Michael: My name is Michael Coates. I am a former fire fighter but I am also a former soldier. It is the
stories from the individuals within this military community that I am desperate to document. Today’s
story is the one that inspired me to start this podcast. He fought at the Battle of Danny Boy. He won
the Military Cross. He is an inspirational leader who has and continues to go through an incredible
journey. He has shown bravery, on both the battle field and in the court room. Episode one, Brian
Wood, this is Declassified.
Michael: Brian Wood, thanks for joining us on our first episode of Declassified. How’s things going
Brian: Absolute pleasure. Yes, really well. Busy, but we are all very busy. But yes, all good.
Michael: Can you just give us an overview of your army career? The vital statistics, who you served
with, how long you served?
Brian: Yes, I spent sixteen and half years as a frontline soldier in the Princess of Wales’s Royal
Regiment. And throughout that 16 half years, I went operational a number of times: 2 tours of Kosovo,
2 tours of Iraq, and a tour of Afghanistan. Each tour is about 6 – 7 months long.
Michael: So we are just going to crack straight into it. We are going to go to the 14 May 2004. For a
lot of people, it was the Battle of Danny Boy. For you, it was an experience that changed your life. So
if you could take us back to that time mate, what was the experience?
Brian: 14 May 2004 14:30 hours blistering heat. Just on a normal vehicle checkpoint and just a normal
day in Iraq when I got the order on my radio to stop what I was doing and to mount up onto our
armoured vehicle. Because there had been an incident. So I done that. I collapsed what we were
doing in an orderly fashion mounted up to the vehicle, put the headset on and started asking questions
on what is happening basically and why we had to stop what we were doing. The information that we
had was that there had been an ambush on coalition forces. There had been 2 casualties and it was
our task to go down there because we were armoured and extract the casualties. We did that.
So we were on our way down Route 6 which was a main supply route on the main road running from
South which is Basrah all the way to North, which is Bagdad. It is quite a vulnerable road and we knew
that anyway because you are just sort of channelled in to take that route. So we were travelling down
to Majar al-Kabir on our way down to a couple of these casualties we became decidedly engaged
ourselves but this was an engagement like no other. Even from in the back of the vehicle the sound
and the over powering violence from this ambush was something that I had never experienced before.
When we talk about engagement we are talking about firefighting. We were getting shot at. This was
kind of something I had not experienced before because of how much was going on outside of the
vehicle and how violent it was that I knew it was pretty serious from what was happening to the vehicle.
There was a lot of confusion actually in the turret and the trying to get eyes on the enemy … Waiting for
them to make a judgement call to return fire. Which they started to do probably after 30 seconds, they
fixed the ambush site and return fire. Like I said I was in the back of this vehicle knowing it was a
pretty serious incident which had occurred and let the commander get on with what it was doing with
the gunner as you don’t want to interfere with their business and they are under a bit of pressure
themselves and the last thing they need is me breathing down their necks and asking what is going on
as obviously in the back you are disoriented and there is only a small window which is filled up with
condensation and grit and you let them be. And then maybe a minute into it I started to get some
trickle feed information that they were dug into trenches. There were 15 to 20 militia fighters the
weapons were rocket propelled grenade launches, a 12.5 machine gun so if you are hit you are
shredded basically, and the traditional AK47’s.
Michael: How many of your guys are in the back?
Brian: Me, plus 2. Because of our man scale there were three in the back. At that point, like I said it
was blistering heat, 50 degrees in the back of this armoured vehicle. So you are soaking wet with
sweat. Your adrenalin is pumping. There is a lot of commotion with the Gunner and the Commander.
And yes, I kind of like I said, I asked “what was going on.” I got trickle fed information and then 30
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seconds I was given the wider command which would have changed my life forever. That was,
“Woody prepare your men to fix bayonets. Launch from this vehicle”
Brian: And conduct close quarter fighting. Hand to hand fighting.
Michael: What was that feeling like. You have your headset on… it sounds like a Hollywood film
already. What are your feelings like in the back?
Brian: Initially I had done the look. It’s not something you receive every day to in of get out and go
trench war fighting which hasn’t kind of happened since maybe the Falklands and clearly the World
Wars so this was like something out of the norm really. So, I asked “can you say it again?” yes
“Prepare to launch fix bayonets and go and meet the enemy head on. I was then kind of in tune but
had an overwhelming overdrive of adrenalin. We have all experienced adrenalin be it your wedding day
you are just about to play football you get the nervous butterflies it can be anything to get that charge.
But this was something that I have it was like times ten on what I felt before. It was an overdrive. An
out of body experience. That’s how I felt it was. My heart was smashing on my body armour plate. I
knew anytime now I was going to get out and go to the unknown. I knew I was going to make it you do
not dwell on that fact but there is a lot of discussion and fear were you scared and I am only human
and have emotions and fear is a big thing but it is how you control that fear. So, I tried to use that fear
to my best effect and that dragged me out of that vehicle If you swell on it is contagious. I was 23 and
I was a leader of men if I was going to sit and dwell on that fear it would become contiguous, I don’t
think it would be as inspirational to them if I was to kind of really look scared stiff question myself.
Michael: The standard operating procedures kick in and then when the doors going to open then what
Brian: 5, 4, 3 and then on 3 our vehicle really surpressed the enemy position us so much covering fire
for us to get out and to at least get into this position where I could locate the enemy and make a plan
on how I was going to get this little bit of cover I was in to get this trench system. I just kind of wanted
to give myself the best shot possible so the door opened. It was so bright. I squinted my eyes. I took
my first step on the desert sand. I remember that sound, flying into in my eye and just really hoping for
the best. Running hard and fast aggressive to this like irrigation type ditch to give us a bit of cover
before we went over the top and launched. At that moment I was going to go regardless, and I was
hoping and praying I wasn’t going to go on my own. I kind of knew the boys were not going to let me
down as we had been operating together for a period of time at this point. Its trust and the values we
stand for so yes I just kind of went and concentrated on what I had to do and looked on my left hand
shoulder and just seen the bravest of two other guys running hard and fast and we kind of got down
into this position in a linear line and at this point I had still not seen the position so I said to the boys
kind of check ourselves that we had not been hit because unless I was hit and killed outright and
because of the adrenalin we were not sure if we had been hit. We were checking ourselves so noisy
out to the vehicle with the engagements and the firing going on. It was deafening so I was just of
checking myself that I hadn’t been hit and the other boys were checking, I snuggled up like a little mere
cat and popped my head up over this ditch and that was it I seen this position and thought we are out
of our depths. I was not going to rely that to the boys as it was not inspirational sometime good …
mission and intent and because that’s what we are trained to do.
Michael: There are 3 of you on the ground. That’s the bonkers thing. Do you have any idea how
many people or militia fighting?
Brian: I knew because we were told 15 to 20 so I knew we were massively outgunned and
outnumbered but we had the vehicle to support and but with true Great British values and standards
there was always going to be a chance that we were going to be able to achieve as a lot of people
would say achieve the unachievable. stand back and speak to the buys and stand back. Randomly
when I got eyes on, another 2 soldiers turned up out of the blue. “Alright woody, what’s going on” I
was like “what are you up to? “That was a massive boost of morale and extra courage because that’s
another 2 operators who are highly trained give us a boost and now, we are 5 against 15 to 20 and all
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of a sudden it does not look too bad maybe 1in 3 now. (laughing)
Michael: But, actually as a leader on the ground you have just doubled your fire power so straight
away, I can imagine you are growing in confidence.
Brian: Yes I was still going to conduct something that had not been down for so many years across
open ground and no cover but it needed to be done we were going to bound forward and we were
going to work as a three and a two so the three of us would moe first and then the next two would
move up so we always had one foot on the ground bounding forward and one foot on the ground so
yes I said to the boys “ standby stand by” at this point I didn’t know how far I was going to get but I
was going to try and I was going to die trying really.
So we went over the top and as soon as we did that we were into two way firing to the point where
rounds were in and around our feet. The sand was flicking up. And it was thinking that’s pretty close
and then. zzsszz… zzssszz….zzssszz… around your ears like the bees were buzzing all around me and
it was really intense and tight. It was not a text book infantry attack but it really wasn’t. I was 23. I
was not a technician. I was a young commander. I just did what I think was the best decision to do on
the ground at that time on the ground. As extreme under circumstance sometimes it does not happen
as you want it to happen. There is bit of confusion people hesitate and it kind of was like that if I am
honest. But we still managed to gain momentum to gain a foot hold and we started to get closer and
closer to this position and I still had not heard a man down and no one had been hit and we agreed we
would have carried on to this position and the best course of action would be to carry on where the
fighters were and then we would go back to them and keep the momentum and keep them as safe as
possible. Once we committed we were going and we were just going to go all the way to that trench,
and we just got, closer close and closer until it was shouted “pairs pairs pairs.“ That’s when you go in
and finish up, you roll in the position and take out any fighters who were left. “pairs, pairs, pairs” was
shouted and on that command to all of a sudden and fighting hard for your life all of a sudden. click.
you have to switch that off to then going to arrest mode which is difficult as like I said once you are so
highly in-tune with fighting and all of a sudden they have surrendered now and clearly we have the
Geneva Convention and rules of engagement to an abide by that. Which we did. And it is a tough
thing to do. Because I have been on the ground and experienced it because you get a hairs breath to
get this right. You don’t sit in these armchairs to analyse it you have to then deal with all those prisoner
of war and at this point there are a lot of bodies all over the ground and we were having to segregate
the POWs and the many dead and it was kind of surreal.
Michael: How are you doing that? The training and relentless kind of input information, The Geneva
House and Casualty handling, and POW handling and all the rest of that. How were you conforming to
that there and then on the ground?
Brian: There is definitely confusion as there are a lot of arms distance from the enemy and then trying
to get their weapons away from harms reach and there are bodies all over the place that have been hit
by some serious velocity of ammunition and you can only imagine the state of what they are in because
it’s so close and personal like this. It was like hand to hand stuff. Oh My God. Trying to get my head
around everything. Just delivering clear direction. What you think is right by separating the bodies and
the POWs so we kind of did this but it took a bit of time but this time we never knew that the battlefield
was not clear. So we did not know what was beyond this main position so we kind of beggared it we
sorted it and then it was the first time I sort of sat down and really thought shit what just happened
But I did not have a lot of time because my Sergeant Major turned up to then orchestrate everything
that was going on. As that is his job on the ground to deal with the reorganisation on what happens
with the casualties the POWs so I sat on the ground. He came up to me and he said “Woody what has
happened” He said to me “is the battlefield clear” A massive integrity question because I really did not
want to do again what I had just done so I said to him it’s not clear because as I was approaching I
seen some militia fighters getting up and withdrawing from that position. He was right put a fresh
magazine on and we are going to go up the south side of this irrigation ditch and see if there are any
military fighters. And sure enough we ended up going to the first two. Bang both of us engaged
neutralised the targets moved another ten meters on the other side another 2 militia fighters stood up
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ready to engage. My sergeant major engaged them. Amman RPMG from the waist was just about to
launch from his hip but we managed to get in their quickly and neutralise that threat and at that point I
was really vulnerable and I remember saying and my Sergeant Major is God in the military a real maker
and shaker of men I said we are really vulnerable and he said I agree let’s go back. And on the way
back to the main positon I seen a flicker on the corner of my eyes and I see another 2 fighters and I just
brought my weapon to bear it was honestly like a wild west film we both drew and as I drew my
weapon they are then throwing their weapons down we had to then take them as POWs and walk back
but in my head I was right why didn’t they kill us as our backs were turned. We were walking back to
the main position we had come from they did not engage us when our backs were turned to them so
that played a lot with my headspace.
Michael: I suppose that was totally out of your control and you have also had a little bit more time on
the way back down you have more time to kind of process what is going on so yes you are taken these
two prisoner of war what is going on next? What’s the aftermath?
Brian: We kind of took them back to the main position and found out what was going on and due to
time we judo of speed things up but we were ambushed by nearly a platoon strength see so it is a big
strength of militia fighters.
Michael: How many is that?
Brian : 15 to 20. So there were 20 that were killed and 9 POW so there is a lot on there. Huge huge
attack on collation forces and attack on us. So, we were obviously at that time of the operations we
were in the middle of an uprising it came down from higher that they believed because it was such a
pre-planned attack on us, and the main militia fighter was there. So, a crazy call was made that we
now had to retrieve these dead bodies load them into the vehicles and take them back to camp to
identify if the main militia leader was amongst them and taken alive is difficult. I don’t care what
anyone says it can be the hardest person in the world. Taking another person’s life and hearing their
last gasp is a demanding process. Fact. it’s a demanding process to have to then go back and pick
these bodies up and these bodies are 16, 17, 24 years old. These are young fighters.
Michael: Just like you?
Brian: Yes, just like me. Who have young family. I know they ambushed us. They wanted to kill us.
But the bottom line is I am only human and I see this and its difficult. So I am picking these bodies up.
The first body I picked up I scooped under and my hand ended up going through his rib cage. I said
this is not right what is going on. And then JC was being violently sick next to me. It was really
honking. That’s all I can describe it.
Michael: It sounds like such an upsetting post battle experience ?
Brian: That was the hardest thing to try and process.
Michael: Where are we putting the dead?
Brian: Into the back of the armoured vehicles. So, we load them up. I think it was ten bodies per
vehicle. We then take them back to camp. It was dark at this point. There was a lot of commotion. I
get clear directions to take the ground vehiclesto the …. Doctor is waiting. The body bags are all laid
out. “Woody this is what needs to happen.” So, I gave clear direction what needs to happen to the
guys with an armoured vehicle the back door is on a hydraulic system as it not a car door. These are
solid heavy doors. You press a button and the hydraulics open the door. I said to one of the lads you
need to open the door, pressed the button and nothing happened. And I knew as if this day could not
get any worse. The door would not open and the only way to open the door would be to climb over the
bodies and hand crank the door at the back. I could not believe what was going to happened one of
us had to do that. So, I thought it was only fair that we should play paper rock scissors.
All of us were covered in blood from loading the bodies up. Fatigued. Probably shell shocked to a
degree battle shocked and having to play Rock Paper Scissors. The driver lost he put a head torch on
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he was asking us to reassure him he had his head torch on it was boiling hot you can only imagine
what was coming out of these bodies. And what happened on the battle dield one of the military
fighters had been shot in the leg but played dead. It was one of the soldiers faults not checking the
pulse before he was loaded on as dead. The driver is now cranking this door he has probably got to a
position where he could slide out, get out sideways it was open that much, when all of a sudden this
militia fighter sat up, bolt right.
Michael: I am laughing, but its nervous laughter.
Brian: Yes, I mean. I could hear loads of screaming going on.
“What are you doing in there”
He was like “he is alive he’s alive”
I was “Who is alive?”
So, the driver squeezed out of this gap and sprinted down the road screaming for his life “He is alive”
…. Honest to God – he gave me the nod, as if to say, “Alright mate.” And I was like, “Oh My God.” So
we took him out. He was now being processed as a POW. And, yes that’s a kind of quick insight into
the pretty infamous Battle of Danny Boy.
Michael: So we will take you to your homecoming. You get the flight back and there is a warm
welcome off the family. What is that Day 1 like?
Brian: Well actually I left to go to Iraq like I said as a young 23-year-old. I had just had my first born
son. He was 3 weeks old. Leaving was like a kiss on his head. I never got a bonding stage with him,
The mother gains that initial bond. I kissed him on the head and went away. I was excited to be a dad
and came back and it was a lot harder than what I expected. Coming home I did not have any
decompression, zero decompression. I went from one day fighting hard in the city in Iraq, to one day
knocking on my front door seeing Bailey my son now 6 months old so that was like wow.
Michael: Can you explain to everyone that time in Iraq that was at its most fierce. More rounds being
fired than in the Korean war. You are flying back and you have your six month in your arms. How was
Brian: I tried to be a dad and put myself in a fast ball training course to be a dad. But it just does not
work like that I would hold him he would cry. I would feed him he would cry. I would bath him he
would cry. I became agitated verbally aggressive to Lucy, my wife. I think I kind of bit of jealousy that
she had something that I really wanted which was to bond. That was my son and I never had anything
like she had. And Lucy stuck by me she coached me she mentored me. But I didn’t want to be told
how to be a dad. It was a struggle a real struggle. When I was making a bottle I got the measurements
wrong and through it around the kitchen and told her to make it. It just kind of escalated that was
probably the beginning of post-traumatic stress. I believe that is where it started to kick in.
Michael: You are aware of it now. Hopefully I am not speaking for you but I am sure you were not
aware of them now.
Brian: I did not really know what this was. I had heard of shell shock. I did not understand the coping
mechanism. I did not understand anything about it did not know how to speak about it just kind of got
on with it in 2004.
Michael: And how was Lucy reacting to you? Is she becoming more distant, closer? What is the
Brian: I was all to do with me really and how I was and how I was to her. Always putting her down. I
was never physical but sometimes verbally you can do more damage. That’s the point where we
reached to breaking point really where we separated a year and a half just short of a year but it was
down to me how much they could cope with. I was a leader commander decision maker. All male
organisation front line infantry soldiers who beat their chests every morning so much testosterone. I
would like to think I was an inspiration. That I was courageous that I was being weak and I would not
be the inspiration that I wanted to be and people would look at me in a different light. So I shut it out.
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Michael: You do these podcasts are so important to show your vulnerability and be really honest with
your relationship with Lucy when you came back. And now looking back and appreciating those
symptoms. You won the military cross out of the Battle of Danny Boy. You collected that from
Buckingham Palace. You mentioned there was a break up and you left the military at that time and I
am going to skim over it you re-joined and then you received a letter in 2009 and I would like you to
carry on from there in your words.
Brian: 2009 I was on my Commando Course as I had just been earmarked to be an instructor in the
Royal Marines Commando Course. So for credibility the right thing to do was to do the commando
course week 4. My phone had 25 missed calls and I was like (from Lucy) so I knew straight way
something was wrong and by this time we had rebuilt my relationship. She would never call me when
we are on a course. She would leave me alone. This I thought there is something happened here. She
said look I have a letter here and it states that there is going to be a public enquiry launched and the
allegations are murder, mutilation and mistreatment of Iraqi’s. And I was like. It can’t be. “Lucy is it
definitely my name on that letter.” She said it is addressed to you. It is 100% addressed to you. She
then started reading the details to me of what was in that letter. It kind of threw me massively when I
was on a course and needed to be focused and then I heard this and I started to feel all sorts of
emotions. Because I have never been a murderer. I have never mutilated. It just really threw me in a
flat spin. And I just could not believe this all came out without me being sat down spoke to on a one to
one. Asking me if they could do anything for me.
Michael: So, this letter is out of the blue?
Brian: Yes, out of the blue. No one came. it may have been because I had been away. This is me
trying to protect and stand-up for the organisation. I was still let down massively. Even if I was away
someone should have flown from Germany and sat me down and walked me through this as this was
the most serious of allegations anyone can go through. Murder. That is Brutal.
Michael: So at this point you are half way through an intense course and at this point in … 2009. Have
you actually sought help for the trauma you experienced in 2004?
Brian. No , I just parked everything.
Michael: So, in your head…. You have a book coming out. a opt more trauma that had gone in
between then and where we are now. Still no help you are now going to get wrapped up in what is
known as the Al-Sweady Inquiry. I am going to push us forward to March 2013 when we are going to
court now. I want to let you run front here.
Brian: Well it was clearly a difficult period of time in the lead up as it was a ten-year enquiry back and
forth statements, solicitors, statements, statements, statements, statements…. To the day I had to go
to court. I am not a blue eyed boy. I have never done something severe enough to go to court this
was a new thing for me. I did experience pressure the morning it was a freezing cold morning clear
skies walking. I actually met my solicitor in Fleet street in London. We came together in the court
balding and on the way about 50 meters away I could see all the paparazzi and the commotion and
there were all sorts of people running around with cameras. It was just kind of overwhelming really We
went through the main door into the main court room area. It was packed because of the public enquiry
they were all in the benches all the court room was stacked off people, screens everywhere. Well out
of my comfort zone.
Michael: How were you dealing with that mentally? In 2014, when this court case is going ahead.
Where were you in your head right now?
Brian: In 2012, I plucked up enough courage to speak to a professional. By the time 2014 came I
could actually manage my headspace because it was … I understood coping mechanism I understood
how to react if I was feeling a certain way because I had been speaking to this professional that was a
journey in itself. I never say it was 8 years too long definitely I caused a bit of damage along the way
my relationship and not being the Brian that everyone knew and loved. I had a very good façade but
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inside I was probably a broken man in places. But no one knew about that because I could turn it on
and off like a flick of a switch. When I went through the court in 2014 I spoke to someone and had
sessions about what had happened previously but this was still pure pressure I am now going to get
cross examined on every single thing what happened during the Battle of Danny Boy and reliving
everything for that. Ten years later. On the screens. They are clever people. They knew my
statements better than I did. They have not walked a meter in my shoes for them to question me and
my integrity and my core values in what I stand for. It was heart breaking and I was shaking with anger
and it was devastating I was standing on the dock. To swear the truth the whole truth and nothing but
the truth, it broke me in half. People who do not know me. War is brutal. War is the hardest thing to
get your head around. I chose to make a difference. I do not make these decisions to send us to these
places which is demanding and fighting day after day and seeing the trauma thought-out. Seeing
someone injured. Being injured yourself. To everyday fighting. I did not choose that. The politicians
chose to make that decision. All of a sudden now while my back is against the wall, I am having zero
support from the people who sent me. I am fighting a harder battle on up soil. I would rather be on
operations fighting. I never knew how to fight this battle. I was on my own. My back was against the
wall. No one was calling me up to ask is the family okay. I am thinking there is going to be some
repercussions. Lucy is worried now someone is going to come around. I’ve got my sons name now in
school. My name is going around their school that Baileys dad has murdered innocent civilians. I don’t
know how to deal with all of this now. Because no one supported me from the Government.
Michael: So, there is no MP looking after you?
Brian: The only person, and in all fairness, I reached out to him was Jonny Mercer look can you come
and meet me in the Shard. He came and met me to imitate that. No one asked me how I was doing.
How the family is can we support you from the hardest battle of my life. And that was on UK soil.
Michael: And how was other family unit coping. There is a triangle. There is the servicing member, the
partner and the children themselves. We often forget that. Actually, children go through separation
problems. They go through the trauma of seeing their parent in trauma and the result of conflict. Then
the pressure is on the partner who is staying at home. We often forget that. You don’t because you
have experienced it.
Brian: Definitely. They are the real hero’s. My wife. God knows how she has been resilient though
times of adversity. She deserves my medal. Which I always say it reflects the guys on the ground
100% it is not my medal. Even though clearly it is. It reflects all the hard work.
Michael: Is the medal always positive?
Brian: No. Winston Churchill once said a medal shines, but it also casts a shadow. And there clearly
has been a huge shadow casted over that medal because it is not bery often I talk about it because of
everything that has happened has overshadowed over that. It is life and I have to just try and extract
the positives out of it and punch forward we are actually happier now than we have been for a long
Michael: What does the verdict come in at?
Brian: He is a shyster. He is a dishonest
Michael: We are talking about Phil Shiner who was a public lawyer. Who falsely accused members of
the British military of war crimes during the Iraq invasion of 2004?
Brain: So, everything that he questioned me on in the court room he had none of it. I lived by my
values. He has none. His moral compass.
Michael: There was a lot of dishonesty.
Brian: 12 charges of dishonesty. He was then struck off all practice he then made himself bankrupt.
Did not bother turning up to his court room hearing because of stress. Stress! Come and experience
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what me and all the other fella soldiers went through that is stress mate war. So actually, suck it up
and go to court because its your time.
Michael: Its values. When you can live by values. Over ten years and conflict and good stuff also. Go
through all that and live with it the stress and strain of your family. That must have been like a slap in
the face for someone who has dragged you through it to say sorry I can’t come to court today because
I am a little stressed out.
Brian: It is ridicules. It is crazy.
Michael: So post-verdict everyone is off. All the guys walk out the courtroom. You get a positive
result. What was life like after that verdict?
Brian: It was still kind of closed as I could keep it closed as much as I possible could keep it closed
and then I was asked by Good Morning Britain if I could go on and break silence for the first time how
this affected me, my fellow soldiers and the people around me. Which I did I go on and broke silence.
It then just snowballed from there. I have got my book out.
Michael: What is the book called?
Brian: Double Crossed: A Code of Honour, A Complete Betrayal
Michael: I have had a sneak peek into it.
Michael: It is just unbelievable. I just can’t stress this enough for anyone who is listening to get your
hands on this book and to give it a read.
I want to bring you to present day because I think you do a lot of speaking at schools, with industry
and a lot of corporate stuff. But you have coping mechanism to deal with the trauma. what I want you
to do now is give advice for anyone if they are a 13-year-old getting bullied at school or all way up to
people who have experienced severe trauma, paramedics, guys who have been in the military and just
in general. What is your kind of advice for them going forward?
Brian: I think any organisation, be it, corporate, schools, sports professionals, the military It has to be
spoken about at grass roots. Mental health has to be a common subject that is just normal to speak
about. At the moment there is a massive stigma. No one knows how to approach this mental health
subject. It needs to be rolled out continually to be spoken about. It is just as important as you walk
through those gates as a new recruit it is just as important as physical fitness as map reading as
weapon handling – mental health. They should be getting external people who have gone through a
traumatic time, whether it be anxiety stress, depression, trauma, bring them in and let’s listen to their
journey at an early stage. Straight at grass roots straight away. There should be support hubs. Just in
my opinion. I am not gold standard I am just kind of talking this off from my experiences. Talking is the
biggest thing in my opinion. I was scared stiff to talk about it because of my background. But actually
because I did it was like a domino effect. It was, people were like, he has done it so why can’t I do it.
That is the ultimate bravery I believe. It is incredible. Danny Rose, yesterday spoke about anxiety his
depression within football. That’s credit to him to be strong enough to do that. It is the domino effect.
Michael: Mate he would not have done it if you did not talk about it, Prince Harry did not talk about it
and the countless people who we see are strong. Ten years
Brian: No one is immune to mental health. No one is immune to it. This is why we have to try and do
something about it. A week ago, a guy, Danny Johnson, who was in my regiment, overly proud person.
Had a few issues in his life. Wasn’t brave enough to speak out and unfortunately took his life. This is
the tip of the iceberg. It really is. Yesterday there was another veteran. Obviously, because I am a
veteran that’s what I have got most relationship with. But I know it obviously wider with everything
that is going on within business and the sports industries and so on and so forth.
Episode 1, Brian Wood MCDeclassified Podcast
But clearly because of my last 17 year’s experience of being in the military I can only look at it from that
Michael: We can’t do everything. But we can do this. We can create this podcast. This conversation
may help one person. I have said this a few times before, that there are little children walking around
now, who would have been in a wheelchair, had it not been for Iraq and Afghanistan because of
prosthetics and the way they are developed.
We are going to finish now. You are an inspiration to me. You are an inspiration to others. The more
that comes out and the speeches you do. You talk about post-traumatic stress but there is also a thing
called post traumatic growth. You are a prime example of that. You have been wiser stronger and
more accepting of others and by this conversation you can tell your relationships are stronger and you
certainly have more compassion. You are compassionate to us like a second to none. Yes, bravery
comes in different forms, but you are expressing that then and now. Mate, I just want to say thanks a
lot for the conversation. It’s been great.
Brian: It’s been a real pleasure and I hope it has been beneficial. Thanks for having me on and keep
doing what you are doing because that is inspirational as well.