Op Banner photos - some memories for the old and bold

ugly

LE
Moderator
On my first trip to Derry (1988 IIRC) I got a bit lost on my way into town. I stopped at a guard shack at a base at the top of a hill. A USMC guard gave me directions that got me to my hotel. From what I could see of the base it looked like some sort of US Navy communications station. Must have been to surface fleet as it was nowhere big enough to handle radio to subs.
I surmise from your very broad description it would have been - Altnagalvin ( Hill of Swallows) . There was an aerial farm in those time used as you mentioned as a communications station. The firm base was at Clooney, not a quantum distance away by Loch Foyle.
Besides the obvious, it served to maintain the cliched 'hot line' comms system, established post WW2 via an undersea cable, through Loch Foyle and into the North Athlantic. Satellite comms evolved making the American presence in Derry redundant, that, and the traffic of weapons to Derry from Stateside.
 
It was a submarine base,then?
It's been explained already. There was however the 'School of Anti- Submarine Warfare ' a UK asset at HMS Sea Eagle before the Army took it over. That was in the vicinity ( Clooney Road) of the American base.
 
It's been explained already. There was however the 'School of Anti- Submarine Warfare ' a UK asset at HMS Sea Eagle before the Army took it over. That was in the vicinity ( Clooney Road) of the American base.
In 1988 (I believe the OP stated 1988)? I was based there in 1991 and there wasn't a trace or tale of anything like it.
 
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The view I was talking about. A local told me the hill on the Scots side is the Mull of Kintyre, not sure if the is true. My understanding is that the little brick building on top of the hill on the Irish side is where the Irish inventor, Guglielmo Marconi, made the first radio transmission across a body of water.

View attachment 352056
That is the Mull. You would have been able to see the smoke from the Chinook crash quite clearly from there.

1994 Scotland RAF Chinook crash - Wikipedia

The building is either a coastguard lookout (but if so is of a different pattern to the rest) or a commercial watch station which watched for scheduled trans-atlantic arrivals and telegraphed ahead to the port of destination. Yet to find out which is true. I understood the first transmission to have been from Ballycastle Harbour (where there is a monument) to Rathlin but I wouldn't be surprised if Marconi moved to Torr-Mull as he advanced his technique.

EDIT As an aside, I'm told the Island visible on the horizon to the right of the Mull was owned by a 60's pop star of some description and was raided by the police mob handed.

EDIT2 I have just used google streetview and the ruin on the left as you approach the carpark looks like Coastguard accomodation (three houses in one block though you cant see if it had the distinctive elevated room at one end now).
 
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That is the Mull. You would have been able to see the smoke from the Chinook crash quite clearly from there.

1994 Scotland RAF Chinook crash - Wikipedia

The building is either a coastguard lookout (but if so is of a different pattern to the rest) or a commercial watch station which watched for scheduled trans-atlantic arrivals and telegraphed ahead to the port of destination. Yet to find out which is true. I understood the first transmission to have been from Ballycastle Harbour (where there is a monument) to Rathlin but I wouldn't be surprised if Marconi moved to Torr-Mull as he advanced his technique.

EDIT As an aside, I'm told the Island visible on the horizon to the right of the Mull was owned by a 60's pop star of some description and was raided by the police mob handed.

EDIT2 I have just used google streetview and the ruin on the left as you approach the carpark looks like Coastguard accomodation (three houses in one block though you cant see if it had the distinctive elevated room at one end now).
Wasn't he a member of the Cockroaches or something like that, married the daughter of an American Photographic Millionaire, was knighted a few years ago, has a daughter, or adopted daughter who is also something famous in the fashion business, and was once married to a Geordie who was run over by the Police?
 
Wasn't he a member of the Cockroaches or something like that, married the daughter of an American Photographic Millionaire, was knighted a few years ago, has a daughter, or adopted daughter who is also something famous in the fashion business, and was once married to a Geordie who was run over by the Police?
Just googled. Jack Bruce of Cream.

Sanda Island - Wikipedia
 
Clooney Park was the RMP base that was previously the US Navy base I presume @DavidBOC has a typo on the year
You are quite right! I was talking about 1968 when I was a university student.
It was a surprise to find myself getting directions from a US Marine as I had no idea the Navy had a presence in NI.
Lovely trip though, driving myself around in a Austin A40 (?) A couple of years later I had to avoid NI as the RoI rental companies would not give you the documents you needed to cross the border.
 
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overopensights

ADC
Book Reviewer
Casual institutional racism, according to my #3 son, age 21, that we'd expect to fire on unarmed crowds of disorderly gippos/chinks . . yet not do quite the same in the UK . . . even though here they were [only] Paddies/Taigs/Republicans . .

Difficult - nay, impossible - to disagree with him.

And don't get either of us started on the absence of a count of civilian casualties inflicted by Brit operations in Afghanistan . . .
We were having a briefing in Hong Kong during some riots there. The question of shoot to kill was raised to the company commander by a young soldier on the whole company pre-riot briefing. When it was explained that the banner would be unfurled and a rioter would be targeted by way of a 'fire control order' The soldier remarked that it seemed harsh to shoot to kill, he suggested that one should shoot the offender in the leg? The once wartime Company Commander looked at the lad for a few moments and said, " Are you daft or soft or something?.... anyway have you studied a Chinks Legs, they're so thin you'd never bloody hit them"

The days before PC
 
I read and reviewed on Amazon, the Book 'Betrayal, The murder of Robert Nirac GC'. For discussion and for what it's worth, I place my review below, which I wrote three years ago.

Overopensights
I read this book mainly because of the strength of the reviews and the opinions expressed in some of them, and in particular the strong 'comments' relating to a few of those reviews. I found the book to be very interesting and thought provoking, I was impressed by the depth of research and quite wondered at this until I realized the author studied history and Law, perhaps a prerequisite for such a book.

I was an infantry soldier and served just under eight years in Northern Ireland, over two and a half of those years in Armagh and South Armagh, the period was from April 1975 until October 1977 which coincided with Robert Nairac’s time there. I was back there again from Christmas 1978 until May 1979. I had never in my life seen so many dead and mutilated people but during those dark days. I mention this so as not to appear too opinionated and perhaps a little off-hand in what I write.

I most certainly learned from the book, in particular the early History of Ireland and indeed the in-depth discussion of the Partition of Ireland, the Home Rule Bill and how the First World War affected the proceedings towards Home Rule. . As soldiers we knew much about the ‘Troubles’ from 1890 onward, but little of the real history of old Ireland. We also knew of the three celebrated Irish Infantry Divisions of World War 1; the 10th,16th and the 36th Ulster Division (Not two Divisions as stated by the author, this being the only historical fact that I can pick him up on, I just have to mention it) In the 1970s we met and conversed with some of these WW1 soldiers in and about the South Armagh countryside, and real fine fellows they were, one held a double MM, won at Theapval in 1916. These ex-soldiers were the least political people that I ever conversed with In the Armagh Area. The political Irish history as portrayed by the author would have been very useful to us all serving there. We knew of course that the Nationalists were really well aware of their own history; we used to joke “ No need to take notes when meeting with the locals, they can remember every detail back 600 years.”

As I read through the book I could not help but feel that some of the detail was speculation and some ‘opinionated.’ Remarks like ‘Robert would certainly have made General Rank’ or ‘Robert was the very best of his kind and brave above others’, 'Robert was the most dedicated of soldiers',' When I read these 'assumptions' because that is what they are, the word B..S... comes to mind. I knew of about twenty five of Robert’s type during my service, and like Robert most of them are now dead. Keady police station just up from Bessbrook Mill held about eight policemen. It was the most attacked position In Northern Ireland, it was often inferred to as being ‘attacked more times than Hill 60.' I most certainly thought those policeman brave above all others, they had no protected secure base to go back to,.they were permanently in the 'front line' and 319 of their force comrades died during the years 1969-2007. Just a few miles away from Keady's isolated police station, Nine of their comrades died in an attack on their police station at Newry, also quite near to Bessbrook Mill.

I didn’t know Robert Nairac personally, though I was at Bessbrook Mill during his time there and in retrospect realized that I had seen him in passing, I only knew of him after he had died and someone mentioned ‘That bloke with long black hair has had the chop’ I then recalled who he was, but I had never spoken with him, we called those chaps the ‘sneaky Beakies,' and somewhat envied their lifestyle which was much less regulated and very different to ours, though their real duties were quite unknown to us, and neither did we want to know.

The author really does give the real feel of South Armagh and is quite successful in this. One didn’t just go to South Armagh, or come from there, ‘One merely slipped in, and slipped out again’ while there you mentally ‘wrote yourself off’ though no one wanted to get hurt, it really felt almost inevitable. This feeling came back to me as I read through the book. The author’s description of the Kingsmill massacre (Called the Whtecross murders’ by the locals) I was present minutes after the killings and saw the steam raising from the bodies laying on the road, seen in the headlight beams of the landrovers, it was just like one would envisage a WW1 battlefield. The Author’s mention of the Reavey Boys murder, and the Glennanne gang. I knew the people he mentioned, and find it hard to believe that Cpl Robert Maconnell could commit murder, or am I being naive. Though it was true that the empty bullet cases that we picked up that night at the Reavey boys home were army issue. At the scene a policeman said to me " No need to go in just glance through the window" I did and saw the two Reavey boys dead sitting beside the fireplace, blood splattered up the walls, another brother screaming in agony from upstairs, I think he died a few days later. Less than half a mile away stood the Glenanne Army Base on a small hillock, later blown from the face of the earth by the biggest lorry bomb of the troubles, and killing four soldiers and wounding others. . It was in this atmosphere of almost daily or nightly killings that Robert Nairac disappeared.

The author mentions names of the Loyalist gangs and in particular one suggested member Cpl Robert MaConnell, well I don't know if that can possibly be true, he was one of the kindest and dedicated UDR soldiers, I knew him well and really doubt what is said about him; however some weeks after the Reavey killings I stood over Cpl Robert's Maconnell''s own bullet riddled body and saw the dark red blood running in the black peat just outside his lonely white limed Croft. The murder of members of the Miami Show Band gets a lot of speculation from the author, but the real answer will never be known. At the time there was sadness in both communities; Catholic and Protestant, I saw more than once UDR patrols stop at the scene to remove their head dress and pay their respects. Singers in Ireland do indeed get a lot of respect, more there than anywhere else on earth.

During the few days following the Nairac disappearance , we speculated to what had happened to him, we all wondered at it.There was always a feeling of sorrow for anyone falling into the hands of IRA thugs, all too often mutilated bodies, mostly of very young men were found in the country roads having been badly tortured and with a shattered skull from close quarter pistol shots, sometimes the body was booby trapped.. At that time we had at our disposal infra-red photographic image cameras. The photo images taken from Helicopters were used to show up disturbed earth as a different bright colour on the ground. We successfully used this on operations and were surprised that it was not successfully used for this incident. The other school of thought about the disappearance was ‘Bloody cowboy!’ Perhaps Immaturely, but that was my selfish feeling at the time, but we had troubles of our own to contend with. Now in maturity, or perhaps after reading the book, I now say ‘Poor fellow’ but I hope the author would realize that death was a daily event at that time, one looked at comrades and thought well... 'Who's next'?

Robert Nairac gets a whole book to himself and a window in The Guard's Chapel, and much of the praise is really well deserved. He was a brave man and that is most certainly for sure, but of all the men and women killed in and about Armagh, and I can name eighteen of them that I knew personally, I would say that from an army point of view the author gets a little bit carried away. He has written a book certainly well worth the reading and comprising three years of most dedicated and useful research. I really enjoyed the book and though I saw the 'live show’ I did learn much from the author's in-depth research and I do indeed positively recommend the book and award it 4 stars, it would have been five stars, but the presumption of Robert’s homosexuality grates on me, and I would mention to the author one strong military principle…Never assume!

24 people found this review helpful.
Alec Lomas, why the 'funny' ?
 
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