By James Kinchin-White and Ed Moloney
The story of the MRF in these columns has so far concentrated on the violent incidents that the group was involved in – with civilians their major casualties – but that is only part of the story.
Like its supposed counterpart during the Mau-Mau uprising in Kenya, the MRF also recruited and ran agents (in the IRA and also supposedly in Loyalist groups, although the evidence for the latter is less than complete).
The agents were given a nickname: ‘Freds’. Two of the ‘Freds’ were IRA members Seamus Wright and Kevin McKee, both of whom were uncovered, killed and their bodies disappeared by the IRA in late 1972. But there were others.
Below is a letter from a clearly irritated head of British Army security to the Vice Chief of the General Staff (signature unfortunately indecipherable), complaining about the lack of information about a number of ‘Freds’ that had arrived in Britain from Northern Ireland, some of whom were treated in hospital.
The interesting point about this complaint is that there seems to have been quite a few ‘Freds’ beyond those we know about, such as Wright, McKee and Ranger Hammond (about whom, more in the next post).
One has his name blanked out by the military censor but is referred to elsewhere in the letter as ‘George Brown’; and there is a reference to two other unnamed ‘Freds’, one of whom intended to join the Green Howards regiment and the other who was serving with the Royal Green Jackets.
Finally he writes: ‘…..it is apparent that a number of “ex-Freds” have been discharged into civilian life’. So there seems to have been quite a number of ‘Freds’ in the MRF. Interesting.