The Ignoble Six Thousand And Britain’s Reward For Her Terrorists In Ireland

Risteard Ó Murchú looks at how the British monarchy awards those who use violence on its behalf in Ireland. Risteard Ó Murchú is a republican activist and ex-POW from the Ballymurphy area of West Belfast who has long campaigned against the continuing injustice of British rule in Ireland. His piece featured in the 1916 Societies website.

In September 2015 the current British Queen will be the longest reigning monarch in British history. During her time on the throne her ‘government’ has been involved in imperialist wars throughout the world, for which she has decorated her military personnel. According to the London Gazette, over 5,800 British Army personnel were decorated by the British Queen between August 1969 and July 2007, for service to the British Crown in the Six Counties. All of the names of those same personnel decorated appear in the London Gazette. Besides their names, and the type of awards they received, their rank and regiment are also listed. There are also specific dates listed for when they received their award during their period of duty.


The number of British soldiers decorated could be much higher as not all of those are published. For example, the Military Intelligence Museum states that as many as 400 British Intelligence personnel were decorated for their services in the Six Counties. That includes 29 Queen’s Gallantry Medals, which is the highest total made to any regiment or corps in the British Army deployed to Ireland. According to the British, these awards were given for gallantry, bravery and distinguished services for ‘Queen and Empire’. The high number of awards given by the British Queen once again raises serious questions about not only the role of the British Army, but also the contempt shown from their superiors towards Irish victims of British rule in Ireland.

These British soldiers are awarded by promotions, appointments, as well as awards for gallantry, bravery and for meritorious and distinguished services. Nominations for these awards are recommended by the British Queen via the Ministry of Defence. The awards and decorations that the British Queen gave to the British Army for their role in the Six Counties are as follows, including how many of each award have been received: the George Cross (3); Commanders, Officers and Members of the British Empire (1268); George Medal (43); The Queen’s Gallantry Medal (302); British Empire Medal (431); Companions of the Distinguished Service Order (9); Military Cross (44); Distinguished Conduct Medal (17); Military Medal (84); The Queen’s Commendation for Brave Conduct (154); Queen’s Commendation for Valuable Service (599); Air Force Cross (20); Queen’s Commendation for Valuable Service in the Air (38); Air Force Medal (6); Distinguished Flying Cross (3); Distinguished Flying Medal (1); and Mentioned in Despatches (2771).

The Victoria Cross is the highest military decoration award to members of the British Army, although to date no-one has received it for being deployed to the Six Counties. This is followed by the George Cross in which three have received; Major Stephen George Styles, Royal Army Ordnance Corps 1971, Captain Robert Laurence Nairac Grenadier Guards, 1979 and Barry Johnson, Royal Army Ordnance Corps 1990. Nairac who had been suspected of being involved with Loyalists gangs in the murder of Nationalists, received his award posthumously, as he had been killed two years earlier by the IRA. The lowest decoration to be awarded is soldiers’ ‘Mentioned-in-Despatches’. Though they don’t receive a medal for their action, they are entitled to receive a certificate and wear a decoration which consists of a single bronze oak leaf.

All of these awards have been issued by the British Queen in the name of the ‘Great’ British Empire, ‘where the sun never sets’. An Empire that has seen the Six Counties of north-eastern Ireland remains its longest reigning colony to this day. An Empire, where in Ireland, Britain has exercised the use of genocide, land confiscations, human exportation, partition, internment, persecution and a denial of self-determination of the native Irish in their own land. An Empire, that invented the concentration camp, where 10% of the entire Boer population died in these camps in one year alone, which included 22,000 children. An Empire that used Torture Centres in Aden where they kept prisoners naked in refrigerated cells, encouraging frostbite and where Guards would stub their cigarettes out on prisoner’s skins. An Empire, that imprisoned a half a million Chinese into camps in Malaya and deported another half a million. An Empire, that shot to death nearly a thousand protesters in the Amritsar Massacre in India in 1919. An Empire, that interned and tortured 3,000 Cypriots, where children as young as 15 had hot peppers rubbed in their eyes. An Empire that rounded up 1.5 million people in Kenya into concentration camps, where they tortured, enslaved and raped them and murdered tens of thousands of them. And many many more atrocities, all presided over by the British Monarch.

Some of the other well-known British military personnel who have been decorated by the British Queen include; Brigadier Frank E. Kitson, General Mike Jackson and General Robert C. Ford. Apart from Nairac others were awarded posthumously, including SAS Captain Herbert Westmacott, who was also killed by the IRAs M60 squad in 1980 and received the Military Cross. Also Sergeant Paul Douglas Oram of 14th Intelligence, killed by the IRA in 1984, was decorated three times, including the military medal for bravery. According to the book ‘Lost Lives’, some newspapers suspected Oram as being involved in the death of Republicans in the early 1980s. Others awarded include Colonel Derek Wilford, who commanded the Paras during Bloody Sunday in Derry in 1972, and Brigadier James Gordon Kerr, who handled Brit agent Brian Nelson, who was involved in the murder of Pat Finucane, receiving the Queen’s Gallantry Medal for Bravery. Brigadier Kerr was also head of the Force Research Unit (FRU) from the mid-1980s until the early 1990s and was also Director of the Special Reconnaissance Regiment, a later version of FRU.

According to ‘official’ statistics, British soldiers have killed 301 people during their most recent war in Ireland, including the massacres at Bloody Sunday, Ballymurphy, Springhill and New Lodge, to name but a few. So given the high number of awards, were all the British soldiers involved in these incidents decorated? Also with the high number of awards it would seem that the British establishment fully endorsed all of the actions of their soldiers who served in Ireland.

Victims’ families have long campaigned for truth and justice, no more so from the Good Friday Agreement, and have been snubbed by the British government year after year. The upholding of the British Queen’s awards for these soldiers, coupled with the reluctance by the British state to allow full independent investigations into these state killings, would suggest that Britain saw no wrong in what they have done and would seem content to stick with that attitude. From 1998 Britain has introduced legislation to prevent investigations from getting to the truth. The introduction of the ‘Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000’ hinders any investigations under the guise of ‘National Security’, thus giving the perpetrators immunity. The introduction of the ‘Enquiries Act 2005’ puts the British Secretary of State in a position to pull any public enquiry evidence that is not in their interests to be made public, thus rendering any enquiry impotent and effectively doing away with public enquiries for the foreseeable future. There is also the introduction of MI5 Primacy over policing, in which there will be no accountability of these British state agencies well into the future.

With the retention of all these awards from the irreconcilable British Monarch, and with all of the new powers introduced, it would seem that the British establishment has effectively adopted a ‘shut shop’ attitude to their past while copper fastening their future role in this ‘wee colony’ of theirs. Apart from remaining the occupying power in the Six Counties, Britain continues to decorate their military personnel in places like the former Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Democratic Republic of Congo, the Gulf and Sierra Leone. So it would seem for the foreseeable future that British injustices will certainly not set on the British Empire.

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