FORMER Royal Marine David Devenney knows only too well the devastating impact the Iraq War had on families.

He spent six years as a Naval Chaplain with time served in Iraq and Afghanistan from 2003 to 2009 and while he was there to support troops, inevitably he was also there to support bereaved relatives during dark times.

Speaking from a personal point of view, the director of Glasgow-based Community Veterans Support said the news that former prime minister Tony Blair was awarded a Knighthood as the New Year Honours were released did not sit well with him.

Read more: New Year Honours 2021: Knighthood for Tony Blair as scientists honoured for fight against covid

“I just felt sick when I heard about it,” said Mr Devenney. “I spent too many hours waiting on the tarmac at RAF Brize Norton waiting for the Hercules aircraft to bring bodies back and seeing the pain of the families.

“I was always against the Iraq War. I didn’t think the reasons we were there were justified. I know it goes with the territory with former prime ministers being given honours, but I don’t agree with it. ”

Former prime minister Tony Blairs knighthood has caused a backlash

Former prime minister Tony Blair's knighthood has caused a backlash

Mr Devenney’s comments come as more than one million people have signed a petition to have Blair’s knighthood “rescinded”. Sir Tony is appointed a Knight Companion of the Most Noble Order of the Garter, the oldest and most senior British Order of Chivalry, by the Queen.

Mr Devenney is helping veterans since leaving the forces for a second time.

He joined the Royal Marines in 1980 and during his 12-year military career, in which he rose to the rank of Colour Sergeant, he saw active service in the Falklands conflict. After leaving he went to university to study theology and, in 2003, took up a post as a naval chaplain where his role was to support servicemen and ultimately their families in times of tragedy.

David Devenney served in both Iraq and Afghanistan from 2003 to 2009

David Devenney served in both Iraq and Afghanistan from 2003 to 2009

He is now director of the Community Veterans Support based in Govan’s Pearce Institute where he is involved in leading a drop-in centre.

It was forced to close its doors during lockdown restrictions but adapted to be able to keep users feel connected. From food parcel drops to even pitching a gazebo in a veteran’s gardens and pulling up a deckchair to offer some support and a listening ear, Mr Devenney and his team quickly changed the way they worked.

Read more: New Year Honours 2021: Full Scottish list revealed

Mr Devenney added: “We have around 300 veterans on our list, including four in their 90s who served in the Second World War. We are a drop-in centre so the essence of what we do is being there for when people need us. We had to close our doors during lockdown but it was important we still reached our socially-isolated veterans who might have difficulty getting about even without the added issue of Covid.”

The charity adapted during lockdown and to develop its outreach project

The charity adapted during lockdown and to develop its outreach project

He is hoping that if restrictions ease then the service can welcome people back later this month and restart the daily lunch club.

“We provide a meal for about 20 people every day and it is not just about feeding people – it is about the interaction and camaraderie which is important and was part of their time in the forces.”

As the news begun to sink in that Sir Tony had been awarded the highest accolade, it was a difficult announcement for many to take.

Rose Gentle, the mother of a Glasgow soldier who was killed at the age of 19 while fighting in Iraq has called on Sir Tony to refuse his Knighthood.

Mrs Gentle said she was in shock when she learned the news and after it began to sink in she felt disgusted and was left asking the question what did her son Gordon’s life mean?

Gordon, from Pollok, died after a bomb planted by the side of a road in Basra, Iraq was detonated as his Land Rover passed.

Rose Gentles son Gordon was killed in Iraq in 2004

Rose Gentle's son Gordon was killed in Iraq in 2004

Private Gentle, who served with the Royal Highland Fusiliers, was straight out of basic training when he died in June, 2004. He had been sent to Iraq with only 26 weeks training.

The petition, which aims to strip the former prime minister of his appointment, reached one million signatures.

A statement accompanying the petition said: “Tony Blair caused irreparable damage to both the constitution of the United Kingdom and to the very fabric of the nation’s society.

“He was personally responsible for causing the death of countless innocent civilian lives and servicemen in various conflicts. For this alone he should be held accountable for war crimes. Tony Blair is the least deserving person of any public honour, particularly anything awarded by Her Majesty the Queen.”

*To find out more about Community Veterans Support go to