Monthly Archives: June 2021

Oh Dear, Greenslade Is In Deep Do-Do Now…..

You can read the latest instalment in the Greenslade disaster story here……cue the sound of lawyers sharpening their quills.

Image

File This Under: ‘Excuse Me, What Did You Just Say?’

The American Jew Who Wrote About Hebron Is Reviled By Fellow Jews

You can read it here and watch the accompanying video……

Irish Times Recyles 3-Year Old Broken Elbow Story And Presents It As News….

Regular readers of thebrokenelbow.com, who also subscribe to The Irish Times, might have recognised as something they had read before, an article in Saturday’s People section of the paper about the suicide of Dr David Ross, who was the Maze prison doctor during the 1980 and 1981 republican hunger strikes. Dr Ross killed himself with a shotgun in the family garage of his Templepatrick, Co Antrim home in 1986.

The article. which filled most of a page, was written by Simon Carswell.

Attitudes to Dr Ross amongst the republican prisoners in the Maze varied sharply. Brendan Hughes, who led the 1980 prison fast which ended in confusion, believed that Dr Ross was sympathetic to the prisoners and he suspected that his suicide might have been caused by the trauma he had experienced during the two jail protests.

He remembers Ross bringing in spring water for the hunger strikers because the water in jail was harsh to the system and he dubbed him, after his death, ‘the eleventh hunger striker’. Bobby Sands, on the other hand, along with some other inmates believed Dr Ross was a fake and distrusted him.

Whatever the truth, the story of Dr Ross is a tragic and fascinating sidebar to one of the more traumatic but consequential episodes of the Troubles. The only problem with The Irish Times story is that it had already been substantially published, some two-and-a-half years ago on this site, and its appearance this weekend raises all sort of questions.

I first heard of Dr Ross from Brendan Hughes and after I finished writing ‘A Secret History of the IRA‘, I made some admittedly sporadic efforts to gather material to write a story about the doctor’s life and death and his impact on the IRA prison population. It was on my ‘to do’ list, albeit intermittently. Eventually, after a lengthy and mostly fruitless search, I was told that the Public Records Office had a file on his inquest and I made contact and arranged to pick up a copy of the file on my next trip to Belfast, which I did in 2017.

I more or less sat on the file for a while but when The New Yorker’s Patrick Keefe contacted me and asked for help in writing his book on the disappearance of Jean McConville, I mentioned Brendan Hughes’ humanity and, as an example, the concerns raised by Dr Ross’ suicide, while mentioning that I was going to write about it at some stage; he asked if he could make a copy and I agreed.

There was no doubt in my mind that he knew I would write about the story eventually, but his interest was primarily because of the role played by Brendan Hughes, who was of course the source in ‘Voices From The Grave’ for the allegation that Jean McConville was an informer (who he let off). He wanted to know the date of Ross’s death and when I obtained the inquest file, I happily let him have a copy as proof.

Keefe’s book ‘Say Nothing‘ was published in Ireland and the UK on November 1st, 2018 and the following Spring it was unveiled in American bookstores. His account was, in my view, self-serving, inasmuch as it played down much of the evidence which supported the IRA’s claim that the widowed housewife had been supplying information to the British Army while emphasising evidence to the contrary. This was important because while the IRA’s abduction and killing of Jean McConville was obscene, if the British military had used her as a source they were no less despicable and responsible for her death.

I thought that his account of the McConville affair was seriously unbalanced and I let him, and others, know that. By that stage Keefe was on a publicity tour in Ireland and it was evident that he had hooked up with Simon Carswell of The Irish Times. Carswell hosted Keefe on his Irish Times podcast, heaping praise on ‘Say Nothing‘. Note the date.

I later put my thoughts about Keefe’s book together and tried to get them published. Such is the power of The New Yorker – or perhaps the care many of this city’s writers take not to offend a publication most of them would kill to work for – that only Counterpunch would publish. You can read my judgement on Keefe here.

I thought no more about all this until a few days after Keefe’s Irish publicity tour when, purely by chance, I came across an advert in the Belfast press asking anyone who might have known Dr David Ross to contact Simon Carswell.

A coincidence or something else? I had let Keefe have a copy of the Ross inquest file to help him write his book on Jean McConville, I then criticize his book quite openly, Keefe travels to Ireland and hooks up with Carswell and days later an advert appears in the Belfast press from Carswell seeking to speak to anyone who knew Dr David Ross.

I had shared what I knew and what I was to discover about Dr Ross with Keefe but he knew all along that while I had no objection to him using material from the inquest report in his book, the story was one I had discovered and that the inquest file was something I had obtained and it was not his to give away to whomever he wished. It was my story, parts of which I had shared with him – but no-one else.

So the question remains, how and when did Simon Carswell learn of Dr David Ross?

The Irish Times version:

thebrokenelbow.com version:

An American Jew Writes From Hebron

Mondoweiss, a blog mostly written by Jewish anti-zionists and other critics of Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians of Gaza, has been on my required reading list for years now, and occasionally I have been privileged to write for it. The current edition has a great article about a visit to Hebron written by Benjamin Moser, an American Jew. Required reading and another sign that not all American Jews, especially from a younger generation, are on the Zionist bandwagon. You can read it here.

Under Biden’s White House US Healthcare Still Stinks….And The Progressive Dems Disappoint

Thanks to RS for the tip. You can read it here.

The Colonial Roots Of British Military Operations During The Troubles

By James Kinchin-White

(I have been meaning to post this for some time but other matters intervened. It is a great piece, well worth the read – EM)

The effect of Britain’s colonial past is key to understanding the often disastrous impact of political policy and military tactics on the Northern Ireland Troubles between 1970-75 (the definitive years that established the relationship between the community and the British army).

The origin, structure and tactics of British covert forces during that early period of Operation Banner (the longest deployment of the British Army in history) can be traced back to their operations in Palestine, Malaya, Kenya, Cyprus and Aden.

In the early 1920s, RIC, Auxiliaries and Black and Tans recruited directly from Ireland provided the backbone for the British Palestinian Gendarmerie. Records show that many of these men were approached for recruitment while still serving in Ireland and eventually numbered over 700.

Military structures in Palestine, close cousins to the forts that were constructed during the Troubles

The British Gendarmerie morphed into the Palestinian Police ater 1926 and from this one of the first covert reaction units (as opposed to a purely intelligence gathering unit) was led by then Captain Ord Wingate in 1938.
Wingates ‘Special Night Squads’ subsequently became the model adopted by Nicol Grey (Inspector General Palestine Police 1946-48 and former Lt. Col. Royal Marine Commando WWII)

Grey appointed Brigadier Bernard Fergusson in 1947 to recruit ex British special forces officers to lead the new ‘Special Squads’. One was led by then Captain Roy Farran and the other by Captain Alistair McGregor (father of Captain Hamis McGregor who was to be one of the commanders of the highly controversial Mobile Reaction Force (MRF) in Belfast in 1972).

The Palestine Special Squads used tactics that would not be dissimilar to those subsequently employed by the MRF and in a further extraordinary anecdotal episode, the then Lt. Colin Mitchell of the Argyle and Sutherland Highlanders (later better known as Mad Mitch of Aden and Crater fame 1967), was involved in ‘procuring’ a Laundry Van for the Special Squads to use for covert surveillance and transport.

This fort could have been in South Armagh but it was actually built by British troops in Palestine

It was the subsequent use of a Laundry Van by the MRF in Belfast that was to partly lead to the units downfall. In MRFs Four Square Laundry operation, Sapper Ted Stewart, from Strabane, and Lance Corporal Sarah Jane Warke were ambushed in Turf Lodge after the operation had been discovered by PIRA intelligence. Stewart was killed and Warke narrowly escaped.

Following the withdrawal from Palestine in 1948, around 500 former British Palestinian Police were recruited to form a ‘Special Constrbulary’ in Malya while others were sent to Kenya (the latter included one of the two Palestinian ‘Special Squad’ Sergeants who assisted Farran to escape from custody during his flight from the consequences of the murder of Alexander Rubowitz (Ceserani, 2009).

During the Troubles, the construction of border (and urban) fortresses were a mere modernization of the ‘Tegart Forts’ built in Palestine and their purpose was virtually identical. (see: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-19019949). Somewhat ironically, Charles Tegart was born in Derry and though the Troubles era structures have largely been demolished, Tegart’s Palestinian Forts have survived and now lie mostly within the borders of Israel.
According the the BBC, Tegart had other ‘colonial skills’:

His methods wouldn’t stand up to much modern scrutiny. Long before the world hit upon the euphemism “enhanced interrogation techniques“, he was reputed to take a violent and uncompromising way with detainees.


The first troops deployed in Derry on 14 August 1969 unfurled their ‘Do not cross this line’ banners perhaps to the bemusement of the crowd since they were written in Arabic and last used in Aden (Major M. Sullivan, Prince of Wales Own Regiment of Yorkshire in Walsh, A. 2015 ‘Belfast 69’).

There is a wealth of such information that connects British colonial policy and military tactics with the debacle that was the early period of Op Banner and which must take a major share of the causes of a war that went on far too long.

Employment contract of an ex-RIC man (a Black and Tan) joining the Palestinian police