Tin Soldier – Small Faces : Iconic Songs & the story behind them
“Tin Soldier” is a song released by the English rock band Small Faces on 2 December 1967, written by Steve Marriott (credited to Marriott/Lane). The song peaked at number nine in the UK singles chart and number 38 in Canada. It has since been covered by many other notable rock artists
Tin Soldier – Small Faces
My Thoughts ?
Tin Soldier was originally written by Steve Marriott for singer P.P. Arnold, but Marriott liked it so much he kept it himself. It was a song that he wrote to his first wife, Jenny Rylance. P.P. Arnold can be heard singing backing vocals on the song and also performed as guest singer at television recordings of the song.
The song signalled a return to the band’s R&B roots whilst continuing their forays into psychedelic rock and other musical experiments. When Tin Soldier was released the BBC informed the band that the last line of the song had to be removed from all TV and radio broadcasts, mistakenly believing that Marriott sang “sleep with you”, when in fact the lyric is “sit with you”. Marriott explained that the song was about getting into someone’s mind—not their body.
Tin Soldier reached number nine in the UK Singles Chart and remains one of Small Faces’ best known songs.
Talking about the song, and the influence of his wife Jenny, Marriott stated:
The meaning of the song is about getting into somebody’s mind—not their body. It refers to a girl I used to talk to all the time and she really gave me a buzz. The single was to give her a buzz in return and maybe other people as well. I dig it. There’s no great message really and no physical scenes.
“I am a little tin soldier that wants to jump into your fire”.
Upon reaching No. 73 in the USA with this single, their label Immediate Records abandoned its attempts to penetrate the American market. “Tin Soldier” would ultimately be the last song performed live by the Small Faces during their original incarnation; It was performed on 8 March 1969 at the Theatre of Jersey in Jersey.
” So now I’ve lost my way I need help to show me things to say Give me your love before mine fades away “
I am a little tin soldier That wants to jump into your fire You are a look in your eye A dream passing by in the sky
I don’t understand All I need is treat me like a man ‘Cause I ain’t no child Take me like I am
I got to know that I belong to you Do anything that you want to do Sing any song that you want me to sing to you
I don’t need no aggravation I just got to make you I just got to make you my occupation
I got to know that I belong to you Do anything that you want to do Sing any song that you want me to sing to you
All I need is your whispered hello Smiles melting the snow nothing heard Your eyes are deeper than time Say a love that won’t rhyme without words
So now I’ve lost my way I need help to show me things to say Give me your love before mine fades away
I got to know that I belong to you Do anything that you want to do Sing any song that you want me to sing to you
Oh no no I just want some reaction Someone to give me satisfaction All I want to do is stick with you ‘Cause I love you
Mojo readers’ poll
In 1997, some 30 years after the song’s original release, Mojo voted “Tin Soldier” the tenth best single of all time, in a readers’ poll. The poll placed it ahead of anything by The Who or The Rolling Stones. The song has also been much mentioned over the years by Paul Weller and featured in Noel Gallagher‘s personal all-time top ten song list.
Steve Marriott – lead and backing vocals, acoustic and electric guitars
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.
Ok i’m drunk & I might regret this in tomorrow morning, but this is how i’m feeling at this exact moment in time….21.04/06/09/2019
Someone just emailed me ( from Twitter I think () and asked me if I was ok ? , and why i was depressed and talking about drugs on my Twitter feed tonight & it made me stop and think about how people may perceive me and my chat and crack tonight – let me try and expalin.
I’m in the final drafts of completing my forthcoming autobiography Belfast Child( titled to TBC ) , which I’m obviously nervous about and worried how the great British public will receive. But when I planned to write the book although it was always important to tell the story of my mum and our amazing reunion, there was so much more to my story and I never wanted it to be just another book about “The Troubles ” and i have strived hard to make this so. that means alot of my story deals with my Mod life and that period in my early teens/adulthood where the world was my oyster and i grabbed it with both hands and this period for me invloved alot of drugs and trying to blot out the misery of my younger life. but as messed up as this seems there were many happy times and as i have been writting about these days thats why I have that head on tonight and why I am talking about drungs tonight.
Im not promoting them , im just telling me story , which has many funnt stroies about my Mod lifenand rugs.
Also , next week is the 1st anniversary of my mums brutal death , after a soul destroying fight with cancer , that lasted only six months and I cant begin to tell you how painful and hard that was for me , to watch the womean I had missed all my life died in front ogf me. At least I was with bher at the time and help her hand as she lieft this world forever, that was so important to me.
As if that wasn’t bad enough , me mum dying, my daughter 17 year old boyfriend died a few weeks later and he was ony 18 and his single mothers only child. It doesnst get more brutal than that and that sent me over over the edge
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