20/10/2009

Soldiers Recall Troubles On History TV

A new TV series is to focus on the Northern Ireland Troubles - this time from a military perspective.

As this year's Poppy Day remembrance approaches, Soldiers' Stories has been made by talking to the British soldiers who served there between 1969 and 2007, the longest continuous deployment in the history of the British Army.

The History Channel programme makers said this was a war against terrorists who knew no mercy or compassion as well as being a war involving sectarian hatred and violent death.

"Over 1,000 British lives were lost in a place just 30 minutes flying time from the mainland," said a History Channel statement.

This year has already marked the 40th anniversary of the British Army's arrival in Northern Ireland when they were deployed on 14 August 1969, sent in by the Wilson government, as law and order had broken down and the population was in grave danger.
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Between then and 2007, some 300,000 British troops served in Northern Ireland. Occasionally they were welcomed - but more often, they were spat at, pelted with missiles or shot.

"So how did it feel to be a British soldier in Northern Ireland? These are their stories, terrible stories of bombings, killings and heartache over three decades, told for the first time from their own perspective," related the History Channel, which has relied heavily on one ex-soldier, Ken Wharton, for his contribution to the making of Soldiers' Stories.

Ken, himself a former soldier, has written two books based around his pioneering work in the oral history of the Northern Ireland Troubles. A Long Long War and Bullets, Bombs & Cups of Tea are the two books that have helped shape the new TV series.

The book's stories provided revealing and long-forgotten stories of the Troubles from the back streets of the Ardoyne to the bandit country of South Armagh and are reflected in the TV series.

The first part is to be broadcast on 26th October, at 9pm on the History Channel.

(BMcC/KMcA)

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