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I am a 16 year old and I was thinking of joining the army. But the programme on Deepcut has changed that. I was planning to join the Royal Military Police, but I am now going to join the civilian police. My deepest sympathies are with the families of the dead soldiers. I feel that the army has treated the families very callously and I am totally and utterly astonished. This has shown me a different side of the army. The twisted and evil side of it. I didn't not expect to find bullying and sexual harassment going on in a service like the army . Once again my condolences are with the families
Nick Nickolson, UK

While I agree that families have a right to know what happened, the real truth is no rational person will ever understand why a young person takes their own life. Youth suicide is on the increase not just in the forces but in the UK as a whole. It is a sad fact that these young boys and girls, alone and a long way from home by the nature of their chosen profession have access to high powered weapons at their lowest ebb.

They occasional can and do choose a dramatic end to their life, leaving friends, colleagues and family hurt and looking for someone to blame. Having served 23 years in the forces I have seen bullying but I have also seen massive efforts to eradicate it from the system.

The Army ethos is true team spirit, it mourns all death in a manner no outsider will ever comprehend and a suicide will hang heavy on the hearts of those responsible for these young people. The worry for me is that the biased media coverage of this calamity, may induce the thought in others to do the same.

The deed is done, there is no logical answer, no blame will bring these lives back and sadly even with the greatest of efforts, it will happen again, as it will in normal society. The best that can be hoped for is that all people (forces included) will take time to care more for each other, to look with compassion for weakness in others and assist those in need before they get to this devastating point.

Learn the lessons that need learning and let these young soldiers rest in peace!
Alec, Scotland

I would just like to ask why you interviewed a Brigadier about the bullying. I spent eight years in the Army and I can tell you that he knows nothing about what goes on amongst the lower ranks. He only knows the policies and what the senior NCO's what him to know, you should have interviewed the lower ranks currently serving in Deepcut.
Andrew West, Scotland

I served as an NCO at Deepcut from 1992 - 1996, during which time two young privates died. I don't know the ins and outs of all what happened but I can say that I never saw any sort of bullying. If I had I would have said something. I am not saying that bullying doesn¿t go on as it does, but not like it is being made out to be.
Fiona Wilson, Scotland

I am myself a member of the British Forces and I would like to say that this was a total tragedy. I really feel for the families. I have never experienced this sort of treatment directly however I do know of personnel that have. Just getting into the forces and completing basic training is enough stress for most young people let alone having to put up with bullying and harassment!
Claire, England

I am appalled by the comments of Brigadier Cottam and the Minister on the programme last night. My father joined the forces in 1962 and experienced similar abuse his whole 23 Years of service, as did I when I joined in 1982, and my nearly 12 years of service.

My younger brother carries the mental scars from exactly this kind of abuse suffered at the hands of a Squadron Sergeant Major during his nearly 9 years of loyal service.

My family have served our country loyally but have all experienced this abuse first hand. Brigadier Cottam needs to get off the comfy sofa in his ivory tower, step out of the officers mess, and get into the real world and start listening to the people who know what has been going on. If he wants he can contact me directly, and I will recount in detail how I was shot at by a Troop Sergeant on a range in Germany, just for the Sergeant's amusement.

I feel for the families of these soldiers. I think the selection process in the forces needs to be tough, to ensure we end up with the nations finest, defending us, but it makes me angry to hear of young men and women suffering similar abuses to what my family have experienced.

The Forces are for the most part manned by excellent, hard working dedicated professionals, but unfortunately with rank comes absolute power, and occasionally that power gets abused.
Rocky Ramharak, UK

My fiancé is currently undergoing psychiatric care after receiving the same kind of treatment as the soldiers from Deepcut on a recent tour. It took myself, his family and my family over two weeks to get him to go to the doctor. He felt that he could not speak to anyone about what he was dealing with. After going to the doctor, he felt even worse about 'speaking out'. We watched last nights programme and everything that was spoken off hit close to home. My fiancé feels he is doing the right thing by speaking out now, no matter how hard the consequences are. I am disgusted that this happens in the army, no matter what we have been told by the Government. Hopefully we have helped my fiancé in time and together we maybe able to help others who are not able to stand up for themselves.
Nikki Chambers, England

I am myself a member of the British Forces and I would like to say that this was a total tragedy. I really feel for the families. I have never experienced this sort of treatment directly however I do know of personnel that have. Just getting into the forces and completing basic training is enough stress for most young people let alone having to put up with bullying and harassment!
Claire, England

My Brother was the NCO who found Private Collinson's body and he said without a doubt he had shot himself, he had told another soldier he intended on doing it. The other deaths do look strange but in the case of Collinson it was suicide.
Richard, England

It seems the "head in the sand" buffoonery is still alive, and well, and still deeply entrenched. Clearly there is a large degree of negligence at these barracks, and the military will never admit responsibility. As for the tribe of Government ministers upon which this has touched, (and been ignored) we can all look in dismay at the poor standards and lack of integrity among our leadership. Public enquiry by people of integrity, jail time for those responsible. Accountability, accountability.
Derek Moore, UK now USA

I watched the show last night and I was really hurt. You said that the army has a lot of bulling but you are wrong . I am joining the army and I have to go to Deepcut. Think how many people have been at Deepcut and haven't been bullied. I think you are trying to make out that the army did wrong instead of the people involved.
Kirsteen, Scotland

Bullying has always been part of army life. I found this to be true even in my National Service days, if you're weak they will pick on you, fight back and you gain respect like I did. The British army needs some form of civilian inspector who has the power to sort out those NCOs or Officers seen to condone mistreatment of the junior ranks.
Peter Wicks, England

I was serving at Deepcut at the time of Pte Benton's death, bullying towards him did occur. I experienced first hand Sgt Gavaghan's 'physical temper' for no sane reason.
Tracy, England

Well said Kevin, Tierney, Scotland.
Steven Butterfield, England

I hope I don't go on too much with this comment and I am sure that you will get lots of comments from old soldiers who went through the same brutal regime that the people in your programme went through.

I am very sad for the families of the service personnel that died. I am even more sad that the culture has not changed. By that I mean that I joined the forces in 1973 and was subjected to bullying. We all were, it was put down to toughening us up, brain washing us so that we would be able to take instructions from our NCO's and officers in a life and death situation. It was wrong then and wrong now and I am surprised it is so prevalent.

Let me give you just a few examples of what they did to me. Forcibly stripped naked and placed a friend and I in a bath and used a yard brush to wash us covering us in polish and blanco. Blindfolding me and string me up on a beam after apparently being found guilty of a barrack room offence. I was strung up on a beam on a rope what I didn't know was that the end of the rope was attached to cotton. When the chair was kicked away I thought that that was it. You know what I mean. Tied to a six foot table face down and a hot iron placed close to my back and then suddenly changed to a cold iron that was placed on my back hard. It has the same effect as a hot iron. I will leave that to your imagination. Beaten up on numerous occasions and kicked by the junior corporal and the regular sergeant for apparently being crap at drill.

There was no more bullying for us after this in that unit but others following us got the same treatment. I regret taking part in this. The sergeants and officers new what was going on because there were numerous people turning up on parade battered and bruised.

No one dared speak out in case they got another kicking. I was scared even to tell my mum. In later years when I was in a supervisory/responsible job myself I was very protective of my new guys and ensured that nothing like this happened to them and they were given the necessary support to get them through their service and operational postings.

I don't think those methods toughened me up in fact I believe they turned me into a bit of a cowering wimp. I wish I had spoken out at the time because dozens of people if not hundreds were seriously hurt and it was all covered up. Thank you for an excellent programme. If it wasn't for the freedom of the press and media in this country people wouldn't know half.
Colin Pocklington, England

If Sgt Andrew Gavaghan is found to be innocent will Panorama produce an official apology on national television? As you have publicly shown this man, do you realise the consequences of this for him and his family? Of course not you are only interested in ratings, not the truth. These incidents at Deepcut are tragic and unfortunate there is no doubt, but you cannot name someone like this. Is it not innocent until proven guilty?
Lisa, England

Will someone please retire Nick Cottam as he¿s obviously not going to do the right thing and resign. The obvious seems to elude those such as you Nick who could have made a difference. Why oh why is there not a simple reporting mechanism outwith the chain of command. The families of those young soldiers who have needlessly died deserve nothing less than a full public enquiry.
Colin Wales, England

I just watched your programme on the death of young recruits at Deepcut. I have recently retired after 23 years service in the Army and loved every minute of it. There is a high level if discipline in the Forces but great camaraderie. I have achieved much in my time and really just wanted to say that in my experience there is something amiss at Deepcut. It is so blatantly obvious and would have loved to have served there as a SNCO. I detest the thought of these Soldiers having been driven to their deaths by some worthless person who in my opinion did not deserve to serve.

My sympathy goes to the parents and to the stuffy nosed Officers. Why the hell is it taking so long to allow proper investigation of this. I cannot also believe how the Army handled the situation at the time of each death. I hope the public does not think bad of the Army in General as (we) are an extremely professional bunch.

It unfortunately saddens and angers me how this has been allowed to have gone unnoticed and unchallenged for this long.

Sorry about the content of my email but after my enjoyable time as both a private Soldier and a SNCO training young Soldiers I find it appalling that this has happened.

Good SNCO's are always on the look out for good recruits and good potential and it looked to me like there where some good ones at Deepcut who unfortunately lost their lives. There is no doubt in my mind that if all of those youngsters had been at a different training camp under a decent instructor they would still be alive and serving soldiers today
Kevin Tierney, Scotland

The answers given by the Army minister and Army Personnel Director bordered on naivety/simplistic. At a time when the Army is having difficulty in recruiting the numbers they require , a public enquiry is the only answer .
David Martin, UK

If you come across a 'bad apple' you don't destroy your entire crop, you just remove it and be assured that the rest of the crop remains healthy and untainted.

The army and the ministers both said the wrong thing by being too defensive over Deepcut. It is not relevant to say the British have the best army in the world, or that bullying is not rife. All that matters is that we find these bad apples and get rid of them - job done, hold your head up high. Otherwise if they remain, the crop does get infected and the whole harvest suffers.
Neil Price, UK

I feel for the families of those soldiers killed at deep cut, whether at their own hands because of stress of bullying, or by others unnamed. I find it upsetting that the army spokesman on Panorama tonight seemed to be treating the matter so lightly, he didn't seem to be taking it seriously at all. Having listened to the various young people in the programme I am astounded that no officer was aware of what was going on.
Alba, Scotland

I know that bullying and sexual harassment are endemic in the Armed Forces. I worked as a civilian personal secretary for an MOD RAF establishment where I suffered bullying and sexual harassment. When I complained about it, the MOD denied it ever happened, just like they have been denying it on your programme. I hope a public inquiry will be set up to investigate not just events at Deepcut but the more widespread issue of bullying in the Armed Forces and MOD.
Caroline Jones, England

Absolutely disgusting on the part of the armed services. I have a child myself of a similar age, should he ever suggest going in to the armed forces I would do my utmost to prevent him doing so. I have every sympathy with the parents involved, I would not rest until justice had been brought to bear. If there was anything I could do to support these parents I would not hesitate to travel 1,000 miles or more to do so. The Government and the armed forces are held in my opinion in the greatest contempt and will continue to be until such time the people responsible for these atrocities are brought to justice.
Joan Hutchings, England

I don't know what Deepcut barracks was like personally, but having been in the army a short time myself, I witnessed many incidences of bullying. I know there¿s a fine line the army have to tread in order to instil discipline into new recruits, but on occasions the NCO's went well beyond this. It wouldn't surprise me if the four soldier's on the program committed suicide because of bullying. The NCO's are given too much power. When they abuse it, fellow NCO's stick together to suppress any accusations. As a recruit you have no-one to go to if you have problems.
Maurice, Wales

I have left the Army after 16 years after suffering extensive bullying and harassment. I am a sergeant, what chance do young soldiers have. I can tell you "none". The Army grievance procedure produces bullying. Soldiers are bullied into dropping their complaints. I have been forced to resign without a pension or even a leaving memento.
mc, UK

I'm glad someone finally is starting to take note of the fantastic joke that is the army's attitude to bullies. With regards to Deepcut, I feel that in my experience, that there is a blatant disregard for soldiers welfare, with terrible junior NCO's ruling, and senior officers being so far removed from the truth, nothing will ever be done to stop them.
Ben Mason, England

I'm a high ranking member of the Air Training Corps, an organisation that consists of 13-22 year olds. If we have a zero tolerance of bullying amongst teenagers, surely the Army should be able to achieve the same amongst adults!
Jenny Hunt, UK

There are two main problems with the army saying that all the deaths were suicides. First, the large number of "suicides" should make any commander wary of saying they were suicides, and secondly, I don't criticise the army for what has happened at Deepcut but I do criticise the Army commanders at Deepcut. They are not professional.
Martyn Hutchison, England

It isn't good enough for minister to quote how many highly trained soldiers they have turned out. They could turn out twice as many soldiers and that still wouldn't diminish the fact that young people have died.
Stuart Watkinson, UK

Being a former soldier myself in Ireland and having watched the programme tonight, I feel that the Army is full of contempt and are disgusting. Do Army chiefs really believe what they are saying; it is obvious to a blind man that there is wide spread bullying in the Army and has been for a very very long time. To intimidate somebody is a powerful weapon and is capable of destroying people. Wake up and admit to what is going on around you every day and night. Joseph
Joseph, Ireland

I served at Deepcut for nearly a year and during both of the deaths at Deepcut. Whilst there I saw little bullying. The camp its self was well run with only a few problems.
Dave, England

Brigadier Nick Cottam says there is no evidence of problems or bullying. How many barracks do the army have around the UK and how many recruits have died of suicide at these? Does the answer not tell him anything?
John Heward, England

I haven't ever been the subject of bullying in the army and I honestly think that Deepcut is the easiest place in the army
Andrew Watson, UK

Panorama only confirmed what I had heard via a close friend who had served at Deepcut. I was shocked regarding his stories of bullying and abuses including sexual abuses and advances to not just the female recruits. Deepcut's reputation and that of the Army is soiled. For the sake of the families, serving recruits and the faith the public has in the army, we needs this investigated by the police and parliament as soon as possible.
Mark Shepherd, England

I feel that your documentary was a very biased and one sided story. I respect that the families are grieving, and want answers and that the investigation by the army was conducted badly, but thousands of recruits before and after the mentioned have passed without as much as a scratch. We must always remember that the Army is a tough job, which isn't for everybody!
Mr Garon J Baird, England

Deepcut officers should hang their heads and look deep into the disgusting culture they have created within their camp.
Doug McFarlane, Scotland

I served at Deepcut for six months in 1984. The bullying was bad then and yet there was no-one to tell and even if you had the courage to do so your life would have been made hell. I really don't think anyone without an army background understands just how hard to can be to bring wrong doings to light without real fear of getting into trouble.
Helen, UK now in USA

This problem is not new by any means! My son entered Deepcut as a boy recruit, hoping to continue his training. This was in the year of 1972. He soon let us know that he was in trouble of the same kind that the youngsters have experienced recently. His health began to suffer and he became a bag of nerves. He then asked us to get him out, which we did. My son is not one to give in easily.
Philip Bunting, England


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