T here can be no doubt that this Friday will be one of the blacker days in the long and proud history of the Royal Navy. The lineage of our Senior Service is peppered with days of glory, from the exploits of the old wooden warships to the actions of the hi-tech vessels of today.
Friday September 30, 2011 will be remembered for less valiant reasons – the day on which the Ministry of Defence sent hundreds of sailors packing.
For many, their fate was being in the wrong place at the wrong time, with swathes of personnel on certain ships facing compulsory redundancy.
Here are men and women who at the time of signing committed years of their lives to the Royal Navy.
Now, at the swipe of a Whitehall accountant’s pen, that commitment has been repaid with the push towards the exit door.
For each man or woman who is forced to leave, the latest cuts represent a personal tragedy.
Thanks to discipline and training, all will leave the service with a better chance than many civvies of finding a job in today’s depressed markets.
But they will still have to find gainful employment and readjust sooner than they expected to life outside of the armed forces.
To the nation as well, the latest cuts also represent a tragedy.
However the government seeks to dress them up, the manpower reductions are another blow to the ability of this island nation to defend itself and to protect our interests around the world.
Strategists and retired high-ranking officers are lining up to warn Mr Cameron and his ministers of the folly of their ways.
Collectively theirs is a clarion voice and if anyone in government thinks it is scaremongering, then he or she is living in cloud cuckoo land.
For those who face the axe on Friday, regrettably the battle has perhaps been lost.
But voices need to be continued to be raised in defence of our armed forces as the government pursues what many see as little more than a policy of slash and burn. They are voices of reason that must be heeded.