The British Army is vowing to stamp out racism with a new campaign to attract recruits from the country’s ethnic communities.
The drive for more blacks and Asians features the famous ‘ Your Country Needs You,’ poster from the first World War. Lord Kitchener’s face has been replaced by a black officer in the Royal Artillery.
Chief of the General Staff, General Sir Roger Wheeler, said: ‘ Whether we like it or not, there is a perception the Army is a racist organisation. We’re now going to improve ethnic representation.’
The British Army’s top brass says everyone has the right to be treated with respect and initiatives include: a team to investigate racial discrimination, a confidential phone line for soldiers, an overhaul of the Army’s equal opportunities training and recruitment in areas where there are large ethnic populations.
But one former soldier, Geoff McKay, told Sky Internet: ‘ It won’t work. The Army is racist and will probably always be.’
Geoff, who was awarded £8,000 for racial abuse and who now works for a publishing company, added: ‘ I welcome the Army’s move but some of the older regiments have a reputation for racism and it will be very hard to stamp out.’
Geoff’s recalled during his first parade, in the Queen’s Royal Irish Hussars, the sergeant said: ‘ We’ve got a nigger in the troop, lads.’
Geoff went on: ‘ At first I tried to ignore it but, day in and day out; it gets you down. Once, I considered suicide.
‘The big problem is you are on your own. There’s no-one to turn to especially when the abuse means you’re ostracised from the rest.’
He’s not alone. Stephen Anderson was often punched and called ‘nigger,’ by other members of the Devon and Dorset regiment. He was awarded just £500 for years of racial abuse.
Mark Campbell was the first black man in the Life Guards’ 400 year history. But he was often verbally abused as, ‘ nigger,’ and his bed was soaked in urine. He left the Army on medical grounds after 17 months.
Mark Parchment had much the same treatment when he joined the Royal Marines.. He was told his weapon wouldn’t be a gun but a spear and he would be known as ‘Badingi.’
The most famous recruit from ethnic communities, Richard Stokes, joined the Household Cavalry after Prince Charles complained there weren’t enough black soldiers in the units which guard the Queen at Buckingham Palace. After much hate mail and a banana being tossed at him during a rehearsal for trooping the colour, Stokes quit.