Iraq War Speech (2003)

This introduction was written by The London Times: "A century hence, people will still be reading the speech written by Lieutenant-Colonel Tim Collins, the 42-year-old commander of The Royal Irish battle group, which he delivered to his troops in Kuwait on Wednesday afternoon, just hours before they went into battle. Colonel Collins has a history degree, but does not look like a poet. Readers of The Times will have seen his photograph, in shades and combat gear, a cigar clamped between his teeth. He has the air of a Rambo, but the literary touch of a Rimbaud.

Imagine you are in the Kuwaiti desert, your face sandpapered raw, scared to your bowels and stoned on adrenalin, knowing you are about to fight, and kill, or die. And hear this:"


Instructions to the Royal Irish Battle Group

by Lieutenant-Colonel Tim Collins

THE enemy should be in no doubt that we are his Nemesis and that we are bringing about his rightful destruction. There are many regional commanders who have stains on their souls and they are stoking the fires of Hell for Saddam. As they die they will know their deeds have brought them to this place. Show them no pity. But those who do not wish to go on that journey, we will not send. As for the others, I expect you to rock their world.

We go to liberate, not to conquer. We will not fly our flags in their country. We are entering Iraq to free a people, and the only flag that will be flown in that ancient land is their own. Donít treat them as refugees, for they are in their own country.

I know men who have taken life needlessly in other conflicts. They live with the mark of Cain upon them. If someone surrenders to you, then remember they have that right in international law, and ensure that one day they go home to their family. The ones who wish to fight, well, we aim to please. If there are casualties of war, then remember, when they woke up and got dressed in the morning they did not plan to die this day. Allow them dignity in death. Bury them properly, and mark their graves.

You will be shunned unless your conduct is of the highest, for your deeds will follow you down history. Iraq is steeped in history. It is the site of the Garden of Eden, of the Great Flood, and the birth of Abraham. Tread lightly there. You will have to go a long way to find a more decent, generous and upright people than the Iraqis. You will be embarrassed by their hospitality, even though they have nothing ...

There may be people among us who will not see the end of this campaign. We will put them in their sleeping bags and send them back. There will be no time for sorrow. Letís leave Iraq a better place for us having been there. Our business now, is north.