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The Tartan Army
Chapter 11


FORT WILLIAM
"CHUIR E AIR AN DUBH-CHAPULL ORRA"
[he put the black mare on them]

In November 1975 Gerry went to work in Fort William, a town set on the shores of Loch Linne about 4 hours drive North of Edinburgh.  He didn't know of course what the police were up to, but he soon found out that something was happening. There was a sea change as they say. On arrival, he put up at the Palace Hotel. He had been there for two days and one evening went into the residents' lounge. It was empty except for two fit looking young men who sat at the fire.  As soon as Gerry sat down they started to talk in very loud voices about robbing a bank and killing anyone who got in their way. Gerry noted that they weren't drinking. They talked as if there was no-one else around but somehow or another Gerry got the impression,  that whilst they pretended not to notice him, the talk was actually directed at him as if they expected him to join in. And take the bait? Perhaps they thought that he had been born yesterday. McGuigan went on red red alert. He got up and went down stairs and told the owner who was at the front desk what he had heard and looked them up in the visitors book. Their names didn't ring a bell. The owner said that they were two nice young men who were engineers, but he didn't know what kind of engineers or who they worked for. However he said that he would have a word in their ear. The two fit young men left the hotel the next day. 

After two weeks, Gerry rented a log cabin in some woods on a large highland estate just outside of the town. It was one of six holiday homes and he had taken it whilst waiting for a local authority house. He was driving home from work one dark evening and turned off the main road to take the long one way estate road to his cabin. He had got about half a mile down the road when he saw the headlights of a car turn off the main road. It was going ever so slowly. He was being followed. What the followers didn't know was that Gerry and Don were always on the alert for this sort of thing but it was the first time in over three years that either of them had noticed anything. Gerry, after his experience in the hotel, kept a bayonet on the floor of his car. He carried on down the road and took the right angled bend to go to his cabin, some 100 metres ahead but off to the right in the woods. Thinking that perhaps he was going to be ambushed and that others might be waiting at the cabin, he by-passed the road in to the cabins,  traveled on a bit and turned off on to a track in the woods, slammed on his brakes, dowsed the lights, grabbed his bayo net, and dived out of the car into the heather. He felt that he was going to be assassinated. He waited and sure enough the following car turned into the track. Their lights immediately picked up Gerry's car. They braked and reversed at speed and were off. They too must have thought that they had been tricked and had run into an ambush. Gerry jumped into his car to follow them. The Skoda wouldn't start. Drat it, foiled again.  Next day he related this story to his boss and also told him about the two would be bank robbers,  if that's what they were. Gerry knew of course that they were S. A. S. or suchlike. Gerry of course knew that his boss wouldn't have a clue but he wanted it to get around that he was on to them. His boss of course expressed surprise at such strange happenings. In retrospect,  because of some seemingly innocent remarks from his boss he guessed that the police had already been to see his employers. Anyway he was now in no doubt that he was under surveillance. 

After a while he moved into his local authority house. One evening the woman across the road visited him to ask how he was settling in. Gerry was a bit suspicious but the highlanders are a very friendly and straight forward people. She, however, veered the conversation round to Scottish Nationalism. Again this was nothing new, everybody and his granny was talking nationalism, the only question was whether they were nationalists or spies. She told him to be very careful what he said and did around An Gearasdain, [Fort William], as there were some odd people about. Gerry soon discovered that her husband was very much the British nationalist; served in the Territorial Army; Queen's man and all that Union Jack stuff. She was obviously the opposite. Within two weeks or less of Gerry's arrival in his house, the lady opposite and her husband took in two lodgers. Young, fit, athletic looking men. Gerry didn't fail to mark them straight away. He then got another visit from the lady across the way and she again warned him, this time, to be "very careful". No problem, Gerry had already got the message. But what about Donald? He couldn't phone or write to him to give him the news that the weather was looking bad. Perhaps they hadn't got on to Donald. If he went near Donald, he could put him in danger. No matter,  he thought, the authorities had nothing on him. The Tartan Army left no trace. He did remember that the A. P. G. had been wiped out and wondered how the cops had suddenly fingered him.  But there was nothing to do about it, just carry on and look out for rocks. Gerry, a keep fit buff, was a regular runner and would run in all weathers at night and during the day amidst the glorious countryside around Fort William. One Saturday morning he went for a run across the peat road below Ben Nevis,  the highest mountain in Britain, but had only got about two miles when he noticed that he was struggling a bit and perhaps had a flu coming on. He turned back and started down the hill. Turning round a rock face he met the two lodgers running up the hill. They were obviously surprised and a bit embarrassed as Gerry gave them a nod as he went by. Gerry saw that they were not runners and that they were struggling going up the hill. He realized that they were not S. A. S. but cops. This was a straightforward Scottish police force job that he was watching. 

The next secret service man to stick one like a sore thumb was a signals expert.  Gerry noticed a car with a 5 metre high aerial driving around town. He watched it for a few days and then asked one of his colleagues at work if he had noticed him. His colleague frowned and said that he had and what was more the guy had moved into the house next door to him a week ago. He said to Gerry that he had asked him why he had a 5 metre aerial on his car and he replied that he was checking T. V. reception. Gerry asked his colleague if believed him. "No", was the emphatic reply. Since they had taken the Sword Gerry and Donald made a habit of tuning in to the F. M.  waveband. Gerry turned on his radio one night at nine o'clock and heard two voices loud and clear speaking on what was obviously a scrambler. He reckoned that they were very close to his house. He asked his friend at work to listen in, without telling him what he thought. His friend did listen and when Gerry asked him what he thought of it, he said that it was two men speaking on a scrambler and very close to him as well.  This bare faced performance went on well into 1976 without stop. There had been some petty thieving at Gerry's workplace and when the culprit had been caught, some police came into the large office which Gerry shared with his boss. One of the cops, MacLeod by name from the isle of Lewis kept staring at Gerry who straightaway classed him as a psychopath. When Gerry asked his boss why the idiot was staring at him, he replied that he simply didn't know. This cop would soon play a role in the game.  

Gerry walked into a newspaper shop one day and bought a copy of a pan-Celtic magazine called "Carn". It consisted of news and views from the Celtic countries of Europe and its editor was a Breton, Alan Heusaf,  who lived in exile in Dublin. Gerry read about the way the Bretons were treated by the French; persecuting their language; not allowing them to christian names to their children with names which the French government didn't like; and what was most unfortunate was that this French nation which prides itself on being civilised was holding Bretons without trial.  Gerry had got to hear that the president of France would visit Edinburgh in the near future but he didn't know the exact date. He thought it would be a good idea to hold a demonstration outside the French consulate in Regent's Terrace Edinburgh just along the road from the proposed new Parliament building. He wrote to Alan Heusaf and told him that he should look for a surprise soon in Edinburgh, but didn't say what exactly. Heusaf replied in friendly tones,  told Gerry that he would soon be Scotland for a touring holiday and would pay him a visit. Both men were carefull what they said to strangers. Within a week of getting Heusaf's letter, McGuigan was sitting in his office engrossed in work. A local owner of a plumbing business came in and was talking to Gerry's boss. He said that he had been in a betting shop in the nearby town of Corpach, when an Irishman walked in and laughingly  placed a bet with a twenty pound Irish Republic note. The Irishman was full of fun and said that the "big fellow" with him was his bodyguard. The plumbing man said that the "big fellow" was called Willie MacKenzie. Gerry was suddenly all ears. Those in the office seemed to agree that Willie MacKenzie was an unlikely bodyguard. Gerry innocently asked if that was Willie MacKenzie who played the fiddle. The answer was yes and they told Gerry that Willie lived in Glen Finnan.  Gerry had never met Willie MacKenzie but he knew "damned fine", as they say in Scotland,  who he was. He was the man who had informed on the A. P. G. in Inverness, a two hour drive from Fort William; He was "the giant fiddler". Gerry also knew who the Irishman was. He was Special Branch of the Irish Republic. He had heard how the two Irishmen who had run around with the A. P. G.  were always loud mouthed and full of confidence.  

Willie Bell in Inverness had told Gerry that he reckoned that the Irish were cops.  It seemed that Irish had got hold of McGuigan's letter and kept a routine check on Heusaf.  Or had Heusaf given the letter to the police? Driving along the road through Glen Finnan the next day, Gerry spotted a white Renault car with Irish Republic number plates. The cops name was Eugene O'Neill. So what thought Gerry. He had forgotten about "dirty tricks".  A week later Gerry decided to do something about his garden now that Summer was a coming. The house was built on rock, so he laid down a bed of gravel all over it and then went into a shop in the town and bought a bag of sodium chlorate to kill the weeds. He spread the chemical on the gravel, but had half a bag left and he put on a shelf in a kitchen cupboard. This would eventually provide positive proof of perjury by the Crown and the police. 

Gerry had been repainting his car in November of 1975 and had removed the rear bumper which was still in the garage at his old home in the village of Rosewell to the South of Edinburgh. His work colleagues had been nagging him to get the bumper and so, since the weather was getting better for driving on the roads through the mountains, he decided to go down and get it. He thought that he would kill two birds with one stone and visit Donald in Menstrie and get him to organise the demonstration, because he himself was a long way from Edinburgh.  He phoned Donald on the Sunday morning but he was at work and his wife told Gerry to ring back in the early afternoon. Gerry didn't have a phone so he had called from a public call box near his house. When he went to phone again, a lady came and stood outside as though waiting for Gerry to finish. She wasn't in uniform but Gerry immediately identified her as a lady cop. Fort William is a small place and Gerry had made a point of noting the faces of the police. He spoke to Donald and told him that he would call in to his house around 5 p. m.  After he left the phone box he noted that the lady never went in but simply walked off! It would seem that Donald's phone was not being tapped and therefore the police had not connected him with Gerry up until that time. Having got into the house his father immediately grabbed him and said "Why is that man watching this house?" Gerry ran to the window and saw an elderly retired policeman watching the house from the back lane. No doubt the two guys across the road would be peering from behind the curtains as well. The man moved off quickly when he saw Gerry staring at him. Gerry's parents who had been aware that whilst they were staying in Fort William they were being watched,  would later notice the middle aged couple at a petrol station at the head of Glen Cro where they stopped on their way home at the end of their holiday.  Gerry's parents having left he put sandwiches and soft drinks in his brief case and left for Edinburgh. He would never return to that house. 


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