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Teenager 'cried for mother before being killed during IRA massacre'

Published 25/05/2016

Alan Black was the sole survivor of a sectarian massacre of 10 Protestant workmen in Kingsmill, Co Armagh, in 1976
Alan Black was the sole survivor of a sectarian massacre of 10 Protestant workmen in Kingsmill, Co Armagh, in 1976

A teenager murdered during a sectarian IRA massacre cried for his mother as a gunman prepared to shoot him in the face, the sole survivor told the Kingsmill inquest.

The killer stood over Robert Chambers, 18, after he collapsed in a gutter at a Co Armagh roadside from an earlier burst of bullets, and blew his head off, Alan Black said.

A new inquest is being held into the republican killing of 10 Protestant textile workers as they returned from work 40 years ago.

Mr Black said that Mr Chambers was his apprentice fitter and they had been out all day in the middle of a field fixing a leak.

He had just fallen in love with a girl he called "his Wendy" and his mentor, Mr Black, had agreed to teach him to drive.

Mr Black said: "He gave me a big hug and he danced around the field."

He added: "My last memory was him lying on the ground a few hours later calling for his mother, he was only wounded at that time.

"I remember the Doc Marten boots, then a gunman came over and shot him in the face. He got his head blown away.

"That's my last memory of him. Just thinking what that wee lad was thinking, lying in a gutter calling for his mother."

The textile factory workers were ambushed as they travelled along the Whitecross to Bessbrook road in rural south Armagh on January 5 1976 - one of the darkest years of the Troubles - allegedly in reprisal for earlier loyalist killings.

The men's minibus was stopped by a man waving a red light and those on board were asked their religion by a camouflaged gunman with an English accent whom the victims thought was a soldier. The only Catholic was told to go.

The killers, who had been hidden in the hedges, ordered the rest to line up outside the van and then opened fire.

Father-of-three Mr Black was shot several times. Doctors counted 18 bullet holes. He pretended to be dead.

He gave a statement to the Justice for Innocent Victims of Terrorism group which was read to the coroner.

"I felt the most unbelievable level of pain, as if someone was sticking hot needles into my whole body.

"There was first shooting and then a lull. The only noise to be heard was my colleagues screaming in pain."

Then the second round of shooting began.

"This time this shooting was targeted and measured, in response to the order to finish them off.

"I watched the gunmen shooting everyone. I was bleeding very badly. I watched them as they shot each one.

"They shot John McConville through the head. I knew my mates were dead because there was no more moaning.

"I felt my body and tried to plug the holes where the blood was coming from.

"There was light rain and I put my head into a small stream of water on the road because my body was so hot."

The 10 who died were John Bryans, Robert Chambers, Reginald Chapman, Walter Chapman, Robert Freeburn, Joseph Lemmon, John McConville, James McWhirter, Robert Samuel Walker and Kenneth Worton.

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