BBC : Jack – A Soldier’s Story

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Ben Anderson put together a captivating collage of material from Afghanistan for his BBC documentary following the life and luck of an ordinary grunt. First screened in October, it was repeated this week and caught my interest. Lance Corporal Jack Mizon of the 1st Battalion of Queens’ Company of the Grenadier Guards is the titular bio star. As one of our lads out there, Jack is a fascinating character and one who has faced much for his age. Reckless, brave or perhaps both, his life in Helmand Province – spending 81 days in a row on active operations – appeared at first glance unique. What Anderson brought out gently was the fact that the experiences of Corporal Mizon are far from special. I think the documentary demonstrated a great deal about the conditions, morale and operational limitations our troops are surviving under. Worthy of separate analysis in later articles, it is clear that the government and/or military hierarchies need to do more for the lads. Anderson avoids too much comment and this seems to increase the strength of the message. Is our collective Covenant with our soldiers alive and well ?

Happily, the media is realising that the ordinary folks DO give a damn about those fighting our battles for us. More and more reminders are printed or produced of the work of UK troops in Afghanistan, as well as Iraq. With the upcoming ‘Millies” Awards show, the various documentaries (e.g. Sky TV’s Ross Kemp In Afghanistan a couple of months back) I hope the trend to bring the war to our TV screens continues. It may even convince the government to be clear about the mission there and to support it more fervently.

As for Jack, I just hope his struggle to return to the UK and find a different life is successful given what he went through on our behalf. As Anderson suggests at the end of his programme, the future for civvy Mizon is not looking good. Even if unintended, he is perhaps drawing a picture of similar struggles for our troops – both on the front line and on their return.

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juliaJanuary 10th, 2009 at 9:49 pm

Programme left me proud of our army and furious for the way the guys are treated – driven to their limits and under equipped because the PM wants to play big boys but wont put up the cash. This man who was an otustanding solider, was used up and then chucked out by the army and is left without a job and I should imagine, his confidence badly damaged

A scandal

SimonJanuary 11th, 2009 at 10:44 am

Well said Julia – I could not agree more. I think the way the government treats and manages our troops abroad matches the way they do everything. But here its the way they treat people who put their lives on the line for us. I think Jack’s story is just one of thousands.

[…] trenches on what he calls “Britain’s front line”. If you have read my reviews of A Soldier’s Story (BBC) and Warzone (Channel 5) you will know I have been a keen observer of coverage of our fights […]