The book ‘Eyewitness Bloody Sunday’ was published in 1997 and contained statements made by people following the events of Bloody Sunday in Derry, when British paratroopers shot civil rights demonstrators on January 30, 1972. Thirteen people were killed and a 14th victim died a short time later from his injuries. Many of the statements had never been made public.
The book, which was compiled by Don Mullan, was launched to mark the 25th anniversary of the shootings — and its contents played an important role in the decision by the British government to launch a new inquiry into Bloody Sunday in 1998.
A new updated version of ‘Eyewitness Bloody Sunday’ is being launched to mark next week’s 50th anniversary of the shootings. In this extract, eyewitnesses recall the events around the shooting of 17-year-old Jackie Duddy. One of the most famous photos of Bloody Sunday shows Father Edward Daly waving a blood-stained handkerchief as he leads a group of men as they carry the dying teenager.
Panic and terror reigned as the Paras advanced. A young woman, 18-year-old Alana Burke, and 53-year-old Patrick Campbell were run down by two Saracen armoured personnel carriers (APCs), which swung left into the Rossville Flats car park. A fourth APC stopped well short of the rubble barricade further up Rossville Street.
Still others were chasing demonstrators up Chamberlain Street. They were supported by a Whippet armoured car with mounted machine gun. These were hotly followed by a three-tonner, packed with Paras and foot soldiers.
As the vehicles stopped, soldiers immediately dismounted. A few rubber bullets were fired. This helped to create the impression that the Paras were genuinely in the Bogside on an arrest operation. More than a few heads were cracked with rifle butts.
Then the unbelievable happened. The unmistakable sharp cracks of SLR high-velocity rounds echoed all around. Panic ensued as people fled in terror. And a few minutes later, the Paras could claim that they ‘owned’ the Bogside, as the dead lay on the ground and the wounded tried to reach safety.
Those wounded by Para bullets in this zone were: Margaret Deery, Michael Bridge, Michael Bradley and Patrick McDaid. The scene from the Rossville Street Car Park which has become the icon of Bloody Sunday is that of young 17-year-old Jackie Duddy being carried away by four men, led by the cowering figure of Fr Edward Daly holding aloft a bloodstained handkerchief.
Jackie Duddy was shot from behind as he too tried to escape the advancing Paras. Lord Widgery concluded that he was hit by a bullet meant for someone else. Fr Daly, who saw him fall, stayed by his side as life ebbed from him. As he administered the Last Rites to the dying youth, and called for medical help, bullets bit at the ground around him and hissed past his head.
Jackie Duddy was a well-known and promising young boxer. His ambition was to box for Ireland in a forthcoming Olympics. Three days later, his Olympic dreams were buried, high up on the hill of Creggan, a quarter of a mile from his home.
Housewife, aged 36
“I was in the doorway of Rossville Flats. There were two young fellas and another woman. The three Saracens pulled up alongside the doorway. The minute they stepped out, they opened up at the fleeing crowd.
“The young fella McDaid and the two other young fellas were running across the car park. The paratroopers called at them to halt. They did so and they were arrested and put into the Saracen. They threw gas in on top of them.
"The three of them jumped out. They put McDaid up against the wall beside Chamberlain Street. He had his hands on his head and they shot him.
“I went berserk and a fella carried me up to the second floor of the flats and I was taken in. It was an execution. This is an accurate statement of what I saw.”
Storeman, aged 42
“I was in Chamberlain Street behind a crowd of youths who were throwing stones. I looked across the waste ground and saw a Saracen tearing across Rossville Street.
"I was running back towards the flats when I heard a rifle report from the William Street direction and a bullet chipped the wall above my head.
“Someone shouted at reporters who were running with us: ‘That’s not a rubber bullet — report that you ----!’
"As I came into the courtyard of the flats I saw Fr Daly kneel over the body of a fallen youth. There was another man with him assisting. I ran to their aid — and as I was kneeling with them at the spot, the army fired over our heads.
“The bullets hit the back wall of the courtyard. When I arrived at the youth’s side there was no evidence of any weapon, gun, nail bomb, or stone. We carried the youth up either High Street or Harvey Street to Waterloo Street.
“We spread out the coats and Mrs McCloskey spread an eiderdown which we laid him on. He was dead by this time. His name was Jackie Duddy.”
Machine setter, aged 42
“I was in the parade and had got as far as Macari’s when the parade was stopped. When they shot the first lot of gas, I cut across a lane into what was previously Pilots’ Row. I made my way to my mother’s home in Garvan Place (High Flats).
“When I got in, I was looking out the window into William Street for a few minutes. There was stone-throwing still going on in William Street, but the main body of the crowd had moved towards Free Derry Corner.
“Three or four Saracens came flying up Rossville Street and one drove into the car park at the rear of the Flats, into the crowd. They could have mowed down several of the crowd, but luckily only hit one boy whom I couldn’t identify, but he was taken into the first house in Chamberlain Street. He was aged about 18 years.
“About five or six soldiers came out of this Saracen and started to attack people with their gun butts. Two soldiers caught hold of one man aged about 50 years. I don’t know his name but he was a bin man with the corporation. They beat him about the head with their rifles. They took him around by what was Eden Place.
“Four or five other soldiers then took up positions along the back wall of Chamberlain Street and started shooting with automatic weapons. They had no rubber bullet guns or any other weapons. They seemed to aim most of their fire in the direction of the opening between the intersection of the Flats in line with the telephone kiosk.
“They were shooting at a fleeing crowd going in the direction of Free Derry Corner. I noticed then there was a young boy bleeding in the car park in the rear of Rossville Street Flats. He didn’t appear to have anything in his hands. I then saw a man coming to his aid and Fr Daly administering the Last Rites.
“Each time these four or five soldiers emptied the magazines of their guns, four or five others replaced them and continued firing. This went on for about ten minutes. During this time there was no question of any nail bombs or petrol bombs being thrown.
“My brother-in-law, Patrick O’Reilly, was a witness with me to the above statement and will be willing to verify. At the time of this shooting, I noticed a civilian standing alongside the soldiers. He appeared to be carrying a camera. It was obvious at the time that the soldiers were not being fired at as they were standing in upright position and didn’t try to find cover.”
Housewife, aged 40
“I was standing at Con Bradley’s public house at the junction of Rossville Street and William Street, when the tear gas seemed to come at us from all directions. Men who were there were calling: ‘This way, this way’, and I found myself at a wall at the back of Con Bradley’s which was in waste ground.
"I was sick and vomiting from the effect of the tear gas and I noticed that many around me were also sick.
"I then found myself staggering across this waste ground and the next thing I knew, I was caught up in a crowd of screaming, hysterical people, a panic of both men and women. The panic and fear communicated itself to me and I ran.
“At this point I found myself at a door at the back of the High Flats, which men tried to kick in, in order to get us shelter, but failed. I looked over my shoulder and saw a soldier and a Saracen. At this point, I had a complete blackout.
“When I became conscious again, I was in the direction of Abbey Street when I heard the sound of high velocity bullets on walls. This was the first sound of gunfire which I had heard. I did not hear the sound of nail bombs.”
Anna McLaughlin & Rosemary Fisher
Unemployed, aged 16 & schoolgirl, aged 13
“We took part in the Civil Rights march from Creggan Estate to William Street on Sunday, January 30, 1972. We were near the front of the march. We halted at a point mid-way between Rossville Street junction and the army barricade in William Street.
“At that moment the army began to use rubber bullets and CS gas. We stayed where we were until the army charged out from behind their barricade upon which we ran into Harvey Street. When the soldiers retreated behind their barricade we came back out into William Street. This happened three times.
“When the army came out for the fourth time from behind their barricade we again ran into Harvey Street. From here we saw the youth, Jack Duddy, fall to the ground as he was running up Rossville Street. We discovered later that he had been shot dead.
“We could see soldiers, positioned at the entrance to the laneway leading into the Bogside firing into the crowd who were running up Rossville Street in the direction of the Free Derry Corner. We made our way to the top of Harvey Street where we observed Fr Daly and four other men carrying Jack Duddy.
“They laid him on the ground in Waterloo Street and Fr Daly administered the Last Rites to him. We knelt beside the body and said the Rosary.
“Afterwards we saw soldiers arresting three youths in Rossville Street and frog-marching them to the Saracen armoured cars stationed in the laneway off Rossville Street.
“After this we saw Fr Carolan escorting a wounded man towards Magazine Street. He was halted by the soldiers at the barricade leading into Magazine Street. At first they seemed to refuse to allow him through. He was anxious to take the wounded man to Altnagelvin Hospital. A group of women complained angrily to the troops to let him through and after some time they allowed him to pass.
“We made our way to Waterloo Street and from there we looked down into Harvey Street. At the far end we saw the soldiers arresting and escorting about 20 men and women in the direction of Victoria Barracks police station.
“We made our way from Waterloo Street to Rossville Street, and we observed a body lying on the footpath outside the shops in Rossville Street. It was covered with a blanket and the shoes were beside the feet. A crowd had gathered round the body.
"At this moment the soldiers stationed at the Rossville Flats opened fire on the crowd. Most of the people fell flat on the ground. We ran into Barrs shop and while we were there we heard more firing.
“Fr Mulvey entered the shop and rang up the Officer Commanding the paratroopers. Fr Mulvey asked the officer to pull the troops out of Rossville Street and William Street because they were firing indiscriminately and causing panic.
"Fr Mulvey did not seem satisfied with the reply he received and banged down the phone. We left the shop, walked to Free Derry Corner and made our way over the Foyle Road, and home.
John Mitchel McLaughlin
Refrigeration engineer, aged 26
“I took part in the parade up until we reached and were stopped at the barricade. We argued with the soldiers and ended up by throwing stones until they brought in the water tank. After a time the crowd dispersed but we continued stone throwing.
“After about half and hour there were only a handful of stone throwers left and it was at this time the Saracens, at least three of them, and one or two ferret cars came across Little James’ Street into the Bogside.
“We didn’t want to be cut off so we decided to vacate the area and moved straight back along Chamberlain Street towards the multi-storied flats and went towards the car park. As we were crossing the Harvey Street/Eden Place Junction we were fired upon by a paratrooper kneeling at the corner at Quinn’s Lane.
“A foreign photographer was the only person left at the William Street end of Chamberlain Street and we shouted for him to come towards us as we saw the soldiers take up position where Hunter’s Bakery used to be.
"He stepped out with both hands in the air, facing the soldier who had shot at us, and this soldier shot at him also. This bullet lifted a chunk out of the masonry surrounding the window of the end house in Harvey Street (this can be seen and the photographer involved photographed it).
“This was the first real evidence we had that they were using lead bullets. I have, through experience, become familiar with the sounds of nail bombs and I can state without any question or doubt that none had been thrown. We made our way to the car park and all the time I was assisting a man who had been injured in the leg by a rubber bullet.
“On arriving there the first thing I saw was a young lad, of not more than 18, lying on his back with people running towards him. He appeared to have been shot in the face as it was covered with blood. I can positively and absolutely say that he had no weapon of any nature on his person, as I was among the first to reach him.
“As I was running towards this boy I saw Mickey Bridge standing in the middle of the square, shouting to the people who were at the gable wall to come over towards him, as the paratroopers were taking up position in the waste ground, covering the square.
“Mickey was shot in the leg by one of these three soldiers. I afterwards recollected that he was waving a white cloth, probably what he had been using to protect himself against the gas.
"It was obvious that the aforementioned boy was seriously injured and one of the men asked me to get a priest, saying that the nearest phone was at the shop beside the kiosk.
“At this time no priests were in evidence. When I reached this shop it was closed. Firing was still in progress. A man shouted that a lad had been hit and I helped to pull him in towards the kiosk. He had been shot in the right side, just under the ribs.
“A first-aid man arrived and was able to treat this boy, so I continued to try to secure a priest. I made my way along the maisonettes. I stopped at a house where the door was ajar and in which my friend had taken refuge.
“As I was talking to him the army opened fire again. I had to dive to the ground as the fire was directed towards these maisonettes. When I got to the corner at St Columb’s Wells, I met another friend who was directing people across the open space on Fahan Street.
“Many panic-stricken people were cowering in the alley at the back of the maisonettes, and he and I brought them across. I made my way across Free Derry Corner to Glenfada Park, and while I was approaching it I saw a group of about 20 people with their hands in the air, waving white cloths, approaching the soldiers.
“At first I thought that this group had been arrested — but then I saw two bodies in the open and realised that they were trying to reach them, when the troops opened fire on them. They all fell to the ground for cover but I did not see anyone hit.
"I went around at least six houses in this area to try and contact my family to see if they were safe, and in all these houses I found injured people.”