Soldiers ordered to hand in all photos

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The Independent Online

"In a war you have to let your men retaliate," said Mick Helm, a builder who was a Queen's Lancashire Regiment lance corporal at 19 and served in Northern Ireland.

"In a war you have to let your men retaliate," said Mick Helm, a builder who was a Queen's Lancashire Regiment lance corporal at 19 and served in Northern Ireland.

"Your job is to get prisoners and get information from them. Break them down quickly. You have to move fast and hard. We were certainly allowed to put sacks over prisoners' heads in our day. Nothing wrong with that."

Mr Helm's views may well reflect those of ordinary soldiers, but the Army will not welcome them at a time when it is battling accusations of widespread abuse. Senior officers in the QLR, stung by the regiment being identified in the fake abuse pictures published by the Daily Mirror last year, and anticipating cases such as the court martial now being held in Germany, have ordered their men to hand in all personal photographs taken in Iraq, even snaps given to their families at Christmas.

The father of a QLR man said: "It's hard to understand the panic about those pictures. We had to hand in marvellous pictures of my lad being mates with dozens of friendly Iraqi lads. The pictures actually proved that our soldiers were doing good work. I had about 50, showing them fighting on the Shatt al Arab waterway and in friendly gatherings with people they liberated."

An unrepentant Mr Helm said: "I know all about what you get from treating prisoners well. That doesn't mean you haven't got to dish it out. I think QLR morale is down because they have been changing the Army to suit the soldiers, instead of changing the soldiers to suit the Army. "