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NI Tankard

Article about: Hi Dave, It did get a bit hairy after Jan 30th 1972. In the whole of that four months tour we had over 400 shooting and bombing incidents - and that's not even counting the riots. Our Unit -

  1. #11

    Default Re: NI Tankard

    Hi Dave,

    It did get a bit hairy after Jan 30th 1972. In the whole of that four months tour we had over 400 shooting and bombing incidents - and that's not even counting the riots. Our Unit - 9 (Plassey) Bty of 12th Regt RA - were the first to do foot patrols in Andersonstown. All the previous units had used the PIGS. It was said by a serving officer at the end of the tour that our Battery had been under the longest period of sustained attack that any unit of the British Army had experienced since the end of WW2. I know it sounds far-fetched, but that is what was stated!

    People these days are just fed on the stories of Iraq and Afghanistan, and they have no idea just how bad Northern Ireland was. Many are under the impression that we only lost a few soldiers, when in truth, at times, the death-rate was far higher than is currently experienced in Afghanistan for British soldiers. In 1974 our unit lost two men in a matter of weeks. I've added a picture of one of my reminders of Ireland. It's a handkerchief which I drew up and had on our billet wall at Girdwood Park barracks in New Lodge 1974. The names are of the lads in our section, and the G51 was our call-sign.



  2. #12

    Default Re: NI Tankard

    Hi harry,
    Love that i bet it,s pride of place, nice work i think N.I is being forgotten a bit as this lot has taken it,s place, but as you said people didnt really know what was going on over there. Many a good soldier lost to the I.R.A, but it,s a job that had to be done, Thanks for your service mate.

  3. #13

    Default Re: NI Tankard

    Hi Dave,
    Thanks for your service as well! That handkerchief is nothing compared to the stuff I put into my diaries though - intelligence reports, wanted lists and all kinds of junk.


  4. #14

    Default Re: NI Tankard

    Hi Harry
    I forgot to say about your book sounds great i know it isnt out till 2013, but give me a shout when it does get into the shops. i would like to buy one, perhaps sent it to you for a signing
    great keepsake after reading it. Well done mate there arent many book covering that period
    from the day, and your own experiences. Hope you do really well with it. I did some illustrations
    back in 81 for a story i was going to do but never got around to it, you know how things take
    over what you want to do. My story was going to be about a brick of men, and other aspects
    they went through, but hay ho didnt do it, Here,s a few pics from the story but not used.
    Last edited by Panzer 3; 07-22-2011 at 08:59 PM.

  5. #15

    Default Re: NI Tankard

    Hi Dave,
    With me being a bit of a sad bastard I kept very detailed diaries of both tours. The first two notebooks for Andersonstown were just stuffed with my entries on all the different patrols and incidents, I included a lot of newspaper cuttings as well. I have my yellow and blue cards in those - but only two photo's.

    The final notebook for the Lodge is stuffed with sitreps from the ops room which I lifted, the odd newspaper cuttings, Provo propaganda from their newspaper 'BATTLEGROUND', a few posters we put up and other odds and sods. I also took a lot of photo's. For that tour our unit was attached to 4Th Regt RA as they were short of manpower. They christened us 13 TROOP - hence the 13 I put on the snot-rag. We had Tee Shirts made up with 13 TROOP in bright red lettering printed on them, and we wore these with great pride. I still have one - along with the beret I last wore on duty outside North Queen Street RUC Station in October 1974.

    It was to be over ten years before I bothered to get my cannisters of 35mm developed, and not all turned out. But I have around 60 that are useable. My eldest daughter is a writer and it was she that urged me to write up the diaries. I spent over a year doing it. I was very ill at the time (2008) with kidney disease, and the hospital put me on a trial treatment of chemotherapy for the next year. so I did the book to take my mind off all the shit I was taking. My daughter saw the original diaries for the first time just a month ago, and the snot rag only came out of my box and was framed about two weeks ago.

    It was a revalation when I read the diaries after so many years. There was so much I had forgotton, and so much I remembered differently. When I went to reunions with parts of my book it was amazing how some of the lads had also forgotten, but reading the entries brought it all flooding back. Its a load of bollocks when veterans say they can remember things clearly. The incidents they were involved in are often viewed through rose-tinted glasses. The basics of the story may be correct, but things get omitted and others added. This is sadly part of the ageing process! I have found that it usually only the truly traumatic events that are remembered clearly. I consider myself very lucky that very little of what I saw or did had any effect upon me. There was only the one incident which torments me, and that only started happening back in 2007. It wasn't so much so much what I saw as what I heard over the radio when in an O/P. I knew the soldier who had been just been shot dead, I heard the shots and saw the gunman. Some poor bastard had to crawl over to the Sergeants body to get the pocket radio before he could call for help. And then later the MO came on air and gave a description of the injuries for everyone to hear. It was terrible to listen to.

    I get very angry with the way NI vets get treated and forgotten about. I hope my book will show what it was really like to do a tour in the province. As far as I know it will be the first book about Ireland done in the form of a diary. I know it's great for people to have a hobby and collect militaria, but when I see some of the characters you meet at arms-fairs it worries me when I see how they change while handling guns. If they saw the damage that these things can do to fellow human beings they may have a different view on them. I had best shut up before I star upsetting people! I have just seen your pictures. For some reason they didn't show at first with your last post, but they are brilliant!


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