The British Army in Northern Ireland 1973-74
If you've read previous books by Ken, this is another crank of the handle, for the years stated, following on from "The Bloodiest Year" (1972 obviously).
It's simply, as ever, a chronological record of all military, terrorist and terrorist-related deaths in the province over the two years and it does it very well in the course of nearly 350 pages. If you've read any of Ken's previous works (also including "A Long Long War" and "Bloody Belfast
") and enjoyed them, you'll enjoy this just the same.
I do have some criticisms:
1. NORAID either collected or extorted (depending on the willingness of the donor) vast amounts of money to support the IRA's struggles in the bars of those American cities with an Irish element to the population during The Troubles. You won't need to remember this: we are reminded of the fact over and over again.
2. There was a long series of photos of a bomb disposal task in Newtownhamilton provided to Ken by a correspondent. There may have been duplicates: they were all so similar that you felt you'd seen them before whether you had or not (I didn't go back and check). Certainly, a picture of ATO paying attention to a Morris Minor was repeated. As was a passage provided by a soldier from the QOH.
3. It fills 350 pages well enough, but it focuses solely on deaths. There is scope for a whole lot more and I fear that my own regiment's successful 18-month Omagh tour that started in 1974 will get the same scant coverage in the next volume as it did in this, mainly because we didn't lose people. We had plenty of success (I read recently that the Omagh garrison, one RAC regiment in my day, also at times an infantry battalion, patrolled more than 50% of the border) with few shots fired. This encourages the reader to believe that all that happened during Op Banner was death.
4. The index lists, among other things, units named in the book. If memory serves, every one of the so-called fractional cavalry regiments (4/7 DG, 9/12 L, 13/18 H, 14/20 H, 15/19 H, 16/5 L, 17/21 L) got a mention in the book but none of them was listed in the index. Likewise any of the four Royal Tank Regiments that may have been there. The non-fractional cavalry regiments present do get listed along with most other regiments and corps (again, I didn't go back and check).
However, these criticisms do not detract from the content. If you've read any of Ken's other works, you'll know how many Mushroomheads this deserves. If you haven't, it gets five from me simply for reminding the world what generations of British soldiers did in the service of peace.
AlienFTM Sir, They're taking the kids in!
by Ken Wharton published by Helion Click here top buy from Amazon