The response of the British Army to events in Northern Ireland has come under much scrutiny over the years. As historians, many decades later, I think it is important that in some situations we push hindsight to one side and attempt as far as possible to step into the boots of the soldiers at the time. One effective way to do this is to understand the doctrine and training practices of the time, and this can be achieved through contemporary training manuals and pamphlets. In this 1957 training manual we can read about the doctrine and steps to be taken when responding in support of civil powers. I believe this is the first time this publication has been made available for download.
The introduction of this original 1957 training manual reads:
“Both at home and in the British dependencies overseas, British armed forces must always be ready to comply at once with any request from the civil authorities for assistance in maintaining peace or in restoring law and order. Also, during a state of emergency, they may be called upon to assist in maintaining public or other services essential to the life of a community.
The sole aim of military intervention to deal with general unrest is the restoration of law and order by military means when other methods have failed or appear certain to fail. This aim must be clear in the minds of commanders at all levels and there must be a readiness to cooperate closely with the civil authorities and police. These are requirements of the first importance.”