England expects; or, I cannot answer that question, sir.

I’m trying to get inside Leading Seaman Turney’s head. (Sordid details here.)

“Obviously we trespassed into their waters,” British sailor Faye Turney said on the video broadcast by Al-Alam, an Arabic-language, Iranian state-run television station that is carried across the Middle East.

“They were very friendly and very hospitable, very thoughtful, nice people. They explained to us why we’ve been arrested, there was no harm, no aggression,” she said.

It also showed what appeared to be a handwritten letter from Turney to her family. The letter said, in part, “I have written a letter to the Iranian people to apologize for us entering their waters.’’

Does the Royal Navy really do no training at all in behaviour on capture? I guess it’s possible – there isn’t a large-scale tradition of naval POWs. On the other hand, Cornwall‘s crew, or at least her boarding parties, clearly counted as prone-to-capture troops. The AP story explains:

In 2004, eight British sailors were captured as they were delivering a patrol boat to the Iraqi Riverine Patrol Service. Britain described the mission as “routine” but Tehran accused them entering Iranian waters illegally.

A day later, Iran said the sailors would be put on trial, and Iranian TV broadcast video of them blindfolded and sitting on the ground. Two of them later read a statement of apology for entering Iran’s territorial waters, saying it was a mistake.

The sailors later told reporters they had been mistreated and subjected to mock executions.

So either this is a serious, serious training failure which should be ending careers at the Admiralty, or Turney should be looking at the business end of a court martial. There were Commonwealth POWs who co-operated with German propaganda broadcasts during the Second World War (though not the week after capture), and many of them ended up doing serious prison time for treason. Two Canadians served 25 years in Dorchester for this kind of thing, if memory serves.

Here’s more!

Dear Mum & Dad,

I am writing to you from Iran where I am being held. I will try to explain to you the best what has happened. We were out in the boats when we were arrested by Iranian forces as we had apparently gone into Iranian waters. I wish we hadn’t because then I’d be home with you all right now. I am so sorry we did, because I know we wouldn’t be here now if we hadn’t. I want you all to know that I am well and safe. I am being well looked after. I am fed three meals a day and have a constant supply of fluids.

The people are friendly and hospitable, very compassionate and warm. I have written a letter to the Iranian people to apologize for us entering into their waters. Please don’t worry about me, I am staying strong. Hopefully it won’t be long until I am home to get ready for Molly’s birthday party with a present from the Iranian people.

Is this woman an adult?