Derry '72 - Soldier F

Wanderer

Member
Messages
1,688
What's the consensus here of said soldier's impending murder charge? During one particularly slow start to a contract at one Bank, I downloaded both the Widgery Report and the Saville Report and I have to say the former comes across as a whitewash and the latter a complete forensic analysis.

Also having worked with guys in the past who were there (NI and Derry generally, not Derry that day), reckon the Paras were not the people to send into a situation like that. This is from Jimmy McGovern's 'Sunday'. Ok it's telly but if you read the Saville Report and even the widgery one in terms of events it's pretty accurate.

I find it a difficult one, I'm of direct Irish (Catholic) decent, have enormous respect for the professionalism of the British Army but if events are only half true as described it was murder. Was it a war? Certainly the various sectarian factions thought it was but as I recall the Army were sent in basically to police as the RUC couldn't cope.

 

GeoffCapes

Centenary Club
Messages
9,204
From what I understand from a Friend who's father was there on the day (not a para), it was an absolute sh*t storm.
They were being pelted with rocks and god knows what and were under threat all the time.
It was "anything but a peaceful rally".

Obviously mistakes were made (huge ones) and people were killed. Nothing can change that. However, if they disobeyed their orders they should be punished.
But that punishment should be by court marshall, not criminal court.

On the flip side, as part of the Good Friday agreement hundreds of convicted terrorists and murderers were released early from prison.
So why prosecute someone on the 'other side' now?

It's a witch hunt which will not end well for either side.

The victims families will cry for justice, but where is the justice for those families whose loved ones died at the hands of the terrorists and murderers who were released without doing their time?
 

Felonious Crud

Centenary Club
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12,204
Very balanced responses so far. Typical SM. Keep it, up chaps!

To pass comment, wrapped as we are in the soft comfort blanket of now, to have walked not a single yard in the shoes of either side, renders any opinion of mine almost worthless.

Nevertheless I have an opinion but I can't possibly comment. Them was different times.
 

JonW

Member
Messages
1,922
What's the consensus here of said soldier's impending murder charge? During one particularly slow start to a contract at one Bank, I downloaded both the Widgery Report and the Saville Report and I have to say the former comes across as a whitewash and the latter a complete forensic analysis.

Also having worked with guys in the past who were there (NI and Derry generally, not Derry that day), reckon the Paras were not the people to send into a situation like that. This is from Jimmy McGovern's 'Sunday'. Ok it's telly but if you read the Saville Report and even the widgery one in terms of events it's pretty accurate.

I find it a difficult one, I'm of direct Irish (Catholic) decent, have enormous respect for the professionalism of the British Army but if events are only half true as described it was murder. Was it a war? Certainly the various sectarian factions thought it was but as I recall the Army were sent in basically to police as the RUC couldn't cope.

A massively complicated issue.... and one I think a lot of people will have conflicted views on. Only prosecuting a single person feels morally wrong to me, but I haven’t done any reading or research to back this up....
 

Wanderer

Member
Messages
1,688
TBH, I was always ambivalent towards this whole issue, which to be honest isn't a good thing, kind of of brushing it under my own moral carpet, it was the reading of the Saville Report to made me study it more detail. It's a HUGE read, 5000 pages, freely downloadable, full of witness reports, pictures, diagrams, maps, plans, and records of rounds issued, rounds returned (I'd no idea a soldier had to account for what rounds he'd fired, every bullet).

If you have time, a LOT of time it's a complexing read...

 

linescanner

Junior Member
Messages
74
Having served in NI, it was the hardest 6 months of my military career. The rules covering all actions out there are very strict. I toured in early 90's and that was hard enough, 70's through 80's was at another level. I have admit to feeling very cold about this alongside a fair amount of anger.

I know a lot of my fellow vets feel betrayed by these actions. Known terrorists were given assurances by the Blair government that they would not be prosecuted, but looks like the troops can be hung out to dry. Yes I know there are bad apples in every barrel and UK forces should be accountable for their actions, but this strikes my as a witch hunt.

Am I gonna get a tap on the door in 10 years time for actions during the 1st Gulf War? I do know Apache Crews from Afghan that have kept all their gun camera footage just in case that knock ever comes. That is no way for troops under pressure to have to think.

Having this hanging over troops could seriously undermine effectiveness in tough conditions.
 

Wanderer

Member
Messages
1,688
This is good stuff...

AIUI the Army was sent into NI to 'assist' the RUC, is it fair to send an armed force to police civilians? From either side? Policing and Soldiering are completely different things aren't they? If true then the blame lies at the Governments feet not the individual soldiers...

But if one or two 'go postal' and do let's be fair that's what seems to happened according to the video and the report, does civilian law apply or not? Or have the military been put into a non-military situation and been expected to react that way?
 

linescanner

Junior Member
Messages
74
Policing and Soldiering are very different. Internal security operations are very different to war fighting, NI was a nasty place to be as either a copper or a soldier. I agree that if people act outside of the law then they should accept the consequences.

The bit that has got people angry and nervous, is know IRA who carried out some barbaric acts that fall outside any form of human decency have been effectively pardoned.

This is not limited to NI, Iraq and Afghan vets have been hounded by some pretty dubious lawyers at tax payers expense for a number of years now. It appears that most of these cases are founded on next to no substantial evidence, but the stress that has been put on the individuals and their families is devastating.

Errors of judgement are made in all walks of life, but the stress of being in combat or in a IS situation like NI (which I found 100 times more stressful than combat) needs to be taken into account when judging actions.

I hope the truth will come out and this can be put to bed once and for all, but public hanging of one soldier, when known terrorists walk free and have served in government grates a bit.
 

sionie1

Member
Messages
370
From what I understand from a Friend who's father was there on the day (not a para), it was an absolute sh*t storm.
They were being pelted with rocks and god knows what and were under threat all the time.
It was "anything but a peaceful rally".

Obviously mistakes were made (huge ones) and people were killed. Nothing can change that. However, if they disobeyed their orders they should be punished.
But that punishment should be by court marshall, not criminal court.

On the flip side, as part of the Good Friday agreement hundreds of convicted terrorists and murderers were released early from prison.
So why prosecute someone on the 'other side' now?

It's a witch hunt which will not end well for either side.

The victims families will cry for justice, but where is the justice for those families whose loved ones died at the hands of the terrorists and murderers who were released without doing their time?
This ^^^^
I do remember talking many years ago with a girlfriends father who served in a couple of ‘Regiments’ both in a uniform and perhaps one with less insignia, and he was saying it wasn’t unknown to spend a full week with various patrols being shot at or for locals to bait traps for the soldiers. The average squaddie also had to contend with the fear of being separated from his mates and having a street full of ‘peaceful protestors’ try and kill him. That’s what I find difficult to come to terms with, you either have to try and draw a line under the whole of the troubles, or you now go knocking on the known bomb makers and terrorists doors and arrest them. The fact it’s one low ranking person carrying the can stinks even more, he truely is being made the scapegoat.
Unless you have served it’s hard to understand what being a soldier is, how you’re trained to follow orders but also to protect your mates, and how politicians use the armed forces for purposes they shouldn’t, get them to do dirty work and now it seems that the establishment is hanging those same soldiers out to dry. All the reports and documentaries 40 years later on from the actual events written from behind the safety of a desk or production studio and with that wonderful thing called hindsight won’t change what happened. It was an awful event and innocent people died, but so did people happily shopping in Warrington, drinking in a pub in Birmingham etc. But this has been going on since Bonnie Price Charlie so perhaps we shouldn’t think a recent agreement will change 400 years of hurt on all sides. That’s my view for what it’s worth.
 

Wanderer

Member
Messages
1,688
Policing and Soldiering are very different. Internal security operations are very different to war fighting, NI was a nasty place to be as either a copper or a soldier. I agree that if people act outside of the law then they should accept the consequences.

The bit that has got people angry and nervous, is know IRA who carried out some barbaric acts that fall outside any form of human decency have been effectively pardoned.

This is not limited to NI, Iraq and Afghan vets have been hounded by some pretty dubious lawyers at tax payers expense for a number of years now. It appears that most of these cases are founded on next to no substantial evidence, but the stress that has been put on the individuals and their families is devastating.

Errors of judgement are made in all walks of life, but the stress of being in combat or in a IS situation like NI (which I found 100 times more stressful than combat) needs to be taken into account when judging actions.

I hope the truth will come out and this can be put to bed once and for all, but public hanging of one soldier, when known terrorists walk free and have served in government grates a bit.
Cheers for that, does help with the bigger picture over words and diagrams.

Hadn't really thought about the (P,O,R)IRA pardoning which I knew about, suppose I just assumed it wouldn't apply to the Professionals, that being their job, but it's unfair, as you say. Has to work both ways or not at all.

Lot's of food for thought...
 

D Walker

Centenary Club
Messages
7,315
As Linescanner says, totally different to war fighting. I was lucky not to go to NI, but in Bosnia in 94 I found the soldering harder than the Gulf war. Far more stressful.
I'm not going to comment on Blair, witch hunts etc. The filter would break!
 

linescanner

Junior Member
Messages
74
As Linescanner says, totally different to war fighting. I was lucky not to go to NI, but in Bosnia in 94 I found the soldering harder than the Gulf war. Far more stressful.
I'm not going to comment on Blair, witch hunts etc. The filter would break!
Yeah, filter not strong enough to cope with that ;)

Again, Peace Keeping very different to NI, to war fighting etc. Is hard work for young lads to get heads round different roles. War fighting is much easier in some ways as you know who the bad guys are.

Tough job the military do.

I did love my time though, and would do it all again.
 

Chrisb2015

Member
Messages
156
From what I understand from a Friend who's father was there on the day (not a para), it was an absolute sh*t storm.
They were being pelted with rocks and god knows what and were under threat all the time.
It was "anything but a peaceful rally".

Obviously mistakes were made (huge ones) and people were killed. Nothing can change that. However, if they disobeyed their orders they should be punished.
But that punishment should be by court marshall, not criminal court.

On the flip side, as part of the Good Friday agreement hundreds of convicted terrorists and murderers were released early from prison.
So why prosecute someone on the 'other side' now?

It's a witch hunt which will not end well for either side.

The victims families will cry for justice, but where is the justice for those families whose loved ones died at the hands of the terrorists and murderers who were released without doing their time?
This was done to move the peace process on which it undoubtedly did. The difference with the soldiers is they were and are the representatives of the state, and whether you, I or anyone else likes it, they are judged by different standards to terrorists, extremists, resistance or freedom fighters. They have to be, it’s only by upholding those high standards with appropriate punishment for failures that any moral authority can be claimed. The insistence on different standards also helps to ensure terrible things are not done in our name, although clearly no system is perfect and mistakes and criminal activity still happens.

Let’s hope that truth and justice wins, only then will people trust the system and each other.
 

iainw

Member
Messages
2,699
The Saville Report cost £195million apparently. Mind boggling what that money could be spent on to do good.
 

GeoffCapes

Centenary Club
Messages
9,204
Agreed.
I’d put this in the “Hillsborough” category in so much as people found themselves in extraordinarily difficult situations.
Gonna have to disagree on that one.

Hillsborough was a open and shut case of total ineptitude on the part of the commanding officer.
He ignored what he was being told, he made decisions which went against his training and completely lost control of the situation.