James Blunt reckons he stopped World War III by refusing to carry out a command when he was a British soldier in Kosovo.
In an interview with BBC Radio 5 live, the You’re Beautiful singer described in detail for the first time his involvement with Nato forces.
Blunt was a cavalry officer in the British Army and was leading a NATO column under order to seize the Pristina airfield in Kosovo in 1999. He was ordered to seize an airfield, and on finding the Russians had got there first was told to “destroy them”.
Refusing to do this prevented the tart of WWIII, according to Blunt.
Blunt explained: “I was given the direct command to overpower the 200 or so Russians who were there. Various words were used that seemed unusual to us. Words such as ‘destroy’ came down the radio.”
Asked if following the order would have risked starting World War III, Blunt, who was a 25-year-old cavalry officer at the time, replied:
“Absolutely. And that’s why we were querying our instruction from an American general.
“Fortunately, up on the radio came General Mike Jackson, whose exact words at the time were, ‘I’m not going to have my soldiers be responsible for starting World War III’.”
Blunt described it as a “mad situation”.
“We had 200 Russians lined up pointing their weapons at us aggressively…and you know we’d been told to reach the airfield and take a hold of it.”
If General Jackson had not blocked the order from the US General Clark, Blunt said he would still have declined to follow it, even though he was risking a court martial.
He said: “There are things that you do along the way that you know are right, and those that you absolutely feel are wrong, that I think it’s morally important to stand up against, and that sense of moral judgement is drilled into us as soldiers in the British army.”
General Sir Mike Jackson has since backed up James Blunt’s version of events, saying he was right to question the orders he received, which could have potentially sparked an even greater conflict with the Russians.