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

Discussion in 'Northern Ireland (Op BANNER)' started by RP578, Aug 27, 2010.

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  1. RP578

    RP578 LE Book Reviewer

    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:

    Anyone got any positive views before I scrub it of my 'to read' list?
  2. He wrote a very good book on the Falklands in which (IIRC) he was the Int WO/SNCO for 3 Cdo.
  3. RP578

    RP578 LE Book Reviewer

    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.

  4. His Borneo book had received some pretty harsh comments from the BAR.
  5. cpunk

    cpunk LE Moderator

    I think he writes well enough but one isn't going to find any groundbreaking research in his books.
  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.
    • Like Like x 1
  7. BDI


    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 !
  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. Good to see that trained intelligence people take what they are given as fact without checking.
    • Like Like x 1
  10. RP578

    RP578 LE Book Reviewer

    I see he's got a book out on the Brunei Rebellion now also.
  11. sirbhp

    sirbhp LE Book Reviewer

    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. 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.
  14. Smug twat! Not saying you're wrong, just smug!

    You are right, though.
  15. I know!