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

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 one thing I would say about the British army is they do not have a reputation of being shit scared of being killed.
If they are confined to barracks, I think a lack of clear orders and defined objective would be a more plausible reason.
Not wanting to escalate the conflict into a direct conflict with the Police,UDR and armed civilians.
What the army should do next will be a political decision. once the army gets their order, they will carry them out in spite of the risk of being killed.
 
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).

Digression Warning.

I could write an essay on the difference between the SAS and the SBS. They operate in very different ways. As an ex-Royal Marine, I can't be expected to be impartial, either.

The problem that the SAS comes up against is essentially that they are an isolated unit. Being an "elite", and having a superb propaganda machine, they don't take advice or lessons from outside the Unit. This led to an unfortunate cock-up at South Georgia in 1982, when they assumed they knew more about operating on glaciers than the M&AW trained Marines there. From experience, they believe their own propaganda about how elite they are, and don't have contingency planning in anything like the amount that I was accustomed to. The assumption was that things wouldn't go wrong because they were the SAS and were supermen, one and all.

Don't get me started on their lamentable showing on Mt Kent. The Official History of the Falklands presents them in a good light. That's because the Official History is largely based on the SAS report of the action, submitted in the comfort of Brigade HQ, with the ear of the Senior officers and the press. Meanwhile, Troop 2, K Company, 42 Commando, (officer in charge, Lt Flin) was busy actually taking the bloody place, and could only report by crackling radio several hours after the SAS report was on file.

Not that I am bitter, you understand.

In essence, the SAS believes its own PR, and doesn't listen to outsiders. It doesn't learn from anyone else, and its skills are kept with the Regiment.

By contrast, the SBS rotates Royal Marines through, who do a tour or two, then return to their normal unit. As a result, SBS skills get distributed throughout the Marines, and new knowledge is always coming into the SBS.

We now return you to your scheduled Timeline.
 
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:
Hard to believe the attitude of the prime minister and tell the army to do what ever they want.
If you look at the events of 1916 and the British reaction to it, it was not any better handled by the cabinet who often did not know what was happening.
Micheal Portillo did a good documentary on the chaos of the British government's response to the rebellion.
One of the problems the British had in Ireland was they never took the time to understand Ireland or the Irish north or south.
 
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.
In fact the statelet's finances are definitely the achilles heel. It has no currency and the deposits in its banks are only valid while the banks are backed by the Bank of England.

Now a lot of banknotes were in circulation in Northern Ireland, both Bank of Ireland and the notes printed by the Northern Irish banks. Which were backed by their deposits at the Bank of England. There might be some Scottish Bank notes too (similar arrangements) and even Irish Bank notes (fixed to sterling at the time).

BUT these aren't enough to redeem all deposits in the bank branches. Or pay salaries to public employees or buy goods from abroad.

The Bank of England can bar the Northern Ireland banks from its clearing system and order the parent English banks to freeze deposits. (One I think was owned by an Irish bank but the Irish authorities can do the same. ) The branches could be closed for security also, I don’t think the top executives were locals who would defy orders from London or Dublin.

With a broken banking system any attempt to run an independent state is rendered, well very difficult if not impossible.
 
Digression Warning.

I could write an essay on the difference between the SAS and the SBS. They operate in very different ways. As an ex-Royal Marine, I can't be expected to be impartial, either.

The problem that the SAS comes up against is essentially that they are an isolated unit. Being an "elite", and having a superb propaganda machine, they don't take advice or lessons from outside the Unit. This led to an unfortunate cock-up at South Georgia in 1982, when they assumed they knew more about operating on glaciers than the M&AW trained Marines there. From experience, they believe their own propaganda about how elite they are, and don't have contingency planning in anything like the amount that I was accustomed to. The assumption was that things wouldn't go wrong because they were the SAS and were supermen, one and all.

Don't get me started on their lamentable showing on Mt Kent. The Official History of the Falklands presents them in a good light. That's because the Official History is largely based on the SAS report of the action, submitted in the comfort of Brigade HQ, with the ear of the Senior officers and the press. Meanwhile, Troop 2, K Company, 42 Commando, (officer in charge, Lt Flin) was busy actually taking the bloody place, and could only report by crackling radio several hours after the SAS report was on file.

Not that I am bitter, you understand.

In essence, the SAS believes its own PR, and doesn't listen to outsiders. It doesn't learn from anyone else, and its skills are kept with the Regiment.

By contrast, the SBS rotates Royal Marines through, who do a tour or two, then return to their normal unit. As a result, SBS skills get distributed throughout the Marines, and new knowledge is always coming into the SBS.

We now return you to your scheduled Timeline.
Indeed. South Georgia was not a good day for the SAS.
The Marines on the other hand did rather well.
The marines did very well when the Argentia land in South Georgia.
 
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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.
Heavily dependent, NI to some extent had been so since day one, 1972... London turns off the tap and NI is broke, it’s not like Stormont is going to be in position to go to the money markets to fund it.
 
Digression Warning.

I could write an essay on the difference between the SAS and the SBS. They operate in very different ways. As an ex-Royal Marine, I can't be expected to be impartial, either.
This is fascinating, is there any reading you would recommend that is not the standard SAS hagiography?
 
In fact the statelet's finances are definitely the achilles heel. It has no currency and the deposits in its banks are only valid while the banks are backed by the Bank of England.

Now a lot of banknotes were in circulation in Northern Ireland, both Bank of Ireland and the notes printed by the Northern Irish banks. Which were backed by their deposits at the Bank of England. There might be some Scottish Bank notes too (similar arrangements) and even Irish Bank notes (fixed to sterling at the time).

BUT these aren't enough to redeem all deposits in the bank branches. Or pay salaries to public employees or buy goods from abroad.

The Bank of England can bar the Northern Ireland banks from its clearing system and order the parent English banks to freeze deposits. (One I think was owned by an Irish bank but the Irish authorities can do the same. ) The branches could be closed for security also, I don’t think the top executives were locals who would defy orders from London or Dublin.

With a broken banking system any attempt to run an independent state is rendered, well very difficult if not impossible.
Indeed and without coal imports from Britain, the power grid goes down and people start running out of coal to heat their houses etc.
Street lights go out and Northern Ireland is plunged into darkness at night.
Same for oil, petrol etc and then road transport shuts down.
This makes the mouse that roared look like a documentary or the inspiration for the UDI.
or maybe he was watching a passport to Pimlico.
 
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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.
Did you ever bump into Irish Army/Gardaí or did you manage to avoid them? The Chieftain did a bit of an incident around this period that had the SAS patrol missing a check in, so a second unit was sent to find them, got stopped and hadn’t even bothered to hide their weapons before the checkpoint (along with having a Fijian member in the unit which made them stand out like a sore thumb) think they ended up being fined for carrying weapons and “deported” back across the border.
 
In fact the statelet's finances are definitely the achilles heel. It has no currency and the deposits in its banks are only valid while the banks are backed by the Bank of England.

Now a lot of banknotes were in circulation in Northern Ireland, both Bank of Ireland and the notes printed by the Northern Irish banks. Which were backed by their deposits at the Bank of England. There might be some Scottish Bank notes too (similar arrangements) and even Irish Bank notes (fixed to sterling at the time).

BUT these aren't enough to redeem all deposits in the bank branches. Or pay salaries to public employees or buy goods from abroad.

The Bank of England can bar the Northern Ireland banks from its clearing system and order the parent English banks to freeze deposits. (One I think was owned by an Irish bank but the Irish authorities can do the same. ) The branches could be closed for security also, I don’t think the top executives were locals who would defy orders from London or Dublin.

With a broken banking system any attempt to run an independent state is rendered, well very difficult if not impossible.
Yes, IIRC NI at this time has 5 clearing banks, the local branches of Bank of Ireland and Allied Irish, which despite operating under Bank of England supervision are controlled by the Dublin HQ’s, then there’s Ulster Bank (NatWest), Northern Bank (Midland) and TSB Northern Ireland. All of whom can be shut down without liquidity from their parents.
 
Did you ever bump into Irish Army/Gardaí or did you manage to avoid them? The Chieftain did a bit of an incident around this period that had the SAS patrol missing a check in, so a second unit was sent to find them, got stopped and hadn’t even bothered to hide their weapons before the checkpoint (along with having a Fijian member in the unit which made them stand out like a sore thumb) think they ended up being fined for carrying weapons and “deported” back across the border.

Never bumped into them. Mainly because the first thing we did was scope out where they were and what their little routines were, enabling us to pick routes that were less well-covered.

You know, basic stuff.

We did leave them notes from time to time, giving them locations of arms dumps. For all the good it did.
 
@nezza I seem to remember reading an earlier version of this from you some time ago which I enjoyed - and this is just as good, thank you.
Edit: this was it, for anyone interested - a bit later, with Harold Wilson as PM instead

[digression]
I agree with @CalBear about the training necessary for Special Forces. If you look at the SF in various NATO countries and what they're capable of, then look at what the normal soldiers in the British Army are capable of, it's noticeable that the training undergone by UK forces is significantly better than that of many other nations, to the extent that almost the entire British Army could be considered SF in NATO terms. And that's before we get to the UK's elites of the Royal Marines, etc. (@David Flin is not making it up when he says how good they are. I'd rather have a bog-standard RM troop than a platoon from many other 'SF' units.)
(Don't get me wrong, there are other nations with very impressive training regimes, elite forces and armies - but it's the UK forces which are in play (or not) in this TL.)
ps I'm not and never have been a Royal Marine but I have dealt with them, and others...
[/digression]
 
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Is this a prequel or a remake?
A remake of sorts. For the record I wrote a similar TL called "Winter In Dublin". Set on both sides of the border in 1968 it was about how the Irish army in response to the violence in Derry employed a small undercover unit to carry out guerrilla attacks in the North.
 
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.

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.

It's worth remembering that at that time, "special operations forces" in their modern form were 30-40 years old, and a LOT has been developed since the 1980s in terms of doctrine, equipment, organization, etc. Tier one units the world over just didn't have the experience that they do today (the circus that was U.S. SOF in Grenada and Bravo Two Zero in the Gulf are two other contemporary examples), and it showed in their performance. A possible exception would be the Israelis purely because they had so much experience.
 
Economic prospects of independent northern Ireland.
This is just before the dropping of the gold standard and the oil crisis of the 1970s.
So the western world is going to be hit by oil shocks and inflation.
The textile sector in Northern Ireland is about to go into decline.
Shipbuilding is about to collapse.
The aircraft sector is dependant on British government contracts that are going to stop.
The agricultural sector is no better as the EEC is about head into the era of butter mountain and milk lakes etc.
I could see a lot of people emigrating on both sides from Northern Ireland and a population decline.
Tax rises will be needed to pay for NHS in Northern Ireland etc.
Northern Ireland is heading for becoming a failed state on the economic level.

The UK is heading a hard time calling in the IMF to bail out the country in 1976

Do the British military in Northern Ireland have numbers to take on the mob, police etc and protect the nationalist population?
 
A remake of sorts. For the record I wrote a similar TL called "Winter In Dublin". Set on both sides of the border in 1968 it was about how the Irish army in response to the violence in Derry employed a small undercover unit to carry out guerrilla attacks in the North.
I prefered Summer in Dublin ;) ;)
 
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Economic prospects of independent northern Ireland.
This is just before the dropping of the gold standard and the oil crisis of the 1970s.
So the western world is going to be hit by oil shocks and inflation.
The textile sector in Northern Ireland is about to go into decline.
Shipbuilding is about to collapse.
The aircraft sector is dependant on British government contracts that are going to stop.
The agricultural sector is no better as the EEC is about head into the era of butter mountain and milk lakes etc.
I could see a lot of people emigrating on both sides from Northern Ireland and a population decline.
Tax rises will be needed to pay for NHS in Northern Ireland etc.
Northern Ireland is heading for becoming a failed state on the economic level.

The UK is heading a hard time calling in the IMF to bail out the country in 1976

Do the British military in Northern Ireland have numbers to take on the mob, police etc and protect the nationalist population?
No offence to our NI posters, but lets call a spade a spade, NI can't fund itself in this situation. There are no tax rises, no duties or tariffs that it can put in place that can sustain it's spending even on a "normal" situation, in a UDI with god knows how much chaos and violence... Effectively it's already a "failed economic state", it's just a matter of when everyone notices.
 
No offence to our NI posters, but lets call a spade a spade, NI can't fund itself in this situation. There are no tax rises, no duties or tariffs that it can put in place that can sustain it's spending even on a "normal" situation, in a UDI with god knows how much chaos and violence... Effectively it's already a "failed economic state", it's just a matter of when everyone notices.
Indeed.
NI even today only works as a cargo cult while the British government foots the bill.
And why no one in the south of Ireland apart from Sinn Féin wants Northern Ireland anymore as they do not want to pay for the cargo cult.
 
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