Skydiving without a parachute

Editorial note: If you have not yet read our mission statement above, please do so in order that you can put our blogs in context. 

24 February 2013

“While we were at Stratford we had lunch with a man I’ve known since primary-school days, but only see every ten years or so. He was telling me about one of the boys who grew up ‘down our road’. He was an aggressive lad who enjoyed stone fights. I expect that a long time ago I told you about my having met him somewhere in 1972-3 when he had passed out of Sandhurst and into the army. He was then in N. Ireland and the particular story he mentioned was an interrogation technique during which they would take a blindfolded IRA suspect up in a helicopter and threaten to throw him out if he didn’t talk. One would then be thrown out, screaming, but only six feet or so above the ground. I suppose this was to encourage a second suspect in the helicopter to talk.”



We have just received the charming anecdote above in an email from an old friend.

No doubt any suggestion of wrong-doing would be firmly denied by the British Army. It always is.

Stratford is  Stratford-upon-Avon, Shakespeare’s birthplace.

Sandhurst is the academy at Sandhurst in Berkshire at which British army officers are trained.

Throwing “Charlie” – US slang for captured Vietcong freedom-fighters – out of helicopters is said to be a practice perfected by the US military during the Vietnam War (1955-1975). The only difference is that this was not done to encourage reluctant prisoners to cooperate when interrogated. According to press reports – doubtless categorically denied by the US authorities – it was for real. You could regard it as non-voluntary sky-diving without a parachute. We remember reading at the time that one of the military bureaucrats involved was a fervent Roman Catholic who used to attend Mass every morning before going about his day’s work.

Nice work if you can get it!



 You might perhaps care to view some of our earlier posts.  For instance:

1. Why? or How? That is the question (3 Jan 2012)

2. Partitocracy v. Democracy (20 July 2012)

3. The shoddiest possible goods at the highest possible prices (2 Feb 2012)

4. Capitalism in practice  (4 July 2012) 

5.Ladder  (21 June 2012)

 6. A tale of two cities (1)  (6 June 2012)

 7. A tale of two cities (2)  (7 June 2012)

 8. Where’s the beef? Ontology and tinned meat (31 Jan 2012)

Every so often we shall change this sample of previously published posts.


This entry was posted in Ireland, Military, Police, UK, USA and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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