"If They Want It They Can Have It": Ulster's Tragedy.

It’s a giant risk given the Ranger Wing (our special forces) aren‘t even operational yet so relying on the basic troops of the DF, that’s not a good thing. Hell when even SAS patrols got picked up by Gardaí checkpoints at this period it shows how risky this is.

SAS patrols, despite their brilliant PR machine, just weren't very good at clandestine activities. I spent six months in 1978 spending more time on the Irish side of the border than the northern side, and never once got into the trouble the SAS patrols did.
 
Brian Faulkner seem is have lost his cotton-picking mind. Like Nehru who called for an independent Pakistan and did not expect to get it, and was then stuck with it.
Britain is a constitutional monarchy in name only and the Queen even if she was inclined to help has no power and the monarchy has not had that kind of power, not since the days before Queen Victoria. UDI in Northern Ireland and has made the UK seem weak to her enemies.
Ian Paisley and the DUP, I could see being unhappy as they can't take a more extreme position than Brian Faulkner.
Only the Nation front are more extreme. Their policy is to solve the Irish problem by forcing the Republic of Ireland back into the UK.
Northern Ireland is looking like a cross between Rhodesia and South Africa and Unionism has lost any friends or influence in the seat of power in London.
Northern Ireland is increasing look like a place not worth the bother of hanging on to for Great Britain.
The British army in Northern Ireland is placed in an unenviable position with both sides shooting at it or if it has not happened yet it will soon.
The UDR may be supporting UDI and could be seen by the British army being in mutiny.
The last mutiny in the British army as I recall was the Curragh mutiny in 1912 in the Curragh, County Kildare, Ireland over an order to disarm unionists after the Larne gun-running.

 
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Thanks so much for all the feedback especially from @David Flin who's recollections are amazing.

Speaking as someone who has studied Northern Irish history for both personal and education gains I have tried to gain a better understanding of the motives and personalities and in all honesty its like trying to hold on to water. The 1970s was the era of hardening attitudes in Ireland and as we saw IOTL the likes of Sunningdale and the short lived executive were opposed vehemently .

I've always regarded Lynch as a decent man who found himself in the most appalling situations during his periods as Taioseach. As the video I've referred to above shows any attempt to have invaded the North would have been a catastrophe. There was of course no "perfect" solution and this TL is potentially ASB-ish but its plausible to assume that the "UDI" could have been a knee-jerk reaction to the suspension of the assembly
 
SAS patrols, despite their brilliant PR machine, just weren't very good at clandestine activities. I spent six months in 1978 spending more time on the Irish side of the border than the northern side, and never once got into the trouble the SAS patrols did.
The SAS as far as I know were trained for deep penetration behind enemy lines and blowing stuff up and that is not the same as clandestine activities.
 
I wonder how dependant Northern Ireland was on money coming for Westminster in 1972 and could they do without the support of British taxpayers?
Hard to see Harland and Wolff surviving without British government subsidies and British contracts.
 
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CalBear

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The basic question, one that a lot of us (very much including me) have been ignoring is what the British Government will do. All the discussion regarding outside intervention assumes that London won't get military dependents and officials who are actually English or Scottish evac'd, roll in heavy and set to stacking asses. The British Army in 1972 was no joke. It was crippled during The Troubles by the fact that is was the wrong tool for the job, something made far worse by politician imposed ROE, and (as seen by this Bear, clinging to a Rock of the far shore of North America) trying to use force to make everyone love each other (going back to it being an ARMY, the job of an army is go in and break things until the other side cries "Uncle" not couple's therapy).

The scenario here is pretty different. There is a clear enemy, this isn't a issue that should properly have been handled by a national, professional police force with the training and resources to kick in doors (read U.S. FBI, BATF, U.S. Marshals) and, yes couples therapy (i.e. The Good Friday Agreement a couple decades earlier), this is straight up rebellion. Armies can be REALLY good at putting those down. They can go in under Martial Law and act as the situation requires. The rebels try to set up camps or commit open pogroms, the response is an armored battalion or a vertical envelopment.

Outside intervention is what would happen if London just sort of sat on its hands and let bad shit happen.
 
The basic question, one that a lot of us (very much including me) have been ignoring is what the British Government will do. All the discussion regarding outside intervention assumes that London won't get military dependents and officials who are actually English or Scottish evac'd, roll in heavy and set to stacking asses. The British Army in 1972 was no joke. It was crippled during The Troubles by the fact that is was the wrong tool for the job, something made far worse by politician imposed ROE, and (as seen by this Bear, clinging to a Rock of the far shore of North America) trying to use force to make everyone love each other (going back to it being an ARMY, the job of an army is go in and break things until the other side cries "Uncle" not couple's therapy).

The scenario here is pretty different. There is a clear enemy, this isn't a issue that should properly have been handled by a national, professional police force with the training and resources to kick in doors (read U.S. FBI, BATF, U.S. Marshals) and, yes couples therapy (i.e. The Good Friday Agreement a couple decades earlier), this is straight up rebellion. Armies can be REALLY good at putting those down. They can go in under Martial Law and act as the situation requires. The rebels try to set up camps or commit open pogroms, the response is an armored battalion or a vertical envelopment.

Outside intervention is what would happen if London just sort of sat on its hands and let bad shit happen.
Right now London is sitting on its hands because they cant do anything else. The UDI came about because the "loyalists" feel that London has abandoned them. The troops are confined to barracks simply because they're shit scared of being killed. The army's presence in Northern Ireland is akin to putting a plaster on a broken leg
 
The troops are confined to barracks simply because they're shit scared of being killed. The army's presence in Northern Ireland is akin to putting a plaster on a broken leg.

As one of the troops in question, I have to say that the first sentence I quoted is not in accord with my memory.

Frustrated at the ROE, certainly. "Do not return fire unless you have a clear, identified target. Do not return fire if that target is back-stopped by IBs. Do not return fire unless you have come under fire from people firing for effect." That last bit was clarified by the nice people above us as: "You can only return fire once you have taken casualties."

But without any shadow of doubt, the greatest emotion we felt was sheer anger at how the various maniacs in Orange and Green balaclavas targeted civilians just trying to live normal lives.

One Loyalist tactic was to plant bombs in Mothercare shops. The logic being that Catholics tended to the Nationalist side, and Catholics also tended to have more children. So, blowing up people in such shops. When you have swept up the aftermath of such an event, the concept of taking the perpetrator in for a fair trial is a tough one to follow.

Not that the Green Balaclava Maniacs were one whit better. Prod-a-Prod was a favoured game. This involved kidnapping a random teenager from a Loyalist street, taking them to a Green pub, and beating them to death as entertainment for the evening.

I can assure you that fear of being killed was not a high consideration by any stretch of the imagination.

We understood that responding to the situation as we would have liked, and clearing the scum of both sides up so that the decent people trying to survive could do so in peace would have made things worse. Our understanding was that we were acting to buy time for a political solution to be found. For nigh on 30 years, that's what we did.

UDI as described would have been a different kettle of fish to OTL. The gloves would be off, and our ROE would have been very different.
 
The SAS as far as I know were trained for deep penetration behind enemy lines and blowing stuff up and that is not the same as clandestine activities.

Oh, I can digress on the SAS to some considerable extent. Militarily, they're not that good. I can cite chapter and verse on them during the Falklands, were, among other things, they damn near got me killed by incompetence I wouldn't expect from a Marine recruit.

That, however, is a digression to the topic under discussion.
 
As one of the troops in question, I have to say that the first sentence I quoted is not in accord with my memory.

Frustrated at the ROE, certainly. "Do not return fire unless you have a clear, identified target. Do not return fire if that target is back-stopped by IBs. Do not return fire unless you have come under fire from people firing for effect." That last bit was clarified by the nice people above us as: "You can only return fire once you have taken casualties."

But without any shadow of doubt, the greatest emotion we felt was sheer anger at how the various maniacs in Orange and Green balaclavas targeted civilians just trying to live normal lives.

One Loyalist tactic was to plant bombs in Mothercare shops. The logic being that Catholics tended to the Nationalist side, and Catholics also tended to have more children. So, blowing up people in such shops. When you have swept up the aftermath of such an event, the concept of taking the perpetrator in for a fair trial is a tough one to follow.

Not that the Green Balaclava Maniacs were one whit better. Prod-a-Prod was a favoured game. This involved kidnapping a random teenager from a Loyalist street, taking them to a Green pub, and beating them to death as entertainment for the evening.

I can assure you that fear of being killed was not a high consideration by any stretch of the imagination.

We understood that responding to the situation as we would have liked, and clearing the scum of both sides up so that the decent people trying to survive could do so in peace would have made things worse. Our understanding was that we were acting to buy time for a political solution to be found. For nigh on 30 years, that's what we did.

UDI as described would have been a different kettle of fish to OTL. The gloves would be off, and our ROE would have been very different.
I can't imagine what you must have experienced. As I said I've tried to understand what life was like during that time. Like many I've watched the excellent documentaries by Peter Taylor and tried mentally to place myself in the shoes of people like yourself, the RUC and especially the ordinary members of society but reading books and watching TV simply cannot convey the actuality of "being there". Its understandable why you felt anger. All I've done is tried to form a new narrative based on an altered circumstance from what really happened. Can you explain IB means? I'm guessing ROE is Rules Of Engagement.
 

CalBear

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Right now London is sitting on its hands because they cant do anything else. The UDI came about because the "loyalists" feel that London has abandoned them. The troops are confined to barracks simply because they're shit scared of being killed. The army's presence in Northern Ireland is akin to putting a plaster on a broken leg
Now THAT is a bad sign.

Even if the barracks are only company size they should have sufficient arms and ammunition to hold back a largely unarmed mob for a day. Based on what I just looked up there appears to have been a BRIGADE size base near Antrim and Regimental size facility near Down. An infantry brigade would be able to hold against any number of the local gentry until ammo ran out. There seems to be several British Army locations In Lancashire and North Yorkshire that would be able to provide noteworthy reinforcement/resupply within a two hour helo perimeter of the bases under siege.

Of course lack of decisive leadership is far from uncommon, regardless of country, but this is one of the times that someone needs to grab the bull by the horns, even if it simply the senior command structure of the Army.
 
Now THAT is a bad sign.

Even if the barracks are only company size they should have sufficient arms and ammunition to hold back a largely unarmed mob for a day. Based on what I just looked up there appears to have been a BRIGADE size base near Antrim and Regimental size facility near Down. An infantry brigade would be able to hold against any number of the local gentry until ammo ran out. There seems to be several British Army locations In Lancashire and North Yorkshire that would be able to provide noteworthy reinforcement/resupply within a two hour helo perimeter of the bases under siege.

Of course lack of decisive leadership is far from uncommon, regardless of country, but this is one of the times that someone needs to grab the bull by the horns, even if it simply the senior command structure of the Army.
And that is an issue which will be examined in later posts.
 

CalBear

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As one of the troops in question, I have to say that the first sentence I quoted is not in accord with my memory.

Frustrated at the ROE, certainly. "Do not return fire unless you have a clear, identified target. Do not return fire if that target is back-stopped by IBs. Do not return fire unless you have come under fire from people firing for effect." That last bit was clarified by the nice people above us as: "You can only return fire once you have taken casualties."

But without any shadow of doubt, the greatest emotion we felt was sheer anger at how the various maniacs in Orange and Green balaclavas targeted civilians just trying to live normal lives.

One Loyalist tactic was to plant bombs in Mothercare shops. The logic being that Catholics tended to the Nationalist side, and Catholics also tended to have more children. So, blowing up people in such shops. When you have swept up the aftermath of such an event, the concept of taking the perpetrator in for a fair trial is a tough one to follow.

Not that the Green Balaclava Maniacs were one whit better. Prod-a-Prod was a favoured game. This involved kidnapping a random teenager from a Loyalist street, taking them to a Green pub, and beating them to death as entertainment for the evening.

I can assure you that fear of being killed was not a high consideration by any stretch of the imagination.

We understood that responding to the situation as we would have liked, and clearing the scum of both sides up so that the decent people trying to survive could do so in peace would have made things worse. Our understanding was that we were acting to buy time for a political solution to be found. For nigh on 30 years, that's what we did.

UDI as described would have been a different kettle of fish to OTL. The gloves would be off, and our ROE would have been very different.
Based on this description "The Troubles" may be one of the great bits of British understatement in the last half century.

That IS the Viet Cong's playbook.

Yikes.
 

CalBear

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Oh, I can digress on the SAS to some considerable extent. Militarily, they're not that good. I can cite chapter and verse on them during the Falklands, were, among other things, they damn near got me killed by incompetence I wouldn't expect from a Marine recruit.

That, however, is a digression to the topic under discussion.
This is a really interesting aside. U.S. Tier One units all use parts of the SAS selection process (Detachment Delta's founder quite literally built the unit using SAS as a blueprint).

Of course the U.S. spends a lot more budget on training for Special Operations (at one point in the late 80s DEVGRU is reputed to have had a higher budget for training ammunition than the entire USMC) than the UK (probably, in real USD than any country on the planet) and training is what makes all the difference.
 
Even if the barracks are only company size they should have sufficient arms and ammunition to hold back a largely unarmed mob for a day. Based on what I just looked up there appears to have been a BRIGADE size base near Antrim and Regimental size facility near Down. An infantry brigade would be able to hold against any number of the local gentry until ammo ran out. There seems to be several British Army locations In Lancashire and North Yorkshire that would be able to provide noteworthy reinforcement/resupply within a two hour helo perimeter of the bases under siege.
Problem is less motivating the large unarmed mob to leave without too many casulties (It's a large crowd, even sticking with water cannon and less lethals, it's gonna be hard and hellish), it's then surviving the paramilitary units all coming after you. Being put under siege, in a base that might not be designed for one is a tad bit hard.
 
I wonder how dependant Northern Ireland was on money coming for Westminster in 1972 and could they do without the support of British taxpayers?
Hard to see Harland and Wolff surviving without British government subsidies and British contracts.
Extremely.

Rhodesia had large reserves of coal, iron ore, chromium and gold as well as a rudimentary industrial base, that it could use to sustain its insurgency, a central bank with its own currency plus professional armed forces that could field equipment like Hunters and Canberra’s. Stormont has none of that at its disposal and NI’s economy was already collapsing at this point, the Bank of England and the Treasury can cut off the money flow at any time, and then you’re in a “three meals from anarchy” scenario. Even a lot of Unionists would have baulked at the idea of UDI and a lot of people in the RUC and regiments like the Royal Irish Rangers will be feeling very uneasy. I suspect it isn’t just Nationalists looking out, a lot of White Rhodesians were just there working for a few years until they returned home. After UDI many started packing their bags until the government took action to stop them.

I hope we learn why Faulkner has come to this, IOTL by the standards of Unionist politicians he was a moderate and rejected the “Rhodesian option” when it was put forward by Craig. If his plan is to “appeal to the Queen,” Smith tried that too...
 
Rhodesia had large reserves of coal, iron ore, chromium and gold as well as a rudimentary industrial base, that it could use to sustain its insurgency, a central bank with its own currency plus professional armed forces that could field equipment like Hunters and Canberra’s. Stormont has none of that at its disposal and NI’s economy was already collapsing at this point, the Bank of England and the Treasury can cut off the money flow at any time, and then you’re in a “three meals from anarchy” scenario. Even a lot of Unionists would have baulked at the idea of UDI and a lot of people in the RUC and regiments like the Royal Irish Rangers will be feeling very uneasy. I suspect it isn’t just Nationalists looking out, a lot of White Rhodesians were just there working for a few years until they returned home. After UDI many started packing their bags until the government took action to stop them.
Worse, they're ALSO driving out large amounts of citizens, IE, taxpayers, who are also taking their wealth, with what's left, usually houses and such, being torched.....

The poor sod who gets to be their Treasury Minister is gonna go Librarian-poo when he sees the books.
 
AS A Major-General, Harry Tuzo was not considered Commander-in- Chief material, but luck, the vital ingredient for success, played an important part in his career...
.following the declaration of UDI in 1972 and the reticence of the Heath Government to send the troops out to deal with the loyalist thugs Tuzo decided that something had to be done. Following a fiery phonecall with Heath in which the Prime Minister is alleged to have said "oh do what you want" Tuzo did what he wanted.

"Operation Motorman saw 30,000 troops fan out across the province and effectively drove the loyalists off the street and provided much needed assistance to the embattled republicans even flying some to hospitals in the UK. One doctor at the Royal Liverpool University told how he was confronted by a soldier carrying a week old baby suffering from malnutrition and was told " I don't give a fuck what you've got. This poor sod is from Belfast"


The success of Operation "Motorman" was a turning point in the troubles. Those who had judged Tuzo not C-in-C material had not seen him under fire. Tuzo was a man of considerable courage, charm and charisma. He had a sharp intellect, great humour and could hold an audience spellbound. His natural warmth, smile and genuine concern for others endeared him not only to generals and international statesmen, but to the private soldier or the flower arranger at his local church. He seldom left any organisation or situation without having enriched it with his wisdom.

(Obituary From "The Independent" 18th August 1998)

(NB. The italics are my own words whilst the rest is taken from:
 
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