on 23 September 2015
The troubkes as seen by the serving British soldier.
A good solid oral history of what must have been a tragic and situation to have been in .being sent to NI for a "tour".
having become used to seeing troops at check points and on patrol this gives an insight into the lives of men who seldom spoke as you poassed them and who were in constant danger on the streets from snipers and IED's from an enemy which was it has to be said " good at what he did".
I remember a local SDLP politician being interviewed following the shooting dead of some PIRA members - he was caught up with the " shoot to kill policy" which was a great propaganda tool of PIRA and PSF. "there must be some way to wound and capture them insead of having to shoot them dead". This poor man was obviously never shot at or put in a life thretening situation in which his life was on the line.
A good read , at times uplifting and at times dark and depressing but for my part I am in the authors debt for having researched and written this book and for the men who contributed , hardly a road or street in Ni did not not see you walk down and in many cases saw some act of violence. your holding the line has not been forgotten. thank you.
on 13 June 2012
`Sir, they're taking the kids indoors' were words that chilled the blood of a generation of soldiers. British soldiers on British streets, fighting in an urban battleground, that at times, rivalled the very worst that any childish videogame could conjure. Only this game was real and when the blokes hit the ground they didn't always get back up. Or when they did - just as in today's wars - it was in pieces. Once again Ken has produced another scholarly masterpiece of those times, and once again, he has done me the honour of allowing me to review his manuscript.
Ken's fifth book focuses on the chaotic `Troubles' era of 1973/74, and in similar vein to his previous works takes us through each and every incident - both major and minor - and every single month in his now-familiar forensic style. He describes himself as a `simple soldier scribe', but is in fact much more than that; like fine wine, he's maturing and evolving into our foremost authority on the military campaign in Northern Ireland. Like a surgeon's scalpel, he cuts deep into every atrocity, shedding new light, unearthing fresh discoveries and serving up rock-solid reasons and answers, why good men died and bad men lived. He tells the stories of the men in the trademark `gallows humour' squaddie-style that anyone who's ever spent so much as a day in uniform will be familiar with. And the relief of humour is needed because the tension of those times rested on every soldiers shoulders like an angel of death. A dark angel that Ken has brought to life on the page.
As testament to his growing maturity Ken has broadened his historical vision to take in not only military casualties, but the horrors endured by innocent and unarmed civilians too. He makes plain his contempt for Republican and Loyalist thugs alike, who preyed on their own kind with the same ferocity and hateful zeal that they reserved for soldiers. The human cost to the civilian community, struggling to survive in an urban battleground of the terrorists making, makes for grimly painful reading. Ken tells us of entirely innocent workers ambushed on the bus home by hooded fiends and executed in cold blood, merely for being one of `the other'. He tells of cruel betrayals that sicken so much one has to stop reading; a Catholic roofer befriended by fellow builders and invited on a Christmas night-out; his last night on earth as the disguised UVF thugs reveal themselves and he crumples to bloody ground. Or the dreaded, obscene question that marked life's end for many: `Are yez Protestant or Catholic?'
Throughout 1974 IRA `nutting squads' and UVF/UFF murder-gangs competed with each other in a viscous tit-for-tat killing game that sandwiched soldier and civilian alike. Such is Ken's attention to detail and power of words that at times it seems almost surreal, as though he were portraying a monumentally perverse parallel universe, alongside but apart from the mainland UK. It seems hard to imagine that it existed - but it did, in blood-red Technicolor, as thousands of dead soldiers and civilians can attest. And thousands is the correct combined figure. The IRA saved the worst of its affections for oft falsely-accused collaborators: `Touts' to be tried in kangaroo-courts by `internal security' and dispatched with the infamous `six-cap' of shot knees, ankles and elbows, consigned to ruin for life.
But as ever, the meat and bones of Ken's writing will always be the `bods' on the frontline; the unsung heroes who patrolled rain-soaked streets and blood-sodden cobbles, getting shot at, spat on and jeered from all sides in equal measure, and simply trying to make it back for a `brew, fag, banter & kip'. A few moments precious respite to live and laugh another day. Ken captures it all and leaves nothing out. He has surpassed himself. The soldiers featured speak to Ken as though he were an old friend and he translates their words with skill, compassion, sensitivity and reverence.
In 1974 the MOD declared that Northern Ireland was not a war-zone and that none of the fallen soldiers would be honoured on war memorials. Four decades on Ken Wharton has put that right. `Sir, They're Taking the Kids Indoors' stands as a memorial in its own right. With every word he writes, Ken honours these men.
Author of Squaddie: A Soldier's Story
on 15 August 2012
As usual Ken Wharton's book opens ones eyes to the carnage that was Ulster. Even though I served in Ulster during the "Troubles" I never quite grasped just how bad the situation was. Mostly concerned with my units own areas of responsibility I, like many others, seemed to develop an acceptance for the daily news items of murder after murder. Only the sensational events getting anything like headline news. People lost their lives un noted for the most part except by their grieving families. Ken Wharton changes that and makes a note of each loss of life, shaming in the process the animals that carried out those killings and those that funded the murder gangs. Written, unashamedly from the soldiers viewpoint Ken Wharton pours scorn on the meaningless platitudes that dripped from the mouths of spokes persons from both sides of the divide when they tried to explain and justify but rarely apologise for each death. This book, and his others, needed to be written. With enquiry after enquiry into actions of soldiers on the ground, often faced with split second decisions and actions that could lose or save thier own lives and still now being called to account for those actions there needs some redress, some accountability from those that were responsible for the very presence of the Armed Forces on the streets of Ulster. Without their provocations no troops would ever have been sent to the province.
on 2 July 2012
I have just finished reading Kens lastest book, Sir, There Taking The Kids Indoors, like all his other books that I have read Ken tells it as it is, no punches pulled. The research Ken has done to get all the details, absolulty brilliant, the book has some history about the troubles before 1969 when the troubles started again. I was still at school during the period this book is about but remember some of the incedents being on the news at night time. As a veteran of this conflict this book takes you back on to the streets of Northern Ireland, BUT this time you are safe. There are parts of the book that will make you go bloody hell. Kens books are a fitting tribute to all the soldiers that trod the streets of Northern Ireland and especilly to the ones that paid the ultimate price. Well done Ken
on 21 August 2014
I've reached the half way point in the book and had to give up. For two reasons. The day by death toll is harrowing and can't stomach any more. I take my hat off to every serviceman who had to endure, especially those killed and left with physical and emotional scars afterwards. And also the victims of this nightmare. The murdered, their parents, loved ones and families.
The second reason for giving up on the book is that it isn't the book i was led to believe it was from the reviews. I really dont feel that I've got into the mindset of the British Squaddie at all and been given no more than the briefest of glimpses into operations through a curtain of murder and mayhem interspersed with a few first person accounts and Ken's own repetitive vitriol. I was as shocked and disgusted as anyone about the murders of Corporal Woods and Howe in 1988, but to my mind they should have remained outside of a book whose focus is 1973-74.
This is not a book about the Troubles. This is a diary of events. I cant recommend the book unless you want to feel despair, anger and rage about the senselessness of it all. However, it needed to be written as an epitath for those who served and those who died.
on 21 June 2012
Once more Ken is the voice for all the forgotten heros that walked the streets of Northern Ireland.This is bar far the best of his books to date,a must read for any one that wants to know what life was like,keeping the peace across the water.Ken keep up the good work ,looking forward to Wasted Years,Wasted Lives.
on 1 July 2012
"SIR THEY'RE TAKING THE KIDS INDOORS".I was 8 years old in 1973 and unlike the 8 year olds of today with access to the internet,I had no idea how those six words could strike fear into grown men.After a recent visit to Belfast,and reading this book I now fully understand.
Ken has once again produced another compelling read with meticoulous research and unbaised accounts.You are taken back into a time of mindless killings,indiscriminate bombings and endless games of tit-for-tat.That was battleground,Northern Ireland and THE WAR THAT NEVER WAS.