'Sir, They're Taking the Kids Indoors'

The British Army in Northern Ireland 1973-74

Ken Wharton

Date Published :
September 2012
Publisher :
Helion and Company
Illustration :
75 b/w photos
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Binding. : Paperback
ISBN : 9781910777428
Pages : 362
Dimensions : 9 X 6 inches
Stock Status : Available
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This is Ken Wharton's eagerly awaited new book chronicling the Northern Ireland troubles from the British soldier's perspective. His finest book to date, surpassing his 2011 work "The Bloodiest Year - Northern Ireland 1972", looks at the bloody period of 1973/4 and features many contributions from those who were there besides superb and painstaking research. 'Sir, they're taking the kids indoors' was a cry heard by most if not all of the British soldiers who served on either the 4 month emergency or the 2 year resident battalion tours of Northern Ireland. It refers to the IRA tactic of warning the civilian population in Republican areas of the impending arrival of one of their gunmen. Clearly, as witnessed by the number of civilian deaths among the Catholic population directly or indirectly at the hands of their 'protectors' in the IRA, they were not averse to killing or causing the deaths of Catholics. Once the 'jungle drums' had warned mothers of the approaching death at the hands of the 'widow maker' they would bring their offspring indoors and thus give the IRA the 'moral high ground' of not shooting their own supporters.

Once a soldier had called out these words to comrades, the patrol would know that the angel of death was in the area, never far away at the best of times. It would alert them to the fact that they had to be ready for something more lethal than the aimed bricks, Molotov cocktails, dead animals, dog excrement and used sanitary towels which the women of the Republican areas so charmingly saved for the optimum moment. It would herald the approach of a gunman or gunmen and the locals, especially those who reveled in the prospect of 'shooting a Brit' or adherents to the Provisionals' line of killing a soldier a day would have their sadistic hatred sated for a day at least at the sight of British blood staining the streets.

One only need consult the roll of honor in any of Ken's books to know that there were many streets in Belfast and Londonderry where the Republican mobs had danced in the blood of a young man from England, Scotland, Wales or even their own Northern Ireland - Spamount Street, New Lodge; Flax Street, Ardoyne; Glenalina Gardens, Ballymurphy; Ardmonagh Gardens, Turf Lodge; Shaw's Road, Andersonstown; Lecky Road, Londonderry and Iniscarn Road, Creggan, Londonderry. All saw British blood stain the tarmac; in some cases on more than occasion.

The blinkered Irish-Americans so willingly, and sometimes not so willingly (there were generally IRA supporters on hand to 'encourage' contributions), gave their hard-earned dollars to support these people. The money was collected on the pretext that it was for the 'families of the men behind the wire' or alms for the people 'back home.' Huge sums were raised which, far from providing alms actually provided arms for the perpetration and perpetuation of the misery for over 1.5 million people living in Northern Ireland. But it wasn't just the Irish-Americans - Irish-Australians, Colonel Gaddafi of Libya and the provocateurs of the former USSR also played their part.

By focusing exclusively on the 1973-74 period, Ken has been able to write in greater detail than hitherto possible about the British Army and their experience during this bloody and important period of 'the Troubles'.

About The Author

Ken Wharton is 59 and is resident now in Australia with his partner Helen. Father of seven and grandfather to three with a fourth pending, he is a skydiver and former football referee. He is also a former soldier and now author of three oral histories on the Northern Ireland troubles. He writes from the perspective of the British soldier as he seeks to put across their story of a conflict, largely forgotten by both Government and public, which claimed the lives of around 1300 military lives. / He has only been writing since 2007 but is planning a further oral history of the troubles, a book on the Australians in Vietnam and a childrens' science fiction book over the next year or two. / There is a clamour from veterans of the Northern Ireland conflict to tell their story and ensure that the truth comes out and in Ken Wharton they have found a conduit for those stories and a man they can trust to ensure that the truth is finally told about the conflict which raged not only a short 30 minute flight from home but also on our own doorsteps.


In 1974 the MoD declared that Northern Ireland was not a war-zone and that none of the fallen soldiers would be honoured on war memorials. Four decades on Ken Wharton has put that right. Sir, They're Taking the Kids Indoors stands as a memorial in its own right. With every word he writes, Ken honours these men.”

- Steven McLaughlin, bestselling author of Squaddie: A Soldier’s Story, April 2012

"A riveting and authentic account of a sobering and seminal period of British and Irish military history. These pages are redolent with random, chaotic and hate-fuelled violence - so epitomized by the chilling phrase "Sir, they're taking the kids indoors” - but they also speak of the heroic sacrifice, patience, humility and self-restraint which were and remain the hallmarks of the British soldier when faced with terrorists hell bent on wreaking death and destruction, whether in 1970s Belfast, or in Helmand province today. Ken Wharton's work is both a hugely important record and a highly readable account. Lest we forget.”

- Damien Lewis, bestselling author of Apache Dawn: Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned and Fire Strike 7/9, April 2012

"As a soldier who served in Northern Ireland in Belfast in 1973 and in Crossmaglen in 1976, Ken Wharton's book of soldiers' true accounts brings back the emotion, the smells, the images, the grinding hours, the constant bombs and bullets and the squalor in which we lived and worked. Only through reading this book can anyone begin to realise what we experienced in the service of our country.”

- Tony Clarke, former Paratrooper and author of Contact, April 2012

"Ken Wharton's most recent book, ‘Sir, They're Taking the Kids Indoors' chronicles the Northern Ireland troubles from the perspective of British soldiers. An incredible collection of photographs and copies of newspaper clippings supplements the extensively researched book. The result is a rich oral history that combines the author's experience as a soldier on the streets of Belfast as well as contributions from others who served during these years of unceasing violence and mayhem."

- Warfare Magazine, November 2012

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