The Bloodiest Year 1972, by Ken Wharton

Discussion in 'The Book Club' started by Steven_McLaughlin, May 5, 2011.

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  1. Ken Wharton’s long-awaited fourth book, The Bloodiest Year 1972, has just been released and is now officially ‘out there’. I wrote this review last year and posted it up on the book forum, so I hope you’ll forgive me for re-posting it as a not-so-subtle reminder, that Ken’s new book is now out. If you get chance do take a peek at Ken’s latest work as I know you’ll not be disappointed; it’s not for nothing that he’s had four books published on the Troubles. Anyway here’s the review and a link to Amazon below:


    I recently had the privilege of reading and reviewing the entire raw manuscript of Ken Wharton's upcoming Northern Ireland book, The Bloodiest Year 1972. The book will not be released until May 2011, but make no mistake about it, Ken has once again produced a meaty masterpiece from those grim and bleakly savage times. 1972 is Ken's fourth forensic examination of the bitter and bloody `Troubles' that defined soldiering for an entire generation of criminally overused, vastly under-appreciated and shamefully ignored unsung heroes. The pages drip with stinging emotion and angry regrets about beloved comrades lost, at the behest of a spineless government and disenchanted public who seemed at a loss as how to halt the escalating carnage and defeat an enemy that was as cunning as it was ruthless.

    The Bloodiest Year 1972 is a story that is told by the soldiers themselves, in their own language, in a series of letters, musings and conversations with the author. Ken Wharton has expertly, sensitively and meaningfully, edited, compiled and woven their unique and tragic histories into a powerful narrative that proceeds with determined force. His attention to detail and compulsive hunger to get the soldiers stories `out there' is a testament to the character of the man himself. With the quartet of NI books that he has now written he is evolving into the foremost historian and most scrupulous advocate, for the blokes that served and bled in those not-so-far-away isles.

    In a gripping and authoritative voice he guides us through 1972, month by remorseless month, as one outrage after another sparks off an unstoppable firestorm that eventually engulfs the entire British Army and plunges the province into meltdown. And as both Ken and other contributors point out; when these men returned home - either dead, alive or somewhere in between - they weren't honoured with the parades and heartfelt homecomings that they so desperately deserved and would be greeted with today.

    When Ken himself patrolled through NI in 1972 that year alone we lost 169 irreplaceable souls and scores more to violent injury; a cruel figure that even eclipses the worst of Iraq and Afghanistan combined. I am proud to be able to call Ken a friend and I'm honoured to be able to write this review for a fellow Royal Green Jacket, whose achievements as both a soldier and a writer, chronicling his journey, utterly dwarf mine.

    The Bloodiest Year 1972 is a book that pierces your conscience like a GPMG 7:62mm round punching through a brick wall. It's noisy, it's messy, and I defy any soldier not to be moved by it.

    The Bloodiest Year: British Soldiers in Northern Ireland 1972, in Their Own Words: Ken Wharton: Books
  2. Just finished reading it. I have bought and read all 4 of his books. Anybody who has served in NI will find, in these books, themselves being transported back to Ulster as though your tour was only just ended. Dates, names, places and events all come flooding back.

    If you haven't served in NI and want to know more about it, these 4 books are the ones to read.
  3. Thanks for that positive response ‘No Duff’. Ken visits ARRSE from time-to-time and likes to keep tabs on how his books are being received by ‘the bods’. Believe me, your words will mean a lot to him because he puts his heart & soul into these NI books and cares desperately that he gets it right. I think we can agree that he gets it bang-on every time.

    I’m trying to persuade Ken to just keep going and work through the whole NI saga, right up until the present day. It’s a hell of a lot to ask of a writer but if anybody can do it he can – and as a simple fan of his work I can only say I hope he does. There’s so much history, so many stories bursting to be told, that it’d seem tragic if they never saw the light of day. I can see a multi-volume collection spanning through the decades, from the crazy days to the quiet days and everything else in between; peaks and troughs, lulls and false dawns in the long NI battle that never seems to quite peter out. The flame’s still flickering over there and I hope Ken can guide us through the 80s and 90s as well as he did the early days. The rage has gone but the menace remains.

    My feeling is that Ken will keep ploughing on once he’s had a good rest from his latest mammoth effort and recharged the old batteries. I reckon his best work’s yet to come…

    Anyway enough waffle from me and thanks for supporting Ken’s work and spreading the word. In the era of the ‘War on Terror’ and Navy Seal raids he might not be writing about the most ‘glamorous’ side of soldiering – but my God, bearing in mind where the country is and what we’re involved in I’d wager it’s the most important. There’s more to be learnt from the simple honesty of Ken’s books than 90% of what’s selling in the millions.
  4. Just ordered thanks.
    You'd think I would get a free signed copy + a percentage of the royalties for my couple of mentions in this book, but Ken is a Yorkshireman - so no chance :)
  5. oldbaldy

    oldbaldy LE Moderator Good Egg (charities)
    1. Battlefield Tours

    Just been given a copy & glanced through.
    I did spot one thing though where he skirts the death of Pte Dennis Porter and says he was killed in men's quarters of MPH. This is not true, Dennis was attached to 2 Fd Regiment who's HQ was within the hospital grounds but not part of the hospital. If I had not changed rooms with Dennis a month previously he might still be alive today!
  6. Boldnotold

    Boldnotold LE Book Reviewer

    ob sounds like you need to contact Ken and contribute to his next book!
  7. oldbaldy

    oldbaldy LE Moderator Good Egg (charities)
    1. Battlefield Tours

    On the evening of 13 July myself & a couple of others went to the bar of the Military Wing of MPH for a beer. We had not been there very long when someone, I think it was the wing Sgt Major, came in and announced the bar was closed because they had a call casualties were coming in. We finished our drink and made our way to the front entrance, as we arrived two Ferrets were drawing up, we were told the commander of the first one was dead & the driver injured. From what we were told and subsequently found out it appears the hatch on the Ferret was open and the commander shot in the head, the round ricocheted and hit the driver in the back. The driver then drove from the place of ambush to MPH with his dead commander stumped over him. We gave assistance to getting them both out before heading back to our camp.
    Until I read this book I didn't know the name or unit of the dead commander we pulled from the vehicle, 2Lt Robert Williams-Wynn of the 14/20 Kings Hussars and 15/19 Kings Royal Hussars.
  8. I've got Ken's other books and this one looks just as good. One thing though - the cover photo is from 1981 - doesn't anyone proof these things?
  9. overopensights

    overopensights LE Book Reviewer

    Ken puts up a number of images for each book cover, but the publishers dictate what the front page shows. All to do with marketing and sales I believe?
  10. Bubbles: as overopensights says, I don't have the final say about covers. The publishers who have a financial investment have the final say. I have an emotional investment but they can say 'yea or naye' I am just finishing my latest book which covers 73/4 and if you or any of the members have any photos of the period, my e-mail address is and I would be delighted to use them. My next book will cover 1975/9 and I would welcome photos and contributions from anyone who served in this period.
  11. I have just copied the following about Dennis Porter: On April 24, Private Dennis ‘Taffy’ Porter (22) of the RAMC from the Cardiff area was killed by an ND in the men’s quarters at the Musgrave Park Hospital. Despite being aware of the circumstances of his death, the MOD will permit me only to state that he died from what is euphemistically termed ‘violent or unnatural causes.’ I 'skirted' it because no-one will put their name to what happened and the MOD picked me up on the original wording. If you know more, please write to me at and let me know. My new book (out in June 2012) covers 1973/4 but I am willing to add a para or two to it with any info on Pte Porter that you wish to send. I am shortly starting my next book which covers 1975/0 (out in 2013) and I would welcome any contributions or photos from yourself.
  12. Oldbaldy: I would welcome any contributions from you for the new book (1973/4) and my next project (1975/9) ken)
  13. You are as much a laugh on here as you are on NIVA; stop insulting Yorkshire and I might send you a copy of the new book
  14. Mate: it is words like yours and Steven's which give me fresh heart and the strength to carry on. I have had the odd setback or two, but I love writing about the thing I know best and I will ALWAYS be pro-squaddie. If you served between 1975 and 9 please get in touch with me.
  15. oldbaldy

    oldbaldy LE Moderator Good Egg (charities)
    1. Battlefield Tours

    1973 I a spent 4 boring months at the Maze, although I suppose some of the early morning searches had their moments, & then in 1974 went off to deal with those dastardly Greeks & Turks, well Hugh McManners helped me. :)