Castlederg Young Loyalists

FLUTE BAND

THE "B" SPECIALS  

 

 

 

"Written in Ulster’s history for all the world to see
Are fifty years of service given by the U S.C."

 

THERE were few people watching the final parade of the Ulster Special Constabulary in 1970 as they marched to Balmoral for their stand down service, who did not feel sadness that a volunteer force which had given such stalwart service for fifty years should be disbanded. It was an emotional scene, one which meant so much to so many people.

There were perhaps a small number with United Ireland aspirations whose curiousity led them to see for the last time in uniform the men who had stood between them and the fulfilment of those aspirations, for fifty years, but the vast majority were there to pay their last tribute to an organisation whose dedication to the cause of Ulster had earned them the respect and affection of the Protestant community. These could not help but feel and express a deep foreboding and apprehension at the possible consequences of this senseless act perpetrated by the mother parliament at Westminster aided and abetted by a weak Unionist Government at Stormont.

Fifty years of service, they had no cause to feel ashamed,
Because lying propaganda had robbed them of their good name
.

 

Indeed no shame was felt or displayed, for to a man even in the hour of their trial, they behaved as they had done for fifty years, in the highest traditions of a proud police force, with dignity, discipline, courage and bearing, qualities which had served Ulster well in the many perils which had threatened the country since the Government of Ireland Act 1920 brought Northern Ireland into being.

No higher tribute can be paid to the Ulster Special Constabulary than that they stood guard over the country whilst the Ulster Defence Regiment, that was to replace them, was being recruited, as their forefathers had stood guard over the country in 1920-1922 whilst the Royal Ulster Constabulary was being recruited. The strength of both the RUC and the UDR lies in the firm foundation of members recruited from the Ulster Special Constabulary.

It has not been sufficiently emphasised that the Ulster Special Constabulary scrupulously handed in at disbandment every round of ammunition and every firearm on issue to it. It must be said that in one year, even in one month, or one day, that the Army and Police Force have lost more firearms than the Ulster Special Constabulary lost in its fifty years of service. Such was their understanding of security and personal responsibility to the community.

 

No one stood and raised their voices,
no one loudly shouted "NO,"
When Lord Hunt and his Committee said
the ‘B’ men had to go.

 

It is too late to enter into recrimination, but it will ever be one of the mysteries of our time as to how Lord Hunt arrived at his decision to recommend the disbandment of the Ulster Special Constabulary, in face of the evidence which was available to him showing the sterling worth of the men of the USC. Was no account taken of the number of favourable records which had been given to members by successive Inspector Generals of the RUC, or the number of awards and honours bestowed upon members for meritorious service and devotion to duty by the Kings and Queen of England? More somberly was no account taken of those who gave their lives in the country’s fight against the IRA? "Greater love hath no man than this — " yet so few made any protest when the sacrifice was made.

 

Who denied their accusations or defied the opposition
When Fitt, and Hume, and Devlin, met the Cameron Commission
.

 

It is charitable to say that the reason why there was so little outcry was that the propaganda, the distortion of the truth, and the deliberate concealment of facts, which was presented to both the Hunt committee and the Cameron commission was so obviously malicious and ridiculous, that it could only be regarded as unbelievable, and was obviously considered to be such by the ordinary citizen who firmly believed that "right would be right" in the end. It is probably true that the Special Constable of the day was also so imbued with that belief, that he saw no need to refute that which was blatantly lies, or to protest in any way which would bring himself or the Ulster Special Constabulary into disrepute.

How many people of that day for instance saw the British Army as anything other than support for the Police to put down an insurrection, and not as it has been freely admitted to protect one section of the community against falsely alleged atrocities?

 

They who now do weep their crocodile tears,
to hide the shame of cowardly fears,
That moved them blindly to appease,
those who would bring Ulster to its knees.

 

3500 dead, 40 thousand injured, and vast parts of urban Ulster reduced to rubble 33 years farther on, the folly of those who acquiesced to the sacrifice of the Ulster Special Constabulary, has surely become the classic political blunder of the century, as the IRA have, through it, become the most infamous terrorist group world wide in this decade.

How often has it been said in Ulster homes, in Army messes, and even in the corridors of Westminster, that the disbanding of the Ulster Special Constabulary was a mistake. It is little enough to ask that that mistake be now admitted publicly, if only to relieve the hurt and remorse that is felt by the now ageing ex members of the force, every time a soldier is killed doing a job which was formerly the work of the Ulster Special Constabulary.

 

Sleep none too soundly in their bed,
awakened by the ghostly tread,
Of phantom Specials on the beat,
echoing from the silent street
.

 

It is but human nature to speculate as to what the situation would have been today had the Ulster Special Constabulary not been disbanded. They were no worse trained than the average British soldier, they numbered in their ranks many ex Servicemen, and their instructors included many of the finest instructors who had ever attended the military small arms schools at Hythe and Netherhaven. They were not armed with sophisticated modern firearms, but they were proficient in the use of the obsolete and obsolescent British military small arms with which they were issued. It was their proud boast that they had defeated on many occasions Army marksmen in annual competitions at Ballykinlar. They had no electronic or communication equipment, they had no armoured cars and their transport was more often than not their own private cars, they had no protective clothing, but they did have definite advantages over the modern soldier now patrolling Ulster’s streets and ditches. They possessed absolute confidence in their superiority over the IRA, and they were sure in the knowledge that the IRA recognised that superiority and feared it, but above all their roots were firmly bedded in Ulster soil giving them a native wit, intelligence and local knowledge which no amount of training or education could acquire. In any initiative taken they enjoyed the full support of the local community, something which militarily, is impossible to achieve. There is no doubt that given proper tasking and leadership from within themselves, the Ulster Special Constabulary would have so inhibited the movement of the IRA that the number of murders committed by any terrorist or paramilitary group would not have been as high as it is, the destruction of urban areas would not have been as great, and this campaign of terror would not have lasted for ten years.

Of the Royal Ulster Constabulary, the Royal Ulster Constabulary Reserve, and the Ulster Defence Regiment (many of whom are ex members of the Ulster Special Constabulary), and the British Army, there can be nothing but appreciation and thanks for all that they have done and are trying to do for Northern Ireland, but—

 

With the crucifixion over, and Ulster’s Temple
rent in twain,
We can see now that the sacrifice, was a
sacrifice in vain,
They give their all, at the Government call, in
vain, for Ulster died,
That night in the halls of Stormont, when the
Specials they crucified.