THE BOMBING AT CROOK OF DEVON, PERTHSHIRE.
'S FEARR ADH NA EALAIDH"
[good luck is better than skill]
The Tartan Army had been described as
"amateurish" by the professionals who couldn't catch them.
But what they lacked in skill was made up for by luck; how long
could it last? That was the question. By September 1975,
there was still no positive news of the promised White Paper. The
Tartan Army decided that it was time that Westminster got a reminder.
They were encouraged to do this by the capture and trial of the men
who called themselves the A. P. G. Some of their number
had carried out a comical attempt at bank robbery in Glasgow. They had
hired a van. Witnesses gave the police the description and as a
result the whole lot of them were caught. So much for the iron
discipline of their leader. The A. P. G. seemed to work under the
principle that it is better to travel in hope than to arrive. They were
also found with the gelignite which McGuigan had been warned
about whilst working in Inverness. The media told the world that
the Tartan Army had been caught and they all got up to ten years
in jail. The police, as it turned out, also thought that they
had wrapped up the Tartan Army even although no evidence had been
produced about the Sword or the bombings. However the gelignite and
the robbery were good enough; or so they thought. These typical
Scots who seemed to prefer glorious defeat to humdrum victory
had done nothing for Scotland. The police could go back
to helping old ladies cross streets. The smoke screen had been
brilliantly though unwittingly successful. The bad news was that the
Tartan Army's smoke screen had been blown away. If they struck
again then the hunt, ["the biggest manhunt in Britain since world
war two"], would be on again. What to do? Answer; advance towards
the sound of distant gun fire, as they say.
The B. B. C. in its map on T. V. of
the oil pipeline had shown some pumping stations and two of them
seemed to be on either side of the broad river Tay twenty miles to
the North of the H. Q. of the Tartan Army. One day whilst traveling
from Dundee, Gerry noticed a structure that looked like an oil
pumping station. He and Don went out one night to have a look.
They weren't sure at first but the oil people had kindly installed
concrete marker posts which told observers, such as Don
and Gerry, where it crossed under a road and two of these were right
by the facility. They saw that the surrounding fence of steel
palings was exactly the same as at Wester Glen and they noted to that
all that was required was the usual spanner. Then Curry made a
mistake. He had recruited two more people from Menstrie. A quiet
Englishman called Patterson and an elderly lady called Lyla Cathie.
They came with Curry, MacPherson and McGuigan to The
Crook of Devon. Cathie and Patterson dropped off the others.
In the field, they unscrewed the steel paling and planted their bomb,
timed for 3 a. m. It went off with a bang and totally destroyed the
The usual banner headlines followed. But
their was more than that. There was an after shock. The
Government collapsed . It was announced in Parliament that the White
Paper would be produced and that a referendum would be held not
only in Scotland but in Wales. But the biggest outcome was that
they would immediately start to convert the old Royal High
School, standing on the Calton hill in Edinburgh, into a new Scots
Parliament building. In other words they had already admitted that the
referendum would result in a YES vote for Scotland. The losers at
Culloden 230 years ago were about to be revenged. It had taken only a
few harmless bombs to do it. It was September 1975.