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The Tartan Army
Chapter 5


THE BOMBING AT BRIDGE OF EARN
"BIDHEADH MAOIM AIR DO NAIMHDEAN"
[let your enemies be panic stricken]

It was now August 1973 and during that month two bits of information came to the ears of the Tartan Army. "X" of the C. I. A.  drew Gerry to one side and gave him a warning. He told him that the British Cabinet had convened an extraordinary meeting to deal with the subject of The Border Clan.  It was decided that an all out effort must be made to catch the Clan, and an effort should be made to implicate Winnie Ewing, [member of parliament], and Billy Wolfe, [chairman of the S. N. P. ],  and as many other high ranking officers of the S. N. P. as possible. The man given this task was the chief constable of Edinburgh. Edinburgh being the home of the H. Q. of the S. N. P. and the Scottish Patriots. "X" also said that the chief constable had told him that if an uprising should come in Scotland it would probably be centered on the Port of Leith, part of greater Edinburgh. "X" told Gerry to warn any of his friends to lie low and not to do anything in the near future. Don and Gerry took this seriously. It was obvious that the C. I. A. and Westminster were working together;  but why was "X" telling all this to Gerry? They guessed that "X" guessed that Gerry was heavily involved in the Border Clan but was not one of the leaders. He was either sympathetic to the cause or was trying to prise out the real leaders. 

The other bit of information was just as interesting. It was rumored that the Government were going to introduce a White Paper on devolution to Scotland.  A White Paper, unlike a Green Paper would actually be the Government's proposal to establish a Scottish Parliament;  a Green Paper would only discuss the subject and would commit the Government to nothing.  At first sight this seemed to be a great advance and a devastating testimony to the power of the bomb. However, it was patently obvious what the new game plan of Westminster and her collaborators was. The first and only immediate result of this ploy would be that the Green Paper was in the trash can with all the other plans for Scotland down the years.  We were back to square one where we were two years previously. A White Paper would take years to appear if it ever did, [it in fact took six years], and during that time they could hopefully catch the bombers, discredit the S. N. P. and then find that there wasn't any parliamentary time anyway and the White Paper could go in the same trash can as the Green Paper. During all this time the Government knew that they could rely on the Scots to sit and wait and see what if anything Westminster would give them and if they gave them nothing other than the usual stuff another banana through the bars treatment then the Scots would do nothing but girn, [cry]. Nice try as they say, but if the Scots accepted the situation, [and if Westminster was promising them a White Paper they would only look stupid if they refused], the Tartan Army did not accept it. They would not allow the English to buy time. They would strike and strike at their jugular vein;  North Sea Oil. 

Now the scene in Scotland was boiling up. Construction of the oil pipe line had started. Names were flying all around Scotland; The Scottish Republican Army;  The Jacobites;  The Knights Templar and not least The Army For The Provisional Government. Apart from the last named they were all figments of the imaginations of The Craigton Commandos;  and of course there was the ever present Scottish Patriots led by Wendy Wood. But the authorities were not to know that,  and in the event they provided a perfect smoke screen for The Tartan Army, [Don and Gerry].  Don and Gerry figured that if they hit the pipe line the boys in the City of London would go critical. As the pipe line went up, the pound would drop like the Wallace Sword did on that day in May 1972.  The effect on the prestige of the Government and the knock on effects would be just like having a civil war and a huge amount of money would have to be spent on defending the virtually indefensible;  the pipe line.  The B. B. C.  had shown on T. V. on an outline map of Scotland that the line would start at Aberdeen where the oil would land from the North Sea and snake its way 200 miles over mountain and moor to the Grangemouth refinery near Edinburgh. The destruction of the North Sea oil pipeline would be devastating. 

Since the B. B. C's map had been very approximate, they still had to find the pipe which would lie only some 40 centimetres below ground.  One day whilst visiting Dundee, Gerry saw it. On his way to Dundee he had to pass through a small town called Drochaid Eir or Bridge of Earn in English,  near the town of Perth. There it was just to the South of the town. The trench and pipes lying beside it waiting to go in were unmistakable.  He reported to Don. They went to Woolworths and got their supplies. But they must have a driver for this one. Although they could choose a remote spot in the moor, they would have to start from the main Edinburgh to Perth road and they couldn't leave a car parked there. For all they knew the pipeline might be strongly guarded.  First of all they checked it out. The got a driver to drop them off and they crossed the moor to have a look. Nobody interfered.  A few days later they set out with four bombs. Their driver dropped them off,  went to Perth, some ten minutes drive and parked in the car park of police headquarters. A policeman approached the driver and asked her if she realised where she was. She told them that she did and that she had driven down from Inverness and thought that the police car park was a safe place to sit and eat sandwiches and drink coffee from her flask. The policeman agreed and asked her if she knew that she had a flat tire.  She didn't know.  The police helped her to replace it, not realising all the while that she had two bombs on the rear floor. Meanwhile Don and Gerry were busy. They crossed the fields with two bombs and whilst Gerry kept look out, Don planted the two bombs in lengths of pipes lying on the ground. He set the clocks for three a. m. They spray painted the words Tartan Army and T. A. and left. After a few minutes their driver arrived and hurrying out from the field and over the fence, they jumped into the car and went home.  In the morning Gerry phoned The Scotsman newspaper and told them that The Tartan Army had blasted the pipe line. Nothing happened. No newspaper report. No T. V. or radio coverage.  They waited for a day or two and decided to take a spin in the car along the road. They couldn't see any activity in the field and thought that maybe the workers had temporarily abandoned that section of the pipe and would return soon to find it damaged. Although the noise would have been tremendous, it could have gone unnoticed at three in the morning in the remote field. On the other hand perhaps the damage had been discovered but by keeping quiet, the police hoped that the bombers would return for a look see as to what had or had not happened. The S. A. S. were futile. A week later the news burst upon the public;  banner headlines and photographs. T. V.  and radio gave it pride of place and the echoes went all round planet earth. The North Sea Oil pipe line had been blasted with the greatest of ease. It was like taking candy from a kid. 

Immediately the Government announced that the Royal Marine Commandos had been given the job of protecting the North Sea oil rigs from the I. R. A and the Special Air Service Regiment, [The S. A. S. ], were to protect the oil pipe line and would hunt down the Tartan Army.  Westminster was panic stricken. Ranald MacDonald Douglas ventured that they numbered around 600 and were worse than the I. R. A. as they were completely undisciplined. Ranald had learnt that the pen is mightier than the home made bomb and played it for all it was worth.  The police held a conference to try and figure out what to do and reckoned that the Tartan Army consisted of 70 men. This was exactly what Don and Gerry had hoped for.  The media and Woolworths had done a great job. 

During this period the two "divisions" of the Tartan Army had done a bit of scouting around the countryside. One of the places they visited was Glen Douglas by Loch Lomond. In the Glen was an arms dump and it was rumored that the polaris submarine missiles were kept there in bunkers built into the hillside. Now Gerry's knowledge of Gaelic came in useful. The ordinance survey maps of that area like almost all of the maps are in the Gaelic language and 99% of the people of Scotland don't understand their own language. They are strangers in their own country. But Gerry noted that a small valley to one side is called the Cona Glen and realized that the long rushes so described on the map would prove a useful cover;  and he was right. Don and Gerry simply crawled under the perimeter fence where it crossed a small stream and lay in the tall grass which the security men had not bothered to cut down as they were seemingly too lazy to get out of their landrovers as they toured round the roads of the dump. Gerry had noticed this lapse in security fences when he had worked on missile sites in Yorkshire, England. He had drawn this lapse to the notice of the Air Force during the construction but guessed that the same mistake would be made again 400 miles to the North. It was. On another day they returned to the Glen and walked about in the open. The ever alert security men jumped into their landrovers and asked Don and Gerry what they were doing. They said that they were there out of idle curiosity and since they hadn't been inside, [ not that time anyway], they didn't believe that they were doing anything wrong and since they were not,  the security men with a few pleasantries went off. But Don and Gerry knew that they must surely have noted the number plates of Gerry's car. It turned out that they had done just that but had never fed the number to anybody else and so the authorities missed another clue. This amusing incident would come to the fore again during the Tartan Army investigation. Don and Gerry also noted that where the oil pipe crossed under roads, the oil people had put concrete markers at the side which told would be bombers "OIL PIPE LINE".  So much for the fat salaries that security experts are paid.  

On another occasion they had noticed a building in the middle of a field just to the West of Stirling which looked like an oil facility.  Gerry went in to the field and approached the "security" fence. He noticed a manhole cover outside the fence and when he lifted it he saw a tunnel. He got into the tunnel which went under the fence and into a shaft which obviously led up  into the building. He later got Don and they both went down the manhole, up the tunnel and up the shaft and discovered that it was a water pumping station.  It would be well for those who intend selling Scotland's water to note that they must spend a large sum on security,  and as they will read later on in this book the S. A. S.  failed to catch Don and Gerry. If someone were to cut off the water supply to England you wouldn't be able to get a cup of tea from Carter Bar to Torquay and the smell of rotting sewage in the streets would be unbearable After a period of nine months peace the Scots had struck again. The English could only whine and call for the police who were as clueless as the politicians. The S. A. S. , the Royal Marine Commandos, special police bomb squads and all the technical back up, not to speak of the mountains of paper that accompanied all these things, were being thrown against the Tartan Army. As the Glasgow Herald said, "It seems they are preparing to go to war against the Tartan Army". All two of them;  Donald Currie,  the nonchalant pipe smoking family man from Menstrie and Gerard McGuigan,  emeritus army cadet force lance-corporal. They were laughing their socks off. 

In the general election in February 1973 the S. N. P.  had gained seven seats and came second in seven teen others, gaining 22% of the vote and collecting some 650, 000 votes. And now the membership secretaries were once again working overtime. As one branch secretary said,  when asked her opinion on the bombings, 'I don't know what their doing but every time they bomb we get a flood of new members. Don and Gerry would now lie low but they did tour around the country and one day came across a bunch of very fit and useful looking young men. Their faces told the duo that they were English and they were also very obviously S. A. S. In 1979, Gerry was working for a German company in Tabuk, Saudi Arabia. Tabuk is the Aldershot of the Saudi army, a vast military establishment. One of his colleagues was an English electrician. One day the conversation got round to the Tartan army and suddenly the electrician told Gerry that the S. A. S. who had been guarding the oil pipe line were from Birmingham. The only way it would seem that he could know this was that he himself was an S. A. S.  man. Germany is full of electricians. What was an Englishman doing working for a German company? The Tartan Army was able from then on to watch the S. A. S. although it was supposed to be the other way around. So much once again for security. The one thing wrong with the S. A. S. lads was that they were too self confident,  as if they were taking a holiday, and seemed to think it was all a joke. It was, and the joke was on them.  It was September 1973. 


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