I’m creating a new page for my website/blog , Books about the Troubles ( see: 60 Films about the Troubles ) which will be a comprehensive list of the “best” /most popular books covering all sides of the Northern Ireland conflict.
The list is very long and I dont have the time or to be completely honest the patience to read them all and then write countless reviews. Therefore as many of my Twitter friends/followers are interested/lived through the Troubles I was hoping some of you guys would be interested in writing reviews for any book of your choice and I will give you full credit when I publish the blog post/add the new page.
If your interested DM me or leave a comment at the bottom of this page and I’ll be in touch.
Adler Berriman “Barry” Seal (July 16, 1939 – February 19, 1986) was a Trans World Airlines (TWA) pilot who became a major drug smuggler for the Medellín Cartel. When Seal was convicted of smuggling charges, he became an informant for the Drug Enforcement Administration and testified in several major drug trials. He was murdered in 1986 by contract killers hired by Pablo Escobar, head of the Medellín Cartel.
The Rise & Fall of Pablo Escobar El Patron Medellin Cartel Documentary
Seal, born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, was the son of Mary Lou (née Delcambre) and Benjamin Kurtis Seal, a candy wholesaler. Seal began flying as a teenager. According to his flight instructor, he was a naturally gifted pilot. He earned his student pilot certificate at 16 and a private pilot’s certificate at 17.
Seal joined TWA as a flight engineer in 1964 and was soon promoted to first officer, then captain, flying a Boeing 707 on a regular Western Europe route. He was one of the youngest 707 command pilots in the TWA fleet.
Seal’s career with TWA ended in July 1972, when he was arrested for involvement in a conspiracy to smuggle a shipment of plastic explosives to Mexico using a DC-4. The case was eventually dismissed in 1974 for prosecutorial misconduct, but TWA in the meantime fired Seal, who had falsely taken medical leave to participate in the scheme.
Drug smuggling career
According to statements Seal made after becoming a DEA informant, he began smuggling small quantities of cannabis . By 1978, he had begun flying significant loads of cocaine, because pound-for-pound it was more profitable.
In December 1979, Seal was arrested in Honduras after returning from a drug smuggling trip to Ecuador. Although the Honduran police did not find any cocaine, they did find an M-1 rifle, and Seal was imprisoned until July 1980.
Undeterred by his arrest, Seal expanded his operations upon returning to the United States. He hired William Bottoms, his ex-brother-in-law, as a pilot, and from 1980 on Bottoms was the main pilot in Seal’s smuggling enterprise, while Seal oversaw planning and operations.
Seal later began working for the Medellín Cartel as a pilot and drug smuggler. He transported numerous shipments of cocaine from Colombia and Panama to the United States, and earned as much as $1,300,000 per flight.
Seal was eventually arrested in connection with his drug smuggling activities. In a Florida federal court, he was indicted, tried, convicted and sentenced to 10 years in prison. After his sentencing, Seal approached the DEA and offered to cooperate with the government as an informant.
Federal officials agreed to use him in that capacity and mentioned his cooperation during hearings in which Seal sought a reduction of his sentence. With an agreement reached, Seal began working as a federal informant in March 1984.
According to the Frontline: Godfather of Cocaine investigation, Ernst “Jake” Jacobson was Seal’s DEA handler during this period. Jacobson claims he still has the high-tech message encrypter which he gave Seal.
“We made sure all of his aircraft were equipped with the most expensive cryptic radio communications we had ever seen at that time,”
Seal was both a smuggler and a DEA informant/operative in this sting operation against the Sandinista government in Nicaragua. In 1984, Seal flew from Nicaragua to Homestead Air Force Base in Florida with a shipment of cocaine that had been allegedly brokered through the Sandinista government.
This cocaine was seized by the DEA and was never received by the cartel’s distribution handlers in Florida, which in Medellín caused suspicion to fall upon Seal as the person responsible for this lost shipment.
Edmond Jacoby’s report in the July 17, 1984 issue of the Washington Times linked officials in the Sandinista government to the Medellín cartel and discussed Seal’s mission to Nicaragua. The public disclosures jeopardized Seal’s life and quickly brought an end to the sting operation designed to capture the cartel’s leaders.
Questioned about the identity of the source, Jacobson replied, “I heard that the leak came from an aide in the White House”. He stated that Iran–Contra figureOliver North had attended two meetings about the sting operation and had motivation to release the information. UPI reported: “By linking the Sandinistas with drug traffic … aid to the rebels accused of human rights violations might seem more palatable”.
Hawkins told Frontline that neither she nor her staff leaked the information after the briefing.Jacoby later denied that North was the source of his story and attributed it to a deceased staff member for Representative Dan Daniel.
The Wall Street Journal also printed the story, contributing to media coverage that indirectly exposed Seal’s involvement in the operation. The articles also exposed the Colombian cartel leaders and Nicaraguan Interior Minister who had been photographed moving cocaine onto Seal’s aircraft. Despite these pressures, Seal went ahead and testified with the pictures taken during the trip showing Sandinista officials in Nicaragua brokering a cocaine deal with members of Colombia’s Medellín Cartel.
Seal was sentenced to work in public service at the Salvation Army facility on Airline Highway (U.S. 61), in Baton Rouge, as a modification by the judge to Seal’s original plea deal. On February 19, 1986, Seal was shot to death in front of the site. His murder abruptly brought the DEA’s investigation to an end.
Barry Seal | American Dope
Colombian assassins sent by the Medellín Cartel were apprehended while trying to leave Louisiana, soon after Seal’s murder. Authorities thus concluded Seal’s murderers were hired by Ochoa. The killers were indicted by a state grand jury on March 27, 1986.
In May 1987, Luis Carlos Quintero-Cruz, Miguel Vélez (died in custody 2015) and Bernardo Antonio Vásquez were convicted of first degree murder in Seal’s death, and sentenced to life in prison without parole.
Louisiana Attorney General William Guste wrote to United States Attorney General Edwin Meese criticizing the government’s failure to protect Seal as a witness. At Guste’s request, Meese launched an investigation to determine whether or not attorneys in Louisiana, Miami, and Washington had mishandled the case, and to determine whether or not Seal should have been forced into protective custody. Government attorneys stated that Seal placed himself in danger by refusing to move his family and enter a witness protection program.
In 1991, cartel member Max Mermelstein testified that he had been instructed in December 1984 either to kidnap Seal and return him to Colombia, or to murder him. The reward to kidnap Seal was $1 million, and the reward to kill him was $500,000.
Seal married three times; the first to Barbara Dodson from 1963 to 1971 and to Lynn Ross from 1971 to 1972 – ended in divorce. His marriage to Deborah DuBois, in 1973, ended with his death in 1986. Seal had 6 children, 2 from his first wife, one child from a relationship he had in between marriages and three more with Debbie.
Seal is portrayed by Dennis Hopper in the docudramaDoublecrossed (1991), which prominently features Seal’s co-pilot and collaborator Emile Camp (portrayed by G. W. Bailey), although some of the Camp plotlines stand in for actual events involving William Roger Reeves, who met Seal in jail and introduced him to the Medellín Cartel.
Seal is portrayed by Michael Paré in the American crime drama film The Infiltrator (2016), in two brief, historically inaccurate scenes that exercise dramatic license to depict the film’s title character, Robert Mazur, as a passenger in a car being driven by Seal who is killed in a motorcycle drive-by shooting.
Seal is portrayed by Tom Cruise in the crime drama-comedy film American Made (2017), loosely based on Seal’s life, produced by Imagine Entertainment. Little of the film is historically accurate; most of the plot, such as the assassination of Seal’s brother-in-law, were invented for purposes of the film.
Seal is portrayed by theater director Thaddeus Phillips in the 2013 TV series Alias El Mexicano.
Seal is portrayed by Dylan Bruno in Season 1, Episode 4, of the Netflix series Narcos (2015).
Alan Ross McWhirter (12 August 1925 – 27 November 1975) was, with his twin brother, Norris, the co-founder in 1955 of Guinness Book of Records (known since 2000 as Guinness World Records) and a contributor to the television programme Record Breakers.
William McWhirter, father; Margaret Williamson, mother
McWhirter was the youngest son of William McWhirter, editor of the Sunday Pictorial, and Margaret “Bunty” Williamson. He was born at “Giffnock” (after Giffnock Church in Glasgow, where the McWhirters were married), 10 Branscombe Gardens, Winchmore Hill, London, N21.
Ross and Norris both became sports journalists in 1950. In 1951, they published Get to Your Marks, and earlier that year they had founded an agency to provide facts and figures to Fleet Street, setting out, in Norris McWhirter’s words:
“to supply facts and figures to newspapers, yearbooks, encyclopaedias and advertisers”.
While building up their business, they both worked as sports journalists. One of the athletes they knew and covered was runner Christopher Chataway, an employee at Guinness who recommended them to Hugh Beaver. After an interview in 1954 in which the Guinness directors enjoyed testing the twins’ knowledge of records and unusual facts, the brothers agreed to start work on the book that would become The Guinness Book of Records.
In August 1955, the first slim green volume – 198 pages long – was at the bookstalls, and in four more months it was the UK’s number one non-fiction best-seller. Both brothers were regulars on the BBC show Record Breakers. They were noted for their encyclopedic memories, enabling them to provide detailed answers to questions from the audience about entries in The Guinness Book of Records. Norris continued to appear on the programme after Ross’s death.
In the early 1960s, he was a Conservative Party activist and sought, unsuccessfully, the seat of Edmonton in the 1964 general election. Following his killing, his brother and others founded the National Association for Freedom (later The Freedom Association).
Norris McWhirter interview 1979
Views on Ireland
McWhirter advocated various restrictions on the freedom of the Irish community in Britain, such as making it compulsory for all of them to register with the local police and to provide signed photographs of themselves when renting flats or booking into hotels and hostels.
In addition, McWhirter offered a £50,000 reward for information leading to a conviction for several recent high-profile bombings in England that were publicly claimed by the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA). In doing so, McWhirter recognised that he could then be a target himself.
This was described as a bounty by McWhirter, and considered a bounty by the IRA Army Council, a view that led directly to the events that followed, although the idea was not originally his, but that of John Gouriet.
On 27 November 1975 at 6.45 p.m., McWhirter was shot and killed by two IRA volunteers, Harry Duggan and Hugh Doherty, both of whom were members of what became known as the Balcombe Street Gang,[ the group for whose capture McWhirter had offered the reward. McWhirter was shot at close range in the head and chest with a .357 Magnum revolver outside his home in Village Road, Bush Hill Park.
He was taken to Chase Farm Hospital, but died soon after being admitted. Duggan and Doherty were apprehended following the Balcombe Street siege and charged with murdering McWhirter, in addition to nine other victims. They were sentenced to life imprisonment, but released in 1999 under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.
Saladin remains one of the most iconic figures of his age. As the man who united the Arabs and saved Islam from Christian crusaders in the 12th century, he is the Islamic world’s preeminent hero. Ruthless in defence of his faith, brilliant in leadership, he also possessed qualities that won admiration from his Christian foes. He knew the limits of violence, showing such tolerance and generosity that many Europeans, appalled at the brutality of their own people, saw him as the exemplar of their own knightly ideals.
My thoughts ?
A fascinating and engaging easy to follow account of the life and times of one of the greatest and most respected Muslim leaders ever to have lived in my humble opinion. At a time when religious wars dominated the political landscape and European Christians considered it a religious duty to wage holy war , Saladin’s story unfolds and what a story it is. With a cast of characters as diverse as Raynald of Châtillon , ( evil bastard ) , Richard the Lion Heart ( treacherous ) and the mysterious and much feared assassins this is a page turner and I read it within two days.
Well worth a read for those interested in this tumultuous period of history and the legacy of God’s ” Holy Warriors. “
But Saladin is far more than a historical hero. Builder, literary patron and theologian, he is a man for all times, and a symbol of hope for an Arab world once again divided. Centuries after his death, in cities from Damascus to Cairo and beyond, to the Arabian Peninsula and the Gulf, Saladin continues to be an immensely potent symbol of religious and military resistance to the West. He is central to Arab memories, sensibilities and the ideal of a unified Islamic state.
In this authoritative biography, historian John Man brings Saladin and his world to life in vivid detail. Charting his rise to power, his struggle to unify the warring factions of his faith, and his battles to retake Jerusalem and expel Christian influence from Arab lands, Saladin explores the life and the enduring legacy of this champion of Islam, and examines his significance for the world today.
Raynald of Châtillon, also known as Reynald or Reginald of Châtillon (French: Renaud de Châtillon; c. 1125 – 4 July 1187), was Prince of Antioch from 1153 to 1160 or 1161, and Lord of Oultrejordain from 1175 until his death. He was born as his father’s second son into a French noble family. After losing a part of his patrimony, he joined the Second Crusade in 1147. He settled in the Kingdom of Jerusalem and served in the royal army as a mercenary.
Raynald married Constance, the reigning Princess of Antioch, in 1153, in spite of her subjects’ opposition. He was always in need of funds. He captured and tortured Aimery of Limoges, Latin Patriarch of Antioch, because Aimery had refused to pay a subsidy to him. Raynald launched a plundering raid in Cyprus in 1155, causing great destruction. Four years later, the Byzantine Emperor, Manuel I Komnenos, came to Antioch at the head of a large army, forcing Raynald to beg for his mercy. Raynald made a raid in the valley of the river Euphrates at Marash to seize booty from the local peasants in 1160 or 1161, but he was captured by the governor of Aleppo.
Raynald was held in prison until 1176. After his release for a large ransom, he did not return to Antioch, because his wife had meanwhile died. He married Stephanie of Milly, the wealthy heiress of Oultrejordain. Since Baldwin IV of Jerusalem also granted Hebron to him, Raynald was one of the wealthiest barons of the realm. He controlled the caravan routes between Egypt and Syria. Baldwin, who suffered from leprosy, made him regent in 1177.
Raynald led the crusader army that defeated Saladin at the Battle of Montgisard. He was the only Christian leader to pursue an offensive policy against Saladin, making plundering raids against the caravans travelling near his domains. He built a fleet of five ships which plundered the coast of the Red Sea, threatening the route of the Muslim pilgrims towards Mecca in early 1183. Saladin pledged that he would never forgive Raynald.
Raynald was a firm supporter of Baldwin IV’s sister, Sybilla, and her husband, Guy of Lusignan, during conflicts regarding the succession of the king. Sibylla and Guy were able to seize the throne in 1186 due to Raynald’s co-operation with her uncle, Joscelin III of Courtenay. Raynald attacked a caravan travelling from Egypt to Syria in late 1186 or early 1187, claiming that the truce between Saladin and the Kingdom of Jerusalem did not bind him. After Raynald refused to pay a compensation, Saladin invaded the kingdom and annihilated the crusader army in the Battle of Hattin. Raynald was captured in the battlefield. Saladin personally beheaded him after he refused to convert to Islam. Most historians have regarded Raynald as an irresponsible adventurer whose lust for booty caused the fall of the Kingdom of Jerusalem. On the other hand, Bernard Hamilton says that he was the only crusader leader who tried to prevent Saladin from unifying the nearby Muslim states.
He was originally sent to Fatimid Egypt in 1164 alongside his uncle Shirkuh, a general of the Zengid army, on the orders of their lord Nur ad-Din to help restore Shawar as vizier of the teenage Fatimid caliph al-Adid. A power struggle ensued between Shirkuh and Shawar after the latter was reinstated. Saladin, meanwhile, climbed the ranks of the Fatimid government by virtue of his military successes against Crusader assaults against its territory and his personal closeness to al-Adid.
After Shawar was assassinated and Shirkuh died in 1169, al-Adid appointed Saladin vizier, a rare nomination of a Sunni Muslim to such an important position in the Isma’ili Shia caliphate. During his tenure as vizier, Saladin began to undermine the Fatimid establishment and, following al-Adid’s death in 1171, he abolished the Fatimid Caliphate and realigned the country’s allegiance with the Sunni, Baghdad-based Abbasid Caliphate.
In the following years, he led forays against the Crusaders in Palestine, commissioned the successful conquest of Yemen, and staved off pro-Fatimid rebellions in Upper Egypt. Not long after Nur ad-Din’s death in 1174, Saladin launched his conquest of Syria, peacefully entering Damascus at the request of its governor. By mid-1175, Saladin had conquered Hama and Homs, inviting the animosity of other Zengid lords, the official rulers of Syria’s various regions.
Soon after, he defeated the Zengid army at the Battle of the Horns of Hama and was thereafter proclaimed the “Sultan of Egypt and Syria” by the Abbasid caliph al-Mustadi. Saladin made further conquests in northern Syria and Jazira, escaping two attempts on his life by the “Assassins“, before returning to Egypt in 1177 to address issues there. By 1182, Saladin had completed the conquest of Muslim Syria after capturing Aleppo, but ultimately failed to take over the Zengid stronghold of Mosul.
Under Saladin’s command, the Ayyubid army defeated the Crusaders at the decisive Battle of Hattin in 1187, and thereafter wrested control of Palestine—including the city of Jerusalem—from the Crusaders, who had conquered the area 88 years earlier. Although the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem continued to exist until the late 13th century, its defeat at Hattin marked a turning point in its conflict with the Muslim powers of the region. Saladin died in Damascus in 1193, having given away much of his personal wealth to his subjects. He is buried in a mausoleum adjacent to the Umayyad Mosque. Saladin has become a prominent figure in Muslim, Arab, Turkish and Kurdish culture, and he has often been described as being the most famous Kurd in history.
post you are about to read was submitted by a former soldier whom served in
Northern Ireland during the Troubles. Here he gives an intriguing insight into
a covert operation , tracking IRA players and units as they moved large
quantities of homemade explosive (HME) throughout Belfast and Northern Ireland.
shudder to think what misery and damage this could have inflicted on the
innocent that always seem to pay the highest price as the paramilitaries waged
indiscriminate war , that at times seemed never ending and brought us all to
the edge of an abyss that hunted and
threatened our daily lives.
By its very nature the work of undercover operatives is shrouded in secrecy and during the Troubles the UK security forces and intelligence agencies were experts in the “dark arts” and covert operations designed to take down , monitor and infiltrate the IRA & other N.I paramilitary groups was common practice. Not surprisingly some of these operations became public knowledge, but the vast majority remained cloaked in the fog of war and I suppose we’ll never know the full truth of what happened during “The Dirty War” and the madness of the Northern Ireland Troubles.
Thank god those days are behind us.
reasons of security, all names have been changed.
— Disclaimer –
The views and opinions expressed in these posts/documentaries are
solely intended to educate and provide background information to those
interested in the Troubles of Northern Ireland. They in no way reflect my own
opinions and I take no responsibility for any inaccuracies or factual errors.
Under cover in Northern Ireland
For nearly three years I’d been doing covert surveillance for a
unit in Belfast, a lot of the tasks were generally routine and monotonous
designed to keep track of the known players from both sides in their daily
activities, but every now and then the tasking from Castlereagh turned up the
odd higher importance task.
The Op’s room received a phone call over the
secure line to prepare for Ops and deploy from the two ‘Dave’s’.
One was Dave from ‘H’, a grizzled long term veteran who had
spent ages down the road and a long time in the province, the other, Dave from five, a much more clean cut
methodical man. These two men were our
handlers, they decided what we would do and when we
would do it, as a unit we had built up a good reputation with them for being
reliable & capable.
The pagers we constantly carried when on standby
beeped into life, here we go again, grab your kit and get over the compound
within fifteen minutes. Majority of the time when we got a fastball it was for
when good old ‘Paula’ would be bringing in another Mk15
mortar from over the border. Once a month, regular as clockwork she’d
pop down and bring one up unaware that we had been watching her for the last two years. The regular
street plodding troops would be kept out of the area by an ‘out of bounds’ notice completely unaware of her courier activities. She’d be given a free route from collection to
drop off, she was small fry, just a small cog in the process, we knew her part
well, it was where it was going up the chain that was of higher priority.
So, fastball across to
the briefing room to see what we’ve been given
this time. The briefing room was in our own self-contained compound within a
secure camp, no one could just walk in, the Ops room walls were covered with
maps of the city marking current Ops, out of bounds areas and other places of
interest. Secrecy was paramount.
the unit 2ic and WO2 was taking the briefing as normal. DJ
was a veteran from Hereford, a serious man with a fiery temper and he knew his
stuff, he didn’t suffer fools
gladly. He wouldn’t even allow
us to have a unit logo as he said our job didn’t
officially exist. The less people knew about what we did the better.
The briefing started
with all present and we discovered that a large amount of homemade explosive
(HME) was coming into the city and we needed eyes on it.
It was being tracked
along its route and is due to arrive at the dairy farm complex where it would
be stored by one of the known players at a building known as the coal
about an insignificant amount, this was the annual resupply to Belfast, we
later discovered it was approx. five tonnes.
That quantity could cause chaos in the city, taking it off the IRA was
now the main priority for all the agencies involved.
All other surveillance
jobs were put on hold. The whole unit was deploying on this one, all leave
suspended, thirty blokes on one Op.
My tasking was given by the boss, a four-man covert surveillance
OP up the mountain above Whiterock. It was a place I was familiar with; it gave
great ‘eyes on’ for large parts of the city. It afforded enough cover to see and not be
seen. When we linked in with the other locations we regularly used, Whiterock,
Divis, MPH & Broadway to name but a few we could surveil almost everywhere.
This, in conjunction with the other agencies we had the capability to cover
everywhere if needed. We could watch from near, and from afar.
Our mountain kit was
always packed for deploying 24/7, two teams of four on constant standby with
the capability of deploying either rural or in the city. On rare occasions we even deployed to other
parts of the province such as South Armagh to assist on jobs for fellow units,
certain jobs require certain skills and we happened to be one of those units.
Short straw meant I was
up the mountain, a cold wet windy place but with the right equipment a home
from home. Luckily it was a place I knew like the back of my hand after 3 years
working in Belfast, where to deploy for the best visibility to the tgt without
being seen. Another few days ahead of ‘hard
routine’ watching the
bad guys, eating cold food and remaining hidden. All part of the fun in the world of
surveillance. Unbeknown to me then, a few days would turn into two weeks.
The routes were cleared
for safety and clear passage with Lisburn as always, gone were the days of
driving where you wanted when you wanted. Getting from A to B blending in with
the normal traffic was important, the head shed didn’t
want another incident similar to the two signallers. We had our own fleet of civilian vehicles,
cars and vans, all at our disposal. All were unmarked, had regular number plate
changes and maintained perfectly.
I was deploying with Scouse, JD & Gaz, three good blokes who you could trust with
your life, I’d known them
all a long time and they were reliable as hell and good in the field. Good operatives, we’d all done many ops in
our time together.
We collected rations
from Jimmy in
the stores and fresh batteries for the various radios we operated when deployed
from the sigs store. As we worked with multiple agencies, we had to be able to
speak to all of them, deploying with three different radio sets was common
Deployment would be at
night under the cover of darkness, eyes on by first light. Drop off in the
early hours, get established in the Op and up and running before the milkman
starts his round.
All precautions were
taken, two of the blokes in civvies would be driving and dropping us off in one
of the unmarked vans, the fact that we were able to grow our hair long added to
the air of non-military that we required when driving through the city. For night drop off the vehicles
were even fitted with a brake cut off switch, touch the brake, no lights, no
one could see you stopping. They were armed with Heckler & Koch HK53’s and
9mm pistols, a great bit of kit especially when in the vehicles, the SA80 was
too long to secrete under your legs.
23: 00hrs, ready to
roll. Weapons collected, kit loaded into
the back of the van and off we went.
Depending on the job depended on the weapons we took, apart from the
normal issue SA80’s we also had
access to other weapon systems. Pistols,
HK53’s, L96’s, M203’s
and Remington Wingmaster shotguns, always nice to have a choice.
We weave our way across
the city from the Sydenham bypass, through the city centre eventually onto the
Cliftonville Road, Oldpark Road, left onto the Ballysillan and then onto the
Ligoniel Road heading towards the drop off point in the dead of night. The
vehicle commander gave a running commentary on the journey so we’re always aware of where we are in case the
shit hits the fan, no point having to leap out of a vehicle wondering where the
fuck you are in an emergency. Sat in the back of the van was always a cautious
experience, remaining silent, listening to the noise outside, everyone
completely unaware of you being there. Just a pair of scruffy workmen commuting
in a tatty van.
Occasionally you’d be stopped in a RUC checkpoint, the
driver would give a quick covert flash of an ID card and you’d be ushered safely through. On the odd
instance when it was quiet they’d ask to have
a little nosey in the back of the van to satisfy their curiosity. A little wry
smile from the blokes inside and a quick nod from the plod in appreciation
often sufficed at the sight of four blokes in full cam cream tooled up ready to
guys, two minutes out, all quiet on the roads, drop off inbound” came the shout
from mark in the front of the tatty inconspicuous
HiAce van. Brake cut off switch flicked,
50m, 20m, 10m…. stop. Here we go, senses alert, always vulnerable at the drop
off. Driver gets out to pretend to take
a leak, side door of the van slides open, out into the bushes swiftly, door
slid shut, driver back in and off they go. Deployed without a hitch all in less
than a minute.
Moving from the drop
off we made our way silently to the OP position, navigation was easy as we had
the Divis KP as a reference point and the night-time glow of the city to guide
us. We knew where we were roughly going to site the OP as we had vis studies
from the mountain, we already knew where we would have to be for the best eyes
on the target. By dawn we would be in
And so the routine
started, two hours on, two hours off, observing, reporting and logging. One
doing the surveillance of the coal bunker and the other providing the
protection whilst the other two rested or did admin. We had five tonnes of HME
under observation from day one. Now it was time to watch what the IRA
intended to do with it, who was going to collect it and distribute it. We knew they wouldn’t
want that quantity in one location for too long, it would be too risky. Let’s see how the IRA Quartermasters intended
to move it.
The first breakdown of
the supply came after a few days, a large part of the HME was moved by vehicle
to a vehicle breakers yard on the Old Suffolk Road. The problem with this was
we couldn’t get eyes on
to observe it from our location and as it was in a staunch Catholic area, other
ways to keep track of it would have to be used. Luckily one of the units that
were involved in the multi agency operation went in and secreted covert
cameras, so far so good. We couldn’t afford to lose track of any of the HME.
The choice of the coal bunker was a clever place to store it, it had regular
comings and goings, no one would question large coal bags being placed in
By now we’d been in the covert OP for a week and were
well established, weather conditions were pretty dire, cold and wet and the
lack of movement took its toll on circulation although morale was still good. Gaz had been struggling with his feet and frost
nip was setting in due to lack of movement and reduced circulation, as we were due for a battery and food resupply
it was a sensible decision to replace him with another operative. It was
decided that ‘H’ would be a straight swap, H was good, didn’t say a lot but was easy to get on with and
a professional soldier. Myself and Gaz would RV with the resupply van, H and
myself would return to the OP.
The bonus was it would
allow us to get rid of any ‘waste’ that we had accumulated over the week. It’s amazing what you amass with four blokes
sat in a bush eating cold food.
The next breakdown of
the HME came within a few days, part of the consignment was taken to a house
near the Musgrave Park Hospital, this was a smaller amount and what we believed
to be part of the finer distribution network the IRA organized. By now we were
being stretched as a Unit, I’d been in
place for ten days plus on hard routine. We got to the stage where the command
decision was taken that we needed additional support from fellow Units trained
as we were. We were bolstered by the blokes from South Armagh doing the job
similar to us, it was nice that they were able to return the favour. They were
pleased they were able to operate in the city for once, a nice break from being
stuck at the Mill in Bessbrook. With our unit, the other military units
involved and the RUC contingents we must have been around a hundred blokes
involved as of the 24th March 1993.
We had military units
on standby at various location along with specialist units from the RUC, it
wasn’t a case of
if, it was just a case of when we struck.
Day fourteen of the Op
started like all the others, explosives being spread all over the city,
watching, logging all the activity going on at the coal bunker and keeping in
regular comms with call sign Zero back in Belfast. Unbeknown to us it would take a different
In the early evening we
triggered a red Astra pulling into the Dairy Farm complex and stopped near the
coal bunker. “Standyby standby, red Astra with 2 up outside the tgt
building”. Two masked gunmen got out of
the car and one ran towards and entered the coal bunker whilst the other
provided cover, shots were fired but due to the distance we were observing from
we were unable to take any offensive action. “ Zero, Delta, two gunmen, standby” We did
observe one gunman having problems with his pistol, which resulted in him
returning to the vehicle for another weapon.
In a very short space of time, no more than a couple of minutes the
gunmen were back in the Astra and heading out of the Dairy Farm complex, the
vehicle was later found burnt out. Some
of the locals even threw stones at the gunmen.
All the time this was
going on we were live time reporting to all agencies involved in the operation.
As the coal bunker had been subject to terrorist activity the higher
authorities gave the order for all three location to be simultaneously searched
resulting in the seizure of all of the explosives, a massive dent in the
Provisionals activities within the Belfast Brigade.
Within the hour we were given the order to extract from the OP. We headed up to Divis KP where we awaited extraction back to camp for the debrief, then a shower & a beer.
For British unionists (those who want Northern Ireland to remain part of the United Kingdom), this was seen as foreign interference in the internal affairs of the UK. For Irish nationalists, those provisions were seen as a start at fixing the democratic problem of lack of political representation of the large minority of Irish nationalists in Northern Ireland.
The Anglo-Irish Agreement along with many other high profile events during the Troubles , including Bloody Friday and the Shankill Bomb was a pivotal moment in Loyalist/Protestant history and at the time many including myself saw this as a complete sell out and another step on the road to a United Ireland. Living in Glencairn ( 19 at the time ) we went buck mad with rage and as so often happened during the Troubles this led to riots and chaos throughout Belfast and Northern Ireland . I remember vividly some of the riots that took place and I took part in around this time. Don’t judge me to harshly , I was a product of the time and place I lived through.
Once I was walking a girl home from the Woodvale to the Shankill and I walked straight into/through a riot taking place by Ardoyne. No bothers me thinks waving at people I knew in the crowds and then someone threw a petrol bomb and before I knew what was happening it landed on my right arm and within seconds flames were crawling up my arm. As I fought frantically to put it out I heard one of my friends call out from the mob :
“ Quick , get more Petrol, Chambers is going out! “
Needless to say I was not impressed , the Belfast humour back then could be very black indeed and even in the maelstrom of a riot we could find something to laugh about. My sister Mags was living in Ottawa Street (Woodvale) at the time and when the police/army use to charge us we would all run down the local streets, full of Terrace houses and all the neighbours , including my sister would open their front doors so we could escape the long arm of the law and hide in the back yard until the coast was clear . Crazy days, but back then the community acted and thought as one and we all looked out for each other no matter what.
I remember going to the rally by the City Hall and me and my mates climbed up above H Samuels jewellers and had a birds eye view of Big Ian and the other speakers on the platform.
Then someone broke into the sports shop and next thing we know thousands of golf and tennis balls are flying everywhere and this memory is imprinted on my soul forever!
I cover this and many other major events of the Troubles in
my forthcoming autobiography.
The Anglo-Irish Agreement was a 1985 treaty between the United Kingdom and Ireland which aimed to help bring an end to the Troubles in Northern Ireland. The treaty gave the Irish government an advisory role in Northern Ireland’s government while confirming that there would be no change in the constitutional position of Northern Ireland unless a majority of its people agreed to join the Republic. It also set out conditions for the establishment of a devolved consensus government in the region.
During her first term as Prime Minister, Thatcher had unsuccessful talks with both Jack Lynch and Charles Haughey on solving the conflict in Northern Ireland. In December 1980 Thatcher and Haughey met in Dublin, with the subsequent communiqué calling for joint studies of “possible new institutional links” between Britain, Northern Ireland, and the Republic of Ireland. Although this resulted in the founding of the Anglo-Irish Intergovernmental Council in 1981, Anglo-Irish relations had by this time deteriorated due to the Irish hunger strike and so this body was neglected.
Haughey resumed power shortly afterwards and took Argentina’s side during the Falklands War, leading to the meeting scheduled for July 1982 to be cancelled. However, the British Northern Irish Secretary, Jim Prior, proposed “rolling devolution”: a step by step approach whereby local government was devolved to an assembly elected by proportional representation. This was boycotted by the nationalist community and the plan was dead by June 1983.
The Anglo-Irish Agreement’s origins lay in the behind-the-scenes negotiations between the British and Irish foreign offices, co-ordinated by the Cabinet Secretary, Robert Armstrong, and the secretary to the Irish government, Dermot Nally.
The New Ireland Forum had been founded (with the backing of then-Taoiseach Garret FitzGerald) in May 1983 by John Hume in an attempt to undercut support for the IRA by bringing together constitutional nationalist parties from both sides of the border. In June 1983 Thatcher and Fitzgerald met again and revived the Anglo-Irish Council, which met sixteen times between November 1983 and March 1985.
The report of the New Ireland Forum was published in May and suggested three possible solutions: a federal united Ireland, a confederal united Ireland or joint sovereignty. Fitzgerald hoped that Thatcher might be persuaded of the third option but at the press conference after their meeting Thatcher publicly proclaimed that all three options were “out”.
Thatcher’s intransigence persuaded the American President, Ronald Reagan, to intervene.
The most powerful pressure for the Agreement came from the United States, where the Irish-American lobby was second only to the Israel lobby in influence. Led by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Tip O’Neill, and Senators Edward Kennedy and Daniel Moynihan, the Irish lobby regularly denounced what they considered British colonialism and human rights violations in Northern Ireland. Reagan, who was also Irish-American and visited Ireland in June 1984, increasingly encouraged Thatcher to make progress on Anglo-Irish talks.
45 Senators and Congressmen (including O’Neill, Kennedy and Moynihan) wrote to Reagan criticising Thatcher’s rejection of the Forum’s report. They also pushed him to pressure Thatcher into reconsidering her stance at the upcoming meeting at Camp David in December 1984. Reagan duly discussed Northern Ireland with Thatcher at their meeting, telling her that “making progress is important” and that “there is great Congressional interest in the matter”, adding that O’Neill wanted her to be “reasonable and forthcoming”.
Afterwards, Reagan assured O’Neill that he had emphasised the need for progress.
Sean Donlon, the Secretary General of the Department of Foreign Affairs, later claimed that “the intervention by Reagan was vital, and it was made possible by Tip”. Michael Lillis, the Deputy Secretary General of the Department of Foreign Affairs from 1983-1985, similarly claimed that “O’Neill was very active and effective in mobilizing the President. And there is no doubt whatsoever that Reagan’s regular references to this in his interaction with Thatcher helped us in a major way”.
By January 1985, Thatcher was persuaded that progress must be made on the issue. Her primary aim was security but realised that in order for help in this area she would need to concede in other areas, such as grievances over policing and the courts. She also hoped that this would help reconcile the Catholic population to the United Kingdom. She invited John Hume to Chequers on 16 January to discuss Northern Ireland. She now accepted that an “Irish dimension” was necessary in return for the Irish government’s acceptance that Northern Ireland would remain a member of the United Kingdom so long as it had majority support. In April a four-member Cabinet committee had been informed of the negotiations; in October the entire Cabinet was informed. Thatcher and Fitzgerald met again in May at a European summit in which they discussed what became the Anglo-Irish Agreement.
Vietnam: An Epic History of a Divisive War 1945-1975
Click to buy
THE SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLER
‘His masterpiece’ Antony Beevor, Spectator
‘A masterful performance’ Sunday Times
‘By far the best book on the Vietnam War’ Gerald Degroot, The Times, Book of the Year
My Thoughts ?
I’ve just finished reading this ( all 722 pages) and it sure is an Epic read and forensic analysis of the war , the history of the region and the American’s ill fated journey through the nightmare theatre of the tragedy that was the Vietnam War. Full of interesting and revealing background and personal stories from those on all side , including Johnson and Nixons involvement.
War by Proxy ?
Seemed that way to me, the Americans and their partners were so paranoid about the commie’s getting a foot in the door they were blind to the spiders web they had walked into. Not for the faint hearted, but if you like to get under the skin and know all the details this book is a great way to start!
Vietnam became the Western world’s most divisive modern conflict, precipitating a battlefield humiliation for France in 1954, then a vastly greater one for the United States in 1975. Max Hastings has spent the past three years interviewing scores of participants on both sides, as well as researching a multitude of American and Vietnamese documents and memoirs, to create an epic narrative of an epic struggle. He portrays the set pieces of Dienbienphu, the Tet offensive, the air blitz of North Vietnam, and less familiar battles such as the bloodbath at Daido, where a US Marine battalion was almost wiped out, together with extraordinary recollections of Ho Chi Minh’s warriors. Here are the vivid realities of strife amid jungle and paddies that killed 2 million people.
Many writers treat the war as a US tragedy, yet Hastings sees it as overwhelmingly that of the Vietnamese people, of whom forty died for every American. US blunders and atrocities were matched by those committed by their enemies. While all the world has seen the image of a screaming, naked girl seared by napalm, it forgets countless eviscerations, beheadings and murders carried out by the communists. The people of both former Vietnams paid a bitter price for the Northerners’ victory in privation and oppression. Here is testimony from Vietcong guerrillas, Southern paratroopers, Saigon bargirls and Hanoi students alongside that of infantrymen from South Dakota, Marines from North Carolina, Huey pilots from Arkansas.
No past volume has blended a political and military narrative of the entire conflict with heart-stopping personal experiences, in the fashion that Max Hastings’ readers know so well. The author suggests that neither side deserved to win this struggle with so many lessons for the 21st century about the misuse of military might to confront intractable political and cultural challenges. He marshals testimony from warlords and peasants, statesmen and soldiers, to create an extraordinary record.
Craig allegedly colluded at times with the enemies of the UDA, Irish Republican groups such as the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) and Irish National Liberation Army (INLA), providing them with information on key loyalists which led to their subsequent murders. Aside from controlling rackets and extorting protection money from a variety of businesses, it was claimed that Craig also participated in paramilitary murders.
— Disclaimer –
The views and opinions expressed in this post/documentaries are soley intended to educate and provide background information to those interested in the Troubles of Northern Ireland. They in no way reflect my own opinions and I take no responsibility for any inaccuracies or factual errors.
James Pratt Craig, known as Jim, was born in Belfast in 1941 and grew up in an Ulster Protestant family on the Shankill Road. In the early 1970s, Craig, a former boxer, was sent to the Maze Prison for a criminal offence unrelated to paramilitary activities. While serving his sentence at the Maze he joined the Ulster Defence Association (UDA), and he was asked by the organisation’s commander at the time, Charles Harding Smith to take control of the UDA prisoners inside, on account of his reputation as a “hard man”.
After his release in 1976, he set up a large protection racket and became the UDA’s chief fundraiser; by 1985 he had managed to blackmail and extort money from a number of construction firms, building sites, as well as pubs, clubs, and shops in Belfast and elsewhere in Northern Ireland, whose intimidated owners paid protection money out of fear of Craig and his associates.
It was alleged that the UDA received hundreds of thousands of pounds some of which also found their way inside Craig’s pockets as part of his “commission”. He was acquitted on a firearm charge and Ulster Freedom Fighters (a cover name for the UDA) membership on 18 March 1982. In 1985, Craig was brought to court after a number of businessmen decided to testify against him, with the condition that their identities remained hidden. The case fell apart when Craig’s defence argued that his client’s rights were violated by the concealment of the witnesses’ identities.
Craig was alleged to have been involved in the double killing of a Catholic man and a Protestant man on the Shankill Road in 1977. The men, both work colleagues, had entered a loyalist club and were later stabbed, shot and put into a car which was set on fire. By this time the West Belfast UDA no longer wanted him in their ranks, as they claimed they could no longer “afford him”.
Craig, who was ordered to leave the Shankill Road, went on to join forces with John McMichael‘s South Belfast Brigade. In addition to being the principal fundraiser, Craig also sat on the UDA’s Inner Council. Craig usually travelled in the company of his bodyguard Artie Fee, a UDA member from the Shankill Road.
The rival Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) carried out an investigation after it was rumoured Craig had been involved in the death of UVF major William Marchant, who was gunned down by Provisional IRA gunmen from a passing car on the Shankill Road on 28 April 1987. Marchant was the third high-ranking UVF man to be killed by the IRA during the 1980s. Although their inquiries revealed that Craig had quarrelled with Marchant as well as Lenny Murphy and John Bingham prior to their killings, the UVF felt that there was not enough evidence to warrant an attack on such a powerful UDA figure as Craig.
In December 1987, when South Belfast UDA brigadier John McMichael was blown up by an IRA booby-trap car bomb outside his home in Lisburn‘s Hilden estate, it was believed that Craig had organised his death with the IRA.
Allegedly Craig had feared McMichael was about to expose his racketeering business, thus putting an end to his lucrative operation. McMichael had reportedly set up an inquiry and discovered that Craig was spending money on a lavish scale, going on holidays at least twice a year and indulging in a:
At the same time it was suggested that Craig had made certain deals with Irish republican paramilitary groups, dividing up the rackets in west Belfast, and he would have been doing the IRA a favour by helping them to eliminate a high-profile loyalist such as McMichael. Craig had established links with republicans during his time in prison, and the profitable deals and exchanges of information between them ensured he would most likely not be a target for IRA assassination.
Craig was named as an extortionist in Central Television’s 1987 programme The Cook Report. Craig planned to sue the programme’s producers for libel; in January 1988, Jack Kielty (father of future television presenter Patrick Kielty), a building contractor from County Down who had promised to testify as a key witness against Craig, was murdered by the UDA. This killing was attributed to Craig, although it was never proven.
“Bunch of Grapes” pub in Beersbridge Road, east Belfast where Craig was shot dead. At the time it was called “The Castle Inn”
Craig was shot dead by two gunmen from the UDA in “The Castle Inn” (later called “The Bunch of Grapes”), a pub in Beersbridge Road, east Belfast on 15 October 1988, to where he had been lured in the belief that there was to have been a UDA meeting.
He was playing pool in the pub at the time of his fatal shooting by the two men, both of whom were wearing boiler suits and ski masks and carrying automatic weapons. Upon spotting Craig they opened fire, spraying the room with gunfire. Craig died instantly; a bystander pensioner was also murdered in the attack, and four other bystanders were wounded by stray bullets. The UDA claimed the killing was carried out due to Craig’s “treason” and involvement in John McMichael’s murder as they knew he had provided the IRA with information to successfully carry out the assassination.
They apologised for the unintentional death of the pensioner. Craig was not given a paramilitary funeral, and none of the UDA’s command attended it.
Andy Tyrie, the UDA’s former supreme commander, was not convinced of Craig’s complicity in McMichael’s killing. In an interview with Peter Taylor, he stated that after McMichael’s death, the UDA set up an inquiry, but couldn’t find any solid proof which linked Craig to McMichael’s assassination. Tyrie maintained that the two men had been good friends, and that Craig had given McMichael £20,000 to keep the latter’s pub (The Admiral Benbow) from failing. Tyrie suggested that Craig was a suspect because his wife was Catholic.
Tyrie insisted that John Hanna, a prison officer in the Maze, had supplied the IRA with information about McMichael through Rosena Brown, a Belfast actress and IRA intelligence operative, with whom Hanna had been infatuated.
McMichael’s son, Gary, however, firmly believed Craig to have been the person behind his father’s killing. Less than three months after McMichael’s death, Tyrie himself narrowly escaped an attempt on his life by car bomb; he subsequently tendered his resignation as commander.
According to McKittrick, Craig’s:
“notoriety and range of enemies meant he could have been killed by almost any paramilitary group, loyalist or republican”.
Described as stocky of build, he wore expensive clothing and jewellery, and enjoyed a lavish lifestyle from the proceeds of his racketeering. Author and journalist Martin Dillon wrote that Craig was not intelligent but was “cunning, boastful and ruthless”.
There was also much antipathy between him and UDA brigadier Tommy “Tucker” Lyttle due to Craig having allegedly made Lyttle’s daughter pregnant. Lyttle died of natural causes in October 1995. It was later revealed that Lyttle had worked as an informer for the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC)’s Special Branch.
Craig reportedly invited RUC officers to an extravagant wedding reception held for his daughter. Author Sally Belfrage who encountered Craig at an “Eleventh night” party held at the UDA’s east Belfast headquarters, summed him up as “the most personally powerful man I had ever met, with an air of animal force that inspired awe at the idea of its ever being let loose. He was also as drunk as I had ever seen anyone in my life who could still more or less negotiate a sentence and a sequence of steps.” She claimed Craig had propositioned her; when she rebuffed his advances he took it in his stride, and grabbing a microphone, went on to lead the other revellers in a rendition of “The Sash My Father Wore“.
Dillon, in his book about the violent loyalist gang, the Shankill Butchers, recounted how Craig casually killed a man in a UDA club after a fellow UDA member handed him a jammed pistol. Craig, testing the weapon, allegedly pointed it at a man who was playing pool, and shot him in the head, killing him instantly. Craig then gave orders for the man’s body to be dumped in an adjacent alley. Dillon believes Craig had killed UDA commander William “Bucky” McCullough in October 1981 after the latter discovered Craig had been stealing funds from the UDA for his own personal use. The Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) had claimed responsibility for the killing.
Jackie McDonald, who was part of Craig’s protection racket, was arrested in 1989. He had taken over McMichael’s command of the South Belfast UDA, having been promoted to the rank of brigadier by Andy Tyrie in 1988. In January 1990, he was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment inside the Maze for extortion, blackmail, and intimidation. McDonald was released in 1994. In an interview with Peter Taylor, he made the following statement regarding his former association with Craig:
I would say without a shadow of doubt the worst thing that ever happened to South Belfast, John McMichael and myself especially, was that Jim Craig ever had anything to do with our organisation.
One builder who later assisted the RUC when they set up an anti-racketeering unit, admitted that he had paid out protection money throughout the 1980s to Craig and his henchmen. The amount of money he handed over increased each year.
Dillon suggested that prior to Craig’s killing, younger elements within the UDA, who were loyal supporters of McMichael, discovered (by means which Dillon did not divulge) that the RUC’s anti-racketeering squad CI3 had videotaped a clandestine meeting between Craig and a member of the IRA’s Northern Command, which is what reportedly sealed Craig’s fate.
Disclaimer – The views and opinions expressed in these documentary are soley intended to educate and provide background information to those interested in the Troubles of Northern Ireland. They … Read more
The deliberate killing or attempted killing by a soldier of a fellow soldier………
Fragging is the deliberate killing or attempted killing by a soldier of a fellow soldier, usually a superior officer or non-commissioned officer (NCO). The word was coined by U.S. military personnel during the Vietnam War, when such killings were most often attempted with a fragmentation grenade, sometimes making it appear as though the killing was accidental or during combat with the enemy. The term fragging is now often used to encompass any means used to deliberately and directly cause the death of military colleagues.
What was ‘Fragging’? (The Vietnam War)
The high number of fragging incidents in the latter years of the Vietnam War was symptomatic of the unpopularity of the war with the American public and the breakdown of discipline in the U.S. Armed Forces. Documented and suspected fragging incidents totaled nearly nine hundred from 1969 to 1972
Soldiers have killed colleagues, especially superior officers, since the beginning of armed conflict, with many documented instances throughout history (one such attempt was on unpopular Civil War general Braxton Bragg). However, the practice of fragging seems to have been relatively uncommon in American armies until the Vietnam War. The prevalence of fragging was partially based on the ready availability of fragmentation hand grenades. Grenades were untraceable to an owner and did not leave any ballistic evidence. M18 Claymore mines and other explosives were also occasionally used in fragging, as were firearms, although the term, as defined by the military during the Vietnam War, applied only to the use of explosives to kill fellow soldiers.
Most fragging incidents were in the Army and Marine Corps. Fragging was rare among Navy and Air Force personnel who had less access to grenades and weapons than did soldiers and Marines.
The first known incidents of fragging in South Vietnam took place in 1966, but events in 1968 appear to have catalyzed an increase in fragging. After the Tet Offensive in January and February 1968, the Vietnam War became increasingly unpopular in the United States and among American soldiers in Vietnam, many of them conscripts. Secondly, racial tensions between white and African-American soldiers and Marines increased after the assassination of Martin Luther King in April 1968.
With soldiers reluctant to risk their lives in what was perceived as a lost war, fragging was seen by some enlisted men:
“as the most effective way to discourage their superiors from showing enthusiasm for combat.
Morale plummeted among soldiers and marines. By 1971, a U.S. Army colonel declared in the Armed Forces Journal that:
“The morale, discipline, and battleworthiness of the U.S. Armed Forces are, with a few salient exceptions, lower and worse than at any time in this century and possibly in the history of the United States.”
The U.S. military reflected social problems and issues in the U.S. such as racism, drug use, and resentment toward authoritarian leaders. As the U.S. began to withdraw its military forces from Vietnam, some American enlisted men and young officers lost their sense of purpose for being in Vietnam, and the relationship between enlisted men and their officers deteriorated.
The resentment directed from enlisted men toward older officers was exacerbated by generational gaps, as well as different perceptions of how the military should conduct itself. Enforcement of military regulations, especially if done overzealously, led to troops’ complaining and sometimes threats of physical violence directed toward officers.
A number of factors may have influenced the incidence of fragging. The demand for manpower for the war in Vietnam caused the armed forces to lower their standards for inducting both officers and enlisted men. The rapid rotation of personnel, especially of officers who served (on average) less than six months in command roles, decreased the stability and cohesion of military units.
Most important of all, perhaps, was the loss of purpose in fighting the war, as it became apparent to all that the United States was withdrawing from the war without having achieved any sort of victory. Morale and discipline deteriorated.
Most fragging was perpetrated by enlisted men against leaders. Enlisted men, in the words of one company commander, “feared they would get stuck with a lieutenant or platoon sergeant who would want to carry out all kinds of crazy John Wayne tactics, who would use their lives in an effort to win the war single-handedly, win the big medal, and get his picture in the hometown paper.”
Harassment of subordinates by a superior was another frequent motive. The stereotypical fragging incident was of “an aggressive career officer being assaulted by disillusioned subordinates.” Several fragging incidents resulted from alleged racism between African-American and white soldiers. Attempts by officers to control drug use caused others. Most known fragging incidents were carried out by soldiers in support units rather than soldiers in combat units.
Soldiers sometimes used non-lethal smoke and tear-gas grenades to warn superiors that they were in danger of being fragged if they did not change their behavior. A few instances occurred—and many more were rumored—in which enlisted men collected “bounties” on particular officers or non-commissioned officers to reward soldiers for fragging them.
Fragging: Why U. S. Soldiers Assaulted Their Officers In Vietnam
Note: Statistics were not kept before 1969.
According to author George Lepre, the total number of known and suspected fragging cases by explosives in Vietnam from 1969 to 1972 totaled nearly 900 with 99 deaths and many injuries. This total is incomplete as some cases were not reported, nor were statistics kept before 1969 although several incidents from 1966 to 1968 are known. Most of the victims or intended victims were officers or non-commissioned officers. The number of fraggings increased in 1970 and 1971 even though the U.S. military was withdrawing and the number of U.S. military personnel in Vietnam was declining.
An earlier calculation by authors Richard A. Gabriel and Paul L. Savage, estimated that up to 1,017 fragging incidents may have taken place in Vietnam causing 86 deaths and 714 injuries of U.S. military personnel, the majority officers and NCOs.
Fragging statistics include only incidents involving explosives, most commonly grenades. Several hundred murders of U.S. soldiers by firearms occurred in Vietnam but most were of enlisted men killing enlisted men of nearly equal rank. Fewer than 10 officers are known to have been murdered by firearms. However, rumors and claims abound of deliberate killing of officers and non-commissioned officers by enlisted men under battlefield conditions. The frequency and number of these fraggings, indistinguishable from combat deaths, cannot be quantified.
The U.S. military’s responses to fragging incidents included greater restrictions on access to weapons, especially grenades, for soldiers in non-combat units and “lockdowns” after a fragging incident in which a whole unit was isolated until an investigation was concluded. For example, in May 1971, the U.S. Army in Vietnam temporarily halted the issuance of grenades to nearly all its units and soldiers in Vietnam, inventoried stocks of weapons, and searched soldier’s quarters, confiscating weapons, ammunition, grenades, and knives.
This action, however, failed to reduce fragging incidents as soldiers could easily obtain weapons in a flourishing black market among nearby Vietnamese communities. The U.S. military also attempted to diminish adverse publicity concerning fragging and the security measures it was taking to reduce it.
Only a few fraggers were identified and prosecuted. It was often difficult to distinguish between fragging and enemy action. A grenade thrown into a foxhole or tent could be a fragging, or the action of an enemy infiltrator or saboteur. Enlisted men were often close-mouthed in fragging investigations, refusing to inform on their colleagues out of fear or solidarity.
Although the sentences prescribed for fragging were severe, the few men convicted often served fairly brief prison sentences. Ten fraggers were convicted of murder and served sentences ranging from ten months to thirty years with a mean prison time of about nine years.
In the Vietnam War, the threat of fragging caused many officers and NCOs to go armed in rear areas and to change their sleeping arrangements as fragging often consisted of throwing a grenade into a tent where the target was sleeping. For fear of being fragged, some leaders turned a blind eye to drug use and other indiscipline among the men in their charge. Fragging, the threat of fragging, and investigations of fragging sometimes disrupted or delayed tactical combat operations. Officers were sometimes forced to negotiate with their enlisted men to obtain their consent before undertaking dangerous patrols.
The breakdown of discipline, including fragging, was an important factor leading to the creation of an all-volunteer military force by the United States and the termination of conscription. The last conscript was inducted into the army in 1973. The volunteer military moderated some of the coercive methods of discipline previously used to maintain order in military ranks.
On 21 April 1969, a grenade was thrown into the company office of K Company, 9th Marines, at Quảng Trị Combat Base, RVN; First Lieutenant Robert T. Rohweller died of wounds he received in the explosion. Private Reginald F. Smith pleaded guilty to the premeditated murder of Rohweller and was sentenced to 40 years’ imprisonment; he died in custody on 25 June 1982.
On 15 March 1971, a grenade tossed into an officer billet at Bien Hoa Army Airfield killed Lieutenants Thomas A. Dellwo and Richard E. Harlan of the 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile); Private E-2 Billy Dean Smith was charged with killing the officers but was acquitted in November 1972.
Vietnam War (Australian forces)
On 23 November 1969, Lieutenant Robert Thomas Convery of the 9th Battalion of the Royal Australian Regiment was killed when a grenade exploded while he was sleeping in his tent at Nui Dat, South Vietnam. Private Peter Denzil Allen was convicted of Convery’s murder and served ten years and eight months of a life sentence in Risdon Prison.
On Christmas Day 1970, Sergeants Allan Brian Moss and John Wallace Galvin were shot dead and Sergeant Frederick Edwin Bowtell injured when Private Paul Ramon Ferriday opened fire with his rifle into the Sergeant’s Mess of the Royal Australian Army Service Corps at Nui Dat, South Vietnam after an all-day drinking session. Ferriday was convicted on two counts of manslaughter and one of assault with a weapon, and served eight years of a ten-year sentence.
17 August 2002, British Army Sergeant Robert Busuttil of the Royal Logistic Corps was shot dead by subordinate Corporal John Gregory during a barbecue at Kabul International Airport. It was later revealed that Corporal Gregory had been drinking and the two men had earlier been involved in an altercation. It was in the immediate aftermath of this that Corporal Gregory returned with his weapon loaded, and fired up to ten rounds killing Sergeant Busuttil as he lay in a hammock before turning the weapon on himself.
Iraq War (U.S. forces)
On 23 March 2003, in Kuwait, Sergeant Hasan Karim Akbar cut power to his base, threw four hand grenades into three tents where fellow members of the 101st Airborne Division were sleeping, and opened fire with his rifle when the personnel ran to take cover. Army Captain Christopher S. Seifert and Air Force Major Gregory L. Stone were killed, and fourteen other soldiers were wounded by shrapnel. Akbar was tried by court martial at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, in 2005. On 21 April 2005, Akbar was found guilty of two counts of premeditated murder and three counts of attempted premeditated murder and was sentenced to death on 28 April.
On 11 May 2009, Sergeant John Russell opened fire on Camp Liberty with an M16A2 rifle and shot dead five U.S. military personnel (U.S. Army Specialist Jacob D. Barton, Sergeant Christian E. Bueno-Galdos, Major Matthew P. Houseal, Private First Class Michael E. Yates, and U.S. Navy Commander Charles K. Springle). Russell pleaded guilty to five counts of premeditated murder and was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
On 8 April 2011, during a port visit to Southampton, Able Seaman Ryan Donovan abandoned his sentry post at the boarding ramp of submarine HMS Astute, and opened fire on CPOs David McCoy and Chris Brown after they confronted him at the submarine’s weapons locker; he then forced his way into the control room and opened fire, killing Lt Cdr Ian Molyneux and wounding Lt Cdr Christopher Hodge before being tackled to the ground by a visiting dignitary as he reloaded. Donovan pleaded guilty to Molyneux’s murder and the attempted murders of Hodge, Brown, and McCoy and was sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum of 25 years.
Going Underground – The Jam: Iconic Songs & the story behind them
“Going Underground” is the first British #1 chart single by The Jam, released in March 1980. It went straight in at #1 in the UK Singles Chart, spending three weeks at the top.
It was the first of three instant chart-toppers for the group
“Going Underground” was not released on any of the band’s six studio albums, although it has appeared on many compilations and re-releases since then. The song was released as a double A-side with “Dreams of Children”, which originally had been intended to be the sole A-side; following a mix-up at the pressing plant, the single became a double A-side, and DJs tended to choose the more melodic “Going Underground” to play on the radio.
The song was ranked at #2 among the “Tracks of the Year” for 1980 by NME. In March 2005, Q magazine placed “Going Underground” at #73 in its list of the 100 Greatest Guitar Tracks, and in October 2006, placed it at #98 in its list of the 100 Greatest Songs Ever.
The band released 18 consecutive Top 40 singles in the United Kingdom, from their debut in 1977 to their break-up in December 1982, including four number one hits
Being an old Mod and a Jam super-fan this was one of the first Jam records I bought and from the first moment I heard it I loved it and became obsessed with the Jam and this set me on the road to becoming a Mod and the best years of my teenage/young adult life in Belfast, what I can remember anyways. The Jam became the sound track to my crazy teenage odyssey and I came to love everything about them and the Mod way of life and even to this day I still love all the Jams stuff and listen to it whenever the feelings take me , which is a few times a week at least.
My fav Jam album ?
Its a hard one but its between Setting Sons & Sound Affects , although I love In the City and This is a Modern World also . Grrrr…. Its like trying to choose which of your kids or pets you love best , an impossible task and Im the same with Jam albums I feel i’d be betraying those I left out. Going Underground is a personal fav of mine for the path it set me on but I have to say Thick as Thieves and That’s Entertainment are two of my fav Jam tunes off all time.
Some people might say my life is in a rut But I’m quite happy with what I’ve got People might say that I should strive for more But I’m so happy I can’t see the point
Something’s happening here today A show of strength with your boy’s brigade And I’m so happy and you’re so kind You want more money – of course I don’t mind To buy nuclear textbooks for atomic crimes And the public gets what the public wants
But I want nothing this society’s got I’m going underground (going underground) Well, let the brass bands play and feet start to pound Going underground (going underground) Well, let the boys all sing and let the boys all shout for tomorrow
Some people might get some pleasure out of hate Me, I’ve enough already on my plate People might need some tension to relax Me, I’m too busy dodging between the flak
What you see is what you get You’ve made your bed, you’d better lie in it You choose your leaders and place your trust As their lies wash you down and their promises rust You’ll see kidney machines replaced by rockets and guns And the public wants what the public gets
But I don’t get what this society wants I’m going underground (going underground) Well, let the brass bands play and feet start to pound Going underground (going underground) So let the boys all sing and let the boys all shout for tomorrow
La la la la…
We talk and we talk until my head explodes I turn on the news and my body froze These braying sheep on my TV screen Make this boy shout, make this boy scream!
Going underground, I’m going underground!
La la la la…
These braying sheep on my TV screen Make this boy shout, make this boy scream!
I’m going underground (going underground) Well, let the brass bands play and feet start to pound Going underground (going underground) Well, let the boys all sing and let the boys all shout, Going underground (going underground) Well, let the brass bands play and feet go pow, pow, pow Going underground (going underground) So let the boys all sing and let the boys all shout for tomorrow
Daryl Denham released a version of the song titled “Go England” in 2002 after Weller gave permission for it to be adapted as a football song.
Paul Weller on becoming a Mod
“I saw that through becoming a Mod it would give me a base and an angle to write from, and this we eventually did. We went out and bought suits and started playing Motown, Stax and Atlantic covers. I bought a Rickenbacker guitar, a Lambretta GP 150 and tried to style my hair like Steve Marriott‘s circa ’66.
Dreams of Children
“Going Underground” was coupled with “Dreams of Children” as a double A-side. It opens and is intermittently accentuated with a backmasked sample of the band’s 1979 song “Thick as Thieves“. In the US the backwards intro was edited out making the single 10 seconds shorter than the UK Version. This US edit is available on the best-of compilation Snap!.