Chapter 13: Ambush
The next day the town was all talk about how Paddy Cleary had vanished into thin air, with the town awash with security forces. The nieces were in a state of shock and their mother, Paddy’s sister-in-law Nora, had come to stay in the pub and house to keep an eye on things in Paddy’s absence. After a sharp exchange of views, the nieces had won the argument that the pub should stayed closed for the time being much to Nora’s disgust at the loss of the income. Instead of buying drink in the pub, the neighbours came and sat in the kitchen drinking tea and wondering aloud about poor Paddy’s disappearance.
In the meantime, Stephen, Gerry and Bernie, who had come home the night before, met up and went through the plan. First of all, Sean explained to Gerry and Bernie about his actions the night before.
“Declan came to my house and told me that he had seen Barry inside the barracks talking to that Blondie fucker” he told them.
Bernie and Gerry were stunned.
“Holy fuck.” said Gerry “What the fuck was he up to?”
Bernie looked at Stephen in shock “Did you know about this?” she asked him.
Stephen shook his head “I only found out last night, after Gerry drove away with Paddy’s body.”
Sean interrupted “Declan came to me and I went to Barry to talk to him. I wanted to see if he would offer any explanation or reason. He didn’t, so after you left last night, Gerry, I questioned him. That’s why I shot Paddy so quickly, I wanted to rattle Barry so that he would talk easier.”
Gerry wiped his brow “This is unbelievable. He must have cracked that night in the barracks.”
Sean answered quickly before Stephen would say anything “He did. He owned up to everything. But the biggest thing that he told us was that Blondie recruited him for one reason and one reason only.”
Bernie and Gerry leaned closer as Bernie raised her eyebrows and asked “What reason?”
Sean shifted in his chair and answered “For some reason Blondie wanted him to set me, and as many of the company as possible, up for elimination.”
Bernie pushed her chair back and stood with temper “Who is this Blondie bastard? And why does he want you that badly? Do you know him?”
Sean took a cigarette out of his pack and threw the box onto the table for the others to take one.
“I recognise one of the MRF pricks. When I was up in Belfast I was with the Shade walking back from the city centre when the MRF ambushed and murdered two of the Belfast Volunteers right before our very eyes.”
He took a drag of his cigarette, while the others waited for him to continue.
“Me and the Shade opened up on the three hitmen. We shot two of them dead but the third returned fire and myself and Shade bolted. The third Brit is one of Blondie’s men, the tall black haired one.” Sean said as he took another pull on his cigarette.
There was a silence while that new development sank in.
Then Bernie asked “But how did he track you back to here? How would they have known you?”
Sean shook his head “I have no fecking idea. I just know that Barry said that Blondie was obsessed with killing me.”
Gerry spat into his hands and rubbed them together “Well we better get him first, is all I have to say.”
Stephen added in “That’s why he gave that little speech at the end. He was trying to isolate you from the rest of us, the scheming bastard!”
They threw about various idea’s about as to how the MRF identified Sean and tracked him down to Glenbeg for a few minutes.
Then Big Gerry spoke loudly “Who gives a fuck how he traced Sean back here. Blondie is here now and as I just said, we had better get him first.”
The others all agreed and Sean said “Right let’s get back to the plan.”
They moved back to the map and Sean continued “First of all nobody says a word about Barry to anyone. And nobody says anything to Barry about ye knowing that he is a tout. In exchange for his life he is helping to set Blondie up for us.”
The others glanced at each other and Bernie and Gerry started raising objections to that news.
Sean put up his hands, “Listen lads, I know that it is not perfect and that Barry is very unstable at the moment, but this is an opportunity that is crying out to be exploited. Blondie thinks that Barry is setting us up, but he is actually setting that Brit up! How ironic is that lads?” He asked.
Gerry replied with an uncertain air “So we use Paddy’s body as a ruse to get Blondie and the MRF fucks to ambush us at Paddy’s body? Because Barry tells him that we are lying in wait there?”
Sean nodded “Nearly right Gerry. Barry tells Blondie at 11 o’clock tomorrow night, that we are dumping Paddy’s body up the mountains on the Breaghmore Road at 1 o’clock, and that we are going to then wait in ambush for the Brits there at the body. The MRF will come out to the dump site straight away in order to set up their ambush before we go there.”
Bernie stayed silent, trying to stay focused and not be distracted at the potential opportunity to shot that Blondie bastard, as she weighed up the pro’s and con’s of what Sean was saying.
Gerry asked, half in frustration “So where do we ambush them? How many ambushes can fit into one fucking site for God’s sake?”
Sean pointed at the map and said “This is where we dump the body. This is where Barry tells Blondie that we are setting up. Two hours earlier Blondie and his crew leave the barracks to set up here, to wait for us to arrive in cars, and to blast us out of it as we arrive. But in actual fact we will be here, at this point, half a mile down the road. The ground rises steeply here to a small shelf, four feet above this shelf the ground continues to rise but at a gentler incline. We will be on the slope above the shelf, nearly looking straight down onto them. It will be like shooting fish in a barrel. Jimmy will have a bomb made to blast them and we finish them off with the rifles and machine guns.”
Sean finished speaking and the others opened up with questions, probing and prodding the details.
While the plan seemed complicated at first, as they discussed the details, it actually became very doable. The reliability of Barry was the major uncertainty, they all agreed.
The ambush unit would be Sean, Stephen, Bernie, Jimmy the bomb maker, Timmy Howling, Padraig McManus, and the two O’Reilly brothers. After three hours of planning and going over the details they went their separate ways to take care of their appointed tasks. They had a short lead time to secure a van to bring them to the site, they had to collect the guns and ammunition from a couple of different arms dumps, the bomb had to be manufactured plus the team had to be assembled to go over the details and everyone’s role.
It was another extremely busy day for the Glenbeg Company.
That night the Volunteers gathered in a safe house on a farm on the way to Cranagh. All of the picked volunteers, including Barry, turned up and they went through their roles and responsibilities. Also there were the volunteers that would act as lookouts and scouts. This was the biggest operation ever undertaken by the company. Sean ran through the plan a few times with everyone until everyone had a good grasp of their duties. Then Sean called a break, to have a cigarette and a cup of tea.
During the break Sean pulled Barry to one side and said “How are you doing Barry? Are you still up for this?”
Barry took a puff from his cigarette and answered confidently “I am Sean. You can count on me.”
Sean asked “Will you go to the barracks to tell Blondie or tell him over the phone?”
Barry replied without hesitation “I’ll have to go to the barracks to tell him, to show him how serious and what a good opportunity this is. He will definitely go for this.”
Sean looked directly at him “Spot on our kid. Tell him that you were called to the meeting to plan the ambush but that you were not needed and that I thought that you were still a bit under pressure from the torture night, so sent you away home.”
Barry finished off his cigarette “Aye, he will believe that too!” he replied.
Sean too finished off his cigarette and stood on the butt “You know your role so you can head away. You know me, I’m going to go through everything for another couple of hours with the ambush unit. I want everything to work like clockwork.”
“That’s sound, Sean. I’ll not see you until after the ambush.” He looked at Sean “Will you come to my house afterwards with the money? I am putting the family into the car and driving down to Athlone immediately you hand it over to me.”
Sean sighed “I will but I won’t go in. I’m sorry it is ending like this Barry, tell Helen that I was asking for her and that I wish her well in her new life. Now head away kid.”
Sean turned away and returned to the planning session while Barry walked out the door and left part of his life behind him.
Barry drove into town his head full of anguish, mixed emotions and plans. As he arrived into town he was duly stopped at a checkpoint, as seemed to be the norm these days. The British soldiers questioned his movements and searched his car, hurriedly in the pouring rain. On finding nothing they instructed him to continue on home and not cause any hassle as they rushed back into the shelter of their army vehicle. He nodded in agreement and drove away giving them a polite smile. He drove into a side street off the diamond, where he got out to call Blondies number from the public payphone. Even though it was 10:00 on a Friday night Blondie answered immediately.
“Well well. If it’s not my own little canary bird.” he snarled into the phone.
Barry swallowed his nervousness “I have it arranged. We need to talk now. I’ll be in the agreed spot.” He said into the phone and immediately he hung up.
He walked quickly down the street to the rear of the old Church of Ireland church. Looking around him and seeing no one in sight, he easily leapt the wall into the graveyard. He moved quickly through the graves, blessing himself and looking straight ahead. He wasn’t superstitious but he wanted to err on the safe side and it was eerie at this late time with the wind and rain whipping around the old gravestones. As he approached the tall spire over the tomb of The Earl of Sperrin, he paused to look cautiously around him peering into the darkness. He continued walking to the front entrance of the tomb. When he got to the entrance he stopped walking and stood still listening for any sounds, still trying to peer into the rain lashed darkness. He stood there for several long wet minutes, the rain starting to seep through his jacket and run down his neck.
He shook the rain off his jacket and muttered “Fuck this.” under his breath and turned to leave annoyed and worried that Blondie had not showed up.
“Fucking prick.” he said out aloud.
“Not me I hope.” said the harsh English voice nearly in Barry’s ear.
Barry leapt in the air nearly having a heart attack with the closeness of the voice.
“Fucking hell.” he said “you nearly gave me a seizure. What the fuck!”
“Easy Irish.” said the black clothed Blondie. “I wanted to make sure that you weren’t followed or setting me up for a little IRA surprise party. My men are scattered around the graveyard just in case.”
The rain was running down Blondie’s face over the black and grey camouflage paint. He looked even more deadly here in this darkened grave yard with his eyes of steel drilling into Barry’s head. Barry shivered and looked quickly around. He could see nobody else in the graveyard.
Taking a deep breath Barry said “Right I have it set up. Sean is dumping Paddy Cleary’s body tomorrow night. He is going to ambush any soldiers that come out to collect the body. To draw ye out straight away the phone call will claim that Paddy is still breathing.”
Blondie nodded still staring into Barry’s eyes.
“So” he said “where will they ambush us?”
Barry paused “He doesn’t know that it will be you. He only wants security forces to shoot at, he doesn’t care which ones.”
“And where?” growled Blondie.
Barry once again took a deep breath. “I want £50,000 and me and my family immediately relocated to a different country.”
Blondie stared without blinking “We agreed £20,000 and a relocation.” he hissed.
Barry answered “If you want himmmm,,,,, “
He didn’t even see the punch that hit him in the chest like a sledgehammer. He flew backwards gasping for breath, trying to suck in the air. He fell against the wall of the Earl’s tomb and steadied himself, as he bent over to try to ease the tightening and emptied lungs.
Blondie wasted no time and rushed in close to Barry, caught him by the hair and slapped his open hand across side of Barry’s head. The pain shooting through Barry’s ear and into his brain. As Barry threw his arms up over his head to try and block some of the expected blows, a kick into the back of his knees buckled him and he fell forward.
“Now sweet thing” said Blondie holding Barry’s hair in a vice like grip. “Tell me all about this ambush.”
Barry’s head was pulled up so that the rain was lashing straight into his face. He blinked to try to stop the water going into his eyes.
“£50,000.” he rasped.
Blondie hit him a chop into the neck and drew a kick into Barry’s groin area Barry blocked most of the momentum with his hands but the weight of the boot still sent a bolt of pain through his body. He gasped with the agony. Blondie pulled him forward still gripping his hair.
“This is going to be a long night.” he snarled into Barry’s face.
“Now once again. Tell me about the ambush. And your reward is gone down to £15,000 mister smart fuck.”
Barry looked up and stared right into Blondies eyes, defiance blazing from his own eyes
“£55,000 to you, you smart arse Brit.” Barry said, surprisingly clear headed.
Blondie started kicking and punching Barry, leathering his body with blows and not caring where the blows landed. Barry was trying to curl up to protect himself in some fashion. Blondie stopped and he sucked in air.
Harold stepped out of the darkness “Do you want to drag this shit back to the barracks? We can have more fun inside out of the rain.” he asked.
Harold bend over Barry and picked up Barry’s head to see if he was still conscience.
Barry spat out blood and looking into Harold’s face hissed “Bring me wherever you want you Brit pig. You don’t understand do you?”
Harold went to slap him, but Blondie caught his wrist “Wait. Let’s hear what this prick has to say before we kill him slowly and painfully.”
He looked at Barry “We don’t understand what, you Irish queer?” He asked.
Barry shook his head to try to stop the ringing in his head. “You don’t understand that I’ve nothing to lose.” he said struggling for breath “You have taken everything from me. I have to run away from my home, from my own people. I’m the lowest of the low, a fucking traitor, a fucking tout. All for £20,000? No fucking way. I want £50,000, something worth my while cos I can never again be the person I am now. My family can never again be the family they are now. So pay up or fuck off and do your worse. In fact, I think that I would rather be dead than what you want me to be.”
He sunk back onto the ground exhausted and drenched to the skin.
Harold spat into the wet ground near Barry’s face “Will I drag this fuck back to the barracks sir?” he asked.
“No” answered Kenneth, looking strangely at Barry. “He does have a point, he is a fucking lowlife tout and we are going to get Clarke and most of his scumbag murderers.”
He bent down beside Barry and said softly “All I can get is £35,000 tops. I’ll have it ready for you tomorrow night. We take care of Clarke and the others and the money will be here in the barracks for you. And then you and your family go straight away. That’s all I can pay. Is it a deal Barry? If it is we go back to the barracks and go over the details to prepare.”
Barry nodded his head “Aye.” he said.
Blondie gave a low whistle and his men rose from their hidden positions. They cautiously headed back to the barracks. Harold picked up Barry and threw his slump body towards Tommy and Arthur who half carried him back to the barracks.
Back at the barracks Barry stripped out if his drenched clothes and put on some old bits of mismatched clothing that the MRF men got together. He hunched over an electric heater and sipped at his cup of tea. His body ached all over from head to toe but he had stopped shivering and he could think perfectly clearly now.
“Right” said Blondie calling Barry over, he opening up a map and spreading it out on the table “Let’s go through the Provo plans.”
Barry looked at the map. He could clearly see where Sean planned to dump poor Paddy Cleary’s body. He said nothing and shifted his eyes down the road, around half a mile to where the ambushers would wait. He thought about the detail that went into the plan, the names and the weapons and the escape route. He sighed as it was decision time.
He looked at the ring of Brits around him “Can I have a smoke please?” he asked politely.
Tommy was just lighting one so he handed it to Barry and dug into his packet for another one. Barry drew deeply on the fag, inhaling nearly a quarter of the cigarette in one suck. He held the smoke enjoying it like he was a condemned man walking towards the gallows.
He sighed again, made his decision and breathed a sigh of acceptance. He pointed to two spots on the map.
“There are two ambush sites” he began and talked for the next hour going over all the details of the two sites. Kenneth and his team all huddled around Barry and the map. When he had finished going over the plan there was a silence and then they all started asking questions. Jumping from one site to the other, their trained military minds identifying the strong points and the weaknesses of the two sites and of the plan in its totality. After a half an hour of quizzing Barry that had covered all the ground that they needed to know and they sat back, digesting the information.
Kenneth tapped the map with his pointer “Not a bad plan for a bunch of amateurs.” he grudgingly admitted.
He pictured Clarke and that red haired witch laying in wait, their guns on the ready waiting for them to drive up the road to that fuck, Paddy Cleary’s body.
“Right” he said “the first thing is that you, Barry are coming with us. So be at the bottom of the back lane at 2130 hours’ tomorrow night. We will pick you up and bring you here to tog you out in some gear and then we all head out, together.
Barry objected “Why the fuck do you want me to go? What use will I be up there?”
Blondie pinched Barry’s check, “Keeping my friends closer” he replied “If you fuck me over, you get it first my old mate.”
Barry looked around the room and thought “Fuck it. That doesn’t change anything. I will have to go with Blondie to the ambush. I need to get the money and that’s that.”
He nodded agreement at Blondie.
Blondie smiled and said “Barry get changed into your own clothes. Tommy and a detail will bring you back to the graveyard. That’s it for now and we will see you tomorrow night.”
He winked at Barry “Sleep tight sweet pea.” he said with a grin.
The scars that Bernie had left on his face were fading but still clear to see now that the camouflaged paint was removed plus his head was still slightly swollen.
Barry forced a smile “See you then.” he replied and thought “How’s your nuts scumbag. Fair dues to Bernie.” as he headed out the door.
Kenneth dismissed his squad and he retired into his office with Harold and Alfie to go over the ambush and their plans to wipe out the ambushers.
The next day Sean and his company were all excitement as they gathered all the needed weapons and required gear. Meeting points were arranged, combat gear was gathered, weapons were distributed or brought out to dumps closer to the ambush site. Gerry arranged for one of the McGroarys to bring Paddy’s body to the spot and dump it there that night. Sean had detailed two of the new recruits to help Jimmy make enough explosives out of fertiliser for the bomb.
Away from all of this action Barry sat at his kitchen table and lit a cigarette.
“That Sean Clarke is pompous bastard.” he thought to himself. “Blondies right. Sean won’t be missed and when this war is over I will be back. Back to dance on Sean Clarke’s self-righteous grave.”
He stubbed the cigarette out angrily.
“Yeah” he said out loud “I’m doing what’s right for me and my family so fuck you Sean.”
He looked at his watch. He had another couple of hours before he told Helen to pack and get the kids ready to leave. She will be totally confused at first but once they settled and had money and good jobs she would be alright and happy. He stood up and avoided looking at his reflection in the window. He walked out into the yard to light another cigarette and to get a breath of fresh air.
That night at 20 minutes to ten, Barry stood at the top of the lane way into the back of the barracks. He stood pressed against the hedge wishing he could have a cigarette but knew that he couldn’t light one here. Things hadn’t gone well with Helen. She had demanded answers and the reasoning behind this sudden development. Worse again he had told her the amount of money was £35000 when he had meant to say the amount the Sean was giving them. She was not impressed and when he had left her she was still resisting the idea. He didn’t know how it was going to handle this but it would have to wait and hope for the best, but it didn’t look good. And when it came to Helen and the kids jumping into a van full of Brits it looked even less likely.
Barry shrugged his shoulders and looked nervously about the laneway,
“It’s dark with all of the clouds in the sky,” he thought “but Thank God it’s not raining. I’ve had my fill of rain last night. Fucking Blondie and Sean.” he added, feeling sorry for himself.
Then he saw the van approaching from the diamond. He couldn’t make out the driver but he recognized the dents and cracked windscreen from the Brits visit to Omagh. It slowed and the back side door slide open.
“Jump in.” he was instructed so he ran beside the van leaping in and sliding up against the front partition. There were two of the MRF men in the back, one sliding shut the side door. The van picked up speed and drove down the lane. The back gate swung open and they drove straight through.
“Listen Barry” said Harold from the front seat “Don’t talk to anyone about tonight’s operation. The regular troopers are not aware of this mission; this is strictly a professional’s job. We will kit you out and then we are gone by 2200 hours. Do you understand?”
Barry nodded in the darken van and squeaked “Yes sir.”
The others chuckled at his submissiveness. They parked the van by the door into their quarters and jumped out and jogged immediately into the building. The door opened on their approach and closing immediately behind them. All the MRF men were busy, loading weapons, checking equipment and getting into their camouflaged uniforms.
Tommy threw some clothes at Barry “Here” he said “try them on for size. When you are ready call me, and I’ll put on the camouflage paint. We don’t want your sorry face to be spotted and giving us away. I wish you weren’t coming, cramping our style man.”
Then he turned and walked away busy with getting ready.
At exactly 2200 hours the men exited their building and clamoured into the van, laden with equipment. Barry noticed that the Regular Army Captain was driving. Blondie was in the front passenger seat and Harold and the six other MRF men were in the back.
Barry could hear Blondie talking to the driver “Drop us off and come back to town. Keep your radio on. I will tell you when to tell your Lieutenant-Colonel that we are on a mission and that we require assistance, after we eliminate these bastards. They will not be expecting us to be stationed above their ambush, so it should be a fish bowl shoot. Return for us ahead of the troopers. We will have this bunch of terrorist bastards wrapped up well and truly by then.”
He laughed a harsh laugh and settled down for the twenty minute drive to the ambush site.
Barry looked around at the Brits. They were all geared out in camouflaged clothing, their faces painted black and grey. They were all wearing helmets with binoculars fitted to them.
Tommy say him looking at his helmet and laughed and said “These are the most advanced Generation 2 night vision devices available Irish. Those Provo dirt bags will be peering into the night and we will see them as clear as day. They, my dear man, are dead meat.”
He then continued to adjust the device that he had.
“Here” he told Barry “put these on so that you can see the show.” Handing the night vision glasses and helmet to Barry, he then prepared another set for himself.
It was pitched dark out when Kenneth told the Captain to stop the van. As soon as it stopped the doors flew open and the MRF men speedily filed out the doors. Without pause they climbed and scrambled up the rock face of the hill. The van turned around and sped back down the road and the mountain side back to the barracks. They continued up the hill. Barry was amazed at his ability to see so well in the pitch darkness. Everything had a green hue to it, but he could see relatively well. After around 30 yards there was a whisper passed though the group
“This is where the Provo scum will lie in wait.” Tommy whispered to him, pointing over to a spot around ten yards to his left. The group paused briefly to look at the terrain and then continued to walk up the hill side. It was not so steep now and when Barry looked back he could not see the road. After walking up the hill until they were approximately 50 yards above the Provo site.
“You know the plan.” The Sergeant Major said “spread out but keep tight enough, because they will only be spread out for around 30 feet. Tommy you set up here. Barry you come over here to me behind this rock and in this hollow. I need you to keep perfectly still and quiet. If there is any difficulty I will slit your throat without a thought. Do you understand?”
He took a knife out of the holder strapped to his leg and strapped it lightly to his forearm. He patted it and turned to Barry.
He advised Barry “It’s nice and handy, one swift motion and you will bleed to death without a sound. Understand Irish?”
Barry swallowed and said “Yes understood.”
Blondie looked at his watch it’s 2230 hours “They will be here in half an hour according to your story. Settle down here and I’ll let you know when they arrive.”
Barry looked around and was still amazed at how clearly he could see in the dark. He looked to both sides trying to identify where the other MRF members were lying. He could not see all of them but he could make out the barrels of their rifles and guns as they calmly adjusted the sights and the angle of their firing range. They could not see the road properly because of the angle and slope of the hillside but they could see where Sean and his volunteers were going to set up their positions.
The plan was that they would let Sean and the other terrorists settle into their position, to make sure that they got Sean before firing. Barry had outlined everyone’s position and where they would be lying. Coincidentally there would be 8 Provo ambushers and directly behind them the 8 MRF men. Kenneth had chosen his target and was behind that red head Bitch, while Harold had pick Clarke to be his personal target, in revenge for his two men lost in Belfast. The others had all picked someone and they were now lying quietly, on the ground and behind outcrops of rocks, waiting for their wanna be ambushers to arrive.
Barry was a bag of nerves and was constantly shifting and looking around. Blondie lay there motionless except for his eyes which constantly moved taking in everything. At approximately 2300 hours they first saw car lights in the distance driving up the mountain side.
Blondie whispered into his radio “Two vehicles approaching.”
There was an air of tension as everyone made the last adjustments and waited, watching the lights get closer. They could now hear the engines approaching. The vehicles wound their way up the narrow mountain road. The first was a car and came to a halt directly below The MRF position. The other stopped around one hundred yards back down the road. The MRF men couldn’t see what was happening on the road as the driver of the car got out and looked around and scrambled up the hill to ensure that the chosen spot had not been compromised. Barry could see the person as he came over the ledge onto the slope. He could make out the figure but could not identify which one of his former comrades it was.
The Provo had a flashlight and checked the surrounding area carefully. The MRF men dare not even breathe, even though the Provo did not climb to within 50 yards of them. The Provo scout climbed back down the hill and signalled to the second vehicle to join him. The second vehicle was a van that also stopped directly below them, out of sight.
Barry could nearly smell the adrenaline and anticipation oozing from Blondie.
Down on the road the doors of the van opened and through the MRF men could not see the road, in the night silence they could hear the people piling out of the vans and milling around in a large group. Because of the rocks, they were in and out of the MRF men’s sight as they slowly worked their way up the mountainside towards their ambush position. They were milling about so close together and behind the rocks that it was impossible to distinguish who was who or how many there were. After what seemed like an age, they eventually reached their ambush position and began moving about setting up.
To Barry’s surprise they seemed to drape tarps over themselves and settle down, lying on the ground completely covered, with their guns sticking out pointing down towards the roadway. The 8 Provo ambushers were facing the road and had their backs to where Barry was lying with the MRF men. After helping the ambush team with the tarps and running the bomb wire the couple of other Provo’s all moved back down the hillside sliding and climbing down to the road. Barry could hear them jumping into the van and car and driving away.
Barry thought that it all seemed so amateurish after watching the MRF in action.
There was silence on the mountainside as they watched the two vehicles drive off in the distance. Barry could barely make out the eight forms down the hill from him but he could plainly see their rifles and guns protruding out towards the road which they expected the MRF to drive along. Barry looked down, quietly identifying to himself the forms hidden under the tarps.
“The one on the far right flank is Jimmy the bomber” Barry thought “He will blow up the lead Brit vehicle. On his left is Stephen. Stephen is stationed there to help Jimmy if anything goes wrong with the explosives or if Jimmy needs any help at all. On Stephens left is one of the O’Reilly brothers. It’s strange I’m not sure which brother is there. Shane or Colm, then there is Sean. To his left is Bernie, beside her is the other O’Reilly brother, then Timmy and Eamon bringing up the left flank.”
“Strange” he thought “I feel like I’m watching a film or TV. I don’t feel any emotion or sympathy for those lads down there. Bernie maybe but she and the rest of them have brought all of this on themselves.”
He thought through the planned getaway “Eamon will do rear-guard after the ambush, as the Provo unit withdraw to the van that will be parked in the quarry just over and down the mountain side. I know them all personally. Some since my first day at school, Stephen and Bernie especially.”
He sensed Blondie moving to his side and then whispered into his radio. Blondie shifted slightly as he took his hand off his knife and brought it to his rifle stock. He steadied up for the first shot that would be the beginning of a hailstorm of deadly leaden bullets fired into his unsuspecting ex-friends and comrades.
Barry didn’t know why or how but he suddenly leapt up shouting and running down the mountain side,
“Sean! Sean! Ambush! Ambush!”
he started shouting as Blondie fired the first shot, closely followed by the continuing cracking of the other MRF men’s guns. The bullets whizzed past him and he froze having only run five or six yards. Through his night vision glasses he saw the bullets ripping into the huddled forms. He saw the rifles of the Provo ambushers flying into the air unused, or fall over the edge of the slope. Barry fell to his knees with utter sorrow and defeat as the firing stopped. There was a brief silence and then one more crack of a rifle as Blondie’s next shot hit him in the side of the head, tossing him several yards down the mountain side. Blondie fired two more shots into his body, the rounds exploding into his insides. He felt, saw or heard nothing as he laid there lifeless.
Blondie spoke into his radio “Advance but be careful”
The MRF men stood and began their walk down the mountain side to examine their handiwork and to finish off any survivors. They walked carefully, half crouching and keeping an eye on the motionless forms that they had just shot to pieces. As they moved down the slope Blondie walked past Barry’s lifeless form, barely paying notice but, casually throwing a kick into Barry’s body
They continued for another 5 yards when Kenneth hear several cracks from both sides and he saw several of his men thrown forward sprawling onto the ground.
“Hit the dirt” he shouted throwing himself down and to the side, he felt one round graze his neck and heard another go by his ear.
As he hit the ground he desperately rolled down the slope, the rocks of the rough mountainside digging into his body. He let off a burst of gunfire from his rifle in the general direction of where he thought the shots came from. As he continued to roll the bullets bouncing off the rocks he noticed that there was only one other of his men rolling with him. They rolled for another ten yards and stopped in a slight hollow.
Kenneth barely stopped his momentum as he shouted “Up and run for the road. We will have cover at the other side of those dead Provo’s.” he barked and ran weaving down the slope as the Provo snipers zeroed in on their location. Tommy got up and fired two rounds at the general area that the snipers were and turning to run after his Sergeant Major he felt a punch into his side that sent him into a heap a yard further down the slope. Tommy tried to lift his gun when two more bullets ripped into his chest and stomach tearing through his bullet prove vest, jerking his body with their power. He laid there staring up at the clouds in the night sky and as his blood ran down the mountain side he passed away.
Kenneth was running bobbing and weaving towards the lifeless forms of the dead terrorists. He didn’t notice that there was no more bullets being fired his way.
“I’m nearly there” he thought gratefully “only around ten more yards.”
Suddenly two form rose from the ground and standing only fifteen feet away opened up with two Thompson machine guns straight into his upper chest and neck area. He was thrown backwards dropping his gun as his arms flung back, he hit the ground with a grunt. The bullet proof vest had stopped most of the rounds but two had entered his neck and the blood was gurgling out of these wounds. Some blood was flowing down his windpipe and into his lungs and was drowning him.
The shooters calmly walked up the incline to stand over him. He was paralysed, the bullets having severed his spinal cord. He laid there helplessly and looked pleadingly up at the camouflaged figures. One stood back and covered him with his gun while the other form knelt beside him.
“Those green fucking eyes” he thought as he gurgled his last breath, the last words he heard was her perfectly calm voice
“I told you that you would die in Ireland.” she said and he breathed his last.
Sean and two snipers came down one side of the slope while Gerry and two other snipers came from the other side. Armed with American Army M21 Sniper automatic rifles, they wore night vision goggles attached to their helmets.
Sean patted one on the arm “You Cork and Donegal lads got good training down there with Jackie Hearty.” he said with a grim smile.
One of the Donegal lads turned to Sean “Johnny O’Neill will be proud of how you handled this wee shoot out.” he said.
They walked swiftly down the slope pausing only to collect the guns, ammo and equipment from the dead MRF men. Stephen and Timmy came jogging up the hill to help strip the soldiers of their guns. Sean and Gerry paused over the lifeless form of Barry, they blessed themselves, said a silent prayer and then lifted him up. They carried him between them as they continued down the slope. Their two vehicles pulled up and the volunteers jumped out, to help with the guns and ammo and cleaning up the tarps and straw filled cloths that they had stuffed under the tarps earlier in the night. In the distance they could hear the sirens of the Brits rushing up the mountain road from Glenbeg. They could also hear the exchange of gunfire in the distance as their comrades shot at the convoy from various locations slowing the convoy down. Everything except the eight dead MRF was taken from the mountainside and the Volunteers sped off towards Greencastle and then on to Carrickmore to safe houses and various safe arm dumps.
It was 4 o’clock in the morning and all the people from the town were up and peering out their windows, at all the activity around the barracks and the roads in and out of town. Helicopters were flying overhead and heading away into the distant mountains. The neighbours were slipping from one house to another, trying to the find out the happenings of the night. Putting their thoughts and speculation together and the whole countryside was awash with rumours.
Sean came slipping through the fields. The Brit Army was now setting up checkpoints throughout the entire South Derry East Tyrone area. However, with all of the activity having taken place up the mountains it was relatively easy to travel through the fields close to Glenbeg undetected. He carefully approached Barry and Helens house. The curtains were closed but he could see light through the gaps in the curtains. He walked quietly up to the back door and knocked loudly. Inside he heard a chair scrape off the kitchen floor. He listened as the quiet steps of Helens footsteps approached the door.
“Helen” he said softly “Open up, its Sean Clarke.”
Helen turned off the inside light and opened the door as Sean pushed passed her and closed the door behind him. Helen looked at Sean and left the main light off, she turned and walked back to the kitchen table tears welling in her eyes. She looked at Sean, still standing by the door into the kitchen
“Seeing you here without Barry can only be bad news.” she said quietly. “So Sean, tell me what has happened to my Barry? What did you do to him? It must be some story for you to risk coming into town and the whole county in an upheaval.”
Sean took a deep breath and sat at the table opposite her
“Helen I have some very bad news and that’s why I wanted to talk and tell you myself.”
He could see it the bad lighting that her shoulders were heaving and shaking.
“Did Barry tell you that I would be by with money for him and you to leave here and start elsewhere?” He asked.
Helen didn’t look up “He told me that you were giving him £35000 to leave here. He didn’t say why or anything.” she said “He told me to have the kids and everything ready to go tonight.”
“Helen” Sean replied “I told Barry that I would have £20000 for him to start a new life away from here. And I also told him that he was not to return to Ireland again.”
Helen gasped with anger “And what gives you the right to tell anyone where to live.” she snarled at him totally confused as to where this was heading but knowing it wasn’t to a good place.
“Helen” Sean repeated her name “listen to me. Barry was a traitor and I found out a couple of days ago. They broke him when they lifted and tortured us that time.”
“God.” she said “that night seems so long ago. My Barry has been shattered since”
“An awful lot of water has gone under the bridge since then.” Sean answered.
“So why didn’t you shoot him like poor Paddy Cleary.” she snapped at him. “I hear that his bullet riddled body was found dumped up in the mountains, left to rot.”
Sean sighed “He didn’t inform on us. He has been working with the MRF to set up the local Glenbeg Company to be wiped out in an ambush. I found out and talked to him. He told me all about it and that the Brits were giving him £20000 and a new life abroad. I offered to match it if he helped us set up the MRF, on condition that he leave the country. It was that or shoot him.”
Helen looked at Sean her eyes blazing “That or shoot him? As calmly as that?” she hissed “You Goddamn anti-Christ. No wonder he was a bag of nerves for the past couple of weeks. And you strutting about like you are cock of the hoop.”
She closed her eyes as the tears flowed. She was still so confused “Why was there the difference in money? Where was Barry now? Why did he turn on the local boys? What had those Brit bastards done to him? So many questions” she thought.
Sean had stood up and turned on the kettle for a cup of tea. He stood there at the counter watching her mind race through all this horrify news. He lit a cigarette as he made a pot of tea for the two of them. Helen had stopped sobbing and was now sitting unmoving in her chair. Sean sat down as he poured the tea.
“Where is Barry” she asked, dreading the answer.
“Barry was killed during the ambush tonight.” Sean said “He died trying to save us from the attack.”
Helens face sank into her hands. “Where is my Barry’s body?” she asked. “Is he still lying out there on the mountain side?”
“My poor Barry.” she whispered to herself.
“We were able to carry Barry’s body away from the fighting area. We didn’t want a volunteer’s body left there for them to abuse any more. He is in a safe house and will be brought to an undertaker tomorrow and then brought home here to you.” Sean told her.
Helen looked up at Sean “So you are giving him a volunteers funeral?” she asked.
“Yes.” Sean replied.
She shook her head, sipping deeply on her cup of tea.
“Why did he turn?” she wondered out loud and looked inquiringly at Sean.
Sean took a deep breath and replied “They had pictures of him in a compromising position. They were taken when he was in Southampton. He didn’t want to bring shame on his family or to you or his mother, he told me.”
Helen sat for an hour not moving, sometimes sobbing other times just sitting with her shoulders hunched.
Eventually she sat up straight “There’s more to this than you’re telling me Sean Clarke. Barry told me to have the children ready to leave and he mentioned more money that you said, so he was getting money from elsewhere. It must have been the Brits.”
Sean stood and walked over to her. He put his arm around her shoulder
“Helen” he said “I can tell you that Barry died as a volunteer there is no debating that. I must go it’s getting bright soon. Helen you won’t want to hear this, but I must say and do this, as I promised Barry that I would. In my kit bag here is £20,000. Use it to sort out you and your kid’s futures.”
Helen started objecting but Sean over spoke her “No, listen take it. I’m leaving the bag. I can’t force you to do anything so do whatever you want with it. I’ll see you around. I’m sorry that it ended this way for Barry.”
And he left himself out the door and quickly climbed the fence into the safety of the hedgerow and started walking away from the town.