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Grieving relatives are determined to keep up their fight against the war

ROSE AND Maxine Gentle are the mother and sister of Fusilier Gordon Gentle, who was killed in Iraq. They shook up the government when they visited Downing Street recently. They have launched a campaign to bring all the British troops home. They spoke t

Issue No. 1917

Rose Gentle

AS SOON as we came back up to Glasgow we started to get letters from ordinary people, from all over Britain and other countries, saying “Don’t give up”.

People have been really brilliant. Maxine has got about 15 letters.

My auntie has joined the campaign. We are going to get people to sign citations at a shopping centre next weekend.

I just feel sorry for the kids over there in Iraq.

Some journalists have criticised me for making my call for the troops to come home.

They say British soldiers had a choice to join the army. Fair enough—my Gordon did.

But he should have had a lot longer training.

He didn’t know he was walking into a full-scale war that was all lies about weapons of mass destruction.

I want to know why Tony Blair hasn’t resigned.

It makes me so angry. These are 19 year old kids. They don’t realise what they’re getting into.

Some of them sign up at 17. The army says, “Come and see the world, learn a career.”

I’ve had the letters from other mothers whose sons are in Iraq saying they know how I feel.

They support what I’ve been saying. One of their sons, who is stationed in Iraq, told his mother to send a card to Mrs Gentle.

These are the people I want to get involved in my campaign.

The dad of the boy who died the other day in Iraq phoned me up.

Just look at the boys in the paper. As Maxine says, they’re so young.

One woman wrote to Maxine that her son went into the army at 17 and saw his friend killed.

He’s been ill for a long time. I heard on a radio station the other day someone say about me, “I don’t think the mother’s grieving.”

I expected that. But they don’t know what they do when I’m on my own.

I go into Gordon’s room, close the door, and that’s me. I just think something has to be done.

I was against this war from the beginning. Now things are just getting worse in Iraq.

That man Blair should listen to his own country.

We are going to say what we think. We have got to do something.

If he doesn’t want us to come down to London he should come up here and talk to us.

We won’t give in. The more they ignore us the more determined we’ll become. He’ll get sick of the sight of me.

Eric Joyce MP has said that I’m being manipulated by the anti-war movement. That’s rubbish. I’ve done this by myself.

If a mother doesn’t speak out, who will? There’s nothing else to do.

I have thought about this. Nobody told me to do this. But if I need the Stop the War Coalition, they’ll be there.

I got a letter from the army saying it’ll take six months to get a headstone for him but I can put my own words on it.

What words can you put on it?

I think a lot of people are thinking, “Give her a couple of weeks and she’ll be quiet.”

But I’m not going away. It could be someone else’s kids next.

Maxine Gentle

It’s good that a lot of people support us and write to us. It gives me a good feeling. I think the war’s wrong and all the troops should come home.

A woman in hospital wrote to me saying that she can’t cry, but if she could she’d cry for me, and I’m in her prayers.

Send letters to the family of Fusilier Gentle, killed in Iraq, Pollok, Glasgow.

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Sat 4 Sep 2004, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1917
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