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The Tartan Army
Chapter 4

[The breeches must needs be worn when our commanders were so quietly subdued. ]

The Wester Glen job, successfully completed, Don and Gerry paused to take stock. Some things were becoming clear. They now realized that they were well down the road on a journey which they had not foreseen and there was no turning back. In this respect the media and the police were well ahead of them. They recognized that they were in unchartered waters and they must keep a weather eye open for sharp rocks. At this time they were unaware that George Ronald had named McGuigan to the police. The Wallace Sword had been one thing, bombing was an entirely different ball game. Having seen that the English Parliament will go a long way if given a kick up the rear end, they figured that they couldn't stop now if the English failed to produce the goods. The Scots certainly couldn't produce anything. As the weeks rolled on it was obvious that the Establishment were clueless and frightened. The tables had been turned.  The Scots were now calling the tune and all the English could do was to borrow a page out of Scotland's book and girn, [whine]. They were in that worst state of all, completely unknowing. The English did know where or when or how big would be the next strike of the Border Clan. The Wallace Sword had still not been put back on display. This took up a lot of their thoughts. 

Meanwhile the political scene was hotting up. The English man in the street was starting to realize that there was a stir to the North. The development of North Sea oil was beginning to gather pace. There was no need now for a Labour Government to kill Biafrans for oil, the self same grade of oil was right on their seashore or what was more to the point on Scotland's seashore. Since Scotland had its own legal system the oil came within the scope of Scots Law if not a Scots Government. The Scots were half way to having justification for the S. N. P. 's cry "It's Scotland's oil. "The S. N. P.  were running amok and the hymn of hate was being parroted against them by Imperialists both red and blue who had ganged up on the S. N. P. The S. N. P. told the Scots that the English would soon be robbing Scotland again. They started by stealing the Stone of Destiny. They stole their universities. They stole their gas system which was owned by the municipalities in Scotland.  The private owners in England had however been paid by a Labour government when they nationalized gas.  The Scots working class got nothing. The government,  nationalized the coal mines and transferred the coal exports which came from the Ayrshire coalfields to Ireland,  to the North East of England mines and followed up this robbery of the Scots workers by transferring the manufacture of railroad engines to England, in both cases putting thousands of Scottish workers on the breadline.  They stole the whisky,  which annually is worth more than the total gold and dollar reserves of the British Government. On top of all this they were subsidized from the net food surplus of Scotland. 70% of all the fish eaten in England is caught by the Scottish fishing fleet. A huge surplus of Scotch beef, mutton and wool went over the border. Scotland had a surplus of electricity which went over the border. The late Richard Dimbleby anchored a discussion on T. V.  which told the Scots that if England would export as well as the Scots, then Britain would have no balance of payments problem. And of course as an English historian pointed out, the Scots had "provided a reservoir of blood for the English empire". Mind you Scots landed gentry and other manques got their unfair share from the rape of other peoples' countries. Poor England would now get the oil and natural gas that would pour ashore. The list went on and on. 

There was just one other thing. Scotland was the first line of defense of the United States of America. The Yanks had nuclear powered submarines with nuclear warheads in the Clyde;  marines stationed on the West coast;  a listening post at Edzell, by Dundee that could pick up a telephone conversation in a car in Moscow. The Royal Air Force kept a round the clock watch on the Soviet ships and submarines that came from the Baltic, through the Skagerrak and into the North Atlantic. On top of all this the Yanks were now faced with a huge oil field which could come under the influence of the Soviets. Harold Wilson was being watched by the M. I. 6 who suspected him of being a Soviet mole. He would later suddenly resign without warning or giving any reason. There was the likelihood of an independent Scots government, well left of centre and lead by the S. N. P. whose policy was one of neutrality. Scotland would not join N. A. T. O. and the Yanks would have to pack their bags and leave. And it was a known fact that the S. N. P.  had had a meeting with the commanders of Scottish Command, [the Scots regiments come under their own command from Edinburgh Castle],  and got their assurance that in the event of Home Rule, the Scots regiments would back them. The S. N. P. then in 1971 had not only the largest political party in Britain and , according to opinion polls,  the backing of the vast majority of young Scots , they also had the guns and bayonets of the Scottish army, the 51st Highland and the 52nd Lowland divisions, 30, 000 men, [the "ladies from hell" as the German troops called them]. That's how close Scotland was to Home Rule over twenty years ago. John Major the English Prime Minister recently said that Home Rule was "Not negotiable." As Winston Churchill said "Better jaw jaw jaw than war war". Does Major want war? Now there were bombs going off. Do you think the Yanks interested? You're darn tootin they were and they replaced their consul in sleepy old Scotland with one of their top diplomats;  to mastermind their involvement should things take a wrong turn? He would say that "The stakes are high and the responsibility heavy" Don't forget that recently the Yanks simply moved in and took over another of England's colonies without so much as a by your leave from London -Grenada. They had also invaded Panama and overthrew that government. What price Scotland which was of far greater importance to the U. S. A. ?

Currie and McGuigan watched, waited and listened. They hoped that the Green Paper would be a significant milestone on the road to Home Rule. They were wrong.  Don and Gerry did not bomb between January and September 1973. Somebody fasting almost to death, a missing sword, a three legged electricity pylon and a three legged radio mast was enough for one nine month stretch.  But the police had a lot of work to do. Don and Gerry started to notice activity. It was not only the Scottish police who were active. The English police were all over the place where they had no right-Scotland. Don and Gerry felt safe. After all if the police had a clue they would have been behind bars months ago. 

The first indication that the English were afoot came with the arrival of an English university student[?] who was attending Stirling University close to Menstrie. She took up lodgings in Menstrie and immediately started courting the local S. N. P. members asking questions as to who was who.  Had the English decided to start at square one, the Wallace Sword? At this time no one had suggested that the 100 Organization was connected with the Border Clan. Whilst listening to the police radios one night they heard a call go out from the Grangemouth oil refinery near Fa Kirk, that two men in white van had appeared at the gate and wanted to know where the oil pipeline was;  and they simply fled. Then McGuigan was contacted by Billy Wolfe the chairman of the S. N. P. and told that the police were looking for him. Gerry,  at this time working in Easter Ross but on holiday in Stirling, got in his car and went to Fa Kirk police office and reported that he had been told that someone called George Ronald had told the Fa Kirk police that he had blown the radio mast at Wester Glen. The police denied all knowledge. They would wouldn't they? But it was an obvious lie. McGuigan's inquiries revealed that Ronald had also fingered him to the police for the theft of the Wallace Sword. The only  possible reason for the police seeming inactivity was that they thought as they would say four years later that Gerry was a very small cog in a very big wheel and they wanted to get the wheel not just a cog. Later events would reveal that in fact the police seemed to have simply ignored all this, even although they had taken the trouble to interview Billy Wolfe and asked him where was McGuigan. Ronald had demanded and got a meeting with the management committee of the S. N. P. and told them his suspicions. He did not say anything about Wamphray. The S. N. P. , like the Scottish police  did nothing. Don and Gerry also decided to do nothing about Ronald. But the "university student" snooping around Menstrie was a different kettle of rotten fish. Don and Gerry watched her lodging house on the outskirts of the village. One night they saw a tall useful looking young man cross the fields. He was quickly let in to the house. Donald got a friend to pay her a visit. His female acquaintance,  who had been a university student herself, reported that this was no student. Her room was all shipshape and Bristol fashion with polished shoes stacked in regimental style against the wall. Donald's friend reckoned that "soldier" would be a better description. At first the student was very self confident but in the light of some piercing questions, [the friend was quiet a formidable looking and highly intelligent woman], she started to go a bit wobbly. A few days later the student quit her lodgings and was never seen again. Don and Gerry started to feel a bit wobbly themselves.  They remembered the English police on the night that the Sword was returned. The headquarters of the S. N. P. in Edinburgh had been broken into and the files rifled, but nothing taken. Were the English police playing a cat and mouse game? Had they heard about Ronald's reports to the Scottish police and did the English police know that David Pitcaithly, then head of Scottish Special Branch,  was an old acquaintance if not friend perhaps,  of McGuigan? Didn't they trust the Scots police and were going it alone? It was now August 1973.  

The new American consul got to work to find out just what the heck was going on in Scotland.  Up until the 1970's Scotland had been regarded as a mist shrouded tartan aberration of the English norm situated somewhere to the North of London only to be dragged out of its historical moth balls every time a war came round. "Put them in the van for they fight well and it matters not if they fall said the English General Wolfe after seeming them fight on both sides at Culloden in 1746.  His words would be echoed by Montgomery of Alamein in the second world war;  "For a good killing match, give me the Scots" But times had changed and the land which had provided a reservoir of blood was now about to be America's life line not just its guardian.  All C. I. A.  men are not six foot two, weighing 230 pounds with jutting chins and bulges under their left armpits. As Johnie Cash sang to the inmates at Fulsome jail, "This aint the movies". Gerry met one of them in the course of his work in the construction industry.  The man was young and at first seemed like just another engineer. They struck up a friendship and the engineer, [we shall call him "X"],  although a few years younger than Gerry,  seemed to take a fatherly interest in him. As time went on , Gerry began to realize that this was a very unusual young man. He carried a Canadian passport as well as a British. His father was Portuguese and his mother a Scot. She had once won a medal at the Gaelic Mod. He could mimick an American accent with ease, [McGuigan had spent five years in Canada], and he seemed to have an intimate knowledge of M. I. T. , [Massacheusits Institute of Technology], which, he said, was building a computer in conjunction with the U. S.  government. He also had an extensive knowledge of the construction of oil rigs and claimed that he had a design which was superior,  cheaper,  and more efficient than those already under construction. He claimed to have a doctorate in computers from M. I. T.  and also a degree in civil engineering. It would later turn out that he had neither and M. I. T.  denied all knowledge of him. But perhaps they would, wouldn't they? He would express a great love for Scotland and the bagpipe. On the wall of his office he had a large map of the Northern hemisphere and in relaxed mood one day, he started to unfold a remarkable tale.  He said that he worked for the American government and he knew that they were planning to buy up all the land on each side of the Caledonian Canal which ran from the Clyde estuary on the Atlantic West coast of Scotland to Inverness on the North sea. They would then deepen and widen it so that oil tankers could pass safely through Scotland to the Atlantic from the North Sea without having to go round the North coast and come within the reach of the Soviet fleet. Also this would be monitored by U. S. marines. Just like the Panama Canal. Money was no object.  The Yanks needed the oil. Should anything go wrong in the Middle East they would have North Sea oil. The Soviets had their own vast oil reserves and in fact exported their surplus to their satellites at discounted rates so that they could keep grips on them. The purchasing of the land would be by private individuals and companies. The Americans keep their finger on pulses this way through their world wide business enterprises. Bechtel Corporation who have engineers all over planet earth, are an example. No one would notice, thinking that they were either Americans setting up industries or were the usual huntin and shootin fraternity. Anyone who has a spare buck or two can buy up Scotland and McGuigan would later come across a leading light in the oil industry who told him that the Americans would buy the whole of Scotland if they could get half a chance. Scotland is the prostitute of Europe. In the same way as their predecessors in the Scots Parliament had sold their country to England two hundred years previously and got well paid for it,  the present incumbents sit and watch their country being bought and sold for anyone's gold. The more things change, the more they remain the same. Scotland, like Panama would effectively become a part of the United States. In the cold war atmosphere of those days, England would have no option but to co-operate, and they did. These matters are more extensively covered in that book, "Britain's Secret War". 

The English were told by the Americans that they would have to help in these land purchases. Since the conveyance of land in Scotland comes under Scots Law which is significantly different from English Law the whole business would have to be controlled from Scotland by a Scot. The presence of a top English lawyer would anyhow possibly raise suspicions. In order that things should go smoothly, the Americans wanted a top government official to monitor and assist. Scotland has its own Civil Service separate from England and headquartered in Saint Andrews House , Edinburgh.  The chief of Scotland's civil service reports to the Secretary of State for Scotland. Neither the Soviets nor the Scots must realize what was happening until the fait accompli had happened. The man chosen by London was the chief of the civil service in Scotland, so the story went on. "X" was the "controller" of this man,  as Le Carre would say. When the English had tried to carve up Scotland before in 1314 but it didn't work, because at the Battle of Bannockburn, the English and their friends, who had been promised bits of Scotland for their help, got a hiding. It didn't work this time either but for a different reason. One evening whilst "X" and the civil servant were dining, the c. s. got drunk. "X" was actually tea-total but the C. I. A.  had taught him how to drink without getting drunk! The c. s. suddenly said that he wanted 75, 000 pounds to be sent to his brother in Jamaica. When "X" told his superiors, they aborted the whole idea of the canal "What, for a measely 75,000 quid?" said McGuigan. "Not quite" was the reply, there was more to it than that. This was only the straw that broke the camel's back. McGuigan was of course taking all this with a pinch of salt, but he wasn't unused to these tales. The S. N. P.  had already been warned by a policeman that the police were under orders to note the licence plates of all cars with S. N. P.  logos. He with others had been advised that post office workers had told the S. N. P.  that extensive phone tapping went on. In many villages throughout Scotland the post masters are retired English officers. But, as one well placed ex colonial Scot told McGuigan, "They never retire". But,  bug eyed,  Gerry listened as "X" developed his story. He went on to name a very senior member of the S. N. P. who was also a C. I. A.  man,  who,  he claimed,  had broken into the Manor Place, Edinburgh H. Q. of the S. N. P. and photographed their membership files and these had been passed to C. I. A.  H. Q. in the States. Astonished, McGuigan knew the man named by "X".  It was a fact that the headquarters had been burgled. It had been a front page story. The Americans were taking notes all over the place. They knew that the founders of the British Labour Party were the Red Clydesiders;  100 years ago their main plank was an independent Scottish Worker's Republic; that the only Communist member of parliament had been a Scot;  that the Scottish mineworkers, still a force to be reckoned with in those days,  had strong bonds with the Soviets. They also knew that the British Labour Party had a policy of disarmament and their leader was being watched by the British Secret Service. His predecessor, Hugh Gaitskell had opposed the disarmament policy and had died under mysterious circumstances of a virous which it was rumoured had been posted to him in the mail box.  This subject is dealt with in detail in a book called "The Lord Lucan Affair". 

If Gerry thought that he had heard everything, he was wrong. The Americans had not stopped short at noting down the names of S. N. P. members. They suspected that four prominent Scots retired army officers, having got wind of the American plans to take over Scotland, had become tired of all this and had decided to take over Scotland themselves. It could be said that these men were a legend in their own lifetimes not just in Scotland but world wide. They were;  David Stirling, the founder of the elite secret British army regiment, The Special Air Service, commonly known as The S. A. S.  Lord Lovat, the chief of the Clan Fraser, a second world war hero who with his own men recruited from his farms had formed The Lovat Scouts.  These successors to Lovat's father's men of the first world war,  had a ferocious reputation.  They asked for and gave no quarter in their bayonet work behind German lines and would charge in to the sound of the bagpipe. They had been immortalised in the film "The Longest Day". Lovat also had a brother in Parliament who had received the Victoria Cross, Britain's highest decoration for bravery in the second world war.  Another man being watched was Fitzroy MacLean the S. A. S. man who had parachuted into Yugoslavia in world war 2 and helped the guerrilas against the Germans. He was a brother in law of Lovat. Last but not least, was Colonel, [retired], "Mad Mitch" Mitchell who had been commander of the Argyle and Sutherland Highlanders, [The Thin Red Line], and had done sterling work during Britain's pull-out from Aden. He had done such an efficient job that there were questions in the House of Commons about his work. He was passed over for promotion and resigned. His fiercely loyal men were reported to be very angry at the treatment he had received. There were rumors that he would join the S. N. P. and stand for Parliament. His rented mountainous lands bordered on Lovat's rugged landscape.  These men were proven leaders, military men, decorated for bravery. Everbody in Scotland admired them and obviously they had many and good connections. Individually they were formidable, collectively they would be unstoppable. Scotland is ideal bandit country. Much of it is covered in mountain, moor and river. The British army makes extensive use of Scotland for training. Scotland has a population of 5 million, but is equivalent to the collective land area of Denmark, The Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg. Should these men strike, what would England and the Yanks do? Move in? Would the Scots call in the Soviets? We were looking at the possibility of a third world war, not just a tartan Cuban crisis such as Kennedy had in the 60's! And if the Yanks could move into Grenada and Panama, then didn't the Soviets move into Afghanistan,  Hungary and Czechoslovakia?

And why,  asked McGuigan,  should four Scots,  suddenly from right out of a clear blue sky,  decide to do something for their own country.  Seemed that Lovat was in trouble.  He had suffered a heart attack and fearfull that he would die within seven years and that his heirs would have to pay huge death duties, he had handed over all his land to his eldest son. His son had made some very bad business deals and the clan was in danger of losing all their land. Their land stretched from the Atlantic to the North Sea and the Caledonian Canal ran right through the middle. Yankee wolves were at the door and Lovat was fearfull that his son would sell all the land at knock down prices.  Or so the story went.  All of Lovat's hard work since world war 2 would be to no avail.  The Tory Party's think tank in Scotland had said that in a free Scotland all the land should be nationalised. Even if his lands were taken over by the state he would still have some title and interest.  Seems,  the story went on, the others would come along for the ride.  The Frasers were old enemies of Westminster and had fought with great distinction on Charlie's side at Culloden in 1746.  Their chief had been executed for his part in the uprising and the Lovat lands devastated.  In the event they did nothing.  Why is it that so many Scots have fought and died for others, [most recently, Kuwait], but will not lift a finger for Scotland? There is a story about Pontius Pilate who washed his hands of Jesus Christ. It is a matter of record that his father served as a Roman general in the short lived campaign in Scotland accompanied by his wife and it is believed that Pontius Pilate was born in Scotland. If true,  his hand washing would be "par for the  course "as the golfing fraternity would say. Mitchell and MacLean disappered into London and sat down on the Conservative benches at Westminster. . "traitors", "collaborators";  MacLean's name for those who sided with London.  "B'eigin do'n bhriogais bhi ann nuair chaidh ar command cho ciuin", [the trousers must needs be worn when our commanders were so quietly subdued]. This is a reference to the banning of the kilt after Culloden. Up to that time the kilt was the universal dress and trousers or breeches were regarded as efminate. That was why it was so easy to get the Scots to enlist, since they allowed soldiers to wear kilts.  Ah well, lackaday, perhaps one day. . . .  After all it took the Irish eight hundred years to regain their freedom. Scotland having been "subservient" for two hundred and fifty years has hopefully only five hundred and fifty years to go.  Never mind. meanwhile back at the  ranch,  or should we say croft house,  Scotland was left with Don and Gerry who had never seen military service, had no panache or potential backup of two whole army divisions. The best that they could muster between them that might give them pretensions to a bar or two in Scotland's "Tunes of Glory" was the corporal's stripe which Gerry had gained whilst serving bravely in the Army Cadet Force. The only back-up they had was Woolworth's.  And where asked Gerry did the Yanks think the Border Clan stood in the middle of all this. It seems that the Yanks suspected that the military quartet were testing the water;  seeing which way the wind was blowing.  How would the Scots react to a bit of conflict on their behalf? The bombers were using amateurish implements, but perhaps that was all part of the game since sophisticated bombs could be traced and signal to the authorities that professionals were at work.  On the other hand,  the Clan was very efficient.  Gerry related this tale to Don. They figured that there were two possible views to take. Either "X" was nuts or he was telling the truth. Either way it made no difference, they would carry on as they saw fit. The Americans had decided that discretion was the better part of valour. Perhaps if the Scots did recover their pride then the Americans could do a deal with the nation, one of whose sons, [Buick of Arbroath, no less], was the founder of General Motors;  and as they say "What is good for General Motors is good for America". The Americans had taken the advice of the "Bell of Scone";  "An rud nach buin duit na buin da", [don't touch what doesn't belong to you. ]. 

Within two weeks of hearing this tale, a bombshell hit the public. Banner headlines announced that Scotland's top civil servant had been arrested on corruption charges.  None of them seemed to having any connection with land deals involving the tartan Panama Canal;  but Don and Gerry were now convinced that "X" was a C. I. A. man.  A week later Gerry met the wife of "X". She too had been told these tales by "X". A one-time traffic controller at Scotland's international airport, Prestwick, she was now studying law at Edinburgh University. She told Gerry that "X" had expressed great admiration for him and that she too had been doubtful about "X's" stories but now she believed him. The civil servant got seven years in jail. Several years later when Don and Gerry were in Saughton jail, Edinburgh, they made enquiries about the civil servant. Now this man was arrested in Edinburgh and so he must have spent his pre-trial days in Saughton jail and would probably have served his time there. Don and Gerry could find no trace of him. Did the civil servant buy his freedom by threatening to tell all about the canal? Was he spirited away? It was rumored that he got a job with the B. B. C.  overseas service in Portugal. Incidentally, Portugal was Scotland's oldest enemy next to England and that nations oldest friend. 

About this same time,  in January 1973,  another player came on stage.  When Gerry answered a ring at his door bell one evening, he saw a young useful looking man at the door. Gerry always looked at a man's stomach and his neck. It turned out that first impressions had been correct. The man said in the course of conversation that he held a black belt in Karate and Judo. The man said that he had recently moved from England to Fa Kirk and wanted to get in on the nationalist scene, and his father, whom Gerry didn't know, had directed him to McGuigan.  Naturally the conversation got round to swords and bombs.  The visitor said that he would have thought that a good name for these people would be the Tartan Army and he went on to tell Gerry how the original Tartan Army,  or Feachd nam Breacan in Gaelic,  had got its name and fought for the English against their own people. Wouldn't it be a good idea he said if a new Tartan Army were established but would this time fight for Scotland.  The visitor left and Gerry would never see or hear of him again, but he would later wonder if he was connected with the lawyer Willie MacRae who also lived in Fa Kirk.  He of course told Don about the visitor and the story of the Tartan Army. They agreed that the visitor seemed to be a clean potatoe. From then on it was The Tartan Army.  At this time there was no reason to suspect that this man was connected with the lawyer Willie McRae who also lived in Fa Kirk, but as time went on Gerry would wonder about this.  The whole scene was taking on an air of mystery and not just for Westminster and their servants. 

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