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Betrayal. The Murder of Robert Nairac, GC.

Author
Alistair Kerr
The original review of this book can be found here; Betrayal: The Murder of Robert Nairac

This second edition contains new information, new photographs and some corrected material. Corrected in the sense that a couple of earlier errors are ............well, corrected.

I am not going to review the book as such, I believe my original text expressed my admiration for the author and his dilligence, not to mention his excellent writing skills. Instead I will add pointers toward the new material and try to whet the appetite of prospective readers.

One of the first additions is a previously unseen photograph of two pistols; one is Nairac's issued Browning and holster, the other is a .32 Harrington and Richardson revolver, belonging to Liam Townson who was convicted of the murder of Nairac. It seems likely that the revolver was used to deliver the fatal wounds but there is also hearsay evidence that the Browning was initially to be used. This, despite the alleged superstition of the IRA against using a victims own weapon to dispatch them. This evidence claims that Nairac's pistol jammed several times, despite being well maintained and cleaned, to the point where the killers believed it was only loaded with blank ammunition; a strange thought process.
Incidentally, our own Ken Wharton gets a name check in this chapter (The Murder, Part two) for one of his books.

Chapter 4 gives more information on Robert's early youth, new photos of his parent's home and more information on Lenin.

Chapter 6 is especially fascinating, containing as it does more of the history of the 1960s and early 1970s and draws an important link between the Aden insurgency and the Labour governments quite cowardly abandonment of both promises and commitments and the realisation by the IRA that it could be possible to win a guerilla war against the Crown.

Chapter 8 corrects a couple of errors from the original,mostly relating to the background and political career of Churchill. There is also much more information and coverage of Irish politics and the Edwardian period.

Chapter 10. This establishes Nairac's alibi for the murder of John Francis Green and also gives more detail on the death and funeral of Major Julian 'Tony' Ball, a great friend of Nairac's.

Chapter 11 covers the allegations against Nairac's involvement in both the Miami Showband and Kingsmill 'massacres'. Also contains new information of what he did on leave in 1975 in Waterford. Detail supplied by the lady in question.

Chapter 12. Very topical information - in view of the new inquest that has been authorised - on Nairac's alleged involvement in the Kingsmill incident.

Chapter 13 contains very much more information about Colonel Fairweather ( KOSB and SAS)

Chapter 15. This is the killer chapter ! It posits that Boston College in the USA may hold the key as to where Nairac is buried and it's refusal to divulge this information is curious, to say the least. Further, this chapter - which is largely re-written - contains some fascinating speculation on such matters as; why was there no back-up for him at the pub? Why the delay in notifying and dispatching a search team? Why was his friend Tony Ball, a man who knew more about the workings of Nairac's mind and his methods not called back to assist? Was/is there a conspiracy or was it , as one senior officer put it, just a balls up?

The appendix also contains new information on the 'Ardoyne' photo.


It is difficult to review and write about a revised edition, especially when the original was so good. Equally it is difficult to persuade people to buy the new edition when they already have the original. All I can say is that it will be worth it. If you have not already read this book then you should really get the new edition, it is well worth reading. If you were one of the joyous tourists on Operation Banner then many places, names and events will be familiar to you, and whilst at times this familiarity can be akin to poking a broken tooth with your tongue ( we have all done it) it will also help to put events into some sort of perspective.
For myself, this book and the major events came after my time in the province, and yet, like many others, I was aware of the story of this officer , I had read articles and news stories about him and they had engendered a fascination with the event. This book has gone a long way to satisfy that fascination. As I said in my earlier review, we may never know the full and true story of these events but this author has managed to weave together many varied and diffuse strands and produced an almost complete portrait.

Excellent book indeed.

Edit to add: The author has sent in this piece of information which readers may find interesting:

Stephen Travers, a citizen of Dublin, is one of the few survivors of the Miami Showband Massacre in 1975; an atrocity committed by Loyalists but often attributed by Irish Republicans to the late Captain Robert Nairac GC. Travers himself has added to this perception, indicating in his book, The Miami Showband Massacre (2007), and more explicitly in interviews, that he thought that the "English Officer" who appeared to be directing the massacre was Robert Nairac. In reality the man was probably Northern Irish and not an Officer.

Mr Travers has recently (2017) told a journalist acquaintance, who has more recently told me, that he does not now think that, and has gone on the record to say so. He now recalls that the "Officer" had blond hair. (Nairac's was very dark). The "Officer's" hair colour is confirmed by at least one other witness.

Although belated, this is a welcome development, given that it is clear - to me at any rate - that Robert Nairac was in fact hundreds of miles away across the sea at the time of the massacre.

I have no idea what has caused Mr Travers to change his view and to make this publicly clear. It would be nice to think that he might have read my book, Betrayal: The Murder of Robert Nairac GC, and been influenced by it, but this may be wishful thinking.

This change of view might help to make people in Ireland slightly better-disposed towards Nairac and more willing to help the ICLVR to find his remains, although that, too, might be wishful thinking.

With kindest regards,

Alistair
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