The Bloody Sunday soldiers: Failure to follow orders – and lies

What the Saville report reveals about the conduct of soldiers on Bloody Sunday in Northern Ireland

Lieutenant Colonel Derek Wilford

The officer in charge of the 1st Battalion of the Parachute Regiment comes in for fierce criticism in the report. Saville says he "either deliberately disobeyed his commander, Brigadier Patrick MacLellan's order or failed, for no good reason, to appreciate the clear limits on what he had been authorised to do.

The report adds: "In our view Colonel Wilford should not have sent soldiers of Support Company into the Bogside … because in doing so he disobeyed the orders given by [MacLellan]; because his soldiers, whose job was to arrest rioters, would have no, or virtually no, means of identifying those who had been rioting from those who had been taking part in the civil rights march ; and because he should not have sent his soldiers into an unfamiliar area which he and they regarded as a dangerous area, where [they] might come under attack from republican paramilitaries, in circumstances where the soldiers' response would run a significant risk that people, other than those engaging the soldiers with lethal force, would be killed or injured by army gunfire." Wilford got an OBE six months after Bloody Sunday.

Major General Robert Ford

Ford, the most senior officer in Northern Ireland at the time, as commander of land forces, is criticised for deploying Paras to Derry. "1 Para was a force with a reputation for using excessive physical violence, which thus ran the risk of exacerbating the tensions between the army and nationalists in Londonderry," the Saville report says.

However, the report adds that Ford "had no reason to believe, and did not believe, that the risk of soldiers of 1 Para firing unjustifiably during the course of an arrest operation was such that it was inappropriate for that reason for him to use them for such an operation". Saville refers to Ford's memorandum in which he suggested shooting selected ringleaders of the rioters after warnings. The report expresses surprise that an officer of his seniority should seriously consider that this was something that could be done, though Saville says he is sure this idea was not adopted and that the shootings on Bloody Sunday were not the consequence of any "plan to shoot selected ringleaders".

It adds: "We found no evidence to suggest that the use of lethal force against unarmed rioters, who were not posing a threat of causing death or serious injury, was contemplated by General Ford, or those senior to him, as a possible means of dealing with any rioting that might accompany the then forthcoming civil rights march."Ford, now 76, became commandant of Sandhurst, in 1973. He retired from the military in 1981.

Brigadier Patrick MacLellan

The commander of British troops in Derry at the time "does not bear any responsibility for the deaths and injuries from the unjustifiable firing by soldiers on Bloody Sunday", says the report. He ordered arrests but only after he was satisfied that the "rioters" had been separated from the peaceful marchers on the streets.

Lance Corporal F

Saville said he and his fellow judges were sure F shot and killed Michael Kelly. The report also identifies the possibility that F mortally wounded William McKinney and the bullet which killed him also passed into the body of Joseph Mahon.

The families of Bloody Sunday victims claim F may have shot at least four of those who died on the day. This is backed up in the report which finds that "F" also mortally wounded Bernard McGuigan (41) and 31-year-old Patrick Doherty. McGuigan was shot even though he was waving a white handkerchief while trying to help Doherty. It is alleged that F no longer lives in the UK having set up home in the far east.

Private R

The report found that R from the regiment's mortar platoon was probably the paratrooper who aimed, shot at and killed 17-year-old Jackie Duddy. This soldier had got out from armoured personnel carrier in Rossville Street and then ran behind the military vehicle towards the entrance of the Rossville Flats complex before he opened fire on Jackie Duddy.

Privates L and M

On the killing of Kevin McElhinney the judges say they are sure that either L or M shot the 17-year-old. Both probably fired at the teenager as he was crawling on the ground away from the soldiers. Saville concludes that the pair fired on the orders of one, possibly two NCOs identified as Colour Sergeant 002 and Corporal 039.

Soldiers A and B

As well as those who fired fatal shots Saville picks out A and B who were responsible for wounding a number of the victims.

These included the first person to be shot on the day, Damien Donaghey who was wounded on a patch of ground in William Street. All of the fire from these two soldiers was directed solely at Donaghey.

Private U

A member of 1 Para's mortar platoon, U was found to have "mortally wounded" Hugh Gilmour as he was running away from the soldiers near the Rossville flats.

Private G

From a range of only a few yards, this soldier killed Gerard McKinney. His bullet passed through McKinney's body and fatally injured Gerald Donaghey. Private G may also have been responsible for the shot that killed Jim Wray as he lay on the ground.

Corporal P

The report said that Corporal P shot "at least one" of three demonstrators who were killed on the rubble barricade opposite the Rossville Flats.


Richard Norton-Taylor

The GuardianTramp

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