30 January 2022
Eyewitness in Derry 30th January 1972
50th Anniversary of Derry’s Bloody Sunday
The firsthand eyewitness accounts reprinted below were published in the booklet titled 'Massacre in Derry'. The authors of the booklet wrote that, “The following eyewitness accounts are taken from the hundreds collected by the Civil Rights Association in Derry. The statements were collected during the first week after the slayings, the first of them being recorded within a matter of hours of the event”.
Statement of Paddy Doherty, Creggan, Derry:
“After the march on 30/l/’72 I was standing in Chamberlain Street with a crowd of people. When we saw a Saracen approaching we moved on over to the Flats car park. The soldiers got out of the Saracen and fired shots. We took cover behind a wall and we saw Jack Duddy fall to the ground. He had nothing in his hands. We stayed in the playground behind the Flats for cover. Then we made a run for the shops on the other side of the Flats where we saw two bodies lying. One was dead. After a while the shooting stopped and I ran over the Lecky Road to home.”
“I was in Chamberlain Street behind the crowd of youths who were throwing stones. I looked across the waste ground and saw an armoured personnel carrier tearing across Rossville Street. I was running back towards the flats when I heard a rifle report from the William Street area and a bullet struck the wall above my head. Someone shouted at reporters who were running with us ‘That’s not rubber bullets, 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 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 on him, he was dead by this time, his name was Jackie Duddy.”
Mr. Morrison, Creggan, Derry
“When the soldiers entered Rossville Street, I retreated and ran towards the entrance to the high flats. From there I saw a batch of soldiers getting out of a Saracen opposite me. One of these soldiers ran towards a wall at the maisonettes opposite the high flats; he aimed the rifle at a group of young boys who were standing on the Free Derry Corner side of the barricade of rubble which is directly outside the main doors of the high flats. These boys had retreated to this point as the army came along Rossville Street. I saw one of these boys fall as a soldier fired from his position at the maisonettes. This was the first boy I saw shot. Immediately, I heard further shots which came from the soldiers and which were directed at the other boys at the barricade of rubble. We retreated immediately to the main doors of the high flats.
“Kevin McElhinney was running alongside me. We were crouched and running at the same time - making for the main door of the flats. As I entered I heard Kevin, who was now just behind me, shout: ‘I’m hit. . . I’m hit . . .’ I dived on in the door and went up the stairs, thinking that Kevin was behind me. I realised that no one was behind me, so I ran back down and saw Kevin lying dead just inside the door. Others lifted him and took him upstairs.
“Kevin was beside me for the few minutes ‘before he was shot. At no time had he a nail bomb, petrol bomb, gun or any other lethal weapon.”
Gerard Grieve, Creggan, Derry:
“I was standing at the barricades in Rossville Street - about a dozen of us. We heard shots. Seven of us ran away: the other five fell to the ground. We tried to crawl into a flat at Rossville Street. I was fourth one to get into flat. When I was standing at the door I heard one shot and Kevin McElhinney fell to the ground. I saw him creeping into the doorway and I went to grab him. Then four more shots rang out and hit the door. I pulled him in. Then I lay beside him. Men called to military to get Red Cross man. I ran up the stairs and told men up there and they told the Red Cross man. Then they came down. I stayed in the flat for about forty five minutes after the rest of the shooting. That’s all I can remember.”
Statement of Gerry McBride, Shantallow, Derry:
“On 30th January I went over Chamberlain Street and into the square behind the flats. I looked round the corner towards Rossville Street and there was a Saracen in the square. There was a soldier at the end of the flats. When I looked the soldier had hold of a person. He was hitting him with something. Some people were lying there on the ground. As I stepped around the corner there was a girl crawling, so I tried to lift her. She was shouting that her leg was broken. I called a couple of fellows back to give me a hand.
“When they lifted her, I could see there was a hole right through her leg. I helped to carry her into the first house in Chamberlain Street. After that I rushed over to a body that was lying in the market (the square). As I was kneeling down, Mickey Bridge ran out and the soldier fired and shot him in the leg. Mickey had nothing in his hand. He was able to reach aid and he asked for someone to put a tourniquet on his leg, so we helped him into the first house in Chamberlain Street.
“When I came out of the house, there was a Saracen coming over Chamberlain Street. I could not get back across the market as the army were shooting. No civilians were near them. Eventually I got across and I came out above Doherty’s bakery at the Rossville flats. There was a fellow lying there, shot. No one could reach him as they were afraid of getting shot by the army. A man who looked like a foreigner and who had a camera round his neck waved a white hankie. There was a man crawling out from the houses facing Glenfada Park and he shouted ‘Get down, they are shooting from the walls,’ but we still ran out. When I got out I whispered an act of contrition in his ear. He was still alive. Two other men and myself tried to give him as much aid as possible. When I looked at his side there was a hole there, but no blood. We all stayed with him until he died.
“I went down the street and saw Mr. McGuigan lying dead; and below him there was another body at the corner of the flats. A youth was kneeling over him, crying. A Civil Rights banner covered his face. The youth said that it was his mate. I searched Patsy Doherty for identification. While I was passing Mr. McGuigan, I saw a man searching him. He had no weapons on him. All he found was a brown envelope with his name and address on it. After the bodies were removed I left the area.”
Statement of Mrs. Ellen Hutton, Derry:
“My sister and I went to the Little Diamond to watch the march. There was such a large crowd that we decided to go home. When I got home I looked out the back window and saw a lot of boys out there. I came into the front room and looked out that window I heard a man shouting through a loud hailer that there was a meeting at FDC. I saw all the crowd going up to FDC. I went into the back room again and looked out. I had the window open. I saw all. These Saracen tanks came flying madly up to the back of the flats into the car park. I shouted to the ‘boys, ‘Run, the soldiers are in.’ In the panic I ran down the stairs and out onto the balcony. I put my hands on the rails and leaned over. I saw a fellow or girl, I was not sure because they were wearing trousers, fall, and the Saracen ran over him or her. It reversed and ran over him or her again. I was shouting, ‘Leave him alone, leave him alone.’
“The next I saw was a soldier jumping out of one of the Saracen tanks. I heard what must have been shots but I didn’t realise it at the time. A young fellow in the car park fell down. The same soldier caught an old man. The old man was standing with his hands up in the air near the wall facing the middle block in the flats. The soldier lifted either his boot or knee and kicked the old man in the stomach. Then he lifted his gun and hit him over the head with it. I ran up and down the balcony shouting. ‘They’re killing him, they’re killing him out the back’. A few fellows said to me ‘For God’s sake missus get into the house. There are some fellows lying dead down the back stairs’. I went into the front room. I looked out the window and saw some one lying dead away over to the left corner of the flats (Paddy Doherty).
“The Knights of Malta came out of the house opposite and Father Daly and Father Mulvey were running with white hankies in their hands but there was still shooting. I saw them carrying the Wounded man out and every time they tried to get near the ambulance, they had to fall to the ground because of the shooting. Every time that Father Daly and the crowd tried to put wounded in the ambulance they had to cower behind it or as best they could because they were still shooting at them.”
Statement of Kathleen McGuinness, Derry:
“I was in Sunday’s march, and at William Street the army fired gas and rubber bullets. I went back and came out onto the waste ground at the High Flats. I saw two Saracens coming. Everyone started running. The Saracens stopped and the soldiers jumped out. Some of them went down on one knee and started shooting rifles at the people. Other soldiers ran to catch people. I ran and at the shop at the flats I saw a man lying with blood pouring out of him and another man lying a few yards away. People couldn’t help because of the shooting. I ran on from the flats to the row of houses at the flats. I saw Mr. Bradley shot in the arm and a man brought him into the house where we got shelter.
“We could not get help for some time but a man went out and Noel McLoone came. Geraldine Richmond came in and she was in shock having seen a man killed outside. Noel McLoone attended her also. Jim Norris, (a first aid man) came but had to go next door where two other shot men had been carried in. The ambulance came and took Mr. Bradley and the other two men away. The shooting eased off and I went out. I saw Mr. Doherty lying dead at the shops. Another body was near the door of the flats with a blanket round it. Another man was lying shot in the back passageway of the house I was in.”
Noel McLoone, Creggan, Derry:
“I am nineteen years of age and I am a member of the Order of Malta Ambulance Corps, Derry Unit. There was thirty of us on duty on the 30th of January, 1972. We were on duty for First Aid reasons which we thought would be just simple and usual stuff. We weren’t expecting anything like the mad brutality that was carried out by British soldiers.
“The march was stopped at William Street and everyone began to disperse and re-assemble at Free Derry Corner for a public meeting.
“The soldiers then came into the ‘Bog’ to try and block the meeting and started shooting indiscriminately at anything and everything that moved.
“One incident which I witnessed with my own eyes standing at Rossville Street Flats, at the corner, praying that my name wasn’t on a bullet. I went across the street. A lot of shooting. I seen two people fall and from the direction they fell I assumed - and I’m probably right - that the shots were coming from the soldiers lying - it was the only firing I could see. There was no fire from anywhere else; the soldiers were the only ones that were doing any shooting. We seen - there was a few other people around - the two young men falling across the street. We tried to get out but there was too much shooting. We did not attempt it.
“There was one man who wanted to try and get across. He stepped out and a soldier came round the corner of the Rossville Street Flats and the person in question, I found out later, was Mr. Barney McGuigan. He raised his hand in the air - right out - and shouted: “Don’t shoot, don’t shoot.” And seconds later he was just shot in the head and landed in my lap - at the alleyway at Rossville Street Flats.
“I could do nothing but just weep and I called everything to every soldier that was in my head. From the wounds in his head he was definitely dead. After doing all that was possible for Mr. Barney McGuigan I was later called to a house in Joseph Place. On entering it - bodies lying all over the floor. None of them had yet been dead but there was some of them pretty bad, mostly all bullet wounds. I treated five for bullet wounds, a few for shock and some for gas.
“I could just sit there and pray and hope that the soldiers would not enter the house and start shooting indiscriminately around the house again . . .”
Geraldine Richmond, Derry.
“I was in the march on Sunday, 30th January, 1972. I was at the corner of Rossville Street. I turned back towards Free Derry Corner. The boy, Gilmore was walking along the side of the flats at Rossville Street beside me. All of a sudden there was a lot of shooting. There had been no shooting before this. This shooting came from the army because when I turned round there was a soldier on one knee. The boy Gilmore stumbled. I went over to him. Some men were already by his side. I prayed into his ear. I helped to carry him to where the telephone box was. A man took off his coat and put it under his head. The shooting continued all the time.
“The First Aid people came then with some other men. The man McGuigan was there at this time. Another man was lying at Fahan Street steps. I could hear him squealing but nobody could get to him because of the shooting. Mr. McGuigan said he was going to try to reach him because he didn’t want him to die alone. He took two steps forward and was then shot in the head. The other young boy was now dead. Mr. McGuigan seemed to have been shot from the walls. Myself and some others crawled over to Mr. McGuigan to see if we could do anything but he was dead. After this my nerves went and I was taken away in an ambulance. The ambulance was stopped - that is all I remember. The young boy Gilmore had nothing in his hands. Neither had Mr. McGuigan, he only went to help somebody else.
“This is my statement and it is correct.”
Statement of Patrick McKeever, Creggan, Derry:
“I was standing in Chamberlain Street after the march dispersed. I didn’t know that there was a meeting at Free Derry Corner. I don’t know how long we were there. The crowd began to run in Chamberlain Street in the direction of the Rossville Street Flats. I saw a Saracen drive into the courtyard and I heard the scream (child). We went round to the front of the flats round by the shops. On my left were two soldiers. Further down on the left were three or four more. One of the first two knelt down and fired I don’t know how many shots. I threw myself to the ground with two young girls. I stayed on the ground until there was a lull. During the firing I saw a young fellow fall. When I looked round I saw two boys lying at the barricade. They seemed to me to be dead. I went over to the small alley at the flats at Fahan Street. I put the two girls in there. There were a lot of women and girls in there and some men all very upset and some hysterical. One man whom I didn’t know asked me was it bad out there and I said it was.
A man in the alley whom I think I recognised from his picture later I think it was Bernard McGuigan. He said “Why don’t you go out and help them.” I said “You’d get shot if you go out. They’re shooting rings round them.” I reached him a piece of white cloth and he went out waving it. I went inside into the alleyway. I was very scared. Some more shots were fired and I heard some one say: “He’s shot as well.” We all left after a while by the little wall at the back of Fahan Street. There was still shooting at this time. It seemed to be coming from the city walls. In the Wells I saw five or six cars and the bodies being put into them and being taken away. I made my way up home then. I am an ex-serviceman, RAF, so I knew that when the soldier knelt that he was taking aim.”
Patrick Boyle, Creggan, Derry:
“I was round the corner at the phone box when the shooting began on Sunday, 30th January. Across the street there was 40 or 50 people with their hands above their head. Before this a man who had been shot was dragged around the corner. A soldier with the crowd of 40 or 50 turned round and fired across the street. The chap beside me, Mr. McGuigan, fell dead. I moved in beside the phone box and stayed there for about half an hour while the shooting continued. The shooting seemed to be coming from Derry Walls and from the barricade in front of Glenfada Park. I moved towards the maisonettes about 15 yards from Mr. McGuigan at an angle of about 15 degrees towards maisonettes. I saw Doherty who was dying or probably dead. Gerald McBride was holding his head. I went to see if I could get ambulances but I couldn’t get any at this time. I went up into St. Columbs Wells and went into a house there. I went then to a house in Meenan Park, came out of there and I heard all the bodies had been removed and I then went home.
“This is my statement and it is correct.”
Statement of Mr. Alec McFadden, Derry:
“I was coming along Chamberlain Street and everyone started running from the gas. There was a young man I think he was Hugh Gilmore running. I heard him say “I am hit.” I got round the other side of the flats, he was lying just below the phonebox. I knelt down and felt his heart, but there wasn’t any beat at all. I asked a man to say an act of contrition in his ear. A Saracen car came up to the edge of the flats, one soldier opened fire with a sub-machine gun straight at us, but it seemed to go over our heads and hit the flats.”
Statement of Edward Nash, Derry:
“My brother William Nash was shot dead on Sunday. I went to the police barracks to claim his personal belongings. When he went out he had £3.10 shillings in his pocket. He was wearing a graduation ring from America with an inscription on the ring. He was wearing a chain and cross. When I went to the barracks to collect them the only thing they were offering to give me was a comb and a ten pence piece and that is all the possessions he had in the barracks at that time. They sent now to Belfast for the clothes to be searched and they say they’re going to make other inquiries about the ring but other than that they say that they could do very little for us.”
Statement of J. Begley:
“I saw Michael McDaid being arrested at the end of the flats facing William Street end. There were three boys walking with their hands on their heads, obviously having been arrested by soldiers. The three were put into the Saracen tank and at this time were obviously alive. Michael McDaid was one of these. James Harkin of Foyle Road saw the same thing at this time. I later heard that Michael McDaid had been shot.”
Thomas Clarke, Creggan, Derry:
“Standing between Glenfada Park and . . . saw a boy getting shot. Ran over to help him, me and another man. Next thing I knew - those people and the man fell wounded. Then me and another boy, we started to run towards the waste ground in Rossville Street. I heard two shots fired. I turned around. I saw him lying there.
“I ran over to help him and the soldiers said: ‘Wait ‘till you get up you f’er you.’ As I ran over the soldier grabbed me, threw me in the back of the Saracen. . . There was an elderly man about sixty lying with a bullet wound in his leg. Took the Saracen down to the bottom at the toilets beside Waterloo Place where they let us out - at the toilets.
“Two boys with me ran for it up Waterloo Place and we went along with them. There was no report of anyone getting out of the Saracen. But we got out of back of Saracen, went up Waterloo Street, down Harvey Street where there was no soldiers. We ran across the waste ground. We saw a few boys getting marched away into the back of a Saracen. One of them was Michael McDaid. At the time he was arrested. I read then in the paper that he was killed - he was shot dead.”
Statement of Matthew Connolly, Derry:
“I was standing on rubble at Rossville Street when a young fellow of 16 or 17 was shot and fell in front of me, he was shot fairly high up in his chest. The soldier who fired the shot was crouched behind the door of a Saracen. At this time the fellow was not dead. As we went forward to help him, automatic fire riddled the rubble, everyone lay flat out on the ground, about four stayed on for about a minute and during this time soldiers were still shooting and we could hear the bullets above our heads. The fellow was screaming, we retreated behind a wall.
“About a minute later John Young crawled with his head down towards the boy who had been hit, he got to within a yard of him When a single shot hit him, he was dead. A youth tried to move towards the bodies but only got out into the open and he was shot. He stumbled back towards the wall and was taken on to a house. The Saracen moved forward, with soldiers behind them. We ran into a courtyard that was blind to the soldiers. More shots rang out and three fell beside each other. Two had gunshot wounds and the other had a heart attack, he later died. The two with gunshot wounds were taken into a house. The third man was left Where he fell. There were three soldiers on the corner and because they were still shooting no one could get near the third man. We ran to Westland Street.
“Two or three minutes later the three soldiers withdrew. The crowd then went forward and surrounded the third man who was still lying Where he had ‘fallen. First aid was called for, and a girl and two fellows came forward. They gave him mouth to mouth respiration and pumped his heart. The ambulance came about 35 minutes later and took him away. Then one of the boys who had been shot was brought out of the house and put into a car and taken away.”
Michael McCusker, Creggan, Derry:
“I was in Chamberlain Street when the Army moved into Rossville Street. I run up through the car park and one of the Saracens turned into the car park - behind the Rossville Street Flats. I run on. I didn’t look back and there was a crowd all trying to squeeze through the gap.
The Army was shooting live rounds in the car park. The soldiers were firing from their hips. I seen one soldier jumping out of the Saracen and he fired a gun from ‘his hips. I didn’t know whether he shot anybody or not but later on I heard that there was two boys shot around in the car park. When I did get out the front I went to the barricade outside the Rossville Street Flats and John Young-that’s the fellow that was shot- I was talking to him, and he told me that there was two boys shot around at the back of the Flats.
Then the shooting started again and somebody says: “The Army’s shooting”. So I run and I get round the corner. Round at the side of the Flats was a telephone box so I threw myself there and there must have been about a dozen all lying at the corner of the Flats and the First Aid couldn’t get to him. The shooting stopped. I couldn’t say how long. The First Aid men ran out and were giving him the kiss of life. And he was responding to the kiss of life.
But then the shooting started again and everybody had to dive for cover again. And there was a fella beside me and he run out. He run in the direction of the houses at the far side-the houses facing the shops- and he fell. I thought he tripped or something like that there. After a couple of minutes I seen the blood coming out round him and I realised he was shot. . .”
Mrs. Mary Anne Kivelehan, Derry:
“I was in my mother’s home, in Glenfada Park when the shooting started. The young boy Kelly came and fell in the back garden. Next he got up, just ran towards the steps when he fell dead. The Knights of Malta tried to help him. After this a girl from the Order of Malta went out with her hands up - she was shot at but fell to the ground unhurt -in Glenfada Park. When the shots rang out the crowd around the bodies scattered.”
Mr. Breslin, Derry:
“I came down from the Bogside. I saw a man getting shot. He was lying on the ground. A young lad by the name of Mickie Kelly went out with his arms up telling the soldiers he was going to pull the man in. When he went out they shot him - shot him in the back and shot him in the head. That’s all I seen this afternoon. As far as I can see the young lad was shot from Derry walls.”
William Donaghy, Derry:
(From a window in Garva Place)
“We were looking out of the window at the time of the trouble and the crowd were going towards Free Derry corner. The soldiers appeared from no-where (foot soldiers) and they started firing. A woman was standing at the corner of Glenfada Park, they kicked her and struck ‘her with the rifle butt. Two men fell at the barracade where I recognised as my cousin Gerard Donaghy and Willie Nash. Another fell whom I did not recognise. Alex Nash, Willie’s father came out of Glenfada Park, he went to the barricade and waved his arm then the soldiers shot him in the arm about ten minutes later the Saracens came up and lifted the bodies like dead meat. I saw three young fellows trying to run away and a soldier appeared and shot them in the back opposite Glenfada Park.”
Colm McFeeney, Derry:
“We were in Chamberlain Street and the Saracens came out . . . when we looked around there was Saracens and soldiers all round us. We run all over . . . a black soldier with a gun on his hip was fanning all round him from his hips at the back of the Flats. A bloke . . . I think it was Gerald Donaghey, was hit in the shoulder. We tried to get out to him and they fired more shots. We had to run round. He was five minutes bleeding. He was shot in the back. He had no stones in his hand. He was running. We later learned that he was also shot twice in the stomach from close range.”
Statement of Mrs. Lynch, Derry:
“I was in my flat looking out the bedroom window overlooking the square. I seen the crowds fleeing. One of the Saracens stopped in the waste ground and two soldiers jumped out. One had a rifle and the other had a rubber bullet gun. The soldier with the rifle had a gas mask on and he started firing at the first person he got his sight on. I seen a youth falling and blood was coming from his back. A crowd gathered around the youth and a priest came. A fellow held up a white flag and soldiers kept firing rubber bullets. I started screaming when I saw the youth getting shot and the soldier with the rubber bullet gun fired two rubber bullets at me in the flat and broke two windows. I went to the front window and looked out. I saw a man laying behind at the barricade and another man leaning over him. The man called up to me for help and an ambulance. The man then put his hand up to the army and the army fired at him, but the bullet hit the barricade.
“About twenty minutes later the army drove the Saracen up to the man. About six soldiers jumped out and two soldiers took the man up beside the body. I then realised there was three bodies behind the barricade. They dragged the first body along the ground and threw it into the Saracen. They done the same thing with other bodies, pulling one of them by the hair. They moved the Saracens away from the flats and two priests followed it and got into the back of the Saracen beside the bodies.”
Jim McLaughlin, Shantallow, Derry:
“The Army had bombed in tear gas and we ran over towards the Flats. As we ran over I got my head cleared and we decided to go back to see what was happening. As we went back, the Army had thrown in more tear gas.
“We turned to run and there was a bloke running be’side me. I later found out his name was William McKinney but he got shot and we jumped into a garden. As we jumped into a garden the woman in Number 7 of that row let us into the house.
“There was a bloke there - Duffy. Him and I tried to get out to get this chap McKinney in and the Army opened up again. We had to let him lie there. When we did get him in he had a bullet wound in the arm and one in the side. We sent for a priest and a doctor. He eventually died. I can state categorically that at no time was ‘this chap McKinney armed. He was just one of the crowd there to support the Civil Rights march.”
John Johnson was shot on Bloody Sunday. He died on June 16th from medical complications related to the injuries he received. The Saville Inquiry reported that, “John Johnston was 59 years old at the time of Bloody Sunday. He was the manager of a local drapery store. He had been taking part in the march but on his way down William Street he saw clouds of CS gas ahead and decided to cut south across the laundry waste ground in order to visit an old man in the area of Glenfada Park. At no stage was he engaged in any form of disorderly activity”.
In his statement to the Widgery tribunal, Johnson said that, “I saw soldiers, in firing positions, in a burnt-out house almost opposite to this waste ground and north of William Street. As I was crossing this waste ground I turned and looked at the soldiers. I heard a crack of a shot. I was hit in the right leg near the hip and then another shot hit me in the left shoulder. At first, I thought I was hit by rubber bullets. Another shot, which I believe was a ricochet, grazed my hand but I have no idea when this happened. Just before I was hit I saw a boy fall near the corner of the waste ground and William Street.”
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