Denis Healey knew the costs and casualties – the reality of warfare

35 years ago millions around the world celebrated the end of a brutal war when Vietnam finally removed the US army from its soil. 

Vietnam became a unified country in 1976 after the armed forces of the Communist north seized the south, having fought first against the colonial power France, then against South Vietnam and its US backers, who wanted to stem the tide of communism. The jungle war had produced heavy casualties on both sides, atrocities against civilians, and the indiscriminate destruction and contamination of much of the landscape. 

Despite the terrible legacy of chemical warfare and destruction, Vietnam has survived and prospered. 

Martin Bell, at a meeting reported in The Friend, explained why the British stayed out of the Vietnam war:

“Against the blandishments of Lyndon B Johnson we still would not commit. All he ever asked for was the Black Watch! He didn’t get it. Why? Our defence secretary at the time was Denis Healey, who had served as a beachmaster at Anzio and who knew the reality of warfare. He knew the costs and casualties.” 

On 26th May 2010 at the Bolivar Hall in London many – including guests, singers and speakers from Vietnam – gathered to express solidarity with the people of Vietnam. It was organised by Trade Union Friends of Vietnam and the Vietnamese Embassy with the support of the Britain-Vietnam Friendship Society, Charter for Women and the General Federation of Trade Unions.

May future politicians also fully understand the unacceptable costs of war and ‘war no more’.

Vietnam country profile:


Moseley reader: I’ve been to Vietnam, twice. While I was in Vietnam and talking a  lot of politics with North and South Vietnamese I established that those Missing In Action fellas the Yanks would go on about were more than likely deserters who preferred the way of life of the Vietnamese to that of poverty America – and I have seen that side of America. Indeed there was, particularly around Da Nang, a huge number of Eurasian looking children who could only have been born after the Americans had withdrawn. 

Similarly the case with WWI when Britain would send young lads from the worst industrial cities off to fight in the trenches and they found life in France, and in the army, was actually  a whole lot better than their lives back home. 

Did Britain stay out?? Questionable . . .

One Response to Denis Healey knew the costs and casualties – the reality of warfare

  1. Len Aldis says:

    In his book “Unpeople”, Mark Curtis writes in chapter 12 of the secret support that the UK gave to the US during the war, such as the supply of military weapons and other equipment including huge bombs etc, these were shipped to other European countries where the US collected them to avoid leakage that they came from the UK.
    Our UK military servicemen who served in Vietnam to man some of these weapons that included Radar equipment, were given U.S. identities to keep up the pretence that the UK were not involved in the Vietnam War.

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