Hundreds of young defenders, with the active backing of the entire community, secured the perimeter of the area and the commanding heights of the roof of the Rossville Flats. Bricks and petrol bombs battled against batons, guns and armoured vehicles. Police fired more than 1,000 CS gas canisters into the area.
As the fighting raged the DCDA appealed for support, asking on the evening of 13 August for
“every able-bodied man (sic) in Ireland” to come to Derry to defend the Bogside – “We need you, we’ll feed you” – and calling for protests across the north to “take the pressure off Derry”.
The same evening, Taoiseach Jack Lynch broadcast a plea for a UN peacekeeping force to move into the north, announced the establishment of Irish military field hospitals on the border and proclaimed that Dublin could
“…no longer stand by…”
In response to the DCDA appeal, protests were organised in Newry, Strabane, Belfast and other towns. Many ended in violence, stretching police resources to breaking point and preventing reinforcements reaching Derry. The worst rioting was seen in Belfast, where simmering sectarian resentments had burst into the open.
In two days, seven people were killed in Belfast, thousands made homeless, and entire streets in Catholic areas – Bombay Street, Hooker Street and others – burnt to the ground by mobs. Four Catholics, including a nine-year-old boy, were killed by the police. Two Protestants were killed by the IRA. One republican was killed by loyalists. The British Army did not intervene in Belfast until 24 hours later.
Hundreds of young defenders secure the perimeter of the area from the roof of the Rossville Flats. (Barney McMonagle)
Women making provisions for Battle of the Bogside, August 1969. (Gilles Carron)