Another ‘long hot summer’-August , 1970

British troops gathered at the junction of William Street-Rossville Street in August, 1970.
British troops gathered at the junction of William Street-Rossville Street in August, 1970.

Almost exactly one year after British toops entered Derry in 1969, as the time for Apprentice Boys Relief of Derry parade approached again, violence began to escalate in in August, 1970.

The ‘Journal’ of Friday, August 7th, 1970 led with a front page headline which read: ‘Four successive nights of violence in Derry’ and reported that shots had been fired at the British military on two occassions.

British troops gathered at the junction of William Street-Rossville Street in August, 1970.

British troops gathered at the junction of William Street-Rossville Street in August, 1970.

The paper reported: “Derry had four succesive nights of violence starting on Sunday night.

“During the disturbances shots were reported to have been fired at British troops - six in the Bishop Street area early on Wednesday morning and three early on Thursday morning. Troops used CS Gas in reply to petrol bombs and stones. Two buses and a number of other vehicles were destroyed and a total of nine arrests were made.

“The series of incidents started on Sunday afternoon after a few dozen teenagers gathered at Free Derry Corner in the belief there was to be a meeting in connection of the shot Belfast youth, Daniel O’Hagan.

“There was no meeting, and after a few minutes they left the corner, but they moved about the the vicinity. Two army jeeps were stoned as they moved through the Bogside shortly after 3.00 p.m.

“About 100 adults had also gathered at Free Derry Corner. As teenagers with stones ran after one of the jeeps, some of the adults shouted to the teenagers to stop, but they did not pay the slightest heed.

“The assemblage resulted from an announcement the previous day calling on ‘the youth of the Derry City to assemble at Free Derry Corner at the funeral of the dead youth as a mark of his respect to his memory’.

“Extra military were on duty on Derry Walls and at other points surrounding the Bogside area on Monday afternoon during the time of the funeral of the shot Belfast youth. Nobody gathered at Free Derry Corner, however, and the afternoon passed off without incident.

“Army landrovers passed through the area at intervals, but this time they were not stoned. They travelled at a crawl in contrast to the usual speed of the previous day.

The British Army in Rossville Street in the early hours of August 7, 1970.

The British Army in Rossville Street in the early hours of August 7, 1970.

“Some black flags were displayed in the area, and one wall was inscribed ‘Remember O’Hagan’. It was later stated on Monday afternoon, on behalf of the James Connolly Republican Club, that an assembly was called off at Free Derry Corner at the request of the relatives of the shot Belfast youth.

“Between 8pm on Sunday and 5am on Monday there were 10 minor incidents in the city. The most serious took place at Creggan Heights where a number of petrol bombs were thrown at an army jeep. Stones and petrol bombs were thrown at joint army and police patrols in other areas including Bishop Street, Hamilton Street and the Brandywell area.

“A group of youths broke into Nixon’s Garage in Foyle Street and took five cars from the premises. They also took five other vehicles which were parked on the street and built a barricade with the 10 vehicles. Every time an army vehicle came into the area stones were thrown at them.

“Eventually the army sent Saracens in at 5am and cleared the barricade. The youths dispersed. An army spokesman said nobody was injured and no arrests were made. People in the area, however, alleged was sparked off by a day of provocation from the troops..

British soldiers lined across Bishop Street in August, 1970.

British soldiers lined across Bishop Street in August, 1970.

“Tuesday night brought the worst night of violence in the week. About 11pm a crowd of about 150 youths commandeered two Ulsterbus vehicles and blocked the bottom of Bishop Street and Foyle Road. The military did not, however, react to that incident and at about 12.30 a.m., the youths set fire to the buses.

“The military appeared and after some interval began to use CS Gas to disperse the crowd. The gas moved the crowd which by then had swelled to several hundreds-most of them were lookers-on fearful for the safety of their families and property.

“When the crowds dispersed there was comparative quiet for some time, but later crowds of youths congregated at William Street-Rossville Street junction.

“British army authorities announced on Wednesday morning that six shots had been fired at troops in the Bishop Street area during disturbances; .22, and six and nine millimetre rounds were used. No soldiers were hit.

“Disturbances continued on Wednesday night/Thursday morning.

“The pattern was as before-sporadic stone throwing and use of CS Gas.

A British army riot squad in Rossville Street in the first week of August, 1970.

A British army riot squad in Rossville Street in the first week of August, 1970.

“Again the military reported that three shots had been fired at a soldier on duty at an observation post at the Long Tower.”