Life at Bessbrook Mill Barracks, South Armagh.
(Tape 1) Scenes at the large airhead, nicknamed "Buzzard", within the confines of Bessbrook Mill. The airhead is very busy, and numerous helicopters (Sea King, Lynx) are seen landing and taking off. Interview with army helicopter pilot Minards, who describes operations in the South Armagh area, and discusses working with colleagues from the Royal Navy and Royal Marines. Interview with unnamed Royal Marine, discussing the importance of the helicopters in maintaining operations in South Armagh. Views of the main barracks from the airhead. Interview with Major Neil Brighouse, a Royal Marine pilot with 846 Naval Air Squadron: the South Armagh area and its proximity to the border. Views around the airhead: brick shed with painted 42 Commando RM flag and daggers, Lynx helicopters on helipad, sign for "departure lounge", gate with armed guard. firearm unloading bay. Lynx helicopters (army) land and take off. Sign: 42 Commando Royal Marines, outside barracks. Rear wall of the barracks, which has dozens of mounted signs marking the roulements of the many units who have served there: close shot of sign for the Royal Marines Armagh Roulement Battalion, and also a faded 1980 sign for Commandos. "Felix" sign at the Bessbrook base of 321 EOD Squadron Royal Logistic Corps (EOD units had been a constant presence since 1969). Inside the barracks kitchen, Sergeant Jan Hickley (?), KE1 Galley Manager at Bessbrook Mill, is interviewed about the logistic of catering for 400+ personnel on a 24-hour basis. Vehicle workshop; mechanic services a snatch Land Rover. Interview with Marine Davis, working with 42 Commando LAD at Bessbrook, servicing and repairing both the "green fleet" and CMVs (civilianised military vehicles), emphasising the importance of the Land Rovers. Life at Bessbrook Mill: gymnasium, library with bookshelves and computer terminals, mess room with pool table and slot machines, small NAAFI store. Issue of weapons at the heavily-protected armoury; views from both sides of the hatch (staged scene showing issue of SA80). Corridors. Canteen: large group of Marines line up and help themselves to food; they sit at their tables and eat (one of them has a helmet with protective visor). The canteen fills up. Back to Airhead Buzzard: Sea King takes off. Interview with Corporal Beresford of 42 Commando, talking about street patrols, vehicle checkpoints and rummage searches, awareness of the terrorist threat. Marine Bruce describes what he looks for when on patrol, and his cordial relations with the local people. Marines are briefed before patrol, and load their rifles in the unloading bay.
(Tape 2) I. Foot patrol by Royal Marine Commandos.; Commando team leaves the main gate of Bessbrook Mill, exiting the barracks at speed. They patrol the perimeter of the barracks complex, and then walk through nearby woods and fields. In a local village (Bessbrook? B112), they patrol the streets and assist members of the PSNI (Police Service of Northern Ireland) in setting up an impromptu vehicle checkpoint; various cars an vans are searched as the Marines keep guard. Sign over the road at Bessbrook. Return to base. (16 July). II. Interview outside the 42 Commando barracks with Inspector Sam Cordner, the PSNI Inspector for Operational Planning in the Newry and Mourne district; he talks about the problems of carrying out a police service in the South Armagh area, which has a history of terrorist attacks. He liaises with the armed forces (including 42 Commando), who are vital in assisting the role of the police in the area. (PSNI in the area have no vehicles, and rely on the military for movement by helicopter). Terrorists are still a threat to the security forces in the area despite the ongoing peace process. Differences between policing and soldiering. (17 July). III. Back to Bessbrook: Lynx and Sea King operations at the airhead. Marines get on board a Sea King; a civilian woman is with them. Lynx takes off. Briefing room: Commandos receive orders for the afternoon patrol (including "escorting the video production unit around"). Brief final shots of activity at the airhead. (17 July)
(Tape 3) I. Aerial shots from Lynx helicopter as it takes off from Bessbrook Mill, showing the South Armagh countryside and the barracks complex. The helicopter lands in a field. Members of the Queen's Royal Fusiliers practice entering and exiting Lynx helicopters. Further aerial views show the Mill and surrounding area, and soldiers patrolling in a field below. Close aerial shots of observation towers R13 (Camlough Mountain Tower) and surrounding complex, and R14 (Cloghoge Tower), before returning to the Mill. (17 July) II. Exterior and interior scenes at tower R12. Interview with Marine "Ruari Glyn" of W2ZA (42 Commando), talking about life at R12 (Romeo 12), one of the smaller (and quieter) observation towers. Marines carry out clearance work at towers R13 and R14, prior to their later closure. View of R13 showing the surveillance telescope equipment in use. Interior views of the basic sleeping accommodation at one of the towers. Captain Rich Howard, tower commander at R12 about the observation and liaison role of the towers. Vies of the area around R12; Lynx helicopter comes in to land on the adjacent helipad; a Sea King with underslung load flies past. Views of the cramped corridors within the tower. Staged shots of Marine patrol on the hillside at R12. Interview with Corporal Schofield, 2ic of the tower, discussing the security role of the observation towers. Threat of terrorist attacks. Patrol continues. Life inside the tower: meal is cooked in kitchen. Lynx comes in to land, and the camera crew get on board and fly to another observation tower, possibly R21 (Jonesborough Hill). Interview with Marine (name difficult to catch) about the role of the tower, noting the proximity to the border. Life at the tower discussed. Marines exercise on rowing machines in the open air; Marine Bramble of 42 Commando explains that this is a charity "rowathon" (simulating rowing around the world) to raise money for the victims of a helicopter crash. (18 July)
(Tape 4) Observation tower R21 at Jonesborough Hill: interview with Marine about the charity "rowathon". Piece to camera by Marine Bramble raising awareness of the rowathon.Interview with Marine Pearson about life and work at R21. Hand-drawn sign "Welcome to Charlington Twinned With Chenoble [sic] (Due to Similarities in Levels of Radiation)". Milepost showing distances to various locations on mainland UK. Sea King helicopter flies in and lands at the tower's helipad; members of the video team scramble to get on board (one of them tripping over in the process. Pilot's eye view from Sea King helicopter as it flies over the countryside; passengers sit in their seats. The helicopter lands at Bessbrook. External entrance to Bessbrook Mill: views of sangar, main gate and soldier on guard. Scenes at Forkhill: interview with Captain Ian Bullen (?), 2ic of 79 Commando Battery (with 42 Commando). Role in assisting the PSNI. Background to 79 Commando Battery. General scenes of life at Forkhill: Marine having a shave in the shower block, empty gymnasium, laundry. Interview with Marine Harris, K Company about life at Forkhill followed by interview with Lance Bombardier Blundell of 79 Battery, describing his routine (two weeks at the tower, two weeks at Forkhill). Latter interview is outdoors, and rain starts falling. Mosaic on grass verge inside Forkhill: "79 Kirkee Cdo Bty". General views of the Forkhill camp: buildings, signage, airhead (considerably smaller than at Bessbrook Mill), Lynx helicopter lands and a small contingent of Marines disembarks. Another Lynx lands and waits on the tarmac before taking off again. Third Lynx lands; personnel embark (including video team). Aerial views of town; helicopter comes in to land. Sign on kerb says "Don't Worry Be Happy - Welcome to XMG" (ie Crossmaglen). 42 Commando crest on wall inside the Crossmaglen base. Interview with Marine Garbutt of 42 Commando; he discusses town patrols in Crossmaglen and other activities, mixed reactions of local people, life on the base. Sergeant Mill, 42 Commando talks about assisting the PSNI (issuing warrants, VCPs, traffic control etc.) and taking part in Operation Chesapeake. Scenes on the helipad as Royal Navy Sea King lands and personnel disembark; it takes off again. Interview with Second Lieutenant James Fanning(?) from Canada about patrols, weather and life at Crossmaglen. The rain begins to fall heavily as a Lynx Helicopter lands bringing several senior officers. Scenes inside Crossmaglen, including a makeshift gymnasium: Company crests on the wall. View outside: the rain is falling very heavily. Unloading bay. Signs in gymnasium. On board a helicopter as it takes off.
(Tape 5) I. Scenes at Newtownhamilton. Interviews with Captain James Cleaver, OC of Newtownhamilton base (NTH); he discusses the fact that NTH is located next to a police station, and notes the close ties with the PSNI, whom the Marines are supporting. The main problem for the police (other than the terrorist threat) is smuggling of goods over the border. Life for the Marines at NTH. Exterior of Newtownhamilton base; Marines rapidly exit in bursts and deploy on patrol around the perimeter. Interview with Marine Mason, also discussing life at NTH, QRF (Quick Reaction Force), leisure time (two gymnasia), "HLS" (main gate. (19 July). II. Scenes at Bessbrook Mill Barracks. Roulement sign "42 Commando Royal Marines Mar-2002-Sep". Gymnasium. PSNI crest. Interview with Lieutenant Commander David (?) , CO of 42 Commando, stressing their role of supporting the PSNI, the continuing terrorist threat in South Armagh, and the relationship with the local people. ATO (anti-terrorist operations) demonstration: EOD Regiment deploy two "wheelbarrow" robots from Alvis Tactica 4x4 armoured vans; one investigates a suspect car, and the second manoeuvres an explosive device into position under the vehicle. One of the wheelbarrows also uses a device to remotely open the car door and remove items (including a coat) from within. Interview with Lance Corporal Jackson, 42 Commando, providing an escort for the ATO. (20 July)