Columnist Ruth Wishart looks forward to the visit of veteran correspondent Allan Little to the Cove and Kilcreggan Book Festival this weekend - and pays tribute to those who fight, and report, on the front lines of war.

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In a month where remembrance of the war dead takes on special significance, the distinguished correspondent Allan Little will share his thoughts on why young men – and young journalists – are so ready to march towards gunfire and conflict.

He’s at the Cove and Kilcreggan Book Festival on Sunday talking about the wartime experiences of his late father-in-law – the former Kirk Moderator Bill MacDonald – and how Allan, himself, pushed to cover some of the world’s most dangerous trouble spots.

He recalls one particularly bloody period in the Middle East where he and a young Jeremy Bowen agitated for visas to drive themselves into the midst of a war zone when the BBC hadn’t dispatched them.

That siren call towards danger, and its all-too-ready response, is something which has preoccupied him more and more over the years, and it’s a conundrum which he will try and unravel for us with that familiar mix of well informed insights and self deprecating humour.

The millions who died on both sides when European diplomats stumbled into the unnecessary carnage of world war one was not the war to end all wars of popular fantasy.

Why so many marched and died in World War One can perhaps be explained in one sense given that governments and media made jingoistic appeals to patriotism whilst assuring their recruits that it would be over in a matter of weeks. Many women, to their shame, took pleasure in handing white feathers to men who hesitated to sign up.

But in the century since there have been many other drastic losses of life, and many other blood stained battlefronts young men have rushed to join, even when it is not “their fight”.

And there are, too, a coterie of war correspondents who travel from conflict to conflict; in a sense forming their own small dedicated army. Many would argue theirs is an essential role to tell truths warring governments would prefer to hide. Some will plead guilty to the charge of being adrenalin junkies. The best of them will resist attempts to embed them within armies and being fed the CO’s party line.

These days some of the front-line reportage from the most desperate trouble spots is dispatched by women. The biography of the Sunday Times’ fearless Marie Colvin by fellow correspondent Lyndsey Hilsum of Channel Four has just been read on the BBC. Sky News’ Alex Crawford is an award winning war correspondent. The BBC’s Lyce Doucet and Orla Guerlin are rarely absent from the front lines of war or famine or both.

Allan Little, who hails from Dumfries and Galloway, has forged many lifelong friendships with others whose job it has been to report from behind the lines. His own coverage stretches from South Africa to the Balkans and the Middle East with lengthy postings to both Moscow and Paris. And he is also, as you will find out at 12pm on Sunday, an extremely nice human being.