the Brits on the ground have a better understanding of the enemy and the wages of war.

As far as U.N. involvement, this war was led by a coalition of the willing after 17 failed U.N resolutions and the f'n U.N. wasn't willing to participate, it violated their prescious charter of promoting Communism, Despotism and money grabbing.

Posted by: Jack at April 9, 2007 04:31 PM

Tom, I had forgotten about that, thanks for reminding me.

I am so glad you never were in the situation to use that last bullet. Thank God and thank you for sharing about how it was there. I would have felt the same way, just keep from being a POW.

Posted by: Wild Thing at April 9, 2007 11:39 PM

Jack, that is great, that is what we have too the Video. I still only have a couple of DVD's everything else is a in video.

My gosh, I had not heard that about how the USA and Britian should go before the UN about ROE. Good grief, it just never ends.

Thank you Jack for sharing too about Vietnam. I learn so much from this.

I agree about the UN, "coalition of the willing", is right and the UN sure as heck was no part of that willing, not at all.

Posted by: Wild Thing at April 9, 2007 11:45 PM

This whole deal sucks.There should only been an
oil slick where the patrol boats from Iran used
to be,gone with all hands

Posted by: Tincan Sailor at April 9, 2007 11:57 PM