Boys Brigade and paramilitarism revisited

A few years back, I tweeted a suggestion that dissident Irish republicans weren’t the only ones who went in for dressing young people up in paramilitary garb. Immediately the twittersphere was filled with abuse and denunciation of this gross slur on the Boys’ Brigade. The report below by the Peace Pledge Union (PPU) suggests the Boys’ Brigade are only in the ha’penny place.  I wonder will Stephen Nolan highlight this dress-’em-up activity? 

Shocking new photographs reveal that a children’s nursery in Lincolnshire dressed pre-school children in real military body armour to mark Armed Forces Day this week.
The Peace Pledge Union (PPU) was made aware of the photographs by a concerned relative.
The incident took place at the ABC Nursery in Boston, Lincolnshire, where a visiting soldier appears to have invited the pre-school children to tryon his body armour and helmet, with the approval of the nursery’s management. It happened on Friday (28 June).
The PPU described the incident as one of the most shocking examples they have seen of everyday militarism in the UK.
The ABC Nursery went so far as to post about the incident on its Facebook page, along with photographs. It is not clear whether parents were consulted about the event.
Meanwhile, other Armed Forces Day events across the UK have seen primary school aged children invited to handle real weapons, including at theArmed Forces Day National Event in Salisbury, which was sponsored by eight arms companies.
The PPU expressed grave concern about child-focused Armed Forces Day events, such as at a school in Hampshire that asked children to wear“camo” fancy dress on Friday. A “free family fun day” in Gillingham onSaturday was sponsored by the multinational arms firm BAE Systems.
PPU members and other peace groups have been handing out leaflets and postcards to challenge Armed Forces Day around the UK.
Symon Hill, Campaigns Manager of the Peace Pledge Union, said:
“I felt sick as I looked at these photos. I thought I had got used to seeing pictures of children being militarised, but never before have I seen such young children being treated in this way in Britain. Even by the standards of everyday militarism, this is extreme.
“Children are being given an image of armed force as fun and exciting before they are even old enough to attend school. Children and young people have a right to hear a range of perspectives on war and peace as they grow up, so that they can form their own opinions as they get older.We urgently need procedures in place to protect children from this sort of behaviour.”

1. The Peace Pledge Union (PPU) is a UK-based pacifist network. PPU members pledge not to support war and to work instead for the removal of the causes of war. The PPU’s work includes promoting peace building and active nonviolence, challenging militarism, providing educational resources on peace and encouraging remembrance for all victims of war.Founded in 1934, the PPU is the oldest secular pacifist organisation inthe UK. Please see and @PPUtoday.
2. The Peace Pledge Union is the British section of War Resisters’International, which unites pacifists around the world. Please see
3. Armed Forces Day was introduced in the UK in 2009, following widespread public criticism of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is held on the last Saturday in June. Local authorities, schools and community groups are encouraged to host local events, while the National Event is held in a different town or city each year.
4. In 2019, Armed Forces Day takes place on Saturday 29 June. The NationalEvent takes place in Salisbury, involving events from Friday 28 to Sunday30 June.
5. The incident at the ABC Day Nursery in Boston, Lincolnshire, took placeon Friday (28 June 2019). Pictures of the children being dressed in realmilitary body armour and helmet by a soldier can be viewed (with thechildren’s faces blanked out) on the Peace Pledge Union’s Twitter page: They were posted by the nursery on its ownFacebook page:
6. A list of sponsors of the Armed Forces Day National Event in Salisbury can be found at Two of the Gold Sponsors are arms companies (BAE Systems and General Dynamics),as are four of the eleven Silver Sponsors (Airbus, Babcock, Boeing and Qinetiq). Another two arms companies are listed as “Proud Supporters”(Chemring and Lockheed Martin).
7. Mayhill Junior School in Odiham, Hampshire, asked children to wear“camo” fancy dress on Friday (28 June) while joining in activities withRAF personnel. Please see
8. BAE Systems sponsored a “free family fun day” in Gillingham in Kent, tomark Armed Forces Day on Saturday (29 June). The event included children’s activities such as a funfair. Please see
9. A summary of the Peace Pledge Union’s position on Armed Forces Day can be found in our briefing at
10. For further information or to request an interview, please contact

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