Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 21 August 2014

Bloody Sunday Inquiry: A soldier's view - 'I was in Derry that day. I just wish the Army hadn't been'

Families of the victims of the Bloody Sunday shootings march from the Bogside to the Guildhall holding photographs of their relatives, to gain a preview of the Saville Report on June 15, 2010
Relatives of those shot dead on Bloody Sunday wave to crowds after reading a copy of the long-awaited Saville Inquiry report, outside the Guildhall
A youth is arrested at gunpoint by a Paratrooper in Derry on Bloody Sunday Picture by Fred Hoare

I am not surprised by what has come out in the report – I knew we were going to get a kicking and that is what has happened. I have been following the inquiry on and off and I could see the way it was going.

What Saville has concluded is one-sided and does not give the whole picture, but I suppose people will say we, the Paras, are bound to say that.



I am not going to say that some innocent people were not killed that day – and I am truly sorry for their deaths, as, I am sure, a lot of other soldiers are as well. But to say that we went into the Bogside on that day to kill civvies cannot be further from the truth. We were ordered to go there and sort out rioters who were hitting the Army for days with petrol bombs, nail bombs, bricks, all sorts; we were told we would be making arrests.



We were also told that we may meet PIRA [Provisional IRA] and also what they called the Stickies [official IRA] and we were told to expect trouble.



I cannot pretend that I remember all the details of what happened that day. Since then, I have been in quite a few contacts [armed action] as a soldier before I left and one cannot remember all the details on each occasion.



What I do recall is that there was firing on several occasions and it seemed to be directed towards us from the south and our guys were firing back. I think one of those times was near a post office building and I remember taking cover behind some walls. There was a barricade in front of us and things were being thrown from there, although I don't think anyone was injured.



The firing did not go on for long, I would say about 15 minutes or so, we knew people had gone down, we did not know at the time how many had been killed or injured – that only came later. When we did find out everyone was a bit quiet, but we did think at the time that the people killed were IRA.



I did not carry out shooting that day and I suppose I am very thankful I didn't.



I feel sorry for people who died if they were innocent, I feel sorry for some soldiers who they say might now get charged. And I am sorry we were in Derry on that sodding day.



The author was a non-commissioned officer with 1st Battalion, The Parachute Regiment, in Derry on 30 January 1972, Bloody Sunday. He no longer serves in the British Army

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