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British troops arriving back in Birmingham after a tour of duty in Afghanistan were told to swap their uniforms for “civvies” before going out in public. Carol Jones gives the fools in charge a dressing down.

Two hundred soldiers returning from the frontline in Afghanistan were ordered to change out of their uniforms on a freezing Birmingham Airport runway after their flight had been diverted from from RAF Brize Norton.

The troops were told by the pilot that their baggage was being unloaded onto the runway and that they must reclaim it, dig out their own clothes and remove their desert combat kit before they could proceed into the airport building.

One soldier said "We weren't told who gave the order. It's an insult to the entire Army to force guys who've been fighting in Afghanistan to obey some jobsworth rule when all they want to do is get home soonest to their families.

“So much for a nation proud of its servicemen"

If the soldiers had been allowed through the airport concourse in their kit, they would have been given a hero's welcome by the public, just as they have been in towns and cities across the Country. What a brilliant return that would have been!

Instead the guys are left feeling demoralised and let down by their country.

Colonel Jorge Mendonca said: “How would it feel to be on an operational tour and then come home and be told to take off their uniform before being seen in public?"

The order originated at the MOD where a spokesman said: "We can confirm the incident occurred but because everyone is on leave, we have not been able to discover who gave the order".

Despite all the recent furore over the treatment of returning troops; despite the praise for the troops recently extracted from Hash Brown; despite NuLabour Government even setting up its own National Recognition Study; despite all this, as far as the MOD is concerned nothing's changed: the troops can't wear their uniforms in case the might upset some religous/ethnic/cultural group or other.

That’s 2008 off to a good start, then.

Well done MOD: you really know how to treat the guys.

Carol Jones runs the Military Families Support Group website at

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