Chapter 132: The arrival of Corporal 150 and Gerald Donaghey at the Regimental Aid Post
132.1 As we have already noted, according to Corporal 150 it took about five minutes to drive from Henrietta Street to the RAP. According to Inspector Harry Dickson, whose evidence we consider below, it would have taken about two to three minutes.1
132.2 In his first RMP statement,1Corporal 150 said that he arrived at the RAP at about 1615 hours, but, in view of the radio messages considered above, this estimated time cannot be right. It seems to us that the car must have arrived around 1640 hours. This is supported by an entry in the RUC Incident Book, timed at 1644 hours:2 “Army has one dead man and two injured at underdeck of Bridge.” The entry records that this information was supplied by Sergeant Vernon Carson, a police officer who was present at the Bridge Camp, to the RUC Communications Centre at Victoria Barracks. We have no reason to doubt the accuracy of the timings in the RUC Incident Book. The Porter tape of the RUC radio communications does not record a message corresponding to this entry, which means that the communication was probably made by telephone. We return to the significance of this message later in this part of the report.
132.3 The Brigade log recorded a message from 1 R ANGLIAN at Craigavon Bridge to Brigade Headquarters timed at 1650 hours.1The Porter transcript of this message2is: “Hello, Zero, this is 54 Alpha. Ah, one dead person who was returned to this location has a nail bomb in his pocket. We request Felix to come down and sort it out. ” There was then a radio message from Brigade Headquarters to 22 Lt AD Regt instructing them to send “Felix ” to 1 R ANGLIAN.3
132.4 “Felix ” was the Ammunition Technical Officer, Captain 127, who, as we have already mentioned, was a bomb disposal expert.
132.5 There was also a radio message to the Communications Centre at Victoria Barracks timed at 1652 hours:1 “Delta 7 to November. Send an experienced police officer to the bridge. There’s a body there with a nail bomb in its pocket. We want the continuity of rules of evidence maintained. ” The response was to suggest that Inspector Bell, who “is on the bridge ”, could deal with this.2
132.6 This message was from “Delta 7 ”. This was Superintendent J Johnston, who told us that his personal call sign was “November Delta 7 ” and that he was “acting as Liaison Officer between Brigade Headquarters and Communications Centre, R.U.C. Londonderry ”.1From the radio transcripts we consider that what probably happened was that the Army called for an experienced police officer to attend and this request was relayed by Superintendent Johnston to the RUC Communications Centre, who suggested Inspector Bell. This suggestion might have been made because it was thought that the body was on Craigavon Bridge itself rather than at the Bridge Camp. What then happened is made reasonably clear by the messages recorded on the Porter tape.2 Inspector Bell was initially told to contact the Army about an “ambulance” carrying a dead person with a nail bomb. He went down to the lower deck of Craigavon Bridge to find the ambulance. “I23 ” (likely to be Inspector Dickson) then reported that there was a dead man at his location in a “car” with a bomb in his pocket and that there might have been a “mix-up ”. Superintendent Johnston and the Communications Centre confirmed that this was the vehicle with which they were concerned. Inspector Bell was told that he did not now need to go to the lower deck, but replied that he was on the lower deck with a military ambulance. He was then told: “You can cancel that. It’s already been dealt with. ”
132.7 On the basis of these messages it would seem that the car carrying Gerald Donaghey was at the Bridge Camp for something of the order of ten minutes before the nail bombs were reported by the Army and the RUC.
132.8 Two other vehicles arrived at the Bridge Camp at approximately this time. One was the light-coloured Cortina, containing Joe Friel, which had been driven by Lance Corporal 104 from Barrier 20. The other was a silver Cortina with the registration number NSC 149G. This car was driven by Bernard McMonagle, and carried two passengers, Kathleen Doherty and the injured Patrick Campbell. It is not entirely clear in which order the three Cortinas arrived at the Bridge Camp, but the car transporting Gerald Donaghey probably arrived shortly before the other two.1
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