The Security Forces’ campaign against Republican and Loyalist terrorism in Northern Ireland since 1969 has taken many forms. At the heart of all operations has been the need for first class communications. A graphic personal account, the Rigger exposed the extreme risks undertaken by specialist signal operators in order to provide and maintain the essential element. The author, who served alongside the SAS and other covert units, spares no details in describing the dangers, tensions dramas and humour of life at the sharp end. Climbing 400 foot masts is not for the faint hearted at the best of times, but in the middle of bandit country and being sniped at, and in some cases being hit, by IRA gunmen takes a special sort of bravery .
- Jack Williams.
First of all this book is not about the SAS or any other Special Forces it’s about ordinary bleeps who are undertaking their day to day task in extraordinary conditions. It’s a story of mateship, the type that can only be found in the services, it’s about getting on with life in a life threatening environment where even a spoken word overhead can get you killed. Also it’s about a cold courage that enables men to do their jobs day in and day out under serious threat, not for them the hot rage of a contact and return fire.
Jack seemed to be an unlikely candidate for the Army let alone a rigger, he seems have most of his childhood in A and E having various bones reset following falls from trees, bikes and often just falls! He was an old sweat by the time he arrived in NI and describes being taken around by a team mate and being shown the ropes, quite literally. The signals team decided it would be better to abseil from the top of towers when under fire rather than monkey climb down. The first attempts caused scrapes and bruises as they discovered that unlike cliffs, towers are not solid and each time they jumped out the got smashed by the inside of the towers. One of Jacks oppos is posted away and a newcomer is shown the ropes, only to drive into an IRA funeral with horrific consequences. Later on three more of the unit are killed by sniper fire.
Jack recounts coming home from the Mess drunk one evening; his description of the journey home rang bells and the way he talks about this drunk gave me a hangover in sympathy. He tells sad tales, humorous ones and enlightening insights in to how a non sneaky beakey unit managed a covert life in Northern Ireland. I have to say this was a painfully good read and well worth five mushrooms .