|'Bloody Sunday' refers to Sunday Jan 30, 1972 in Derry, Northern Ireland when 13 civilians were shot dead and a further 13 injured during a civil rights march protesting against internment. Most of the basic facts are agreed, however what remains in dispute is whether or not the soldiers came under fire first. The following is a step by step account of the day.|
'Bloody Sunday'. The Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association march against internment was meant to start at 2:00 pm from the Creggan area of Derry. The march left, late (2.50 pm approximately), from Central Drive in the Creggan Estate and took an indirect route towards the Bogside area of the city. People joined the march along its entire route. At approximately 3.25 pm the march passed the 'Bogside Inn' and turned up Waterloo Street before going down William Street. Estimates of the number of marchers at this point vary. Some observers put the number as high as 20,000 whereas the Widgery Report estimates the number at between 3,000 and 5,000.
Around 3.45 pm most of the marchers followed the organisers instructions and turned right into Rossville Street to hold a meeting at 'Free Derry Corner'. however, a section of the crowd continued along William Street to the British Army barricade. A riot developed. (Confrontations between the Catholic youth of Derry and the British Army had become a common feature of life in the city and many observers reported that the rioting was not particularly intense).
At approximately 3:55 pm, away from the riot and also out of sight of the meeting, soldiers in a derelict building opened fire (shooting 5 rounds) and injured Damien Donaghy (15) and John Johnston (59). Both were treated for injuries and were taken to hospital. John Johnston died on 16 June 1972. Also around this time (about 3.55 pm) as the riot in William Street was breaking up, Paratroopers requested permission to begin an arrest operation. By about 4.05 pm most people had moved to 'Free Derry Corner' to attend the meeting.
4:07 pm (approximately). An order was given for a 'sub unit' (Support Company) of the 1st Battalion Parachute Regiment to move into William Street to begin an arrest operation directed at any remaining rioters. The order authorising the arrest operation specifically stated that the soldiers were "not to conduct running battle down Rossville Street" (Official Brigade log). The soldiers of Support Company were under the command of Ted Loden, then a Major in the Parachute Regiment (and were the only soldiers to fire at the crowd from the street level).
At approximately 4.10pm soldiers of the Support Company of the 1st Battalion Parachute Regiment began to open fire on the marchers in the Rossville Street area. By about 4.40pm the shooting ended with 13 people dead and a further 13 injured from gunshots.
Most of the basic facts are agreed, however what remains in dispute is whether or not the soldiers came under fire first. The soldiers claimed to have come under sustained attack by gunfire and nailbomb. None of the eyewitness accounts of those shot saw any gun or bomb being used. No soldiers were injured in the operation, no guns or bombs were recovered at the scene of the shooting.
Plan of area below. Click to see full-size map!
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