BBC TwoPower to the People


Last Updated: Wednesday, 2 May 2007, 10:46 GMT 11:46 UK
Power To The People: The Battle of Trafalgar Square
Power to the People is a three-part series of mischievous documentaries presented by Tim Samuels, who helps some of the most disenfranchised people in society make their voice heard.

Trafalgar Square being "attacked" by platoon
The Battle of Trafalgar Square
Monday 21 May 2007
2100 BST on BBC Two

Tim Samuels joins a specially formed platoon of former soldiers, who believe they have been cast aside after fighting for Britain, to see them pull off one last daring operation.

The Platoon's mission is to invade Trafalgar Square dressed in full military uniform and put up their own giant statue right in front of Nelson's column to honour our abandoned war heroes.

Tim's platoon includes soldiers with shocking tales of neglect who fought in the Falklands right up to those just back from Iraq.

Denzil Connick - one of the platoon soldiers - served in the Falklands Conflict, and his leg was blown off the day before the ceasefire. Twenty-three of his comrades were killed during the same battle. Denzil is still waiting for his latest leg operation. He feels he has been let down by his country.

Scott Garthley served in Iraq. His injuries included spinal fusion and PTSD, yet when he was rushed to an A&E NHS hospital in the middle of the night, the first thing he was told to do was remove his uniform in case he offended anyone.

He was told there were no beds, given a walking stick and told to go and see his GP.

Military hospitals

We used to have 11 military hospitals in the UK, but this year the last one - the Royal Haslar near Portsmouth - is closing. Injured soldiers returning home from war now either go to one unit in Selly Oak NHS Hospital in Birmingham, or to an NHS hopsital that specialises in the treatment they need.

Soldiers erecting statue
Sculptor James Napier made the statue for the abandoned soldiers
Meanwhile the US army may be six times the size of ours but the Americans have far more than six times the hospitals for their returning troops. In fact, they have a staggering 87 military hospitals for serving soldiers and a further 154 hospitals just for veterans.

We have that one unit at Selly Oak, one dedicated rehab centre, and some regional outposts. And for our veterans - well, they have to rely on charities and the NHS.

Somewhere along the line an awful lot of ex-soldiers fall between the cracks: many of the homeless in Britain are ex-forces.

The programme is a deeply moving journey for the soldiers who feel abandoned by their country, and who want to achieve a moment to honour their own by seizing Trafalgar Square and erecting a statue.

The statue of "The Abandoned Soldier" has now found a home at Combat Stress, a charity that supports soldiers who are physically and mentally scared by the effects of war.

But sculptor James Napier hopes a bronze version of the statue can find a permanent place in London.

Power To The People: The Battle of Trafalgar Square was broadcast on Monday 21 May 2007 at 2100 BST on BBC Two.

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