British Soldiers in Belfast
British Soldiers in Belfast - Morale was low, casualties were high.

August 29, 1979 – Northern Ireland: In The Wake Of Mountbatten; Suspects – The Navy And The KKK

British Soldiers in Belfast

British Soldiers in Belfast – Morale was low, casualties were high.

August 29, 1979 – CBS Radio – The World Tonight – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –

August 29, 1979 – Only days after the assassination death of Lord Mountbatten, Irish police were busy rounding up suspects; members of the Irish Republican Army who took credit for the bombing. They went on to say they knew who the murderers were but didn’t have conclusive proof. British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher flew to Norther Ireland to get a first-hand look at the deteriorating situation. Mrs. Thatcher paid an unannounced visit to a British Army garrison in Belfast, in the middle of Provisional IRA territory. There she spoke with survivors of the two bombings from the previous Monday in which 18 British soldiers lost their lives. In what was clearly a boost to sagging morale among the troops, at a time when deteriorating security in Ulster has increased their worries of futrher attacks, Thatcher and her cabinet were in the midst of re-evaluating security measures in the region. Details weren’t released, but it was understood that 13,000 British troops currently stationed in Northern Ireland may be re-deployed but not reinforced. Whether or not that would satisfy the demands of Ulster’s Protestant community for a crackdown on the IRA was unknown. Amid calls from various groups, including two of Ireland’s largest Unionist parties to take stronger action against the IRA, many threatened to take the situation into “their own hands”. A touchy situation in Ireland all around.

Meanwhile, The U.S. Navy ordered a crackdown on racist activity – it came the form of a strongly worded order from Admiral Hayward, Chief of Naval Operations. Hayward did not point any fingers, but apparently the KU Klux Klan was unusually active of late. The KKK was attempting to set up chapters of the group on several Atlantic Fleet ships. Hayward issued orders prohibiting the Klan or any racist group, from holding meetings or enrolling new members on board ships or at bases, and distributing literature. Hayward’s order also suggested Sailors would be dismissed from the Navy for joining the Klan. The Navy did not Klan activity to be widespread at the moment, and was moving to check the organization before it could get any strength within the ranks. However at least two fights between Klan members and Blacks, involving 23 had taken place earlier this year on one ship alone; The Concord, a Combat-Navy supply ship. The Navy was also investigating activity aboard another, as yet unidentified, ship in the Atlantic fleet.

All that, and a story about the rabbit attack on the President while fishing for August 29, 1979 via CBS Radio: The World Tonight.


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