British troops waiting to attack Iraq have been told to behave like liberators rather than conquerors.
Lt Col Tim Collins urged his troops not to kill unnecessarily
But they have also been warned some of them may not return from Iraq alive.
Lieutenant Colonel Tim Collins gave the battlegroup of the 1st Battalion
of the Royal Irish the pep talk as the US deadline for Saddam Hussein to leave Iraq or face action ticked away.
Reporters said the men listened in silence to the address at Fort Blair Mayne desert camp, 20 miles from the Iraqi border.
"We go to liberate not to conquer. We will not fly our flags in their
country," he said.
"We are entering Iraq to free a people and the only flag which will be
flown in that ancient land is their own. Show respect for them.
"There are some
who are alive at this moment who will not be alive shortly. Those who do not
wish to go on that journey, we will not send.
If you are
ferocious in battle remember to be magnanimous in victory
Lieutenant Colonel Tim Collins
"As for the others I expect you to
rock their world. Wipe them out if that is what they choose. But if you are
ferocious in battle remember to be magnanimous in victory.
"Iraq is steeped in history. It is the site of the Garden of Eden,
of the Great Flood and the birthplace of Abraham. Tread lightly there.
see things that no man could pay to see and you will have to go a long way to
find a more decent, generous and upright people than the Iraqis.
"You will be
embarrassed by their hospitality even though they have nothing.
"Don't treat them as refugees for they are in their own country. Their
children will be poor, in years to come they will know that the light of
liberation in their lives was brought by you.
"If there are casualties of war
then remember that when they woke up and got dressed in the morning they did not
plan to die this day.
"Allow them dignity in death. Bury them properly and mark
To his 800 men - an arm of the 16 Air Assault Brigade - he said: "It is my foremost intention to bring every single one of you out alive but there may be people among us who will not
see the end of this campaign.
"We will put them in their sleeping bags and send
them back. There will be no time for sorrow.
"The enemy should be in no doubt that we are his nemesis and that we
are bringing about his rightful destruction.
"There are many regional commanders
who have stains on their souls and they are stoking the fires of hell for
"He and his forces will be destroyed by this coalition for what they have
done. As they die they will know their deeds have brought them to this place.
Show them no pity."
There may be people among us who will not
see the end of this... We will put them in their sleeping bags and send
them back, there will be no time for sorrow
Lieutenant Colonel Tim Collins
He said: "It is a big step to take another human life. It is not to be done lightly.
"I know of men who have taken life needlessly in other conflicts, I can
assure you they live with the mark of Cain upon them.
"If someone surrenders to
you then remember they have that right in international law and ensure that one
day they go home to their family.
"The ones who wish to fight, well, we aim to
He warned the troops not to get carried away in the heat of battle.
"If you harm the regiment or its history by over
enthusiasm in killing or in cowardice, know it is your family who will suffer.
"You will be shunned unless your conduct is of the highest for your deeds will
follow you down through history. We will bring shame on neither our uniform or
Warning that the troops were very likely to face chemical or biological weapons, he said:
"It is not a question of if, it's a question of
when. We know he has already devolved the decision to lower commanders, and that
means he has already taken the decision himself. If we survive the first strike
we will survive the attack."
His closing words were resolute: "As for ourselves, let's bring everyone home
and leave Iraq a better place for us having been there. Our business now is