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Nick Van Der Bijl's "Operation BANNER: The British Army in Northern Ireland 1969-2007

RP578

LE
Book Reviewer
#1
I bought Van Der Bijl's book on the Indonesian Confrontation and so was interested to see that he had a book out on the troubles in Ulster. The reviews however are almost uniformly dismissive and it now makes me wonder about the quality of his other work.

Amazon linky

Here's a a snip from one of the reviews:

The facts, the research, and the good, reliable source material are all readily available, but none of it has been used here. His statistics and some other material comes from the 'Cain' website, a one-sided site with some very dodgy 'facts' statistics. Why not use 'Lost Lives' (McKittrick et al) ? Had he consulted 'Lost Lives', which offers a detailed account of every death, with comprehensive and accurate statistics, many of his mistakes could have been corrected.
He uses an outdated report on the Dublin and Monaghan bombs rather than the latest, comprehensive, and wide-reaching McEntee Enquiry (2007).
He gets units wrong, places wrong, and even turns two unrelated deaths into one and still manages to get the wrong locus (along with the deceased's regiment).
He has the murder of 3 Army sergeants happening in Lisburn, when it took place on the Antrim Road in Belfast. They had been drinking in a Lisburn hotel earlier, however, and the fact that he mixed things up so badly is a reflection of how much research he actually did - not very much, if any !

Apparently the author served as a SNCO in the Intelligence Corps. Is this why he cites the words of a completely discredited SIS officer as fact ? Is this why he so obviously cherrypicks his information - to support and vindicate some former 'Intelligence' colleague(s) ?

I've heard what some of my former colleagues who served in the Falklands have said about this authors book on that subject. They are less than complimentary, with some doubting he was ever there, and others saying that he must have slept through the campaign. I now see what they meant, and why.
I made a mistake when I bought this book. Don't do the same.
Anyone got any positive views before I scrub it of my 'to read' list?
 

RP578

LE
Book Reviewer
#3
He wrote a very good book on the Falklands in which (IIRC) he was the Int WO/SNCO for 3 Cdo.
Yeah, he writes well (I enjoyed his Borneo book), but I now wonder how much of it is utter tosh. I refer you to the last two paragraphs of the review quoted above.

Apparently the author served as a SNCO in the Intelligence Corps. Is this why he cites the words of a completely discredited SIS officer as fact ? Is this why he so obviously cherrypicks his information - to support and vindicate some former 'Intelligence' colleague(s) ?

I've heard what some of my former colleagues who served in the Falklands have said about this authors book on that subject. They are less than complimentary, with some doubting he was ever there, and others saying that he must have slept through the campaign. I now see what they meant, and why.
I made a mistake when I bought this book. Don't do the same.
 
#6
'I bought Van Der Bijl's book on the Indonesian Confrontation and so was interested to see that he had a book out on the troubles in Ulster. The reviews however are almost uniformly dismissive and it now makes me wonder about the quality of his other work'.

It's typical Pen and Sword stuff. It's OK, but it doesn't say anything really new.

Now that they're starting to declassify stuff at Kew there's more likelihood of some proper research done on BANNER, with the benefit of declassified military archives. Thomas Hennessey has made a start with 'The Evolution of the Troubles'. It's not an easy read, but it goes into the period from 1969 to 1972 in great detail.

Also worth noting - given that the author is from Eire - it's pretty even-handed. Hennessey doesn't go into a 'Brit bastards' routine, even when talking about Bloody Sunday or Internment.
 
#7
Evening guys.
Yes, t'was I who wrote the Amazon review above, and I stand by every word !
I'm not ex-Army, but an ex-Royal Marine (6 tours between '72 and '77) who has enormous respect for ALL members of our Armed Forces - past and present - but with a few exceptions - and Van Der Bijl is one of them.
Sorry chocolate_frog, but I've read his Falkland's effort and it's the same as his 'Operation Banner' nonsense. This time I wasn't there, but dozens of my former colleagues were, and as well as Bootnecks and Navy medics (I played rugby with Rick Jolly) I'm including Army Gunners and Sappers here. By the time the Falklands came around, most were SNCO's, and a few had become 'spooky' (SBS/SAS). None of them have ever heard of Van Der Bijl, and he was certainly nowhere near the sharp end at any time during the war. One of my good friends was actually a unit Int/SNCO, and it was 'Van Der Who ??' when I asked ! Others escorted POW's for interview, and it was the same response from them.
So yes, he may have been there, but in a cozy, safe, and warm rear position (???).
I will be reviewing his Falklands effort soon (I've got a couple of old mates to speak too first), and have just finished re-reading everything I have about the Falklands. One question is often asked - Why was Tony Wilson ignored when the gongs were handed out ?
I know, and to be honest, he was lucky to avoid being charged - he disobeyed a direct order and as a result was responsible for several men being wounded (two seriously). Had the weather been different, dozens could have died in a 'blue on blue. Although this incident is recorded in several books, Van Der Bijl avoids all reference to it.
Regards to all of you, no matter which cap badge you wear !
BDI.
 
#8
Sorry for the delay, but I have just come across this thread whilst researching some other information. Like other readers, I too have read "Confrontation" (The Indonesian conflict), Nine Battles for Stanley, 5th Infantry Brigade in the Falklands and Operation Banner, and like those readers, I have also found numerous mistakes in each of his published works, particularly since I was involved personally in a number of investigations he describes in the latter book). Having said that, I must also confess to knowing Nick Van Der Bijl personally and served with him, when I was a JNCO, in HQ 3 Infantry Brigade (124 Intelligence Section) in Northern Ireland (He was one of my Desk SNCOs). I also met him in the Falklands when he was the Intelligence Corps SNCO attached to HQ 3 Commando Brigade RM. I was serving at the time on the staff of Major General Jeremy (later Sir Jeremy) Moore, MC* with Headquarters Land Forces Falkland Islands (HQ LFFI).

In his defence, whilst he may come across as arrogant and abrasive to some people, in actual fact, his only mistake in my view in the publication of these books, is one of pendantics and a reliance on the research of others to supply him with information in the belief he was supplied with facts. In the case of Operation Banner for example, it is extremely difficult to describe and analyse the actions over a 30 year period in a couple of hundred pages when other authors have only been able to describe, albeit more accurately, much shorter periods in the same number of pages.
 
#9
In his defence, whilst he may come across as arrogant and abrasive to some people, in actual fact, his only mistake in my view in the publication of these books, is one of pendantics and a reliance on the research of others to supply him with information in the belief he was supplied with facts.
Good to see that trained intelligence people take what they are given as fact without checking.
 

sirbhp

LE
Book Reviewer
#11
I reviewed it for arrse a while back and thought that it was a good read. Cant tell if it was factually accurate or not as I know nothing about the episode. Brunei was well before my time so that's why I was keen to read it .

have a shufti in the book reviews .
 
#12
In his defence, whilst he may come across as arrogant and abrasive to some people, in actual fact, his only mistake in my view in the publication of these books, is one of pendantics and a reliance on the research of others to supply him with information in the belief he was supplied with facts.
Call me picky and old fashioned …...
 
#13
I inadvertently bequeathed him a wooden,padlocked box--(until I broke it open)2-1/2ft x 18 ins x 1 ft-- (ish) at the top end of Stanley-----he was coming along a road--heading S to N with a colleague,just as I did the deed.
He stated that what I'd done was not a good idea--(Bang!!!--Never!!)
Unfortunately,there was no gold in it,merely paperwork,but he seemed pleased with his "find".
On entering Stanley(!!!) I'd discovered a similar box in the foyer of the house used as an HQ by the Argies----on prizing this one open I discovered --Socks,shirts,and some papers and bits and pieces----before I could investigate further,I got called away from my "looting" task by C/Sgt G De F. --------------according to him,the Sgt Maj was getting impatient for my presence(feck knows why--not like I was important)---so I did as told (as you do,when told by a much senior rank)

Apparently,the first box was recovered by the RM Police of 45Cdo-------------(good ole' C/ Sgt De F. later informed me) and that it contained a pile of US Dollars,which was used to pay the local hobbits.

Oh,how I feckin laughed!!!!!!!!!!!!!!



PS------Feck knows what happened to the alleged dosh.
 

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