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Report of the The Bloody Sunday Inquiry
- Volume IV - Chapter 59

When the Support Company vehicles moved forward

Chapter 59: When the Support Company vehicles moved forward

59.1 It is convenient to deal at this point with the question of when Support Company vehicles moved from Rossville Street to the area at the northern end of Block 1 of the Rossville Flats. As we have explained above,1this question is relevant to the issue of the time at which the portion of the soundtrack of the BBC footage was filmed on which Cyril Cave thought that an incoming round was audible.

1 Paragraph 58.45

59.2 In the BBC footage of the soldiers running across the waste ground towards Eden Place, two Armoured Personnel Carriers (APCs) can be seen in the background travelling north up Rossville Street.1These in our view were probably the two empty APCs of Machine Gun Platoon, which were sent by Major Loden to retrieve members of that platoon from Abbey Taxis.2Although it is not clear from his evidence when these vehicles were moved back, it seems to us from his account that this was after he had ordered his vehicle to be moved from Rossville Street to the area of the north end of Block 1 of the Rossville Flats.

1 Vid 1 05.12 2B2221-B2222

59.3 In his written statement for the Widgery Inquiry, Major Loden gave this account:1

“As soon as we came under fire, the situation changed and the priority shifted from making arrests, to taking cover and defending ourselves from the attack of the gunmen and bombers ... I returned to my vehicle with my crew and ordered the driver to move the vehicle forward to a position of cover against the Northern Wall of Block 1 Rossville Flats. For a period of about 10 minutes, during which the majority of the firing occurred, the Platoon Commanders were unable to report, as they themselves were actively engaged in repelling the attacks made against them. ”

1 B2221

59.4 As we have discussed elsewhere in this report,1according to Major Loden this was soon after he had arrived in Rossville Street and had come under low velocity automatic gunfire, though for the reasons given, we are of the view that he was mistaken about coming under fire.

1 Paragraphs 50.47–75

59.5 In his supplementary statement for the Widgery Inquiry,1Major Loden described stopping at the junction of Pilot Row and Rossville Street. He did not refer in that statement to any later movement of his vehicle but did say,2During the time I was in the Rossville Flats area I saw no identifiable gunmen firing but of course my concern is with the control of the company rather than for observing for possible attackers. In any event from my position by the north wall of the Rossville Flats I had very limited observation.

1 B2241 2B2242

59.6 This again suggests that his vehicle was moved to the north end of Block 1 before the shooting had finished, although he drew no distinction between shooting in Sector 2 and shooting in Sectors 3, 4 and 5.

59.7 In his oral evidence to the Widgery Inquiry, Major Loden said that he moved his vehicle forward to the cover of Block 1 after hearing about 15 rounds of low velocity fire. According to him shooting then continued for about another ten minutes. He said that soldiers were firing into thefunnelof the Rossville Flats (between his position and Chamberlain Street) during that time. He went on to describe seeing a body in the car park and regarded that body as a casualty of the soldiers’ firing.1He also referred to hearing firing which, he thought, had come from the Rossville Flats, although the time at which this is said to have occurred was not explicitly stated.2

1 WT12.10-WT12.11; WT12.13 2WT12.13

59.8 In his written evidence to this Inquiry, Major Loden again stated that he ordered his driver to move the vehicle after hearing a burst of low velocity automatic fire. There was then a heavy exchange of fire, which lasted about ten minutes. He saw Mortar Platoon soldiers firing into the Rossville Flats car park and thought that they were under fire from the area of the Rossville Flats.1

1 B2283.005-006

59.9 This again suggests that firing continued in Sector 2 after Major Loden’s vehicle had moved to the cover of Block 1.

59.10 In the course of his oral evidence to this Inquiry, Major Loden was shown a number of photographs and pieces of film footage taken when his command vehicle was still in Rossville Street. He agreed that certain arrested civilians were probably taken away before any incoming fire started. He also agreed that by the time his vehicle was moved, soldiers must have moved to Kells Walk and around the low walls of the ramp at the south end of that block, civilians were no longer visible at the rubble barricade, and Michael Kelly had probably been shot behind the rubble barricade.1He also said that he had a vague recollection of talking to Warrant Officer Class II Lewis before the vehicle was moved.2Warrant Officer Class II Lewis’s evidence was that, while the command vehicle was on Rossville Street, he reported to Major Loden firing by soldiers of the Anti-Tank Platoon from Kells Walk towards the rubble barricade. He said that this occurred within about the first 20 minutes of deployment.3

1 Day 342/61-73; Day 343/2-10; Day 343/14-15

2 Day 343/20

3 B2111.016-017

59.11 We have already shown the following photograph earlier in this report and expressed our view that it was taken very shortly before Michael Bridge was shot. As can be seen, Major Loden’s vehicle was still in Rossville Street when the photograph was taken. It follows that it was there when Jackie Duddy and Margaret Deery were shot.

59.12 The ITN film footage shows Major Loden’s vehicle moving towards the north end of Block 1 of the Rossville Flats. Sergeant O’s APC can be seen in the car park but there is no visible activity in the area. It seems to us that Jackie Duddy’s body had been moved by the time that this footage was taken, as it is not visible on the film.1

1 Vid 3 05.31

59.13 Firing is recorded on the soundtrack of the ITN film at a time after Major Loden’s vehicle had moved to the north end of Block 1.1It is not possible from the film to tell from where the firing was coming. Major Loden, in his oral evidence to this Inquiry, said that he thought that the shots were self-loading rifle fire.2Warrant Officer Class II Lewis gave similar evidence.3It seems to us that this was probably firing in Sectors 4 or 5, all of which we describe in detail later in this report.

1 Vid 3 05.31 3Day 373/151-2

2 Day 346/17

59.14 This evidence establishes in our view that there was a substantially greater lapse of time between Major Loden’s arrival in Rossville Street and the moving of his vehicle to the north end of Block 1 of the Rossville Flats than Major Loden’s evidence to the Widgery Inquiry suggested. It also establishes in our view that there was a substantial amount of shooting by the soldiers before the vehicle was moved, in both Sector 2 and Sector 3. Counsel for the Inquiry put to Major Loden that his evidence to the Widgery Inquiry of seeing a number of soldiers firing into the car park after he had arrived at the north end of Block 1 was not consistent with the other evidence, which suggested that most of the shooting in Sector 2 must have occurred before this time. Major Loden said that his memory was no longer good enough to assist.1

1 Day 343/33-34; Day 344/78; Day 346/21-25

59.15 Our assessment of the evidence leads us to conclude that the shooting incidents in Sector 2 had finished or virtually finished, as had much of the firing in Sector 3 (other than that described in Chapter 123), before Major Loden’s vehicle moved forward. In this regard we have no reason to doubt Sergeant O’s recollection that the shooting incidents in Sector 2 lasted only some three to four, or four to five minutes.1

1 B575.003; Day 335/121

59.16 It follows that in our view the evidence given by Major Loden in 1972 about when his command vehicle moved from Rossville Street to the north end of Block 1 of the Rossville Flats was incorrect.