Nicholas (nwhyte) wrote,
Nicholas
nwhyte

July Books 18) The Bloody Sunday Report, Vol. VII

This is the last volume detailing the main series of events on Bloody Sunday, and the longest so far (just slightly ahead of Vol. V by 656 pages to 654). It is divided into three rather different sections.

The first section - 272 of the volume's 656 numbered pages - deals with the final fatalities of the day. Four people were injured, two fatally, by army gunfire into the area immediately south of the action so far. First of all Patrick Campbell, Daniel McGowan and Patrick Doherty were shot, Doherty lying fatally injured but conscious and yelling. Then, as Saville reports the testimony of an eyewitness:
118.273 In her typed but undated NICRA statement, Geraldine McBride (née Richmond) recorded that she helped to carry Hugh Gilmour, who had been shot [back in Volume V], to the telephone box. She continued:
“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.”
118.274 In her written statement to the Widgery Inquiry, Geraldine McBride gave this account:
“6. There were about half a dozen people beside the telephone box taking cover. A man took me from Mr Gilmore’s body along towards the box. At this time we could hear the cries of wounded at the other end of the shops (the centre block of Rossville flats). There was firing down Rossville Street and also between the two buildings from the waste ground in front of Chamberlain Street. This kept us pinned where we were.

7. A man was shouting out that he did not want to die. We wanted to go to him but could not because of the gunfire. Mr Barney McGuigan said ‘I’m not going to let him die by himself. If I take my white hankie they’ll not shoot me’. We tried to dissuade him but he took out his handkerchief and moved out from the wall a few paces waving it in front of him. We shouted to him to come back because the shooting did not stop. Then he was hit, just about 4 paces out from the wall. He fell and he was dead as he hit the ground. He was hit in the back of the head.”
Saville finds that all four of these casualties were shot without any possible justification by Lance Corporal F who had already killed Michael Kelly and possibly also Jim Wray and William McKinney. The killing of Barney McGuigan was witnessed by many people and gruesomely photographed by several. Saville's reasoning in identifying Lance Corporal F as the killer is rather more circumstantial than in previous cases, but it is a good set of logical constructions (essentially, these shots were fired, we have no evidence of anyone else firing into this area, and making allowances for the other lies told by Lance Corporal F the use of ammunition seems to add up).

238 pages then cover two separate series of events back up in the Rossville Flats area. The 81 pages of Chapter 122 examine what happened to the bodies of Michael McDaid, John Young and William Nash, retrieved by military ambulance from the rubble barricade where they had been shot. It's not clear why the army felt it had the responsibility to retrieve the bodies (since all other casualties were transported at least in the first place by civilian means), and I rather wish that Saville had gone into this in greater depth. Colonel Wilford's infamous contemporary interview makes much of the Paras' gallantry at recovering the bodies under fire, "not sure if they were dead or wounded"; but it is pretty clear that they behaved disrespectfully both to the corpses their colleagues had just shot and to civilians wanting to approach the bodies.

Another 81 pages, in Chapter 123, looks at other firing in the Rossville Flats area, and concludes that no less than five soldiers - Private C, Lance Corporal D, Private L, Private G and Lance Corporal F - all fired at a window because they had mistaken the camera of photographer Fulvio Grimaldi for a gun as he poked it out. Grimaldi's girlfriend and colleague, Susan North, was in the flat with him at the time, and happened to have her tape recorder on to record the reactions of the people who lived there as the shots hit the window:
[Sound of gun shots]
[Sound of TV in background]
[Fulvio Grimaldi] Here
[Mrs McCrudden] That's at you for taking the photos .. that's at you taking the photos cunt that's at your for taking the photos cunt
[Fulvio Grimaldi]  Yes I know I know
[Pause]
[Mrs McCrudden]  That's at you for taking the photos that's what that is .. that was at you
[Fulvio Grimaldi]  We won't take any photos any more
Mrs McCrudden grasped instantly what was going on even though it took the British system another 38 years to get there. In the official text of the report, Saville politely redacts her characterisation of Grimaldi in the above exchange, but I have restored her own terminology from the original transcript. I am sorry that we know nothing more of her other than that she and Susan North were injured by shattering glass from the window as it was shot through, and the names of two of her children who gave evidence and two others who were in the flat at the time. She is last heard, very sensibly, taking the weans to hide in the bathroom until the shooting is over.

On this incident, Saville concludes:
123.275 ...it is important to record that there are three significant reasons why we have considered at length the firing in Rossville Street at 12 Garvan Place in Block 1 of the Rossville Flats, despite the fact that this resulted only in minor injuries to two of the people in that flat.

123.276 The first is that this was firing by soldiers who mistakenly and unjustifiably engaged a target who was posing no threat of any kind to them or their colleagues.

123.277 The second is that Lance Corporal F gave a knowingly false account of where he had fired six (and orginally nine) of his shots, something that we have taken into account when considering what he did in Sector 5.

123.278 The third is that the firing at 12 Garvan Place demonstrates how Army fire can be (and was) mistaken by other soldiers for fire by paramilitaries.
It is a matter of appalling irony that as five soldiers were shooting up Mrs McCrudden's flat, her TV was playing a recruitment ad for the the army.

The final 145 pages of Volume VII deal with one of the most baffling bits of the story. The body of Gerald Donaghey, shot dead rather casually by Lance Corporal F's buddy Private G, was taken into custody by the police on the way to hospital. Four nail bombs were then found and defused, supposedly each in separate pockets of Donaghey's clothing. None of the civilians who had attempted first aid on him as he was dying noticed that he had bulky explosives on him. Saville weighs the alternatives that i) the nail bombs were planted on Donaghey at some intermediate stage by the security forces and ii) those who were present as he died somehow failed to notice that he was carrying them. In the end the report finds the second alternative slightly the less improbable. Speaking only for myself, I would have put the balance of probabilities in a different place, and I wish that some of the alleged witnesses to the discovery of the nailbombs had been questioned a bit more closely.

Two more of these to go, folks; bear with me.

Volume I | Volume II | Volume III | Volume IV | Volume V | Volume VI | Volume VII | Volume VIII | Volume IX | Volume X and conclusions
Tags: bloody sunday, bookblog 2010, world: northern ireland
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