On the 1st December 1974 I was the happiest man in the world. I became a father for the first time when my son Shaun Andrew was born.
We went on to have four more children 3 boys and a girl. Sadly our second son contracted Meningitis and passed away at 6 days old. Shaun was 10 months old at the time and was a great comfort to us at a very difficult time.
When Shaun was at senior school he joined the Combined Cadet Force and was an active member in all three services represented, I still speak regularly with the trainer who tells me that Shaun wasn’t the most obedient cadet but could be relied on to complete any task when asked.
Shaun left school in 1990 and worked at various jobs but couldn’t settle down.
He told us he was going to join the RAF but when he went to the recruiting office they were only taking Bandsmen and Nurses. Neither was for him so he was going back later to try again.
He went with a friend who wanted to join the Army to show him where the Office was and was talked into taking the entry test. His friend was unsuccessful due to a medical condition but Shaun was accepted. The friend’s family still apologise today for getting Shaun in the Army.
Shaun joined the Army in January 1993 and Passed Out at Bassingborne on 8th April 1993.
He served in Bosnia and this seemed to have a massive effect on him. He would never talk about the things he saw there but we did find out that while there they had bought and distributed sweets to the kids and food to the local people who had nothing.
Every year I would go to Germany for two weeks to visit Shaun, his partner and their son. I had booked to visit in March 2003. Shaun’s partner rung me and told me that Shaun had been deployed to Iraq in February but hadn’t told us as he didn’t want us to worry. During this visit I spoke to Shaun in a phone call he made to his partner. This was the last time we would speak.
When it was announced by Tony Blair that we were going to war I believed all the reasons he gave. Surely with the obvious loss of life which war would bring nobody would tell lies.
On Mothers Day March 30th 2003 we were informed that Shaun had died in Iraq.
Over the next few months things started to come out that the reasons for going to war may be false. I became involved with STW and we formed Military Families Against War to try force the truth from Tony Blair. We went to court on several occasions culminating in a hearing by Law Lords where we were refused an enquiry. The government set up the Chilcot Inquiry. Six years later we are still waiting for their report.
In 2009 I confronted Tony Blair and accused him of lying, having blood on his hands and that he would one day have to face what he had done. At the time he was up for President of Europe but partly due to this confrontation European leaders withdrew support and he was unsuccessful.
I have always believed that war is wrong and there must be a better way and for the last twelve years have spoken out publicly whenever and wherever I can to oppose war anywhere in the world.
Peter Brierley, 2015