Decade of Half Centenaries: Deaths March 1972

There were as far as I understand 35 Troubles-related deaths in March 1972.

As far as I can work out, four on duty British soldiers were killed.

Ten members of the IRA were killed, some in premature explosions.

Four members of the Royal Ulster Constabulary were killed. Three members of the Ulster Defence Regiment (all off-duty or retired) were killed.

Fourteen civilians were killed, mostly Catholic.

Looking thru the records always brings incidents to mind. Somehow we remember “incidents” more than individuals.

Two Catholic schoolboys in a stolen car shot dead by the British Army.

The Donegall Street Bomb. A bomb in a “bin lorry” which blew two police officers to pieces and killed the bin lorry crew. I had worked in Belfast Corporation Cleansing Section and one of the victims, Sid Bell was well known to me.

The Clonard Street Bomb which killed four teenage IRA men at a bomb-making instruction. Some houses were also destroyed. One of the teens was known to me.

The Abercorn. A bomb exploded in the restaurant at Castle Lane/ Cornmarket. Two young women shoppers died and two other sisters were badly mutilated. losing legs and other limbs. Scores were injured. There was and is no doubt that the IRA were responsible.

Footage of the aftermath, including mutilated injured people made the Saturday evening news. Really the first time we had actually seen that kind of horror.

The two killed and the two badly mutilated were Catholic girls. It was largely a venue frequented by Catholics. Ironically, it is very likely that the bombers were also two Catholic teenagers who left the bomb in a shopping bag.

On a personal note, my cousin and I passed thru Cormarket about half an hour before the explosion.

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