Bloody Sunday.


              With reference to recent news bulletins and what most ex soldiers would consider a government sell-out, I'd like to remind everyone that forensics proved that seven of those killed had fired a gun shortly before they died.
              I refer you to the most excellent book: ‘Forty Years of Murder’ by Professor Keith Simpson published in 1996 by Grafton Books.
              No one is saying that the soldiers were choir boys or saints, but I think the government, in its desire to be rid of the problem, has betrayed the military. They’ve just printed at least £250 billion of extra £50 notes, so they can afford to be rid of the nightmare. But it’s still a betrayal.
              Six of the dead showed no traces of having fired a gun before they died and it has been argued in the past that the IRA used the demonstrators as a human shield and, in the resulting confusion, many innocents were killed or wounded. It’s an argument I’m inclined to agree with.

***

              Later:
              In my view, as someone who served in Northern Ireland in 1969/70 I believe that the first shots were fired by the IRA among the protesters. But there was no intention to kill anyone, they were simply shots of defiance. If it had been our lot on duty, the first thing we would have done when we heard the shots would have been to dive for cover and wait for someone in authority to tell us what to do. Our officers would have dithered and contacted their superiors for instructions and they, in their turn, would also have dithered and then contacted Whitehall for orders. Whitehall would probably have dithered as well and then demanded orders from the Prime Minister himself. But by the time anything sensible came down the line the march would have passed off peacefully and the IRA would have won a tremendous moral victory in that they fired guns during the demonstration while the British Army stood by and did nothing. (We wouldn’t have done nothing, we’d all have hunkered down behind the Land Rovers and waited for someone to tell us what to do.)
              Unfortunately for the protesters, it wasn’t the regular army on duty that day, it was the Parachute Regiment and they were a whole different kettle of fish. They were highly trained shock troops who, from the day they were inducted into the army when they were seventeen or eighteen years old, were trained to be aggressive. They were trained to attack first and ask questions later. Consequently, when the first shots were fired they didn’t take cover and wait for orders, it wasn’t what the Parachute Regiment did, they immediately went on the offensive and the result was carnage.
              The Parachute Regiment was trained for situations like Goose Green or Helmand and not the streets of Northern Ireland where duties required the mentality of a policeman rather than that of a gung-ho, highly trained and extremely aggressive soldier who had literally been trained to shoot first and ask questions later. Consequently, I fully agree with those who say the Parachute Regiment should never have been sent to Northern Ireland in the first place. But that, was the government’s fault.

---January 29, 2012---

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