Hanged IRA volunteer remembered in Derry

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A commemoration took place in Derry on Saturday to commemorate the 75th Anniversary of the hanging of IRA Volunteer Tom Williams in Crumlin Road Gaol in 1942.

The event at Free Derry Corner was chaired by Foyle MLA, Karen Mullan, and the main speaker and was Sinn Fein Colr. Kevin Campbell.

Colr. Campbell spoke how his mother, who knew the Williams family, travelled to Belfast on the morning that Tom was hanged and knelt and prayed outside the jail.

He related how in the run up to Easter 1942, Belfast republicans were determined to commemorate the 1916 Rising, despite republican parades of any description being banned.

Tom, as the OC of C Company, was instructed to prepare for an operation in the Clonard area. A volley of shots was to be fired over an RUC patrol car, but in the course of the operation Tom and his five comrades were surrounded in a house and a gun battle ensured which left one member of the RUC dead and Tom shot in the arm and the leg.

In the trial, all six volunteers were found guilty and sentenced to death, but Tom took responsibility and was the only one hanged.

“From the evening before, a large crowd had gathered near the jail and in the hours before the execution many of them knelt quietly in prayer. Throughout Ireland, Catholic Churches were filled to capacity for morning mass. In many towns and cities, streets were blocked as hundreds and in some cases, thousands, stood in silence as a mark of respect,” said Colr. Campbell.

The commemoration ended with the playing of the ballad of Tom Williams.