Veterans go to war over independence campaign

VETERANS on both sides of the referendum debate have lined up to issue a plea for voters to back their campaigns.

More than 400 former servicemen and women have signed a statement arguing that Scotland will be stronger and more secure as part of the United Kingdom.

Meanwhile, a group of veterans backing a Yes vote have issued their own letter saying the referendum is about democracy rather than supporting a “self-serving Westminster establishment”.

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The pro-union group includes 11 Second World War veterans and 15 generals.

Among the signatories is Colonel Ian Critchley of the Black Watch, the first officer in the Highlands Division to cross the Rhine in 1945, and two Second World War veterans who sank the Bismarck and the Tirpitz – Lieutenant Commanders Jock Moffat and John Lorimer.

They said: “We are in no doubt that were Scotland to break away from the United Kingdom the current arrangements for defending all these islands would be irresponsibly weakened.”

The pro-independence group responded to comments by former British Army head Lord Dannatt, who said a Yes vote would be ‘’letting down’’ Scottish soldiers who died fighting in Northern Ireland.

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The group include 102-year-old Desert Rat Jimmy Sinclair, retired Lieutenant Commander and Faslane Naval intelligence officer Colin May and Veterans Minister Keith Brown MSP, who served in the Royal Marines.

The letter reads: “As former UK Armed Forces personnel, we take the strongest possible exception to the outrageous statement by Lord Richard Dannatt implying that our fallen comrades died in support of a No vote in a Scottish independence referendum. How dare he take their sacrifice in vain and try to turn it to political advantage – particularly having presided over the destruction of Scotland’s historic regiments.”