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IRA Terror on Britain’s Streets 1939–1940 (ePub)

The Wartime Bombing Campaign and Hitler Connection

P&S History > By Century > 20th Century P&S History > True Crime World History > UK & Ireland > Ireland World History > UK & Ireland > Northern Ireland

By Dick Kirby
Imprint: Pen & Sword True Crime
File Size: 27.8 MB (.epub)
Pages: 240
ISBN: 9781526786432
Published: 8th April 2021


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It is little known today that, in January 1939, the IRA launched a bombing campaign, codenamed The S - or Sabotage - Plan on mainland England. With cynical self-justification, they announced that it was not their intention to harm human life but in just over a year, 265 explosive devices resulted in the deaths of seven innocent people, with 117 injuries and widespread devastation. London, Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool and many other towns and cities were targeted.

On 25 August 1939, detectives in London defused three devices set to detonate that afternoon at 2.30 and arrested four terrorists. At the same time an identical bomb exploded in Coventry city centre killing five civilians and injuring 72, the highest body count of the campaign.

Numerous arrests were made nationwide but ill-trained personnel and additional national security resulting from the threat of Nazi invasion caused the campaign to falter and fade away in early 1940. The author, a former detective, is well qualified to write this book, having spent 18 months in Northern Ireland combatting terrorism, for which he was commended by the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Lord Imbert, for displaying ‘courage, dedication and detective ability’.

This book is fascinating in that it looks closely at the early skills and tactics used by the police to detect and solve these kinds of crimes. Overall a thoroughly good book and very comprehensive, certainly a good book for anyone who love true crime.

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The History Fella

A lot of insight into this period of the IRA’s history and how the intelligence services worked to stop them.

A great read.

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For the Love of Books

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District News Transcript from the 'Bray People'

This a fascinating and detailed account of this 15-month IRA bombing campaign in Britain written in a very clear and concise manner and looking in detail at this campaign which only receives a passing mention in most books dealing with various aspects of 20th century Irish history.

This is book that I really enjoyed and found hard to put down given the excellence of the research carried out by the author and one particular chapter I enjoyed at the end was ‘What Happened Next’ in which he reveals what subsequently became of many of those mentioned in the text and an excellent way to conclude it.

This is an essential book for anyone collecting books on Irish history to include in their collection.

Federation of Local History Societies newsletter - August 17th 2021

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Dalkey Community Council Newsletter - August 2021

"Fascinating and engrossing"

GenealogicaL Society of Ireland newsletter - August 2021

I have known Dick Kirby since we met in 1983 when we were both Detective Sergeants working the Borough of Islington. As you know he has written countless books on his experiences in the Metropolitan Police and crime fighters in general. I have read all his books yet never cease to be amazed how he comes up with another one in a short space of time. He clearly puts in a tremendous amount of research into his books involving subjects which date back nearly 200 years. In his latest book, ‘IRA Terror on Britain’s Streets 1939/40’, I was aware of this campaign, being a keen reader of anything relating to WW11, but only had a fleeting knowledge of the campaign. Dick has carried out his usual in depth research and gives a full account of the various bombing atrocities, and attempts to carry out even more such events, in the UK. His style of story telling makes it very easy for the reader to follow events and not be bored. What is amazing is the efficiency of the British Police, both uniform and detectives to arrest those responsible. When you think they had no modern aids like CCTV, phone intercepts, personal radios, vast intelligence networks, DNA etc and yet suspects were arrested for all the major bombings. Dick’s story is a superb tribute to the successes of the British Police in the trying times leading to the outbreak of WW11. The book is also one that students of the history of the IRA, in the lead up to and during the first year of this War, cannot afford to ignore. A gripping book which once started I couldn’t put down, until I had finished it.

Mick Carter

An interesting and eye opening read at times, well for me anyway, there was a lot on here that was new to me and it was so fresh to read about a part of the troubles not written about much. It’s well written, keeps you interested and as a former detective the author gives a knowledgeable feel. Great history.

NetGalley, Tara Keating

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

This is a well-written, largely researched narrative that was as entertaining as it was informative a out a little-known parcel of history related to the IRA. Great read for anyone interested in history, Ireland, true crime, or nonfiction in general. You don't want to be left out and miss the opportunity to read this engaging book. This is the first book I have read by this author, but it won't be the last.

NetGalley, Brenda Yeager

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

The narration of this book is very informative, although it doesn’t strive to be very neutral (if one can be in a situation like this). Being a former Detective that worked directly in Northern Ireland for a period, one can assume that Kirby wouldn’t be too excited to sing the virtues of men that would have wanted him dead. With his unique insight on the situation, and both an acerbic wit and self deprecating humor – this book is very addictive and sometimes humorous despite the dark topic.

I think my biggest takeaways from the book are some of the origins of The Troubles, even dating back into the nineteenth century. I had no idea that The IRA sprang from groups like the Fenian Brotherhood and the fact that it was originally an American organization that repatriated back into Ireland to instigate an uprising was interesting. I also had no idea that some versions of the IRA had ties to Hitler during the Second World War.

Just like with many books from this publisher that I have been reading lately, I quite enjoyed this book, and would highly recommend it to anyone with an interest in true crime books, Ireland, or World War II history. It covers a topic that not many of my American friends, with me being an American myself, would know about.

NetGalley, Stephen Kelley

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I thought I was quite well-educated on the history of Britain in 1939, a year that saw the beginning of the war with Nazi Germany. While most will be aware of that I doubt I'm the only one surprised to learn that it was also the year the IRA launched mass bombing attacks in a campaign that lasted through to the next year.

Dick Kirby is one of my favourite True Crime authors and I interrupted my "catch up" of his back catalogue to devour his latest book, IRA Terror on Britain's Streets 1939-1940. As always with one of Mr Kirby's books this is meticulously researched and goes into great detail about the protagonists ,the plot,their capture and trials. It also tells in great detail the carnage wrought by the cowardly attacks with the protestations that those of us who remember later attacks will be familiar with that they were planned so as not endanger human life. which were just as dishonest and cynical then as they have been since.
As usual Dick Kirby treats us to his disdainful view of the justice system and again he shows that weak sentencing and certain Judges being in the wrong job entirely is not new either.

This is a fascinating book on events that many will be totally unaware of,lost amongst the better known history of that era.

NetGalley, Dave Blendell
 Dick Kirby

About Dick Kirby

Dick Kirby was born in the East End of London and joined the Metropolitan Police in 1967. Half of his twenty-six years’ service was spent with Scotland Yard’s Serious Crime Squad and the Flying Squad.
Kirby contributes to newspapers and magazines on a regular basis, as well as appearing on television and radio. The Guv’nors, The Sweeney, Scotland Yard’s Ghost Squad, Brave Blue Line, Death on the Beat, Scourge of Soho, Scotland Yard’s Flying Squad, London’s Gangs at War, Scotland Yard’s Gangbuster, The Mayfair Mafia, Scotland Yard’s Murder Squad, Racetrack Gangs, IRA Terror on Britain’s Streets, Scotland Yard’s Casebook of Serious Crime, The Brighton Police Scandal and Missing Presumed Murdered are all published under the Wharncliffe True Crime imprint and he has further other published works to his credit. On retirement he lives near Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk. Kirby can be visited at his website: www.dickkirby.com.

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