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

Do the British military in Northern Ireland have numbers to take on the mob, police etc and protect the nationalist population?
Well according to the BBC, in the early 1970s, 21,000 soldiers were deployed in the North which peaked to 30,000 in the mid 70s. That represents about 2% of the population of the North. It is not entirely clear how many soldiers were present in '72 though. I would imagine more than enough to roll up and smoke the untrained, ill-equipped maniacs trying to secede if given the go ahead. Armies are not known for cowering in barracks.
 
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Well according to the BBC, in the early 1970s, 21,000 soldiers were deployed in the North which peaked to 30,000 in the mid 70s. That represents about 2% of the population of the North. It is not entirely clear how many soldiers were present in '72 though. I would imagine more than enough to roll up and smoke the untrained, ill-equipped maniacs trying to secede if given the go ahead. Armies are not known for cowering in barracks.
But could they protect the Nationalist areas too?
I think more troops would be needed.
 
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.

I understand what you're saying. I'm portraying Tuzo as he seemed to be. As a human being instead of a soldier. Irrespective of our politics we should put people first and I think in this situation the kind of "ethnic cleansing" would lead to niceties put to one side.

As regards the "do what you want" That is a very loose interpretation of "I see no ships"
 
I understand what you're saying. I'm portraying Tuzo as he seemed to be. As a human being instead of a soldier. Irrespective of our politics we should put people first and I think in this situation the kind of "ethnic cleansing" would lead to niceties put to one side.

It's not the attitude of Tuzo that raises eyebrows, but the attitude of the PM. Heath was many things, but abrogating responsibility like that doesn't seem to fit.

Tuzo being given the instruction to "do what he wants" should have got a much stronger request for better direction. That said, the question mark is entirely against Heath here. That's a nonsense instruction for the Head of Government to give.
 
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.
Oh fully agreed. Back in the late 1950s when Terence O'Neill was making noises about NI becoming a Dominion and NI was doing about as well economically as it possibly could- full employment and factories exporting goods, senior officials from the Department of Finance had a chat and showed him the books and the extent of the UK subvention and he dropped the idea like a hot potato. 2018 just prior to Covid and NI doing as well as I can recall in my lifetime unemployment under 5%, the British subvention was 20% of GDP. Back in the mid 1970s when unemployment was over 30%, the British subvention must have been over 35% of GDP, probably more like 40%.


Well according to the BBC, in the early 1970s, 21,000 soldiers were deployed in the North which peaked to 30,000 in the mid 70s. That represents about 2% of the population of the North. It is not entirely clear how many soldiers were present in '72 though. I would imagine more than enough to roll up and smoke the untrained, ill-equipped maniacs trying to secede if given the go ahead. Armies are not known for cowering in barracks.
UDI is virtually ASB for economic reasons. Moreover, NI is still reasonably important to the defence of the UK and to NATO in the early 1970s. The GCHQ spooks still needed Gilnahirk as a listening post and RAF Bishopscourt is an important radar base until around 1983 when NATO gets decent AEW up and running.
But don't confuse the potential armed forces of "Ulster " in 1971 with the scum of the UDA and UVF. Actually OTL British Military Intelligence and the Royal British Legion did a hell of a job persuading experienced NI military veterans not to get involved with the paramilitaries. UDI and that would all go to the wall. In 1971, NI was full of WW2, Korea and Malaysia veterans in their 40s and early 50s to provide the officers and NCOs. Command would probably be given to the unimaginatively codenamed "Colonel Broom" - Colonel "Basil" Brush who had a distinguished WW2 record and headed up a British unit post war in Germany hunting down Nazi war criminals and running a cut-rate Britsh version of Operation Paperclip, some of whose activities are still classified to this day.
And in 1973 the British Army would have had a quite high contingent of NI regiments, the Royal Irish Rifles, the Inniskilling Dragoons, the Royal Irish Hussars. Not all of the officers, NCOs or ordinary soldiers would have remained loyal in such an incidence. And don't forget the 31,000 "B" Specials of the Ulster Special Constabulary, only stood down about 3 years previously.
 
It's not the attitude of Tuzo that raises eyebrows, but the attitude of the PM. Heath was many things, but abrogating responsibility like that doesn't seem to fit.

Tuzo being given the instruction to "do what he wants" should have got a much stronger request for better direction. That said, the question mark is entirely against Heath here. That's a nonsense instruction for the Head of Government to give.
Hmm. I think a slight redux is needed.

"In our obituary to General Tuzo on the 18th of August we made an error. We stated that Edward Heath said to Tuzo "oh do what you want". We have since be informed by his family that the Prime Minister said "I am instructing you to take the action that you believe is necessary to stop the violence. We apologise to Sir Harry's family for any inconvenience caused"

The Independent 21st August
 
But could they protect the Nationalist areas too?
I think more troops would be needed.
Having done some digging, the British Armed forces in 1972 were 371,400 strong. Of that, 175,850 were army personnel, not including reserves of 55,000 in the Regular Reserve, and a further 80,000 people in the Territorial and Army Volunteer Reserve.
As mentioned above, 29 battalions with an average strength of 690 men were already deployed to Norther Ireland (20,010 in total). So that leaves 155,840 men available to the British government, not including other branches. The question is how many can be deployed?
A significant proportion of the Army's strength was deployed overseas, the biggest chunk of which was the British Army of the Rhine, numbering 51000. A further 30,320 were based in the Middle East. More were scattered around the globe, but those were the two major concentrations. So assuming that ~15000 were otherwise engaged around the world (a number that I have pulled from nowhere but simply to guess at troop deployments)that leaves about 60,000 troops for the UK government to play with. I am as we speak digging through the national archives trying to find the actual exact number of troops in Great Britain that could be sent to Ulster but it's a bit finickity as many of the archives haven't been digitised. I will update this if I find anything better or if someone who actually knows about troop numbers in the 70s intervenes in the thread( which seems likely).

So assuming that the UK gov doesn't send any of its troops away from the Rhine or the middle East (which seems unlikely given this would be to tackle ETHNIC CLEANSING on UK soil!) it still has 60k men to crack this nut. Which added to previous numbers would be 80000 heavily trained, heavily armed, pissed off professional soldiers to hunt down (tops) 3000 nutjobs. Even if the entire former Ulster Special Constabulary do throw their lot in with the the secessionists(which I would doubt as they don't WANT to fight the Army or the British Government), I wouldn't fancy their chances.
I would feel sorry for the UDI if they weren't the dregs of the earth. Same for any IRA nutters who try their luck against an army with the RoE adjusted to fight a war.
Sources:
https://api.parliament.uk/historic-hansard/commons/1970/mar/12/army-estimates-1970-71-vote-a
 
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It's not the attitude of Tuzo that raises eyebrows, but the attitude of the PM. Heath was many things, but abrogating responsibility like that doesn't seem to fit.

Tuzo being given the instruction to "do what he wants" should have got a much stronger request for better direction. That said, the question mark is entirely against Heath here. That's a nonsense instruction for the Head of Government to give.
Health could give something unclear like the orders that lead to the Charge of the light brigade at Balaclava in the Crimean war followed by the phone lines being cut by the unionists or by accident.
 
Having done some digging, the British Armed forces in 1972 were 371,400 strong. Of that, 175,850 were army personnel, not including reserves of 55,000 in the Regular Reserve, and a further 80,000 people in the Territorial and Army Volunteer Reserve.
As mentioned above, 29 battalions with an average strength of 690 men were already deployed to Norther Ireland (20,010 in total). So that leaves 155,840 men available to the British government, not including other branches. The question is how many can be deployed?
A significant proportion of the Army's strength was deployed overseas, the biggest chunk of which was the British Army of the Rhine, numbering 51000. A further 30,320 were based in the Middle East. More were scattered around the globe, but those were the two major concentrations. So assuming that ~15000 were otherwise engaged around the world (a number that I have pulled from nowhere but simply to guess at troop deployments)that leaves about 60,000 troops for the UK government to play with. I am as we speak digging through the national archives trying to find the actual exact number of troops in Great Britain that could be sent to Ulster but it's a bit finickity as many of the archives haven't been digitised. I will update this if I find anything better or if someone who actually knows about troop numbers in the 70s intervenes in the thread( which seems likely).

So assuming that the UK gov doesn't send any of its troops away from the Rhine or the middle East (which seems unlikely given this would be to tackle ETHNIC CLEANSING on UK soil!) it still has 60k men to crack this nut. Which added to previous numbers would be 80000 heavily trained, heavily armed, pissed off professional soldiers to hunt down (tops) 3000 nutjobs. Even if the entire former Ulster Special Constabulary do throw their lot in with the the secessionists(which I would doubt as they don't WANT to fight the Army or the British Government), I wouldn't fancy their chances.
I would feel sorry for the UDI if they weren't the dregs of the earth. Same for any IRA nutters who try their luck against an army with the RoE adjusted to fight a war.
Sources:
https://api.parliament.uk/historic-hansard/commons/1970/mar/12/army-estimates-1970-71-vote-a
Not that simple, NI being an economically depressed region, about 20,000-25,000 of those soldiers would be from here and the Army very reluctant to involve them for fear of them colluding, deserting in droves or going off the reservation some night with the contents of the magazine. So probably not more than 40,000 troops available to deploy here, even allowing
for a bit of juggling around to keep the Norn Iron lads in Cyprus, Oman or the Northern German plain. Secondly, as I said above, OTL the British were good as pacifying the military veterans and, other than some scumbag paramilitaries, weren't usually being shot at by both sides. They were able to fly and helicopter in troops without anyone firing surface to air missiles at those big slow vulnerable targets (guess what Shorts was manufacturing in their East Belfast and Newtownards factories) and they had the local police and Protestant population on their sides and provided they chose their venues carefully could go pubbing and clubbing, bring their wives with them and send their kids to local schools . And provided they chose their location wisely, the police could live safely in the local community.
Remember the IRA never had more than 800 active fighters and that tied down 30,000 British soldiers. 3,000 or so nutjobs ( and a hell of a lot more than that were prepared to volunteer for Unionist militia, there's reasons why the British didn't push ahead with Sunningdale regardless) you would need more than 100,000 troops and NI could be far more of a hardship posting than OTL with shorter deployment periods.
 
Having done some digging, the British Armed forces in 1972 were 371,400 strong. Of that, 175,850 were army personnel, not including reserves of 55,000 in the Regular Reserve, and a further 80,000 people in the Territorial and Army Volunteer Reserve.
As mentioned above, 29 battalions with an average strength of 690 men were already deployed to Norther Ireland (20,010 in total). So that leaves 155,840 men available to the British government, not including other branches. The question is how many can be deployed?
A significant proportion of the Army's strength was deployed overseas, the biggest chunk of which was the British Army of the Rhine, numbering 51000. A further 30,320 were based in the Middle East. More were scattered around the globe, but those were the two major concentrations. So assuming that ~15000 were otherwise engaged around the world (a number that I have pulled from nowhere but simply to guess at troop deployments)that leaves about 60,000 troops for the UK government to play with. I am as we speak digging through the national archives trying to find the actual exact number of troops in Great Britain that could be sent to Ulster but it's a bit finickity as many of the archives haven't been digitised. I will update this if I find anything better or if someone who actually knows about troop numbers in the 70s intervenes in the thread( which seems likely).

So assuming that the UK gov doesn't send any of its troops away from the Rhine or the middle East (which seems unlikely given this would be to tackle ETHNIC CLEANSING on UK soil!) it still has 60k men to crack this nut. Which added to previous numbers would be 80000 heavily trained, heavily armed, pissed off professional soldiers to hunt down (tops) 3000 nutjobs. Even if the entire former Ulster Special Constabulary do throw their lot in with the the secessionists(which I would doubt as they don't WANT to fight the Army or the British Government), I wouldn't fancy their chances.
I would feel sorry for the UDI if they weren't the dregs of the earth. Same for any IRA nutters who try their luck against an army with the RoE adjusted to fight a war.
Sources:
https://api.parliament.uk/historic-hansard/commons/1970/mar/12/army-estimates-1970-71-vote-a
Nice work.
The Ulster Special Constabulary (B-Specials) I think would go with the UDI. There is also the UDR too who would side with UDI too.
Some units of the British army that recruited in the republic of Ireland at the time might not be sent for political reasons.
if the UDI forces are smart they will not fight a conventional war against the British army.
Start off with ordering a boycott of the British army banned civilians from supplying any aid or comfort to the British army.
Strikes at the ports and airports to stop the British army from sending more men and supplies.
If that works the British army might have to ask the Republic of Ireland to land in an Irish port to transit to and supply the Army in Northern Ireland.
Or they could do a D-day and land amphibious troops from beach land craft.
The British army will not be able to trust the phone system as this is easy to tap in to on the manual phone exchanges of the time.
They will need to team of enforcers to make examples of those who supply the British army in Northern Ireland or provide intel to them.
UDI will have their own spies in the British army.
What happens next will depend on what tactics the unionist adopt. I think they would be foolish to defend fixed ground.
British army shows up numbers and they leave and return when the British have moved on.
Better to fight only on terms favourable to the UDI forces. Much of the British army will be defending Nationalist enclaves and supplying them with food and medicine etc.
The more areas that are attacked the more troops that need to be assigned to fixed positions to defend them.
I could see them blowing bridges and transport links to block the movement of British army troops. Roadside bombs and IED would make the army need to be very careful.
Sniper attacks too.
The British army could be forced to use helicopters to move around.
The UDI forces should know their home ground better than the British army.
I am not sure what weapons the UDI forces have.
They could make their own.
They could steal British army ones and there is also smuggling of weapons.
UDI should be a lot larger and better armed than the IRA in the war of independence.
IRA had about 3,000 men on paper underarms and very short of arms and ammo often using reloaded ammo.
up to 100,000 volunteers on paper doing logistics cutting phones lines digging up roads etc

I wonder will Gusty Spence and loyalist prisons be released or allowed to escape from long kesh.
 
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Not that simple, NI being an economically depressed region, about 20,000-25,000 of those soldiers would be from here and the Army very reluctant to involve them for fear of them colluding, deserting in droves or going off the reservation some night with the contents of the magazine. So probably not more than 40,000 troops available to deploy here, even allowing
for a bit of juggling around to keep the Norn Iron lads in Cyprus, Oman or the Northern German plain. Secondly, as I said above, OTL the British were good as pacifying the military veterans and, other than some scumbag paramilitaries, weren't usually being shot at by both sides. They were able to fly and helicopter in troops without anyone firing surface to air missiles at those big slow vulnerable targets (guess what Shorts was manufacturing in their East Belfast and Newtownards factories) and they had the local police and Protestant population on their sides and provided they chose their venues carefully could go pubbing and clubbing, bring their wives with them and send their kids to local schools . And provided they chose their location wisely, the police could live safely in the local community.
Remember the IRA never had more than 800 active fighters and that tied down 30,000 British soldiers. 3,000 or so nutjobs ( and a hell of a lot more than that were prepared to volunteer for Unionist militia, there's reasons why the British didn't push ahead with Sunningdale regardless) you would need more than 100,000 troops and NI could be far more of a hardship posting than OTL with shorter deployment periods.
I think Scottish regiments might be suspect too.
 
My brief look into British Army infiltration by Loyalist (or whatever they would be ITTL) terrorists and/or British Army collusion seems to point mainly at the Ulster Defence Regiment (duh) and have happened in the '80s. But I think a concern in this scenario, as worries by British Army planners and in events unfolding on the ground:

What about Loyalist agents who rather than defecting, stay in their British Army units and somehow provide intelligence to the Unionists, or worse?

Declassified documents from the period:
 
It's not the attitude of Tuzo that raises eyebrows, but the attitude of the PM. Heath was many things, but abrogating responsibility like that doesn't seem to fit.

Tuzo being given the instruction to "do what he wants" should have got a much stronger request for better direction. That said, the question mark is entirely against Heath here. That's a nonsense instruction for the Head of Government to give.
The attitude of Heath is the strange part,
It would not be the first time a British prime minister left it to the Army to decide what to do in Ireland.
I wonder could the Queen withdraw the right to use the name Royal for the RUC on the advice of the government.
OTL the RIC go the Royal as part of their name for suppression a Fenian rebellion. Now that the rebels they lose the Royal title.
British honours and titles removed for any of the rebels too.
If you want the Army really want to mess up their response, they can start executing the leaders of the rebellion 1916 style.
 
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My brief look into British Army infiltration by Loyalist (or whatever they would be ITTL) terrorists and/or British Army collusion seems to point mainly at the Ulster Defence Regiment (duh) and have happened in the '80s. But I think a concern in this scenario, as worries by British Army planners and in events unfolding on the ground:

What about Loyalist agents who rather than defecting, stay in their British Army units and somehow provide intelligence to the Unionists, or worse?

Declassified documents from the period:
The scenario here is people would work for the UDI who OTL never would, as they see their homes and family under threat from the British army.
It is going to force people to pick sides.
Loyal to your oath to the crown or to your tribe.
Stick with the crown and you may never be able to go home, work for UDI and be branded a traitor to the crown.
 
Lynch stared out of his office at the Dail. He had just had a meeting with his senior military officers and was trying to absorb what he'd been told. Since the Army had started to take some kind of order back in the North the flood of refugees to the south had been reduced to a trickle. Many had heard what had happened and were making their way back home. Some who were either injured or scared that the attacks would resume stayed in the Republic. Irish Troops were still guarding the border whilst the undercover soldiers who by this time were known as "Lynch's Lions" were being treated as heroes by the people of Newry and Armagh.

Up until this point Lynch had taken a low profile, staying away from the media but now he wondered if this was the time to speak out. He was playing a dangerous game. If it got out that Irish troops were based in the North then all hell would break loose. It was a chance he had to take.

Picking up the telephone he dialled a number...
 
My brief look into British Army infiltration by Loyalist (or whatever they would be ITTL) terrorists and/or British Army collusion seems to point mainly at the Ulster Defence Regiment (duh) and have happened in the '80s. But I think a concern in this scenario, as worries by British Army planners and in events unfolding on the ground:

Yes. Well, the first sentence of the second paragraph of the quoted document: "Literally hundreds of mostly Catholic civilians were murdered before the British Government even contemplated the possible extension of internment to loyalists."

The Troubles started in 1969, and by 1972, to my certain knowledge, Loyalists were being interned. Keeping the two groups apart in the Maze from mid 1971 was a headache and a half.

"Added to this was the complete denial by the authorities of the loyalist assassination campaign as evidenced by the failure to intern loyalists until 1973."

What can I say? I escorted loyalists to the Maze for internment in 1972.

I'd suggest treating the source with caution.
 
Lynch stared out of his office at the Dail. He had just had a meeting with his senior military officers and was trying to absorb what he'd been told. Since the Army had started to take some kind of order back in the North the flood of refugees to the south had been reduced to a trickle. Many had heard what had happened and were making their way back home. Some who were either injured or scared that the attacks would resume stayed in the Republic. Irish Troops were still guarding the border whilst the undercover soldiers who by this time were known as "Lynch's Lions" were being treated as heroes by the people of Newry and Armagh.

The Irish Army was not a large force. In 1972, it was less than 10,000 strong, and had detachments serving as UN Peacekeepers in Cyprus and the Middle East.

In 1970, the General Staff of the Irish Army said: "there would not be more than 2,500 line troops available to be mustered, organised into units and trained to cover the border."

The Irish Army doesn't have a hope in Hell of making any sort of order out of this chaos. It is a nonsense.

And, to put it bluntly, undercover soldiers acting in the way you've described would have (a) inflamed the situation beyond measure, and (b) been subject to being shot out of hand, perfectly in accordance with the Geneva Convention. Undercover soldiers do not get the benefits that accrue to those wearing uniforms.
 
As @BELFAST has shown, the British army troops actually in Northern Ireland are probably outnumbered by the armed police force, the TA units recruited from the Six Counties and the reservists who could return to the colours of the TA. Let alone the paramilitaries and ex-B Specials.

So what could the British forces under General Tuzo achieve? Stop "Loyalist" gangs invading Catholic communities in Belfast (and other strongly Unionist cities) to round up the inhabitants for deportation or worse? Maybe, depending on their ROE and willingness to engage the Police and any TA forces that obey Stormont. I don't see them being able to arrest the rebel government or stop strikers bringing the statelet to a halt - power, transport etc. However, in the rural areas with largely Catholic population it may be able to wrest control from "Loyalist" forces. Would it have to cooperate with the Irish Defence Force and local IRA then? Derry/Londonderry?

Then again, what does Faulknor want to achieve with independence? Ethnic cleansing to reduce the Catholic/Nationalist population seems one answer - but what does he expect to happen after several hundred thousand people have been forced out of their homes and across the border? The territory doesn't have a central bank or currency, any IOUs it issues will not even be "worth a continental damn" but at least could serve as toilet paper. (Which may be in short supply unless there's a functioning paper mill.) The place would fall apart within days or weeks at most once the money taps are turned off and shipments of key goods stopped for lack of payment - even leading aside sanctions! But that still leaves a lot of time for atrocities and major loss of life.

Tuzo will have to be reinforced quickly and strike hard to restore order and take control of Belfast and key installations. Curfews, shooting of rioters and looters and some way of getting recalcitrant "loyalist" workers back to key servicers. IF he can't do that, how ;long before Heath has to call for help from the UN and US in particular?
 
Yes. Well, the first sentence of the second paragraph of the quoted document: "Literally hundreds of mostly Catholic civilians were murdered before the British Government even contemplated the possible extension of internment to loyalists."

The Troubles started in 1969, and by 1972, to my certain knowledge, Loyalists were being interned. Keeping the two groups apart in the Maze from mid 1971 was a headache and a half.

"Added to this was the complete denial by the authorities of the loyalist assassination campaign as evidenced by the failure to intern loyalists until 1973."

What can I say? I escorted loyalists to the Maze for internment in 1972.

I'd suggest treating the source with caution.
Yes, I only skimmed the source before posting. I was thinking that even if the source is partisan, the main content of that page is declassified documents, which might help inform the discussion.
 
The Irish Army was not a large force. In 1972, it was less than 10,000 strong, and had detachments serving as UN Peacekeepers in Cyprus and the Middle East.

In 1970, the General Staff of the Irish Army said: "there would not be more than 2,500 line troops available to be mustered, organised into units and trained to cover the border."

The Irish Army doesn't have a hope in Hell of making any sort of order out of this chaos. It is a nonsense.

And, to put it bluntly, undercover soldiers acting in the way you've described would have (a) inflamed the situation beyond measure, and (b) been subject to being shot out of hand, perfectly in accordance with the Geneva Convention. Undercover soldiers do not get the benefits that accrue to those wearing uniforms.
You are quite right in saying that. If that had happened in real life and if it had been discovered then the ROI would have been in deep trouble across the world. As has already been established both here and on the video I linked to earlier the Irish Army at the time were minnows compared to their British counterparts. Again it links back to my earlier comments on Lynch's decency.
 
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