Scottish Referendum

For Queen and Country-But What Country?

1. Lord Dannat & David Cameron

a. General, (now Lord) Dannatt was Chief of the General Staff from 2006 to 2009. In this period he had military responsiblity for the conduct of major army operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. His resume reminds the reader that as a young officer, at the start of his military career, from 1971, he served, with distinction, a number of tours, with the Green Howards, in Northern Ireland. His Regiment sustained heavy casualties whilst on operational duty in Belfast. He was required to stand down from his post in 2009 and took up an advisory position with David Cameron as Defense Advisor to the Tory party. Cameron rewarded his assistance by gaining him a Knighthood, denied him by Gordon Brown. He stood down from his advisory position on defense at the time the Tory’s were elected in 2010. He now sits, as a cross bench member in the House of Lords.

b. I fully expected Cameron to play the military broken hearts, sympathy card attempting the emotional blackmail of Scot’s seeking add guilt to anyone voting Yes to independence. I was not wrong. In a headline article published in the, “Telegraph” 13 September 2014 Lord Dannat, (friend of David Cameron) made an impassioned appeal to Scots to reject independence, in the name of their countrymen who “fought and died” to keep the United Kingdom safe. In seeking to add substance to his article he reminded families, relatives, friends and colleagues of brutal murder of three young Scot’s soldiers in Belfast in 1971. Whilst the intent of his approach is evident his desire to raise hurtful memories is crass.

c. What Lord Dannat fails to mention is that one of the, “honey Trap” girls that lured the soldiers to their deaths might well be a well connected and greatly respected Tory Party Councillor. Strange bedfellows indeed.
Lord Dannat’s press articles

IRA Councillor welcomed back to Tory bosom. In a dramatic u-turn, Maria Gatland has been accepted back into the Conservatives.

2. The 1971 Belfast Murders Explained

a. March 1971 Belfast. Three young soldiers from the Royal Highland Fusiliers (RHF), (stationed at Girdwood Barracks, Belfast), Dougald McCaughey (23) and two brothers, John and Joseph McCaig, aged (17) and (180 years respectively, were having a drink in at Mooneys bar in the centre of Belfast. In those days. despite some localised rioting, off duty soldiers could still come and go as they wished in the bars, clubs and discos of Belfast. Out of uniform, off duty and well intoxicated, they were not thought to be targets. In a previous bar, two young woman had attached themselves to the soldiers, (the women were members of PIRA’s women’s group, the Cumman – na – mBan, one unconfirmed was rumoured to be Maria McGuire). After a few more drinks the party was approached by a young man and a male friend. After a drink or two it was suggested that they should go off to a party. What the three young Scottish soldiers did not know was that the friendly former soldier was the leader of an IRA group from Ardoyne. Well plied with drink, McCaughey and the McCaig brothers were driven to a lonely mountain road outside Belfast where they stopped to relieve themselves. As they did so they were shot through the back of the head and their bodies left by the roadside.

b. The horrific killings, the cowardly manner in which they were carried out, sent shock waves through the province and the rest of the UK. Both the Official and Provisional IRA issued statements maintaining that none of their units were involved. The Provo’s statement was carefully worded since, although the killings were carried out by members of the IRA, those responsible had not been authorized to do so. It is known that Billy McGee, by then commander of the Provo’s in Belfast had not given the go ahead for the operation. He regarded it as unsoldierly and contrary to the principles of Republicanism.

c. The former British Army soldier who had enticed the three young men to their deaths came from Ardoyne. At the time he was serving in Cyprus he applied to join the SAS, but was deemed to be mentally unsuitable. On his return to the UK he left the army disillusioned. The Special Branch knew him to be a psychopath who, (whilst deployed to anti terrorist duties in Cyprus had executed a civilian in controversial circumstances). The Ardoyne IRA knew he had had served with the British Army but were not aware of his controversial history. Special Branch officers were not at all surprised he was prepared to kill, it was his way of getting back at the British Army.

d. The entire Nationalist community, were deeply ashamed that such barbarity had been conducted in it’s name. The vast majority were not prepared for a campaign against the British Army, RUC and the political system but this proved to be the turning point. Had the government introduced internment at this time it is entirely possible the troubles would have been avoided.

e. The Winds of Change. Although not formally stationed in Belfast in a policing capacity the death of the youngest soldier at age 17, (by only 1 week) was unacceptable to the UK public and rules were changed immediately after instructing that soldiers could not be deployed to active service before age 18.

3. Maria McGuire, (Maria Gatland) Tory Councillor in Croydon, London for the last 20 years, Her life with the IRA in her own words.

a.In September 1971 Maria McGuire was one of the most wanted terrorists in the world. Armed with a .38 automatic weapon and carrying £20,000 in cash, she was being pursued by security forces from several countries over her role in a huge arms deal. More than 160 crates containing bazookas, rocket launchers and hand-grenades had been seized at an airport in Amsterdam, and a warrant had been issued for her arrest. McGuire found herself on the run with a member of the Provisional IRA’s ruling council – with whom she was having an affair. In Ireland, plans were afoot to kidnap the Dutch ambassador if she and David O’Connell were arrested. But despite a massive media frenzy, she and O’Connell were able to escape the Netherlands through Belgium and France before returning to Ireland to a hero’s welcome.

b. Even though their mission had failed, the pair became – for a brief period – the golden couple of the Irish Republican movement. In her book To Take Arms: My Year With The IRA Provisional’s, published in 1973, McGuire wrote candidly: “The press had made great play of the fact that we had escaped the British secret service; we had achieved another glorious failure. “It was better even than if we had been successful, because then the public would have had to confront reality. “Why did we want the guns? To kill people.” She learnt two months later that she faced three years in prison if she re-entered Switzerland, where she had exchanged currency.

c. In the space of just one year, McGuire became a close confidante of many of the Provisional IRA’s top leaders, before disillusionment set in over the group’s methods. She had signed up after seeing the Provisional’s publicity officer, Sean O Bradaigh, on Irish television. So keen was McGuire to talk to him that she rang the TV studio straight away and left a message. Within weeks she was put forward to the British press as an example of the new middle-class membership the movement was attracting.

d. But as violence escalated in Belfast following a failed ceasefire in July 1972, McGuire decided she could not support the sectarian killing, and fled to England. There she gave extensive interviews in the British press and published her book hoping to lift the lid on IRA brutality. Her defection prompted the Provisional IRA’s chief of staff, Sean MacStiofain – who she described as “narrow minded” – to warn that if she ever returned to Ireland she would face a court martial and possibly execution.

e. Her book – which caused a storm on its publication – revealed her thoughts on one of the most intensive bombing campaigns ever carried out. Following an IRA bomb in Donegall Street, Belfast, which killed six men and injured 146 in March 1972, she wrote: “I admit that at the time I did not connect with the people who were killed or injured in such explosions. “I always judged such deaths in terms of the effect they would have on our support – and I felt that this in turn depended on how many people accepted our explanation.”

f. Maria McGuire on her affair with Provisional IRA ruling council member David O’Connell, which started in Amsterdam. “It just happened, and seemed perfectly natural, even though our situation was very unnatural. We were under considerable stress together, and became very close, depended on one another, because of that. Possibly it meant more to Dave than it did to me; but when we managed not to worry about the outcome of our mission and our own chances of escaping, we were very happy.”

g. Maria McGuire on meeting the Provisional IRA chief of staff, Sean MacStiofain. “He seemed short and squat, and lacked Dave’s physical presence: only later did I realise he was in fact over six feet tall. He appeared a little taken aback by me too; I knew he had heard about me, but possibly he wasn’t expecting someone wearing hot pants to be interested in the Provisional IRA.”

h. Maria McGuire on the IRA’s bombing campaign in Northern Ireland. “The intention behind the bombing campaign was to cause confusion and terror. In 1971 bomb explosions averaged three a day throughout the six counties, and it was very easy to create confusion in the centre of Belfast. Sometimes the Belfast Provisional’s would give a succession of false alarms, and then just as the city was enjoying the lull, plant half a dozen bombs on the same day. We believed that the bombing campaign had a greater psychological effect in this way. By causing such terror we demonstrated that whatever steps the army took, the Provisional’s could continue the military campaign; half a million people in Belfast would be kept wondering where the Provisional’s would strike next, and would be forced to tell the British to make peace with us.”

i. Maria McGuire on killing British soldiers. “I agreed with the shooting of British soldiers and believed that the more who were killed the better. I remember occasions where we heard late at night that a British soldier had been shot and seriously wounded in Belfast or Derry – and we would hope that by the morning he would be dead.”

j. Maria McGuire on killing civilians. “I accepted too the bombing of Belfast, and when civilians were accidentally blown to pieces dismissed this as one of the unfortunate hazards of urban guerrilla war.”

k. Maria McGuire on being banned from entering Switzerland. “I happened to hear a television news item that two Irish citizens had been excluded from Switzerland – Dave O’Connell and myself. We had done nothing illegal in Switzerland that I could recall. Then the Swiss Embassy in Dublin telephoned Dave and asked us to call at the embassy to collect our exclusion orders. We naturally refused.”

l. Maria McGuire on becoming disillusioned in the face of escalating violence. “I could not avoid the conclusion that the probability of civilian casualties had been accepted, and perhaps even planned. Whenever such casualties had occurred before, there had always been the pressure of events to take my mind off them. But now, almost for the first time, I wondered about the crippled and the widowed and the lives that had been changed forever.”

I agreed with the shooting of British soldiers and believed that the more who were killed the better.

How I brought the Provisional IRA girl with a gun in from the cold. Last week a Tory local Councillor was revealed as Maria McGuire, a former IRA activist

Was it fair Gatland had to resign because of her past IRA links?

IRA Councillor welcomed back to Tory bosom. In a dramatic u-turn, Maria Gatland has been accepted back into the Conservatives.

Croham, a Ward in the London Borough of Croydon, elects Maria Garland as a Councillor 2006, 2010 & 2014.


1914-1918 World War Disaster-Role of the Generals

The Son of former BBC election night star Peter Snow, Dan was hired to be the public face of the celebrity better together campaign, (as he has previously for other high profile campaigns.). He is married to the fabulously wealthy Duke of Westminster’s daughter, Lady Edwina. Their families enjoy the friendship of the five richest families in the UK, whose combined wealth is in excess of the total wealth of 20% of the population of the entire UK. In a recent BBC1 about WW1, (which he produced and presented) there is a hint to his warped view of the world.

He Said, “Many soldiers enjoyed WW1. If they were lucky they would avoid a big offensive, and much of the time, conditions might be better than at home. For the British there was meat every day – a rare luxury back home – cigarettes, tea and rum, part of a daily diet of over 4,000 calories. Absentee rates due to sickness, an important barometer of a unit’s morale were, remarkably, hardly above peacetime rates. Many young men enjoyed the guaranteed pay, the intense comradeship, the responsibility and a much greater sexual freedom than in peacetime Britain”.

His great Great-Grandfather was David Lloyd George, British Prime Minister from 1916 until 1922. And his great grandfather was Sir Thomas D’Oyly Snow, one of the generals who planned and executed the battle of the Somme. On just the first day at the battle, 1 July 1916, the army suffered over 57,000 casualties, including more 19,000 dead. Even Snow admitted, “That is the darkest day in British military history, arguably British history, and my great-grandpa was one of the key guys in the planning and execution of that attack”

As well as being part of a TV dynasty second only to the Dimblebys, Snow has a deeply personal connection with the elite responsible for the disasters of the First World War. Now none of us are responsible for the mistakes of our ancestors, but we can seek to learn from them and not to justify them. But Snow has chosen justification, in spite of the fact that his great grandfather’s account of his experience directly contradicts his defence of the war.

Dan Snow describes Thomas D’Oyly Snow as, “a hardened enforcer for the Queen Empress Victoria”. And indeed he was. “He fought Zulus in South Africa and the Mahdi in Sudan, where he carried a bottle of champagne with him to Khartoum and drank it when his troops had avenged the death of General Gordon, who was killed fighting the Mahdi’s warriors in 1885…On the eve of war he was commanding the 4th Division in Britain, assimilating the lessons of the 1899-1902 Boer War for the possibility of war in Europe”.

In the current debate Dan Snow has made a great play of the fact that the, “lions led by donkeys” interpretation of the war is false. Today he insists that the Generals were at the forefront of military innovation. But when it comes to assessing his ancestor’s exploits it’s a different story. Indeed Sir Thomas D’Oyly Snow saw the war first hand and in very different terms to young Snow. Sir Thomas D’Oyly wrote, “The higher staffs had had no practice in command, and although they had been well trained in the theory of the writing and issue of orders, they failed in the practice…Added to this we all suffered from the fault common to all Englishmen, a fault we did not know we suffered from till war revealed it, a total lack of imagination”.

It was 2008 when Dan Snow discovered this family history and 2011 when he wrote about it. Back then he thought his great grandfather was, “deeply critical of himself and others, from the inexperience of the British gunners to the shortage of ammunition”. Churchill refused to re-supply artillery shells to the front claiming there was no money available. In defence of Sir Thomas, Dan Snow wrote, “The revolution in firepower had given the defending side the ability to bring a wall of steel and explosives down on anyone brave enough to attack. Radio was in its infancy. Telephone cables were severed, messengers were picked off by snipers armed with rifles of hitherto undreamed of power and accuracy. Thousands of miles of newly invented barbed wire posed an intractable problem”.

Sir Thomas recorded; ‘We lost several men on the first night, drowned or smothered. The men had either to stand in water, knee deep, with every prospect of sinking in deeper still, or hang on the side of the trench. Later in the war we should have overcome the difficulty but at this time the men were overworked in keeping the front trenches in order, and we were all inexperienced. On one occasion one of my staff said to a Corporal of the Engineers, “Now you are an engineer; cannot you devise some method of draining this trench?” to which he replied, “I am afraid, Sir, that I cannot; you see before the war I was a Christmas card maker by trade.”’

And the high command did nothing to help: ‘We were not provided with wood wherewith to make trench-boards, and no extra socks or waterproof boots were forthcoming. We were only censured for having so many sick.’

Dan Snow says that the General’s memoirs finish before, “his darkest days of the war”. At the Somme Sir Thomas’ men, “attacked the strongest stretch of German line as a diversion for the main assault, which went in to the south. Even by the standards of that bloody and futile day, the attack of Snow’s VII Corps was a disaster.”

But Sir Thomas D’Olyly Snow was at a chateau, not the front. Even Dan Snow admits that when he went to the chateau, “It feels a long way from the carnage of the trenches”. Worse still, it appears Snow attempted to shift the blame away from himself, writing to his seniors, “I regret to have to report that the 46th Division in yesterday’s operations showed a lack of offensive spirit.” This was after the men had fought their way through unbroken barbed wire. Then, once they did manage to get into the German trench system, they held off counterattacks until they had run out of ammunition and were forced to use shovels and their bare hands.” It was says Dan Snow of Sir Thomas, “an inexcusable attempt to shift the blame”.

Does all this really sound like Dan Snow’s recent claim, “Many soldiers enjoyed WW1. If they were lucky they would avoid a big offensive, and much of the time, conditions might be better than at home. For the British there was meat every day – a rare luxury back home – cigarettes, tea and rum, part of a daily diet of over 4,000 calories. Absentee rates due to sickness, an important barometer of a unit’s morale were, remarkably, hardly above peacetime rates. Many young men enjoyed the guaranteed pay, the intense comradeship, the responsibility and a much greater sexual freedom than in peacetime Britain’.

Doesn’t it sound rather like the myths that the Dan Snow of 2014 is trying to dismiss. Are there not here poorly trained troops, unsupported by the high command? Do the generals not seem to know what they are doing? Are they not versed in colonial warfare but unprepared for an industrialized total war? Are they not in the chateau and not the trenches? Are they not trying to shift the blame for failure onto others?

If we want to know about the realities of the First World War it would seem the old imperial warrior is a better guide than his historian great grandson.