Civil and military authorities in the strife-ridden Essex city of Colchester were yesterday at loggerheads following an operation by soldiers from a nearby barracks to rescue two of their colleagues from the local Police Station. “I couldn’t believe what I was seeing – they drove this bloody tank straight through the yard, crushing several police cars, and crashed it through the wall of the cell block,” eyewitness and local resident Sidney Bellend told us. “All these prisoners came streaming out followed by a load of coppers – all hell broke loose then! One of the filth tried to put a ticket on the tank and was attacked by a couple of soldiers, then the rest of the rozzers started trying to arrest the squaddies and a massive ruck started!” Amazing scenes followed, with the police using baton rounds and CS gas against the troops and police cars arriving to reinforce their colleagues being fired on by the Challenger tank. The military were finally forced to retreat after some of the escaped prisoners – a gang of youths previously arrested for joyriding – succeeded in turning the fifty ton tank over and setting it ablaze.

According to both police and local residents, this incident is just the latest in a string of human rights abuses perpetrated by British soldiers upon the civilian population. “It’s bad most days, but Saturday nights are hell – hundreds of drunken louts running around the pubs and clubs, throwing up everywhere, beating up anyone who doesn’t show them enough ‘respect’ and molesting local girls,” says sixty-seven year old Bellend. “If anyone tries to challenge them, they play the ‘combat card’ – ‘I’ve fought for my country, what have you ever done while I was risking my life for you in Afhanistan/the Gulf/Bosnia?’ The little gits seem to think anyone who doesn’t wear a uniform owes them a living just because they’re trained psychopaths! Most of them are barely literate knuckle-draggers who’d be in Borstal under normal circumstances!” However, local military commanders were quick to defend the attack on the Police Station, claiming that the arrested men were actually undercover special forces operatives, and it was essential that they were rescued before they fell victim to local summary justice. “We’ve had experience of local so-called justice before, with our boys being hauled in front of a kangaroo court on trumped up charges, their fate in the hands of twelve locals – how is that fair? It’s no better than mob rule,” explained Brigadier Harold Symes. “Furthermore, we believed that there was a very real risk that the local police were preparing to hand them over to a local militia that they work hand in glove with – we’ve had trouble with them before, detaining soldiers and holding them to ransom!”

However, Superintendent Walter Wang of Essex Police was quick to respond to the Army’s claims, pointing out that the soldiers had been held on charges of being drunk and disorderly. “If they were working undercover disguised as drunken yobs, they were doing a bloody convincing job,” he retorted. “My men were called out to a disturbance at a local kebab shop, where two clearly inebriated men were hurling abuse at staff who had refused to serve them, accusing them of producing chemical weapons and claiming that ‘you bastards don’t need bombs – it’s suicide for any Brit to eat in here!’.” This incident had apparently been preceded by a brawl in a nearby Irish pub and complaints of sexual harassment from several young girls waiting at a bus-stop outside the kebab shop. “Apparently one of them had exposed themselves to these girls- some as young as fifteen – offering to give them several rounds from his ‘trouser mauser’,” says the Superintendent, who also denies that the men were subsequently handed over to local militia. “As per normal procedure, they were handed over to the local Military Police – several hours before this outrageous attack on my station, in fact!”

Whilst Symes concedes that the detained men weren’t actually in the station at the time of the raid, he claims that they were later found being held in what he describes as ‘a paramilitary prison stockade’, being guarded by a group of armed and uniformed militia. “These so-called ‘Red Caps’ have a long-standing vendetta against British soldiers,” he says. “This incident finally gives us proof positive that the local civil authorities are in cahoots with them and have probably been penetrated by insurgents and extremists dedicated to undermining our values!” Indeed, Symes has vowed that corrupt local officials will not be allowed to prevent his men from carrying out their official duties, and has promised that they will be tireless in their quest to root out insurgency in Colchester. “It’s quite clear that law and order have broken down here – crime is rife gangs of drunken youths roam the city by night,” he says. “The lack of discipline in the local civilian population is clear to see – long hair, casual dress, poor posture, wandering around freely without orders and a blatant disregard for authority. Even the bus queues aren’t bloody straight and disciplined!”

Not surprisingly, Essex Police have been quick to refute Symes’ suggestions of corruption and collusion with criminal groups. “Insurgents? What the bloody hell is the man talking about? This is Essex, not bloody Iraq! This isn’t an occupied country – we’re the law here,” says an exasperated Superintendent Wang. “I presume that the ‘insurgents’ he is referring to are the officers from ethnic minorities we have on the force, along with several openly gay officers. As for ‘extremists’, we do have various graduates and even a couple of constables who admit to having aunties who once voted Liberal Democrat!” For his part, Wang has vowed to escalate hostilities if Symes’ men continue to defy the authority of his officers. “The two we arrested were bloody lucky it was only for drunk and disorderly – we could have done them under the latest anti-terror legislation,” he declares defiantly. “They were allegedly taunting the staff and customers in the Irish pub about ‘Bloody Sunday’ – singing songs about and praising the paratroopers who gunned down innocent Irish civilians! If that isn’t the glorification of an act of terrorism, I don’t know what is! Those soldier-boys had better be warned – next time we’ll throw the book at them!”

Symes denies that his soldiers are ‘out of control’, claiming that they are just letting off steam. “These boys have seen action all over the world – they’ve wrecked bars and beaten up foreign civilians in Cyprus, Germany, Australia and Kenya,” he claims. “The kind of action they’ve seen can often leave them traumatised – several of C-Company regularly have flashbacks to that bar in Dortmund and the pitched battle they fought with two local teenagers! They were called names and had their beer spilt by these obvious terrorists and no choice but to defend themselves by glassing the little bastards! It was hell for them!” Foreign observers believe that the problems in Colchester, and other UK ‘army towns’, lies with the country’s continued obsession with World War Two. “You continue to glorify the exploits of ‘Our Boys’ in the Second World War – extolling their professionalism and forever talking about the sacrifices they made to ensure your present freedoms,” says Professor Sigmund Rasser, a military historian at Dortmund University. “By confusing this citizen army with your current collection of socially maladjusted thugs who’ve spent the last sixty years kicking the shit out of Third World foes and proclaiming them great victories – you exempt them from any form of criticism and refuse to contemplate that they are just as capable of rape, brutality, theft and murder as any other group of young louts!”