Monday 14 September 2020


The IRA shot dead three British soldiers in separate attacks across Northern Ireland.  A Royal Artillery sergeant was murdered in Londonderry, a member of the Queen's Regiment was murdered in Belfast and a member of the Light Infantry was murdered near Dungannon in County Tyrone.  All three soldiers were young men in their early twenties and from the mainland.

Sgt Martin Carroll was on duty at the Bligh's Lane army post in the Creggan area of Londonderry.  A perimeter fence was being repaired at the time and the army wanted to keep groups of people away while the job was completed.  At one point Sgt Carroll fired CS gas canisters to disperse a large crowd that was gathering.  While he was outside a single shot was fired from the direction of Eastway Gardens.  The sergeant's brother and half-brother were also serving with the army and were both nearby when they heard the shot.  They raced to his aid, but he lost consciousness and died a short time later from a gunshot to the chest.

The Official IRA later claimed responsibility and said it had acted in retaliation for army "brutality to young children on their way to school".  Earlier that day the principal at the local primary school had complained about the use of CS gas and claimed to have witnessed a Saracen being driven at schoolchildren.  A civilian was shot dead by soldiers outside the same post in the early hours of the next morning during disturbances in which two soldiers and two civilians received gunshot wounds.

Sergeant Martin Leonard Carroll, 23, served with the 45th Medium Regiment, Royal Artillery, and came from Abergynolwyn in north Wales.  His pregnant wife gave birth to their first child four months after his murder.  Speaking about his death some time later, she noted that Sgt Carroll was a Catholic and of Irish descent on his father's side.

An Official IRA gunman pictured in Londonderry's Bogside, 1972

Private Paul Carter was standing guard outside the Royal Victoria Hospital in west Belfast when he was struck by a burst of gunfire.  Pte Carter was guarding colleagues who were in the process of delivering medical supplies to the hospital.  He was struck twice in the chest by shots that appeared to come from the direction of Dunville Park.  The park was often used by IRA gunmen to fire on soldiers as it provided an easy escape route into the rabbit warren of side streets that backed onto the other side of the park.

The immediate aftermath of the attack on Pte Carter was mired in controversy for many years.  At the time it was claimed that no-one helped the soldier as he lay wounded and that some locals had even tried to steal his rifle.  However, the murder was one of many cases reinvestigated by the Historical Enquiries Team, a unit set up by the police in 2005.  In 2012 they concluded that in actual fact two local men had carried Pte Carter into the casualty department despite a second burst of gunfire while doing so.  The young soldier died from his wounds the following day with his family by his side.  The news that he was not merely left to die in the street gave comfort to his surviving family and his sister told reporters that they had been disappointed with the way in which the army had portrayed events.

Private Paul Carter, 21, served with 2nd Battalion, the Queen's Regiment, and came from Brighton.  His mother later campaigned for British troops to be withdrawn from Northern Ireland.

Private Paul Carter

Private John Rudman was killed in an IRA ambush at the village of Edendork, County Tyrone.  Pte Rudman was travelling along the main road in a convoy, having been despatched from Dungannon to investigate disturbances in Coalisland.  As the convoy passed through the village it came under small arms fire from both sides of the road.  The terrorists were armed with shotguns, rifles and a Thompson submachine gun.  Pte Rudman, who was travelling in the back of a truck, was struck in the back of the head.  Two other soldiers were wounded during the attack and a bomb was later found nearby and defused.

Private John Ronald Rudman, 21, served with 2nd Battalion the Light Infantry and came from Hartlepool.  His younger brother was also shot dead by the IRA a year later.  Following the murder of Private Thomas Rudman in north Belfast, a third brother serving in Northern Ireland was sent home and not redeployed to the province.  Their mother later described how she had premonitions about her son's deaths and described the man who shot John as having a scar.  She gave his name as 'Seamus'.  Two men were charged with John's murder, but acquitted.  One of them was Seamus Dillon, an IRA man later convicted of two other murders.  Shortly after he was released from prison in 1997 he was himself shot dead by loyalists.

Scene of the attack looking in the direction of the soldiers' travel