Then and now

‘In Kabul in 2001 I was sent with a unit to meet with an Afghan government minister. We had to explain that we weren’t Russian, we were British. As soon as we did he rounded on us and shouted: British? You burned down the covered market! My first thought was s***, what have the Paras done now? I apologised and we got on with the meeting. Back at base I asked who had burned down the market. Blank faces all round, until someone at the back said he thought we had burned down the covered market. In 1842.’

(A quotation from the Road to Kabul exhibition on at the National Army Museum in Chelsea. The exhibition covers the British campaigns in Afghanistan from 1839 to 1919. Go and see it; we’re still making the same mistakes…)

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