‘Sir, They're Taking the Kids Indoors'

The British Army in Northern Ireland 1973–74

Ken Wharton

156 x 234 mm, 328 pages, 75 b/w photos, 9781907677670, £25.00, Hardback, Helion and Company
15 April 2012

Currently in stock.

• Ken Wharton's eagerly awaited new book chronicling the Northern Ireland troubles from the British soldier's perspective

Ken’s latest book 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 British soldiers who served on 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 and dog excrement 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 revelled 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.

About the Author
Ken Wharton began writing in 2007 after being made redundant and in the eight months of unemployment finished his first book: A Long Long War; Voices From The British Army in Northern Ireland.


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.


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.


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.


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.


Also By This Author

A Long Long War Voices from the British Army in Northern Ireland 1969–98

“A testament to the experiences of the British Army during those troubled years. A splendid book...” - Britain At War Magazine, 09/2008 This is the story of the Troubles in Northern Ireland told from the perspective of the British soldiers who served there between 1969 and 1998.


Bullets, Bombs and Cups Of Tea Further Voices of the British Army in Northern Ireland 1969–98

“Highly recommended read.” – SharedTroubles “What Ken is creating is something historians will be using centuries from now.” – The Pathfinder Magazine This is the second oral history of the Northern Ireland troubles, following on from A Long, Long War (Helion, 2008), again told from the perspective of the ordinary British soldier.


Wasted Years Wasted Lives Volume 2 The British Army in Northern Ireland 1978-79

Volume 2 does what it says on the can - it continues from where the first volume left off. It looks at the bloody years of 1978 and 1979. It covers eyewitness accounts from soldiers on the ground and there is the occasional comment from civilians who were living in the troubled province at the time.


Wasted Years, Wasted Lives Volume 1 The British Army in Northern Ireland 1975-77

Over the past several years, Ken Wharton, himself a former soldier, has been prolific in his coverage of the Troubles which spread their tentacles far from the streets ands fields of Northern Ireland.


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