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The Tartan Army
Chapter 3


THE BOMBING AT WESTER GLEN, FALKIRK.
"MEASG OSNA CHARACH SA'BHEINN"
[Among whirling blasts on the hill]

Now at this time the construction of the oil pipeline and its facilities had not yet been started;  the immensely strategic importance of this had not yet occurred to the plotters. That was yet to come. 

There was however another vexed question in Scotland which had not yet been properly addressed. The Border Clan decided that if one explosion could make honest men out of cheats and liars, [the Tories], then perhaps an echo in the form of another bomb would soon rectify that problem as well.  The self-styled "Mother of Parliaments" had given a charter to its propoganda machine, the B. B. C. , [The Anglo-Saxophone], to broadcast what it liked. This might seem strange to the Sadam Husseins of this world, but in England it was not a problem. The B. B. C.,  controlled by establishment people,  could be completely relied upon not to rock the boat. They didn't have to be told what to say and what not to say. "England expects" and all that sort of thing. The "BEEB" could safely be relied upon not to eat breakfast sausages for lunch nor unroll rolled umbrellas. However there was a wind of change blowing through Broadcasting House. The B. B. C.  people had actually broadcast some of the material of Radio Free Scotland, a radio set up because the S. N. P. were not allowed any of England's right of free speech. Worse was to come.  The B. B. C. , horror of horrors,  had actually proposed to give the S. N. P. , the Communists and Plaid Cymru, broadcasting time. Not as much, of course as the Tories, Labour and Liberals, who were all part of the English establishment. Mother took over and the S. N. P. were now to learn the meaning of free speech. Mother stopped it all. As the late Doctor Joad might have said, "It all depends upon what you mean by freedom of speech. " The English political parties ganged up for once in the face of all this, just as they do when there's a war on. The B. B. C.  would have to do as the real politicians told them and to the devil with fair play, cricket and straight bats. Anyway didn't the S. N. P.  have their own illegal R. F. S?

An amusing sideline to all this was the re-broadcasting of R. F. S.  material by the BEEB. They had not only got permission to do this from R. F. S.  but had even given them a cheque in payment for the privilege. Now this is a criminal offense as is the actual existence of R. F. S. The chief of R. F. S.  copied the cheque and filed it. . The B. B. C. was now liable to three months in jail and confiscation of all its equipment;  Broadcasting House, the lot. The B. B. C. had at a stroke put itself in danger of going off the air permanently. It could have been an own goal of huge proportions and a farce outdoing those of their own legendary Goon Show of the fifties. Anyway they were brought to heel by the same people who had given them the inviolable right to broadcast without fear or favour. Now the Scots did nothing about this except complain, whilst England laughed at them;  a coomon occurence in the British Parliament. They would be asking for Home Rule for Croydon next and the rest of London's boroughs never mind the burgh of Scotland, far flung though it might be beyond Potters Bar. Didn't the  Scots understand that Great Britain was in reality Greater England, just as the Serbs regarded the former Yugoslavia as a Greater Serbia. As The Times newspaper said, "Why can't the Scots be good Englishmen like the rest of us?" 

Don and Gerry decided that they would rectify this situation and knock some sense into the heads of "Mother" and "Auntie", [the B. B. C. ], by putting a bomb up their other ends. It had worked in America, Cyprus, Ireland and Wamphray to name but a few places. How about Wester Glen? Wester Glen would have to go. Like upwards. As belies its name, Wester Glen is actually a big hill that sits behind the town of Fa kirk in central Scotland.  This town is to-day spelled Falkirk, part of the continuing descotching of Scotland. Two hundred years ago when the people of the area spoke Gaelic the town was called Eaglais Breac but it was changed into the Scots tongue when the the locals lost their language and they translated the Gaelic into Scots-Fa Kirk. A teacher was recently heard to refer to English as "our beautifull English language. " If he had said this two hundred years previously he would have been fired. It is a matter of record, [education in Scotland was made compulsory 400 years ago], that a teacher in Fa Kirk was fired because the authorities discovered that he was unable to speak Gaelic and was trying to teach the children in a foreign language-English. To-day, natives of Fa Kirk would be astonished to know this, even disbelieving, such is the sorry state of Scottish education and cultural awareness. Only one hundred years ago the famous lexicographer, Dwelly, noted that the historic town of Linlithgow, just to the West of Fa kirk and the birth place of Mary Queen of Scots, was called Gleann Iucha, which name was taken from local native Gaelic speakers of the national language of Scotland, by Professor Watson, circa 1925. 

Anyway, on top of the hill is a 100 metre high radio tower. Don and Gerry went up the hill to get a look. They saw that the mast was enshrined at the foot by a brick building and stood some 100 metres from another building housing the administrative and technical facilities of the B. B. C. The complex was surrounded by a security fence consisting of vertical steel palings, joined to-gether by two horizontal steel members, top and bottom. Don and Gerry looked at it. They didn't want to climb over the fence even in the dark. They could get silhouetted by a sudden light from the building or a guard's torch. However, after waiting for an hour they noticed two things. There was no guard and the vertical palings of the security fence were bolted to the horizontals top and bottom.  They left and returned the next night with a spanner.  They unbolted the palings and walked in. Just as easy as the Wallace Sword. 

After surveying the scene for an hour they again went home. They decided that they would do it in the first week of the New Year, 1973.  Again they wanted a driver to drop them at the road and they would walk across the fields with what they had bought in Woolworths, including the ingeniously simple detonator. The only person they could trust was Sharkey, but they had noticed that he was short on patience if not courage. But as the late Oliver Brown said, "Patience is often a greater virtue than courage. "Gerry also remembered one of his own schoolmaster's sayings "Let us not make haste gentlemen for we have no time to lose." Yes, Sharkey was a two edged sword and he was involved with the Craigton Commandos. 

However fate in the shape of a bottle wielding drunken sailor, took a hand. On January 2 1973, Gerry returned from his holiday to hear that Sharkey was in jail charged with murder. Or rather he was in the hospital wing of the jail, Barlinnie in Glasgow. Of course Don and Gerry never for a moment that this had anything to do with their activities, but whilst the killing was seemingly unconnected, subsequent events would give the impression that Special Branch had taken a hand. Sharkey had reluctantly gone to a New Year's party with the commandos. After the party, the sailor, who was under police observation for drug running, made an unprovoked attack on Sharkey. Sharkey had come straight from working on his father's boat to the party and had a knife on him. Defending himself after being knocked semi-conscious into the road, he had drawn the knife and stabbed the sailor, who died. So badly injured was Sharkey that he spent six weeks in the prison hospital. There was a lot of talk by the commandos of the Maryhill , [a district of Glasgow], police and their connections with The Orange Lodge. It all sounded a bit strange.  A "commando" would later be attacked with acid by a caller at his door. This of course was exactly what Don and Gerry didn't want;  people drawing attention to themselves. On the last day of the trial, Don and Gerry went to the court. Sharkey had lodged a special plea of self defense, which under Scots Law put him in the position of having to prove his innocence and debarring him from the usual rule that the Crown would have to prove him guilty. He had put the ball in his own court. This in itself was strange, since all the witnesses had said that Sharkey was the defender and had he not defended himself, he would probably be at best badly injured, which he was,  or at worst get killed. The Crown in its summing up to the jury never even mentioned the fact that Sharkey had used a knife! Don and Gerry could hardly believe their ears. As would happen in the Tartan Army trial, the Crown, for whatever reason seemed reluctant to pursue their brief with any real enthusiasm. But even more was to come. Lord Brand directed the jury to find Sharkey guilty of either first, second or third degree murder. Incredibly,  as the jury was half way out, Sharkey's defense rose to remind Lord Brand that he should also have advised the jury that they could return a verdict of not guilty or not proven. Embarrassed, Lord Brand recalled the jury and whilst some were standing and some were sitting, he so advised. It seemed to Don and Gerry that in the first place Sharkey should have not lodged a special plea, but merely sat tight, not gone into the witness box and let them try and prove his guilt. It also seemed that for whatever reason, Lord Brand was determined that Sharkey should be found guilty. It was also obvious even to a moron in a hurry that Sharkey's council should have kept his mouth shut and should the jury find him guilty, then simply get him off scot free on misdirection. Sharkey must have thought that he was in one of these notorious English courts. Sharkey was found guilty and spent the next ten years in jail without remission. Ten days later, Lord Brand sentenced a man,  found guilty of murdering a six months old baby by smashing its head against a wall to six months in jail. That murderer would spend only three days in jail, because his fellow prisoners would do Lord Brand's work for him by putting the murderer in hospital. By this time Don and Gerry had got into the habit of keeping a weather eye open. There was something rotten in the state of Scotland. Had the police noted Sharkey at Stirling, when he returned the Sword? Was Lord Brand under orders to ensure that Sharkey, [whom the authorities perhaps presumed was the ringleader of The Border Clan], would go away for a long time and nip this whole thing in the bud whatever it was? Strange reasoning you might think, but after all it was the Scottish Law Lords who had sold Scotland two hundred years ago and a Gaelic speaking Law Lord who had masterminded the massacre at Glen Cro. It was a Scotch deacon who kept the Stone of Destiny in England when it was retrieved by the students. It was Scotch policeman who became the lap dog of his English masters by tracking down the brave students. 

It is worth noting for the record,  that contrary to the claim made in the book, BRITAIN'S SECRET WAR,  Sharkey was in jail during the whole of the Tartan Army's work, apart from returning the Sword and acting as driver at Wamphray after the event. So he could not have been involved at all, let alone be the "leading role" That book says ". . . and that it was a result of the stabbing at the party and the subsequent questioning of Sharkey about the stabbing that the police realized that Sharkey had been heavily involved. "That book also says that "Sharkey provided a detailed 16 page statement on the activities of the accused terrorists in events in which he admitted to playing perhaps the leading role." How could Sharkey admit to playing a leading role in events which had not yet taken place and whilst he would be in prison the whole time? And if he did, why did the police take four years to do anything about it? Sharkey, Don and Gerry had a mutual respect for each other. Later in this book, you will see how Sharkey turned the tables on the police. Sharkey's trial took place some time after the Wester Glen bombing.  This piece of reporting by the authors of Britain's Secret War,  even with the most accurate science of all, hindsight and research exemplifies the confusion in their,  approach to the mystery of the Tartan Army. "Britain's Secret War" claims that "the informant in the Tartan Army trial was David Sharkey.  No he wasn't. Sharkey was dragged in by the same net which scooped up the others who appeared at the trial, either as accused or as those who turned Queen's Evidence to save their own hides. The real informant, [apart from George Ronald], will be dealt with in a later chapter. 

Meanwhile the plotters didn't have a driver. They decided to go it alone. With their purchases from Woolworths, detonator and all they took the bomb in a car and dumped it in the bushes and drove off, leaving the car parked in a busy place near the town. At a brisk trot, [Don and Gerry always kept in training, they knew from experience that part of the game was to be able to move like that scalded cat], they went back to the bushes climbed the hill, unbolted the paling, set the bomb for three a. m. ,  rebolted the paling and were back in their favorite bar in the wee village of Menstrie where all would see them, innocent as the day they were born and talking about everything except Home Rule for  Scotland.  Gerry phoned the Scotsman newspaper.  All went according to plan. This time there was no delay in reporting. The Border Clan had struck again, this time in defense of freedom of speech. The media did their usual best. The Windsor Star of Ontario said that the mast had been totally destroyed. In fact it was only damaged. All India Radio were not outdone and years later in Kuwait, an Indian friend of Gerry would tell him how they in India knew all about the work of The Tartan Army. Don and Gerry had a good laugh. George Ronald the traitor immediately rushed into Fa Kirk police office again and said that McGuigan had done it. He still hadn't guessed who else was involved. The police laughed.  And it worked just as it did in America, Cyprus and Wamphray to name but a few. Within a few weeks there was an outbreak of democracy. Mother and Auntie, [a nickname for the B. B. C. ], announced that those other unmentionable people would get fair play. Which is what being English is all about, isn't it? They also gave more assurances that there would be a Green Paper. Meanwhile back in Scotland the membership secretaries of the S. N. P. branches were working overtime signing on new members and no doubt not a few of them would be members also of Special Branch. It was January 1973. David Pitcaithly, chief of Special Branch in Scotland,  and an old acquaintance of McGuigan,  went to Wamphray and Wester Glen and noted that the same type of bomb had been used at both sites. The police were beginning to put two and two together. 


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