The appearance of British troops in Derry on 14 August was viewed as a victory over the police and unionism. Free Derry celebrated with the Freedom Fleadh, with The Dubliners, Tommy Makem and others performing on makeshift stages in the Bogside.

Some warned that the British Army had come to save Stormont, but to most who had been on the barricades, it meant the end of the fighting and a buffer between themselves and the police, B Specials and loyalists.

Tea and smiles greeted the first British soldiers in Derry, but within days the British Army were using the hated Special Powers Act to raid Catholic homes. In the absence of a political settlement, they became increasingly associated with unionist rule.

Even the reform of the police proposed in the aftermath of Duke Street was now seen as too little too late. Free Derry could not be reconciled with Stormont.

For many young people, the army was replacing the police as the armed wing of unionism, and clashes became increasingly common.

After William King, a middle-aged Protestant, died following a sectarian clash in the Diamond on 23 September 1969, British Army checkpoints were erected around Free Derry. The British checkpoints were to keep Bogsiders in, the Bogside barricades remained until late October to keep the army and police out.