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Sunday, 20 November 2011


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Yes, some good points about the paras, from someone who knows. I don't know about their origins, but I would imagine that their raison d'etre is to be thrown at the enemy where we need to concentrate a lot of aggression and power. Very far from peacekeeping. Which means that the blame for Bloody Sunday etc. lies a lot higher, with those who decided to deploy them in such a role.

I was intrigued to see your view of the officers. I had been told that the Paras and the Marines recruited and trained officers of a higher level of intelligence and psychological acumen than the norm. The reason being that they needed to be pretty astute to create very high levels of fighting spirit without it all getting out of control and spilling over into mayhem within the regiment. Probably that was the theory and the propaganda, rather than the reality.

The Paras site you linked to was very sobering. Not just Willets, but all of them. They all had mums and dads, which is the hardest part.


" . . I would not be surprised if much of what he says is true . . "

I agree but, never having been a soldier and having missed conscription by a couple of years, God knows what I would feel or do when dropped into NI during the recent troubles. However, gunning down a violent thug like McCann (who apparently had stayed an "official" IRA scumbag rather than a Provisional one - the Provisionals were not marxist enough for Joe and his family) is a cause of congratulation not condemnation.

The Paras were fighting a war against a selfstyled "army": an "army" that kept bleating - through its many enablers in the UK media - when they were treated as such (eg the successful conclusion of Operation Flavius by the SAS in Gibraltar). As you write and Whyaxye comments, the Paras are not a "peacekeeping" unit: they are there to provide aggression and focused power. They were doing what they were trained to do. Even if Myers is writing the unvarnished truth, it's manifestly not the whole truth.

'W', the officers have to undergo the same selection course as the 'Toms', no exceptions, no special conditions. When a young officer is given his first platoon to command (well, of coure, it's the platoon sgt who really commands it but you know what I mean) he is faced with the problem of winning the respect of 30-odd men some of whom, to quote Orwell's words, are very "rough men" indeed. Consequently, they try to out-rough the roughest! What they should be doing is outhinking the enemy!

'Bongers', I suspect, but cannot put it any higher, that there is a 'back story' to several of those killed but not classified as para-militaries. Even so, what I do think was dumb was the unnecessary smashing and bashing of civilian homes and any and all civilian young men, even given the amount of abuse and provocation offered. Myers is surely right to suppose that it acted as a recruiting agent for the PIRA.


I sympathize. It is always hard when some of your own are accused of and worse when you know it is true.

I can see why you have respect for Myers, he calls out both sides with equal skill and force.

There are no new inquests to the 21 people killed in the Birmingham pub-bombings in 1974, which injured another 160 people, on a night in which there were just six ambulances available in the entire city. No new inquests into nine dead of Bloody Friday. No inquests into the 12 dead of La Mon, which included three married couples. No inquests into the 10 dead Protestants of White Cross.

The IRA culprits for these war crimes, which alone vastly exceed combined Para killings, were never caught
Hank’s Eclectic Meanderings

Indeed, Hank, and their smirking, murderous bosses now sit in the government chambers. Pass the sick bag!

This is a story told to me in my days as a TA paratrooper by X.

After training, X – who was an experienced soldier of leading rank – would invite the new recruits to his office for a beer, to take informal questions from the curious, and to relate regimental stories from the past. In these extremely enjoyable sessions, I heard some of the most amusing and outrageous sagas. As a veteran of the Falklands War and Northern Ireland, speaking freely and without MSM filtration, this was history speaking unfettered. Not to be missed.

It was also a simple lesson in quality leadership. This father-like figure kept us spellbound, and the bonding and sense of shared past and future was inspirational to the young and directionless. I have seen this technique emulated in my business career since, but the insincerity and contrived-ness has always made it toe-curlingly cheesy. One company I worked for even demanded its employees relate what it funnily enough decided to call “war stories” about amusing and eventful moments working with their clients, to send around in the monthly office news email.

How fucking amusing and eventful is installing and supporting computer software systems, for fuck’s sake? How does pressing “Control, Alt, Delete” when the client has left the room to go for a piss and then claiming you’ve fixed the problem when he returns, compare with leading a bayonet charge on mount Longdon, I wondered?

I wasn’t overly grumpy to have seen the banal diktat however, because I was of course immediately reminded of, and transported to, a different place. Which reminds me …

So we’re all sat cross legged on the floor, lights off, only the street lamps from a drizzly London night casting weak beams across X’s office. X is sat in his chair, a bottle of Becks clasped in his hand, like the rest of us. A moment’s silence. Then X places the bottle on the floor and reaches for his sleeves.

Fucking hell, I thought, he’s going to show us his scars.

I’d heard about them, and how he only showed them when the time was right, normally when the recruits were late on in their training, and sometimes not if he wasn’t comfortable with them. But when he did, it also meant some of the most extreme stories were sure to follow.

Sure enough, in the dim light, the unmistakable scars of battle. Deep gouges with translucent lumps of regrowth. Bullet wounds. Shakespeare came to mind as I quaffed a mouthful of Becks: -

“Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars,
And say 'These wounds I had on Crispian's day.'”

A lesson in leadership? Fucking right.

“So”, says X, “I was in Northern Ireland. I was only 18. Thick as a fucking chair leg. Didn’t know my arse from my elbow. Choice was borstal or the army. Still not sure if I chose right.”

A ripple of laughter in the room.

“There’s been a fucking great riot, shots fired at us, and we’ve caught this Paddy. He’s definitely one of ‘em. I’ve got him pinned to the deck; we see the rest of ‘em off, and then the Sarnt-Major shows up with some of the blokes. He takes one look at the Paddy’s face; then he turns to me and says ‘Take him down that alley, and shoot the cunt’”.

A communal gasp in the room.

“Then the Sarnt-Major marches off with his entourage, like Darth Vader, to sort out some other situation. Fucking hell, I thought, that’s a bit steep. But I was shit scared of the Sarnt-Major, and not being the brightest light on the fucking Christmas tree, I thought, well, I better go to it.”

Jesus Christ, I thought, I’m about to hear of some as yet unknown atrocity perpetrated on behalf of the empire by Vader and his minions. The Becks tasted electric.

“So I grab Paddy by the scruff, and start to drag him down the alley. By this time of course, the cunt realizes he can count the seconds he’s got left to live on the fingers of one hand. ‘Don’t ye feckin dare, ye feckin coont, oi’ll feckin’ ‘av ye’, he’s goin’!”

Sniggers of tense laughter in the room.

“In fact he’s flailing around like a fucking banshee, and with my SLR in one hand, and Paddy in the other, I’m having trouble trying to cock the fucking rifle while keeping hold of him. After a couple of minutes - and I had to whack him a bit, y’know ...”

A communal knowing nod and grunt of approval from the room.

“… I finally get him on the deck, rifle cocked, and safety catch off. He went quite fuckin’ quiet then.”

X takes a slug of Becks. You could hear a pin drop.

“And I’m just about to do the deed, when I hear this voice roarin’ in my ears: ‘X, what the fuck are you doing?’

No, it wasn’t God talking to me, well it was, in a manner of speaking, it was the fucking Sarnt-Major back again with his crew”.

Oooooh, around the room.

“’Sir, I’m about to shoot him, like you said, Sir’”, I said”, says X.

Mmmmm, around the room.

“’For fuck’s sake, you daft cunt,’ says the Sarnt-Major, ‘Not with a fucking live round, you twat, I meant with a fucking rubber bullet’.”

The room dissolves into uproarious laughter.

“Well how the fuck was I supposed to know?” exclaims X. “I’m 18 and I don’t know my arse from my fucking elbow.”

X continues, “And you know, after a couple of seconds, when it had sunk in what could have happened, and the situation and all, one of the blokes with the Sarnt-Major starts laughing. And I’m so relieved I start laughing too. And then the Sarnt-Major. Then I feel Paddy’s shoulders moving up and down, and I thought the fucker was trying to get away again. Then I realized, he was fucking laughing as well.”

The room took several minutes to regain its composure. As I sit here typing a quarter of a century later, I can still taste the salt on my lips.

I have no idea whether this story is true or not, and if it is, by how much it has been embellished over the years. But one thing I do know for sure, as Pater has already commented, without question, it *could* have happened.


Well told, Lawrence, you have a good ear for dialogue, you should write a play!


" . . what I do think was dumb was the unnecessary smashing and bashing . . "

Agreed and, for a well-trained military force, together with aggression should go discipline. Since - it appears - this indiscipline was tolerated (if not encouraged) by senior officers or senior politicians, it was probably considered by those authorities to be productive. I'm not defending the smashing and bashing. I assume - since the paras are (or have a reputation for being) a highly disciplined unit - that the smashing was encouraged. The responsibility lies both with those who were complaisant in the thuggery and, since befehl ist befehl is not a defence at law in the British Army, with those who perpetrated it.

My point is that we were fighting a war in NI against a self-styled "army". That army - and its apologists in the media - immediately shouted "civil rights" when our army treated that army - and its active supporters - as combatants. The IRA (of both persuasions) sought to have it both ways: as an "army" killing British troops, NI policemen and innocent civilians as well as a political organisation seeking legal protection under a civil law they depised. Under those circumstances, I'm willing to cut the paras a (small) piece of slack.

Yes, Bongers, that's a fair summary. Mind you, eventually (and it took too long) we did use our intelligence - and our Intelligence! The full story of the Intelligence war waged by the army, the police and MI5 is yet to be told. It needs, and deserves a proper history - in due course. However, at the end there was no doubt that when Gerry Adams farted, we heard it and smelled it! I believe it was the colossal infiltration of informers that made the IRA leadership decide to cut a deal. The bombs in the City were just enough to frighten the Brits into agreeing to talk - just when they were poised to win. Can I prove that? No, but I believe it to be somewhere close to the truth.


Oh I have little doubt that we'd won the shooting war with the IRA. Why would they change tactics (ie talk) if they were winning? OTOH it's more than possible that our rulers, having cut their negotiating teeth selling out the UK to the EU, let the IRA know that a sell-out would be acceptable in NI: the IRA accepted the offer and the rest is history.

Thanks, Bongers, I was feeling quite cheerful until I read that. The truth frequently hurts.

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