On 30 January 1972, 15,000 people gathered in Creggan to march against internment. The weather was crisp, bright. Reports circulated of barbed wire across all exits from the Bogside, and of paratroopers behind the barriers.
But the mood was set by an impressive turn-out. The intended route was down Southway, through the Brandywell and Bogside, then out from Free Derry into the city centre. Shortly after 3.00pm, the march began.
1 March - The anti-internment march gathers in Bishop's Field, Creggan, on 30 January 1972 (Colman Doyle) .jpg
The anti-internment march gathers in Bishop's Field, Creggan, on 30 January 1972 (Colman Doyle) .jpg
Information that both IRAs had promised to stay away encouraged confidence that the day would remain peaceful. The march included many family groups.
The march makes its way down William Street. (Coleman Doyle)
Confrontation with the British Army in William Street. Seated in the foreground in undeniable peaceful protest is Jim Wray. Minutes later, Wray would be shot twice in the back - the second time at point blank range as he lay wounded and paralysed in Glenfada Park. (Gilles Peress)
Roars of genial derision were directed at soldiers’ positions as the procession passed. At William Street, NICRA stewards directed marchers off the planned route, into Rossville Street and towards Free Derry Wall. Some younger marchers continued along William Street, towards the British Army’s Barrier 14, which blocked access to the city centre. A standard Derry riot ensued, gas, water cannon and rubber bullets versus any missiles to hand. It still seemed a normal day in Free Derry.
General Ford observed the unfolding events from behind Barrier 14.
At Free Derry Wall, a majority of the marchers waited to hear speakers including Bernadette Devlin MP and Lord Fenner Brockway. Then came the crack-crack of bullets from the William Street direction.