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Time for A Stolen Valour Act in UK?


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The UK shooting scene seems to be surrounded by people who claim or imply a military background that they simply don't have.

 

Yet in UK civvies who haven't served just don't seem to care.

 

I imagine this is the other end of the same stick that sees the public of just about every Western country except the UK applaud or at least smile at serving soldiers in uniform.

 

 

This gripe is prompted by a chat with someone over the weekend. Once again I heard a former RN clearance diver excitingly labelled as a 'combat diver' and a little frissance of 'SF' rolled into that trade title (I'm not from an RN background, but to the best of my knowledge there's no such trade in the RN: there are only ship's divers and clearance divers).

 

How does this stuff start?

 

Is it deliberate, or are these people faultless and this is the result of naive civvies simply making connections that aren't there?

 

Around the UK shooting scene we have a bunch of this that's just 'tolerated'; a long ago TA 'sniper' who trades off an implied background as a former regular sniper with extensive operational sniping experience. The unique UK Navy SEAL mentioned above. And there's another rifle fellow who's never been in the Forces, and infact may not have even been in the boy scouts but civvies and even young soldiers seem to 'somehow' think is from a mysterious SF background.....I could go on.

 

One particular form of bullshit history that I’ve yet to cover is one that by its nature deals with quite recent history........ It’s what British soldiers and veterans call “Walting”, after the famous fictional fantasist.

 

It’s very much looked down upon both by those who’ve served, and no doubt officially too. But the censures that it incurs are all but non-existent.

 

In theory, if you gain goods or services by such claims, it’s fraud.

 

But that’s difficult to prove, or even get to court, unless the fraudster sticks their head way above the parapet and attracts the attention of the authorities.

 

We tend not to make a fuss, word may be passed between those in the know, but as far as the public are concerned, the “Walt” is the real deal.

 

The situation across the Atlantic is quite different. With their particular martial tradition and very active patriotism, our American cousins take the whole thing very seriously.

 

In fact they equate it with theft – calling it “Stolen Valor” – and after some high profile cases, have enacted an actual law against it.

 

 

Why doesn't the UK public care?

 

It’s probably existed since we first started killing each other. Here’s one early example from the First World War:

 

“I know of a case recently where a woman was drawing three separation allowances at one time, and those who read the newspapers will have seen the account of a gentleman who posed as the holder of a Victoria Cross, and who has been living at other people’s expense in North Wales and other places, but who is now, I am happy to say, spending his time in prison.”

-Sir Charles Nicolson MP, at the reading of the Naval and Military War Pensions Bill in Parliament, June 1915.

 

Note that the subject appears to have been convicted of fraud rather than any particular offence to do with the impersonation of a serviceman, and that’s pretty much how the situation stands today in the UK.

 

Here, it’s taken the popular press and the efforts of private individuals to winkle out these people and “name and shame” them.

 

Take the classic case of Captain Sir Alan McIlwraith, CBE, DSO, MC, MiD. He was none of these things, and I urge the reader to follow his particular rabbit hole as far as their stomachs and/or sides will allow.

 

He illustrates one common trait of the true Walt – utter resilience to the truth. He’s been back in various other guises since. It’s some twisted desire for fame and recognition, without having to actually accomplish anything. This sort of thing will have been going on for ages down the pub or wherever men gather to swap stories. The internet has made Walting even more tempting to these nutters – some even restrict their activities to the internet, presumably thinking that anonymity will make it harder for them to be called. For most though (I think) it’s just another way to promote themselves and further their interests. Some make a goodly amount of money from it, and may be conscious of their fraud – like this lovely gentleman – a recent scalp for the serving and veteran posters on the unofficial British Army forums – www.arrse.co.uk.

 

Others seem less interested in the money, or at least even more interested in garnering respect from the poor saps that they con. Take this latest to be “outed” – Jack Livesey, MM. Except, (and you’re ahead of me here), he ain’t “MM”. Not unless MM stands for Military Moron. Because this bloke didn’t win an MM. He wasn’t in the Falklands. He wasn’t in the Parachute Regiment. He wasn’t even in the infantry. He was a chef. For three years. “The Real Casey Ryback“, the headline might have gone, if he hadn’t been making it all up.

 

Instead, The Sun – who love to court “Our Boys” – have dutifully outed this numpty with the classic headline of “Fool Medal Racket“. You have to admit, whatever your feelings on their standards of journalism, no-one does those headlines like The Sun.

 

Yet despite the efforts of the ARRSE guys, which I’ve been following here, his self-aggrandising website remains online. And that’s the thing – most of these people typically either stubbornly ride out the storm and claim that they were hard done by the whole time, or will disappear, only to re-emerge later on in a slightly different guise, like some sort of parasitical lying insect. It will take legal action to make them actually admit what they’ve done and perhaps even stop doing it.

 

OK, so the stories of these people, once outed, are pretty entertaining. But maybe we should take a lead from the Americans here. When people pretend to be things that they’re not, when the people who are get killed on a near-daily basis, it matters.

 

And let’s face it, internet vigilantism and tabloid witchunts, however justified and evidenced, are not necessarily the most ethical ways to bring about justice. So, with due recognition of the fact that petitions are historically ignored by those in power, please do take a look at some of these characters, have a damned good laugh, and then think about signing this petition for a UK equivalent of the Stolen Valour Act.

 

 

Not the best worded e-petition I've seen, but the sentiment is right, please sign:

 

Government Stolen Valour E-Petition

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I am sure a percentage of the public does indeed care, just look at the furore of 'SAS' medal wearer at last years Remembrance Day or was it just a matter of good press for the tabloids? Personally I feel frauds like this should be exposed, they may only be living the dream but they are doing genuine members of our armed forces a disservice. Equally I feel very strongly about the general lack of recognition for members of our armed forces. Go to Denmark and soldiers in uniform on public transport is a common sight and you can just feel the pride from the people around them, pride and recognition for what the person stands for. Over here, well curiosity at best and possibly a sense of loathing from many.

 

I could rant about this for hours.

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The odd thing is that 2 of the people I've mentioned do have a genuine military background of which they could be proud; it's just that the reality of those backgrounds is not the same as the one presented (or, if being charitable: 'is not the same as the one being perceived').

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There are sites specifically for the purpose of outing such people, I do wonder how such a site would go down here in the UK, it would take a man of conviction or deep anonymity to test the water.

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There are sites specifically for the purpose of outing such people, I do wonder how such a site would go down here in the UK, it would take a man of conviction or deep anonymity to test the water.

 

Like this: The Quiet Professionals -just doesn't seem to be the appetite here.

 

UK reality doesn't go much deeper than a bit of tub thumping and putting a quid in the Help-for-Heroes tin to assuage never-been 'guilt'. Sassoon:

 

You smug-faced crowds with kindling eye

Who cheer when soldier lads march by,

Sneak home and pray you'll never know

The hell where youth and laughter go.

 

 

But, overall, why no appetite? I think Rudyard Kipling had the deep underlying UK psyche right:

 

I went into a public-'ouse to get a pint o'beer,

The publican 'e up an' sez, "We serve no red-coats here."

The girls be'ind the bar they laughed an' giggled fit to die,

I outs into the street again an' to myself sez I:

 

O it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, go away";

But it's ``Thank you, Mister Atkins,'' when the band begins to play,

The band begins to play, my boys, the band begins to play,

O it's ``Thank you, Mr. Atkins,'' when the band begins to play.

 

I went into a theatre as sober as could be,

They gave a drunk civilian room, but 'adn't none for me;

They sent me to the gallery or round the music-'alls,

But when it comes to fightin', Lord! they'll shove me in the stalls!

 

For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, wait outside";

But it's "Special train for Atkins" when the trooper's on the tide,

The troopship's on the tide, my boys, the troopship's on the tide,

O it's "Special train for Atkins" when the trooper's on the tide.

 

Yes, makin' mock o' uniforms that guard you while you sleep

Is cheaper than them uniforms, an' they're starvation cheap;

An' hustlin' drunken soldiers when they're goin' large a bit

Is five times better business than paradin' in full kit.

 

Then it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy how's yer soul?"

But it's "Thin red line of 'eroes" when the drums begin to roll,

The drums begin to roll, my boys, the drums begin to roll,

O it's "Thin red line of 'eroes" when the drums begin to roll.

 

We aren't no thin red 'eroes, nor we aren't no blackguards too,

But single men in barricks, most remarkable like you;

An' if sometimes our conduck isn't all your fancy paints:

Why, single men in barricks don't grow into plaster saints;

 

While it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, fall be'ind,"

But it's "Please to walk in front, sir," when there's trouble in the wind,

There's trouble in the wind, my boys, there's trouble in the wind,

O it's "Please to walk in front, sir," when there's trouble in the wind.

 

You talk o' better food for us, an' schools, an' fires an' all:

We'll wait for extry rations if you treat us rational.

Don't mess about the cook-room slops, but prove it to our face

The Widow's Uniform is not the soldier-man's disgrace.

 

For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Chuck him out, the brute!"

But it's "Saviour of 'is country," when the guns begin to shoot;

An' it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' anything you please;

But Tommy ain't a bloomin' fool - you bet that Tommy sees!

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All for the SVA in the UK.

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Yah, can we not turn this into something about gunsmiths. Ronny, This isn't a good mechanic/ bad mechanic debate,

I think you're entirely missing the point if you equate that with someone 'stealing valour' life and death honour stuff. Seeing a good mechanic/bad mechanic debate on the same level as stolen valour just supports the UK psyche point as to why no one seems to care about stolen valour in UK

 

This isn't on the same level as mechanics. This is about scheisters walting up a reputation based on, shall we say, 'exagerated' military service.

 

The waltermittyhunt website linked earlier put it well:

 

Walter Mitty is a fictional character in James Thurber's short story "The secret life of Walter Mitty", but to us, he's a pretend serviceman/woman benefiting from the "Veteran's status and reputation".

 

To me this is all about individuals fraudulently " benefiting from the "Veteran's status and reputation" "

 

But not just people who have never served, also people who have, but then misrepresent it:

 

To paraphrase them: It could also be claimed by an ex-Forces [insert trade here] claiming a fictitious service specialism or fictitious operational experience, when the nearest he got to the field was weeding the Guardroom flower pots.

 

 

I think another part of the reason that it seems to be tolerated is that a lot of civvy shooters like the idea that their gat or whatever was put together by a Hereford-trained-underwater-basket-weaving-ninja.

 

They 'want to believe';

 

Yet the reality is they maybe be dealing with someone whose military credentials may actually more closely align with having best attendance on TA summer camp,

 

......or being able to knock up a mean banjo on a No 5 cookset whilst watching the Ultimate Force box set

 

......or just having once been on a coach that crossed the Severn bridge, frequently buying compo and often gazing enigmatically into the distance whilst muttering about 'hard routine', 'Terry Taliban' and the fact that Ross Kemp's character always fails to do a forward assist on a reload.

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I want to focus on 'action not words' relating to scheisters making money by misrepresenting their military backgrounds (ie walting)

 

The only way they can currently be brought to book is by prosecution under the Fraud Act.

 

If you know the sort of individuals I have in mind you'll notice how their websites and literature never actually pin down definitively the military backgrounds that they claim or imply in conversation in order to falsely benefit from the status and reputation of the 'real deal'.

There's a reason for that.

 

As before;

 

One particular form of bullshit history that I’ve yet to cover is one that by its nature deals with quite recent history – making it unusual for these pages but all the more relevant and insidious. It’s what British soldiers and veterans call “Walting”, after the famous fictional fantasist.

 

It’s very much looked down upon both by those who’ve served, and no doubt officially too. But the censures that it incurs are all but non-existent.

 

In theory, if you gain goods or services by such claims, it’s fraud.

 

But that’s difficult to prove, or even get to court, unless the fraudster sticks their head way above the parapet and attracts the attention of the authorities.

 

We tend not to make a fuss, word may be passed between those in the know, but as far as the public are concerned, the “Walt” is the real deal.

 

The situation across the Atlantic is quite different. With their particular martial tradition and very active patriotism, our American cousins take the whole thing very seriously.

 

In fact they equate it with theft – calling it “Stolen Valor” – and after some high profile cases, have enacted an actual law against it.

 

 

As before,

And let’s face it, internet vigilantism and tabloid witchunts, however justified and evidenced, are not necessarily the most ethical ways to bring about justice. So, with due recognition of the fact that petitions are historically ignored by those in power, please do take a look at some of these characters, have a damned good laugh, and then think about signing this petition for a UK equivalent of the Stolen Valour Act.

 

Publicise and sign the e-petition for a UK Stolen Valour Act!

 

Government Stolen Valour E-Petition

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Signed and posted on my fb page...we use get a few walts getting through in the line of work i do which did put lives at risk, but they were soon sussed out and given the boot..now its pretty strict with vetting and now only employ ex-mil.

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Hi All. I served in the Royal Navy and can confirm that there is no such job as a 'Combat Diver' so anyone who said they were are a just plain B*ll Sh*tters/Walter Mitty characters. As far as memory serves me, there was a ships diver (who could have been a Radio Operator, Cook or whatever and were called upon to check for problems under the waterline, and were also used to remove limpet mines if necessary in a wartime situation). Then there was the specialist types who were mine clearance/bomb clearance, but cannot remember if that was their full time job, or they came from different branches of the RN.

PS. My knee is giving me problems at the moment as the shrapnel is starting to move about, but I do not want to talk about it. LOL.

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Hi All. I served in the Royal Navy and can confirm that there is no such job as a 'Combat Diver' so anyone who said they were are a just plain B*ll Sh*tters/Walter Mitty characters.

Crazy isn't it!

 

 

PS. My knee is giving me problems at the moment as the shrapnel is starting to move about, but I do not want to talk about it. LOL.

:lol:
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PS. My knee is giving me problems at the moment as the shrapnel is starting to move about, but I do not want to talk about it. LOL.

les a drop of "pussers" will sort that.

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Hi All. I served in the Royal Navy and can confirm that there is no such job as a 'Combat Diver' so anyone who said they were are a just plain B*ll Sh*tters/Walter Mitty characters. As far as memory serves me, there was a ships diver (who could have been a Radio Operator, Cook or whatever and were called upon to check for problems under the waterline, and were also used to remove limpet mines if necessary in a wartime situation). Then there was the specialist types who were mine clearance/bomb clearance, but cannot remember if that was their full time job, or they came from different branches of the RN.

PS. My knee is giving me problems at the moment as the shrapnel is starting to move about, but I do not want to talk about it. LOL.

 

I worked with someone who was trained as a sparks in the Navy, he was also a ships diver which by my understanding was 'part time' He then went onto clearance but I am unsure if this was a full time role however he did say it paid more.

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Sound familiar?!

 

Hillar said he was passionate about the subjects he taught. Many people who took his classes or listened to his talks at workshops assumed he had served in the military, he said. The fiction grew from there.

 

“I never denied it,” Hillar said. “And after some years, I actually adopted it. I know that was wrong.”

 

People are doing that in UK right now and getting away with it. Not so in the States:

Moments after his sentence was handed down, Hillar grimly walked within a few feet of two genuine warriors sitting near the front of the courtroom. He looked straight ahead, avoiding eye contact as he stepped past the men.

 

One of them, Jeff Hinton, who had served as a Green Beret, said Hillar’s training was worthless and put law enforcement officers at risk.

 

“We’re enraged,” said Hinton, who is a member of a fraternal group of Green Berets. “It made us mad. We’ve had people die in training trying to earn the right to be a Green Beret.”

 

Hillar, Hinton said, “was living off a reputation we forged in blood.”

 

 

Signed the UK petition yet? :)Government Stolen Valour E-Petition

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There are several people trading in the UK gun trade who claim to be ex snipers, and one t wat who is still telling people he,s an injured mercenary....he,s just a p rick.

 

People know who these cretins are, so why are they putting money in their pockets ?

 

Instead of bigging them up, and perpetuating the myth....out the cowards, then put your money into genuine soldiers charities, and buy your local squaddy a beer when you see them in the pub on leave.

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We had a court case here recently where the president of an RSA (basically the national veterans' club which have a club/pub in every town) was caught falsely claiming he was a Vietnam vet. One of the real vets spotted the medals on parade and called him. Ended up in court and he was convicted - can't recall the charge but the public shaming was good enough punishment. For good measure, his membership of the RSA was stripped in a similarly public fashion. Everyone I discussed this with was appalled someone would dare wear medals they weren't entitled to.

 

On a related theme, our family had a pleasant experience recently with war medals. Our old dad who's barely hanging in there had managed to lose most of his service medals. He has NO interest in recalling the two wars he's been in and had actively kept away from various reunions over the years. I actually have at least six patients that served under him but despite their begging, he never showed up at any reunions up here. Us kids haven't a huge interest in it either but there is a big and increasing interest shown by grandkids and great grandkids in what their forebears did. All it took was an email to Veterans Affairs, one small form and we had the whole set restored free of charge including extras he'd never bothered claiming. We're having them mounted in a glazed frame with a brief summary of where he fought, namely the Middle East, Italy, a stint in J-Force (post-war occupation of Japan) and then his later service in the Korean War.

 

Chris-NZ

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People know who these cretins are, so why are they putting money in their pockets ?

 

Dave, people don't realise until they're told

 

As I said, sound familiar?!

Hillar [or insert UK name here] said he was passionate about the subjects he taught. Many people who took his classes or listened to his talks at workshops assumed he had served in the military, he said. The fiction grew from there.

“I never denied it,” Hillar [or insert UK name here] said. “And after some years, I actually adopted it. I know that was wrong.”

I suspect that's how a lot of it starts. Then they can't go back.

 

Instead of bigging them up, and perpetuating the myth....out the cowards, then put your money into genuine soldiers charities, and buy your local squaddy a beer when you see them in the pub on leave.

Absolutely. Let's see if we can get help the petition to get the Law made right.

 

I like a bastardisation of the Green Beret quote:

“Walts are living off reputations others have forged in blood.”

 

 

As before,

And let’s face it, internet vigilantism and tabloid witchunts, however justified and evidenced, are not necessarily the most ethical ways to bring about justice. So, with due recognition of the fact that petitions are historically ignored by those in power, please do take a look at some of these characters, have a damned good laugh, and then think about signing this petition for a UK equivalent of the Stolen Valour Act.

 

Publicise and sign the e-petition for a UK Stolen Valour Act!

 

Government Stolen Valour E-Petition

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We had a court case here recently where the president of an RSA (basically the national veterans' club which have a club/pub in every town) was caught falsely claiming he was a Vietnam vet. One of the real vets spotted the medals on parade and called him. Ended up in court and he was convicted - can't recall the charge but the public shaming was good enough punishment. For good measure, his membership of the RSA was stripped in a similarly public fashion. Everyone I discussed this with was appalled someone would dare wear medals they weren't entitled to.

 

Just hard to comprehend that people really do this sort of thing.

 

[Great to read of the contrasting success you had for your Father!]

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petition signed-

having family that were in the forces i can see the need to bring this law to apply well done BROWN DOG for bringing it to our attention.

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Whilst snorkelling in the red sea once I found an empty cartridge case on the sea bed which I picked up and brought home with me as a momento, does that make me an underwater explosives retreival expert ???

Combat snorkeller then

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The laughable thing is to be a sniper you don't have to be that good a shot, it is more about the field craft and patiance. My last Boss, still a serving officer but was a Cpl in the Falklands and is both Para and Commando trained (as I know many of brown dogs cohorts are) and TBH Walt hunting was one of his favourite passtimes!

 

Dave

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Petition signed.

 

I can't think of any thing more pathetic or as sad as some Walter claiming stolen valor.

 

Such individuals in my opinion don't deserve to live in our society and disgrace the memory

 

Of thoes who have paid a higher price.

 

I think they should be named and shamed - if I found such a Walter, I'd shop them to the world !!!

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