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The Tartan Army
Chapter 1

[Your enemies will be seized with terror when you will seize a sword. ]

For hundreds of years the Scots and other Celts of the British Isles have had to fight for their freedom against the Anglo-Saxon invaders who came over from Germany and conquered that part of the British islands now known as Angleland, [England], pushing the native Cymri into the Western part of Britain now known as Wales. First among the Scots heroes is William Wallace,who against all the odds fought until he was captured, taken to London and hung drawn and quartered at Smithfield  where visitors can see a plaque to his memory. To the English he was a terrorist, ["a thief and a murderer" according to the English historian Dame Edith Ward]; to the Scots, a hero. Sounds familiar?

     In the 1800's a stone tower was built to commemorate him. 1oo meters tall, it looks out to the field of Bannockburn, Stirling castle and the sweep of the Highlands to the North. From the four corners of the earth, people, exiles and foreigners alike, come to relive the history of the oldest nation in Europe and the exiles to do homage to the Flower of Scotland, William Wallace.

     It was here that the Tartan Amy achieved its first objective which set Scotland once more on the road to Home Rule in an exercise which was to prove invaluable in their later bombing campaign. A campaign not foreseen at that time.

     Until now the story of the Tartan Army has been cloaked in a mystery, surrounded by an enigma and hidden by a myth. Learned professors and others have been asked to explain the purpose and aims of the T.A. A study of the dates of the bombings related to the Declaration of Perth, Wendy Wood's fast, the announcement of the Green Paper and the subsequent announcement of the White Paper, referendum and a new Parliament building in Edinburgh, would have provided them with the answers had they cared to look.

     The mystery of the T.A. can be characterized by another book dealing with the recent history of the nationalist movement. "Britain's Secret War" informs us that "The Wallace Sword was in fact stolen by the Tartan Army terrorist group in 1972 from its resting place in the Wallace Tower at Abbeycraig near Stirling and disappeared completely for many years." This strange piece of reporting is all the more remarkable since the story of the Sword's theft and return was front page news throughout Britain and as such is well documented. "In fact" the Sword was stolen in May 1972 and returned in September 1972.

     But to our tale. In 1972 Donald Currie was in his twenties; the son of a minister of the Free Church of Scotland. A quiet spoken man he was known for his generosity and straight talking. Like most Scots, he stood for home rule for Scotland, but unlike the rest of his people  he had the courage to walk it like he talked it and DO something about it. He was an electrician and worked for The South of Scotland Electricity Board which would give a side splitting finale to this particular episode. A member of the S.N.P. he was also a District Councillor, [an elected political official to the area in which he lived]. His home was within walking distance of the Wallace Tower he was a frequent visitor. He knew the tower and the surrounding countryside well.

     Gerard McGuigan, ten years older than Currie, was born and raised in London, England. His parents were from Dundee. At the age of twenty he had gone to Toronto, Canada to escape conscription in what he called the English Foreign Legion; in his particular case the Argyle and Sutherland Highlanders. He never did accept the Queen of England's invitation to appear at Stirling castle as part of the "Reservoir of Blood" for England's empire. Whilst in Toronto he had been encouraged by Cape Breton highlanders to take up the study of Scotland's language and his study together with the shock he experienced on his "return" to Scotland jolted him into realizing how far down the road Scotland had gone into becoming nothing but a bit of England with a tartan ribbon round
it." A nation without a language is a nation without a soul".   As fellow members of the area branch of the S.N.P. they would meet often. Like Currie, McGuigan had noticed the disgraceful manner in which the Sword was kept in the Tower and he would compare it with the   display by the English of Richard the Lionheart's coat of armour in Canterbury Cathedral. As a youth in London he had watched the retrieval of the Stone of Destiny from Westminster Abbey in 1951. Typically the guardian on behalf of England of the stolen goods was a Scotchman who was Dean of Westminster Abbey.

     The Sword lay in an old glass topped wooden case, the sort of thing you can see in a jeweler's shop. For the most part it was covered by the droppings of birds which flew in and out of the high vaulted stone room where it lay half way up the tower. Now and again when it got too bad someone would climb up the long steep medieval staircase and wipe it off so that the visitors could actually see it.

     This situation had irked Currie  and one day he suggested to McGuigan that something had to be done since the Stirling Town Council, [custodian of the Sword], didn't give a damn, protests notwithstanding, [ann no as as they say in Gaelic]. The thought of actually doing something had never occurred to McGuigan. Perhaps because, unlike Currie, he lived 15 miles away from the Tower and didn't see so much of it. Anyway what was anyone supposed to do about it? Currie had no doubts and said that they should take and hold it until Home Rule. McGuigan was persuaded. It was January 1972.The deed would have to be done before the Summer brought its rush of tourists and long Scots Summer nights. It was a job for the undercover and no witnesses. Currie said that they should break in during the night. This had been done in the 1930's by Ranald MacDonald Douglas, [Chief of the Clann Donald], and others, but one of the team had got badly cut by glass and the job was aborted. McGuigan disagreed. What if there was an alarm system? Two men in a car in the wee sma oors might turn out to be the opposite of subterfuge. Patrolling police cars noting license plate numbers at two in the morning whilst having nothing else to do. Totally out of character for such a cautious person, McGuigan said that they should take it in broad daylight. Let boldness be my friend; he who dares wins and all that jazz man. After all who would expect it to happen during business hours, without warning? Currie  was a bit surprised at first but then agreed.

     Then the duo made their first mistake. They tried to get help. To their surprise all of the strapping young lads of the local S.N.P. seemed to have previous unbreakable appointments but of course they did wish the pair the best of Scottish luck. A bit disappointed they came to a full stop. They reckoned that it would take three at least to achieve success. One to do it, one to look out and one to cause a diversion. Then as fortune will favour the brave, Currie met two women, [typically for Scotland; not men]. They were both from Wallace's birthplace in the County of Ayr. Cathy Alston of Auchinleck, [Achad nan Leacann in Gaelic], and Gloria Monaghan of Stevenston, a student teacher. Monaghan would assist at the Tower and Alston would wait at Auchinleck to receive and hide the Sword. It was now well into the month of March. Countdown had started. The clock was now ticking.

     The plotters started to plot. Words slip easily from the lips. Now the going would start to get tough and the tough, if that's what they were, would, as the late President Nixon said, have to get going. They went to the tower to have a look see; climbed up the narrow winding stone stairs to the large high
vaulted room. There it was in its case; fouled with bird droppings but very strongly secured by large padlocks. What to do? Bolt croppers, a mash hammer? No need as it turned out. The back side of the case was simply secured by brass hinges and screws. For the first of many times they could hardly believe their luck. Time after time they  would notice the lack of professionalism by security people.

     They left the tower smiling. The first of many laughs, but at that time they had no idea of what the years ahead were to bring nor the course of events that would dramatically unfold on this unforeseen journey.

     They now knew what they had to do. Walk into the monument in broad daylight. Climb the long narrow winding stairs to the room half way up the tower. Unscrew the hinges. Take the two metre long Sword. Screw the hinges back down again. Walk down the stairs; and in full view of the two custodians in the reception hall at the foot, walk out. And in the event they almost did just that.

     Time was getting on. The days were getting longer. Tourists from all over the world would be booking their flights. Before long the tower would be like Grand Central Station. When would they do it. Donald's political experience gave them the answer. What day of the year, if any would be ideal? Currie had it. May second 1972 of course, the day of the local elections and everybody would be at the election booths. The burgeoning S.N.P. had galvanized politics. The plotters would go at mid-day when people would be at lunch. The police would  be taken up with supervising the poll booths and they would also be at lunch at that time. Another mistake they would find out

     It was now mid-April. Alston was put on red alert. Meanwhile they would stay clear of the tower. No talking. Low profile. Their nerves were starting to tingle. Cowards die a thousand deaths thought McGuigan.

     Being polling day they all had a day off work and studies. All was set. The morning of May 2 1972 broke. To their dismay it was a glorious Spring day. The hoped for rain that might deter any visitors from the long walk up the hill never came. The three, Currie, Monaghan and McGuigan met at Currie's house in the village of Menstrie, [Welsh for the village on the meadow], in the early hours. They were five minutes by car from the tower. They had chosen to strike between 12 and 2 when the police would be at lunch or so they thought. They would soon learn that" The plans of mice and men gang aft agley", [often go wrong]. Driving to the car park at the foot of the hill, they found it deserted. They walked up the path to the top and strolled about taking in the panorama. Down in the car park they saw a police car draw in. So far so bad. Currie and Monaghan were casually dressed. McGuigan had opted for a suit and raincoat. Stuffed into the pockets he had a jemmy, a short crow bar and a mash hammer. Just in case. Currie had the screw driver. McGuigan went into the bushes and "lost" his tools. He would see them later on television prime time. Had someone talked? Time to sweat. Nothing happened. The police left without coming up to the tower. Probably just having their lunch in the car park. The trio moved towards the tower. Another problem A young family of four went into the tower. There was nothing to be gained in waiting. They would stick to their plan. A man had to do what a man had to do. They gave the family some time to climb the tower, and went in. With a cheery hullo to the two custodians, they paid the shilling entrance fee and climbed up to the Wallace Room. Monaghan continued on to the roof and returned to report that the family were still there taking in the glorious panorama. Then all three went to the top. "Latha dhomh am beinn  a h-Eithich, [my day of days on the mount of Eithich; the battle hymn of the clann Niall], thought McGuigan. He was glad that his bladder was dry. The family left. It was now or never. Go, go, go, go, GO.

     They went down to the room. They had decided that if they were disturbed they would say that they were from the Stirling Archeological Society and were taking the Sword for cleaning and that the keys to the padlocks were lost; hence the screwdriver. A likely story you might think ,but if they hadn't got the nerve to spin a tale like that then they wouldn't have been there in the first place, would they?.

     Currie the electrician took out the screwdriver. In three minutes the case was opened. No burglar alarm to startle them. Monaghan kept watch at the door. McGuigan took the Sword in both hands and held it up. Was this really it? He remembered as a boy being shown the plaque on a wall in Dundee where Wallace struck his first blow for freedom. Was this the Sword he had used nearly 700 years ago?

     Monaghan went ahead down the stairs to create the diversion, She would go to the toilet and then tell the two lady custodians that she couldn't use a tap. In fact the diversion was never used. Currie in the lead, covering the shorter McGuigan with his 6 foot bulk, McGuigan with the sword, they started down the steep narrow winding stairs.

     And now it started to go all wrong. Any visitor coming into the tower through the large pair of wooden doors would find himself facing the reception desk 5 metres across the large hallway. Immediately to his left he would see the first ten steps of the stairs as they lead up to the roof. Because of the steep stairs and low hanging ceiling above them he would be restricted from actually being able to look up the stairs. This architecture not only saved the plotters from being caught red handed but also ensured, as it would eventually turn out, the White Paper and referendum. As Currie and McGuigan got within sight of the hall at the foot of the stairs the doors opened and they saw the lower half of a cop coming into the reception area. WHOOPS!!! McGuigan exercised his alter ego, the man of action. Without hesitation he did what a man had to do. Like a scalded cat he ran back up the stairs to the Wallace Room. To this day McGuigan maintains that had the British Olympic Committee been watching then he would certainly have been in the sprints at the Olympics to be held later that year in Munich. Currie turned to McGuigan, but what was once corporeal had vanished like breath on the wind. Currie went on down the stairs and left the building. On his way out he saw the policeman talking to the ladies at the desk.

     Meanwhile back in the Wallace Room, McGuigan stood with the Sword. After months of waiting, planning and sweating, it had come to this.  He was about to be caught. What to do? The case was locked, Currie had the screwdriver. There was only one question to be answered; what on earth was he going to do now? Someone had talked and the police knew who they were looking for. Downstairs Donald and Gloria were probably already in handcuffs. A keen follower of the T.V. detective series, Perry Mason, McGuigan knew all about circumstantial evidence. He thought that they had been betrayed. Not yet however as they would find out. He put the Sword in a corner of the room. They had been careful not to leave any fingerprints. He started to walk down the stairs. When the police came up he would bluff it out. He had come to get the Sword, not get caught. McGuigan's father taught speech and drama at Windsor University in Ontario. Surely his son could put on a bit of an act. Needs must when the devil drives. Oh you mean the WALLACE Sword? Me trying to steal it? Imagine. Nothing happened, the police never appeared. Reaching the entrance hall he bid a cheery adieu to the two custodians and went outside. Outside was Currie, cool as a cucumber, the only thing hot about him was the pipe he puffed as he looked at the day. McGuigan asked Currie what had happened to the cops. "Gone" said Currie. It turned out that he was the husband of one of the custodians and had just looked in to say hello during-yes you got it-his lunch hour.

    " By the way, asked Currie, where's the Sword" Gerry told Donald what he had done. What to do now was no problem. Plan "B" of course. Plan "B", its success or otherwise, would literally hang on a fishing line. Currie, a keen angler had brought along "a rope  in case" Unfortunately his interest in fish would help to get him convicted-but not for the Sword. Leaving Gerry outside Donald went back into the tower. What the custodians thought of all this coming and going was anyone's guess. It should have been all the more obvious to them that something was wrong since there had been no other visitors during the past hour when all this had been happening. However Donald told them that he had seemed to have dropped his lighter somewhere and up he went again. It was now Gerry's turn to wait and wonder and sweat. Monaghan had gone to the car park to get the car and bring it round to the foot of a little used path on the other side of the hill. She also had a shroud in the car to wrap the Sword. Gerry went to the rear of the tower and after some minutes he noticed a stirring at the top. There was Donald looking over and lowering the Sword inch by careful inch. A strange way you might think for "The Stirling Archeological Society" to go about their work. What excuse now if someone showed up? Gerry's impatience at getting the job done was SUDDENLY rewarded. With the Sword dangling some 20 metres from the ground, it all started to go wrong again. The fishing line snapped. Plan "B" and the Wallace Sword with it were now, as the economists might say, in free fall. Hypnotized, if not horrified, the plotters watched helplessly. As always in these situations it was not the fall itself that did the damage but the sudden stop at the bottom. Just missing the protruding buttresses, the 15 kilo Sword pierced into the earth. The force of the stop bent the sword into an L shape and with it a  sound like the string of a giant steel guitar twanging went ringing round the tower. To Gerry's ear it sounded like all hell had broke loose in the quiet of this "Latha Buidhe Bealtinn', [the yellow day of May]. It also sounded like the starters gun at the Olympic stadium Munich and again like his friend the scalded cat he got off his mark and went for the Sword. To his relief it came out of the ground with ease. If he had run to get it, then any spectator would have seen only a blur as he screamed for the safety of the thick woods some 40 metres from the tower. Had the custodians heard the noise? Seems that they hadn't, but they would, when the news  eventually hit the headlines. Gerry looked around for somewhere to hide the Sword. He couldn't just let Donald hang around the tower like a snake without a pit to hiss in. Then he spotted a rock outcrop almost hidden by the undergrowth. He walked over to it, saw that there was a miniature cave at the foot and pushing aside the bushes he placed it there. He left the woods and after a few minutes Donald the nonchalant appeared, smoking his pipe of course. Seems he found his lighter and so he told the custodians. He hadn't of course told them what else he had found. Donald looked at Gerry as if to say "O.K. what have you done with it this time?" Gerry took him into the woods. Now Gerry had a lifetime habit of losing things. On another less critical occasion his father had reminded him that he was always losing his school books and in 1989 a Dundee lady in the British embassy in Kuwait would say to her colleague" He's good at losing things". In his panic he couldn't remember where he had put the Sword. Donald stared at him; his pipe had gone out. Then after a few minutes Gerry spotted it and they went to the rock and got the Sword. They carried it down the path wrapped in the sheet to the waiting car. Gerry in the lead, Donald with the Sword and Gloria taking up the rear. They opened the trunk, put it in and were off. The car's engine almost drowned their sighs of relief. They headed East towards the town of Alloa and then West to Auchinleck. When they walked into Kathy Alston's house she could hardly believe her eyes when she saw  the Sword, taken in broad daylight under the nose of the police and custodians. She was wide eyed as the trio told the tale. All the months of planning and sweating had given fruit and they now had, next to the crown jewels of Scotland and the Stone of Destiny ,the most sacred relic of Scotland's history.

     They straightened out the Sword and Kathy stuck it up the lum, [chimney]. She had gone all electric and her chimney was now surplus to [other] requirements and the fireplace was covered by an electric fire. The Sword of Scotland's hero had come home to the county of Ayr.

     The three conspirators left for Stevenston where they dropped Gloria Monaghan at her home. Donald and Gerry went back to Menstrie where they had a pint of beer to celebrate. It was now seven o'clock in the evening. It had been decided that when the theft hit the press that evening, McGuigan would telephone the Daily Record, Scotland's only tabloid paper and tell them that "The 100 Organization", [a name taken from the Declaration of Arbroath"], had done it, and would keep it until Scotland got Home Rule. Nothing happened. At eleven o'clock at night, Gerry phoned the Daily record and told a listening reporter what had happened. Now the press was totally preoccupied with the election results coming in. The question on everyone's lips was" How has the S.N.P. done? In the event the Daily Record did nothing and missed what would turn out to be the scoop of the year. Next day, there was nothing in the media. As a result of this, McGuigan would in future go up market and speak only to "The Scotsman" newspaper.

     The Sword had been removed on May second at 2 p.m. and for a week nothing had been noticed. The miserable exhibition of one of Scotland's most cherished relics was such that it didn't matter whether it was there or not, the majority of visitors never even noticed. It was in fact a symbol of the almost total indifference of the Scots to their country. Someone said that the Scots are like grass; they don't care what or who urinates and defecates upon them, sheep or cattle, as long as they are allowed to exist. Many insults have been heaped on the Scots by prominent people. Winston Churchill, whose wife was a Scot, described them as boneless wonders. Joe Grimond, the one time leader of the Liberal party described them as " Toadies", [it means creeps and crawlers]. He was one himself. Sir Fitzroy MacLean, the S.A.S. hero of Yugoslavia, described Scots who sided with Westminster as collaborators. An English member of parliament said of one of Scotland's elected "leaders", Tam Dayell, the member for West Lothian who spoke out loudly against the defense of the Falkland Islands; "He's a traitor to his own country, how can you expect him to be loyal to England"? Alec Douglas Home, once a Prime Minister of England, said at the  Saint Andrew's supper in New York, "The Scots know what side their bread is buttered on." This man is one of Scotland's landed gentry and owns large tracts of land which border on England. Infamous for their duplicity, jumping from one side to the other, English or Scots, depending upon who was winning in the four hundred years of war between the two countries, he would eventually write an autobiography called "Which way the wind blows". His last piece of treachery would be in 1980 at the referendum, when like a dog returning to its vomit, he would not be able to restrain himself from the centuries old traditions of his family. He would stab Scotland in the back just when it appeared that Scotland might get Home Rule. Robert Burns; "We're bought and sold for English gold, such a parcel of rogues in a nation." The "Economist" magazine and "The Telegraph", [a South East England newspaper], describes Scotland's relationship to England as being one of "subservience". The Scotch Tories call it "Union". In English nationalist speak it is called "treachery" and "subservience."

     The Wallace Sword, lying in a corner of a room in a box, covered in bird droppings, characterized the Scots people. Donald Currie did something to rectify the situation. But has it made any difference?
     On May the tenth a family visiting the tower had asked the custodians why the Sword was not being displayed. These honest seekers after the truth had inadvertently dropped a bombshell. The stunned custodians thought that the visitors had got in the wrong room or something but to their horror saw that the Sword had disappeared, but otherwise the case was securely locked and there was no damage. There was only one thing to do; call the police, not knowing of course that the police had been within a few feet of the Sword when it was actually on the point of being carried out through the doors. The police brought in dogs, metal detectors and forensic scientists. They found McGuigan's tools in the bushes but nothing else. They discovered of course how the job had been so easily done. A screwdriver was needed to take one of Scotland's cherished relics. In later years the Tartan Army would use even less sophisticated tools to strike panic into the English and their Scotch toadies. On the evening of that day of discovery, the news hit not just Scotland but the world. It was headline news and Bill Tennant of S.T.V. told watchers that "these people were no ordinary thieves". The trio was astonished at the furore they had caused. Gerry would later that year be clapped on  his back by Scots Canadians. They never talked. Even the English press, usually contemptuously dismissive of the clottish Scottish had caught the scent that there was a wind of change blowing North of the border which was not just the huge gains in votes for the S.N.P. at the local elections. Was something astir in Scotland, was there life after all beyond Potters Bar, [a district in North London]?   

    Currie and McGuigan could not fail to notice how the media would milk a story. They would use this fact, although they didn't know it at the time, in the future. It was reported that the Sword had been taken "probably one week earlier". This would not be the first time as it turned out that events would be reported some time after they actually happened. Was someone watching all the time?

     The betrayal of the patriots started on the first day of the report of the theft. A classic example of the Mac Judas would appear on the scene. George Ronald, a citizen of Fa Kirk and member of the S.N.P.. As at  Culloden, [the Black Watch and Royal Scots], the Lia Fail, [Stone of Destiny and Robertson of Skye], and later the 40% darling of England, Cunning-ham, so too with Ronald McGuigan had that evening visited Netty Provan at her house in Larbert by Fa Kirk. The talk amongst the visitors was all of the Sword and who had done it. Netty ventured that it was Gerry McGuigan as" He's the only man in Scotland that has the guts". Scalded cat Gerry was not at all impressed. Someone had already got it right first time. Ronald was a member of the S.N.P. He had also been in the R.A.F. police. McGuigan had never met Ronald before. It transpired that Ronald had gone straight to the police and said to them that McGuigan had stolen the sword. Don and Gerry would not discover this treachery till later.  The police had dismissed Ronald's story  as a nonsense. As someone later would say of Don and Gerry "They don't expect that of you". It happened that David Pitcaithly, the head of Special Branch in Scotland, was a neighbour of McGuigan. It also happened that Willie McRae, [a lawyer and former member of the British Secret Service], lived a walking distance from the home of McGuigan. At
this time McGuigan was not alert to all this; but he would be. Did Pitcaithly get it right as well? Pitcaithly was a nationalist but of course not a party member. Pitcaithly would take no part in the investigation of the Tartan Army. Would this explain why the English Special Branch, who have no authority in Scotland, showed up in the town of Stirling the night that the Sword was returned? Did they know that Pitcaithly was sympathetic to Home Rule and because of this did not trust the Scots police? The fact surely is that Pitcaithly knew or suspected, but did nothing about it. Is this why the English police brought in the "retired" Robertson of Skye, the Gaelic speaking policeman who had served England so well at the time of the Stone of Destiny in 1950? But more of  this later. Let the story unfold.

Is there any significance in the fact that in 1995,three of Scotland's largest police forces have English chiefs, appointed under pressure from England's agent in Scotland, the Scottish Office? It now turns out that the new National Criminal Intelligence Service will have its H.Q. in Scotland. This is a total aberration of the norm. Why all of a sudden will such an important "national" institution not be sited in London? Rest assured that it will have an Englishman as its chief and it will be entirely staffed by English police. We are told that it will "not operate North of the border". Can anyone believe that? The Scots police will be left to help old ladies over the road, whilst the English will have a formidable presence in Scotland. The total subjugation of Scotland is well on course.

     Two days after the story broke, the sword of Robert the Bruce was stolen from the home of the Earl of Marr. After 600 years Wallace and Bruce had been resurrected. Scotland was a rockin 'n a rollin again. The media was having a field day. Within a week the villain was caught. A petty criminal who told the judge that he had been put up to it by Special Branch. The judge didn't believe him and gave him thirty days in jail. Donald and Gerry did believe him. Were they being given a message?  Did the police think that the Wallace thieves would lose their nerve and surrender, get thirty days and the police would then have nipped that team in the bud before it blossomed into something else. The police and the media realized instinctively that a chain of events had been set off. Donald and Gerry, being amateurs at the patriot game were amazed. As with the Stone, so the Sword was creating a furor beyond their imagination. But this time the Sword was set against a background of rampant Political nationalism. The S.N.P. were on the march and the police and media realized that the two, Sword and S.N.P. would gang the gither, [go to-gether]. Donald and Gerry started to make mental notes.

     As night follows day in Scotland, the police went straight to the house of an elderly foreign born lady called Wendy Wood, a talented sculptor. Not, you will notice, to the house of a native born MAN, young or old. Wendy, perhaps because she was foreign born, did not suffer from that endemic Scotch disease, the Scottish Cringe. On every possible occasion this talented sculptor espoused the cause of Home Rule in the most emphatic and articulate way. President of The Scottish Patriots Society, she was also a collector of British regalia or to be more exact she came by Union flags which had somehow or another fallen off the back of a truck and she used them as carpet underlays; the Union Rag as she referred to these symbols of a Greater England. In other words the cops knew that she was not averse to acquiring things. From time to time she had assisted the police in their inquiries and this time the blues thought they knew exactly who had done the job and never mind this rubbish about Gerry. The police never dreaming that a Scots MAN would have the guts, zeroed in on Wendy. She was picked up in the wee sma hours and whisked from Edinburgh to Stirling and grilled for hours. Meanwhile back in Menstrie and elsewhere, the real culprits, yet abed, slept peacefully; as they would come to do on other occasions in the years ahead.

     When Donald and Gerry heard about this they were a bit upset. Wendy Wood was on the front burner and taking all the heat. Hardly cricket or should it be shinty. McGuigan delivered an envelope through Wendy's door. On the outside was  depicted a sword. Inside she would read that The One Hundred Organization had taken the sword and would keep it until Scotland got Home Rule." As long as 100 of us shall remain we shall never submit to English aggression", said the Arbroath Declaration of Independence in 1320.Although the Scots lived up to their word on the field of battle ,they  eventually sold their country to England for 20,000 pounds, the most disgraceful piece of treachery in the history of nations. Theirs was the only one of England's colonies that was bought. Daniel Defoe who wrote the story Robinson Crusoe, was also a spy for England. He got the money from the English treasury to pay the Scotch parliament to write the Treaty of Union which would establish the British state. The fact that the English parliament accepted the treaty lock, stock and barrel without any amendment would seem to suggest that in fact the treaty was written by Defoe. After all he could write a best SELLER as any school child knows. The first result of this was that in exchange for 20,000 pounds, the English were given one million pounds to pay off their war debts. Not bad value for England. This fact is never taught to Scottish schoolchildren in order to perpetuate the myth that Scotland cannot survive without English charity.

     Wendy told the press what had come through the letter box that morning with the telephone bill. McGuigan had phoned Wendy that same day to make sure she had got it. He hadn't checked her mail, but she promptly did check and came back to tell McGuigan that she had found it there on top of a flag which she used as a door mat. Gerry then signed off spontaneously with the words which would become their code signal;" God bless you Wendy". McGuigan had never met Wendy and had only seen her once when she spoke with Oliver Brown in Trafalgar Square in 1948 after the Scotland/England annual football match. She never knew of his identity until after his arrest four years later in 1976.

     In June of 1972,Don and Gerry went to the S.N.P. annual conference on the Isle of Bute, [Eilean a Bhoid], and met a group of nationalists whom they already vaguely knew.

     As the weeks turned into months the saga of the Sword went on and on. The press milked the mystery for all it was worth. Various members of the Scottish cognisenti were asked for their opinions. The media had the scent. Of what neither they nor even the plotters had any idea. The events of the next four years had not begun. But the press being the press knew that something had started. As the cailleach said to the Fenians, "Feidh ri a dheireadh", [let's see what happens].

     Never backward in stirring it up, Wendy said that there were one hundred of them; after all didn't they call themselves The 100 Organization"? Ranald MacDonald Douglas, the chief of the Clann MacDonald, and one of those who had taken the Sword in the 1930's,now a gray eminence of nationalism, declared that they were well organized and had cells in every county of Scotland. And so the myth grew. Looking for clues everywhere the police took it all in, but nevertheless they still believed that Wendy was  the sinister mistressmind. They still reckoned that her patriots had done it. Her story of a mysterious 100 organization was simply a ploy to take the heat off. They weren't fooled; but they were. The establishment had got wind of a gathering storm; Wendy came under severe pressure. Once again she was taken in the middle of the night to Stirling and shown three swords and asked to identify
the real Sword. A picture of a masked man appeared in the papers holding "The Wallace Sword" in a field. Not quite; it was still up that lum in Auchinleck. Currie and McGuigan became concerned for Wendy's health. Gerry phoned Wendy and asked her what to do. "Give it back", she said. A bit crestfallen, McGuigan rang off with his "God bless you Wendy"; and "God bless you too", she replied. Words he will remember all the days of his life. Donald too was a bit depressed, but should they sacrifice the health of an elderly lady for a dream? In their hearts the two didn't believe that the Scots had the guts. The Sword would be returned with strings, [and certainly not with fishing lines], attached. Currie told Stirling Town Council that the sword would be returned but only on the condition that the finest artists in the land would see to it that it was displayed with dignity. The Council agreed. We'll put it back they said. Words slip easily from the lips as all bar room nationalists know. They thought of the lads they had met on Bute; The Craigton Commandos. They leapt at the idea.

     It was now into September 1972.They went to Auchinleck and collected the Sword from the brave custodian Kathy Alston. They met, Donald, Gerry and The Craigton Commandos, in The Golden Lion Hotel bar in Stirling. Now Don and Gerry had decided to give the "commandos" a free hand. They themselves would just look on. The Craigton lads, did what Don and Gerry had done, but in reverse. Whilst passersby looked on they placed the Sword against the wall of Stirling Town's town hall.

     But there was more to all this than just the returning of the Sword. Someone had a big mouth or was a traitor, and unless Ronald had been following McGuigan all over the place, it couldn't have been that spy. Earlier that evening the plotters had left the Golden Lion and gone to another bar, thinking that they would be less conspicuos since the Golden Lion was in the centre of things and used by leading figures of the town of Stirling. They had no sooner sat down in the other bar when they noticed a cop in plain clothes sitting in a corner and pretending to be drunk; not that they knew the cop, it was just that he was too obvious. This particular cop would surface four years later during the Tartan Army investigation, only to be taken off the case after a short while. Thinking that perhaps coincidentally  there was something else going on in the bar that night which had nothing to do with the Sword, they left and returned to the Golden Lion. Some of the commandos went out to look  at the Sword standing against the wall. They were soon back. Something strange was going on between the ancient walls of the historic town of Stirling that night. There were not only Scots police afoot but English as well. Two of the commandos had been stopped whilst walking up the road by two Englishmen sitting in a car and asked directions. They were too obvious. Other commandos reported seeing cops in plain clothes crawling all over the place. What were English police, who have no authority in Scotland, up to? Why had the cops not pounced? Were they under orders to do nothing in case the Sword would be whisked off again? After all the main object was to get the Sword returned. The crime of stealing it was only on the level of a students' prank. But why didn't they arrest everybody once they had seen that the Sword had been returned? Were they just taking notes and listing everyone who might cause trouble in the future? It so happened that one of the plotters present that night was tipped to take over the mantle of Wendy Wood when that dear lady would have gone to her Tir nan Og, [Land of the Young]. The presence of this lady might confirm to the cops that it was in fact Wendy Wood's Scottish Patriots who had done the job and if need be in the future then they could pick them up. In the light of events the cops completely missed out and they would spend the next four years wasting the public's money tilting at windmills. Currie and McGuigan were not noted and would be able to act without hindrance in the years to come. But who had talked? Who in the police force had perhaps covered up for Don and Gerry? In later years Currie and McGuigan would keep coming back to this theme. The questions would never be fully answered but one thing was for sure; there were traitors on both sides of the wall and the most successful were the nationalists in the Scottish police forces. Had the presence of the English police sticking their noses into Scottish affairs, combined with Scottish police fears about their pensions should Scotland get Home Rule, pushed some of the police into thinking that their bread was buttered on the Scots side of the border? In later years more than one Scottish cop would express exactly these fears to McGuigan during the Tartan Army trial. And was it a Scottish policeman who tipped off McGuigan about the ungrammatical note written in English Gaelic at a bombing site in Northumbria?

     When everyone else had gone, Currie and McGuigan went to Menstrie and began their tactic that they would be seen by all the locals, who knew Currie well, sitting in the bar whilst all hell was let loose in other parts of Scotland. And that was that as they thought at the time. All they had to do was monitor the Town Councillors work in living up to their promise that they would restore the Sword in a manner fitting. And they did. The artists did a magnificent job which is not only a memorial to Wallace's  patriotism but also to Donald Currie's bravery.

     However that was not the end of the affair. Months later Stirling Town Council decided that they would take precautions against any further theft of the Sword. They called in a Glasgow security firm to install a burglar alarm. It so happened that the company they got to do the job was owned by David Sharkey's father and he sent young David to complete, you might say, his work in returning the Sword. David capped his return of the Sword by installing the alarm so that his friends couldn't repeat their performance. Of course, the alarm being hooked up to the electricity system, it was necessary for the South of Scotland Electricity Board to make sure that the job had been properly done and of course, since the Abbey Craig tower came within the sphere of Donald's professional as well as National interest, so to speak, then he was the one sent by the electricity board to make sure that David, the commando who had actually replaced the sword, had done his job properly.

     And so the tourists visiting the tower can thank Donald for stealing the Sword and ensuring its magnificent display and they can also thank him for making sure that he can't steal it again.
  And so ends the first chapter of this saga, a tale begun in laughter and ending in murder. "O flower of Scotland when will we see your likes again" goes The Corries song for  William Wallace which has become a new anthem for Scotland. When indeed will we see his likes again? If William Wallace were alive to-day and were to apply for membership of the S.N.P., would they give him a card or call the police to arrest this "thief and murderer"? The "Scottish" Labour Party would of course shop him to the police; how could they do otherwise with the red rose of England as their logo, and have you seen and heard them singing THEIR anthem-Jerusalem-with their cultivated accents praising "England's green and pleasant land" The Red Comyn would naturally be acceptable to the Scotch Labour Party. The Red Comyn was the man who wanted to be king of Scots with the permission of the king of England. That was in the 1300's.Robert the Bruce stuck a knife in him. To-day there is a  Scotch M.P. who wants to be prime minister of Scotland    but only with the permission of the Prime Minister of England. Fortunately for him the worst he will get is the sharp end of the S.N.P.'s leader's lap top computer. The more things change the more they remain the same. But what will the Scots do when they find out that their devolved parliament is actually only a tartan quango with half of the members not elected by the people and with control over only 5% of Scottish money?

footnote: Donald Currie and Gerard McGuigan would stand trial in the high court at Edinburgh in 1976,charged with the theft of the sword. They were found not guilty. They were expelled from the Scottish National Party. In August 1998,Gerry McGuigan applied for membership of the Society of William Wallace. The Society refused to accept his application. After all they couldn't have in their organisation like er-er William Wallace.

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