Image caption
An inquest is examining the deaths of 10 people killed in shootings at Ballymurphy in August 1971

A former paratrooper has described how he was shot and injured during a gun battle in Ballymurphy in August 1971.

The inquest into the deaths of 10 people in the Ballymurphy area over three days has resumed after the summer recess.

The inquest hearings began in Belfast in November 2018.

Witness M910 described 9 August 1971, the day internment without trial was introduced in Northern Ireland.

Ten people were fatally shot – including six on one day – in the Ballymurphy area that August after the introduction of internment.

M910 was a private attached to B Company, 2 Para, based at the Vere Foster School and Henry Taggart Memorial Hall on the Springfield Road.

On 9 August 1971 six civilians were shot and killed or fatally injured, four of them in an area of waste ground opposite the Henry Taggart Hall.

M910 remembered being on foot patrol and later on guard duty as angry crowds gathered at the base.

He told the court that later he was sitting with other soldiers watching the television news in an upstairs classroom at the school which was being used as a sleeping area for several soldiers.


Image caption
Soldiers from the Parachute Regiment were based at Henry Taggart Army base

Although the windows had been blacked out and the lights were on, he said several flakes of paint had come off, meaning that the light would have been visible from the outside.

‘Everyone dived for cover’

He said there was a crack and a flash and everyone dived for cover, and he realised he had been hit and was bleeding.

He had been shot in the left shoulder and told the court he still bears the scar.

He was sedated after receiving first aid and described later waking up to hear more gunfire.

The court heard his medical records showed he spent nine days in Musgrave Park Hospital Military Wing and three days in a hospital in Cambridgeshire.

He insisted he had not seen any of his comrades firing their weapons.

The court had previously heard evidence about a soldier shot in the other shoulder and treated in a different hospital.

The Coroners Service is now examining if it is possible that two soldiers might have been shot and injured that night.

Bodies covered with blankets

Earlier, the court heard from M284 who was a radio operator at the base.

He told the court he recalled walking past an open door into the Henry Taggart Hall and seeing three bodies covered with blankets inside.

The court also heard a statement from a former Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) constable who had been duty at a police post in New Barnsley, thought to be in the Henry Taggart Hall.

In his statement, read out in court, he described hearing gunfire and reports of what was going on outside, without actually seeing any of it.

He recalled explaining the situation to his superiors via his radio.

Later, another soldier, M1294 described having been part of a quick reaction force inside the Henry Taggart Hall, waiting to be sent to deal with the crowd outside.

He had been on sangar duty as a crowd gathered outside the hall, before later being brought inside and put on standby.

In the event his eight-man section was not deployed.

He told the court he was 18 in 1971, and went on to complete 13 tours in Northern Ireland.

He testified that he never fired his weapon in all that time.

Source: http://www.bbc.com/news/uk

 

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