Tag Archives: Derek Wood

19th March – Deaths & Events in Northern Ireland Troubles

Key Events & Deaths on this day in Northern Ireland Troubles

19th March

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Thursday 19 March 1981

See 1981 Hunger Strike

Wednesday 19 March 1986

Richard Needham, then a Northern Ireland Office (NIO) Minsiter, announced that the Department of the Environment would take over the function of setting the ‘rates’ (local government tax) in the 18 district councils that were refusing to do so. The councils were protesting against the Anglo-Irish Agreement (AIA).

Saturday 19 March 1988

Army Corporals Killed

corporal killings

During the funeral of Kevin Brady, killed at Milltown Cemetery (16 March 1988), a car approached the funeral procession at high speed. It was claimed by some present that they feared another attack by Loyalist gunmen. The car’s passage was blocked and a group of the mourners attacked the two passengers.

The two men in the car were later identified as corporals Derek Wood and David Howes of the British Army. One of the soldiers fired a warning shot but both were beaten and overpowered. The two soldiers were driven to waste ground and shot dead. Part of this incident was also recorded on television news cameras.

See Corporal Killings

[The presence of the two soldiers in plain clothes in a republican district of Belfast was never adequately explained.]

Wednesday 19 March 1997

Orange Order Halls in Ballymena and Bellaghy were damaged in arson attacks.

The Belfast Walkers Club of the Apprentice Boys of Derry (ABD) announced that they would voluntarily reroute their Easter Monday parade away from the lower Ormeau area of Belfast.

Friday 19 March 1999

Ronnie Flanagan, then Chief Constable of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC), asked John Stevens, then Metropolitan Police Deputy Commissioner, to examine a report written by British-Irish Rights Watch, a human rights group based in London, on the 1989 killing of Pat Finucane. The report claimed to contain new evidence about the killing

 

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Remembering all innocent victims of the Troubles

Today is the anniversary of the death of the following people killed as a results of the conflict in Northern Ireland

“To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die

– Thomas Campbell

To the innocent on the list – Your memory will live  forever

– To  the Paramilitaries  –

There are many things worth living for, a few things worth dying for, but nothing worth killing for.

7  People   lost their lives on the 19th  March between 1973– 1989

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19 March 1973
Robert Collins,   (18)

Protestant
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: non-specific Republican group (REP)
Died two days after found shot, Brompton Park, Ardoyne, Belfast.

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19 March 1974


Frederick Robinson,  (40)

Protestant
Status: Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Off duty. Killed by booby trap bomb attached to his car outside his home, Glenkeen Avenue, Greenisland, County Antrim.

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19 March 1979
Peter Woolmore,   (21)

nfNI
Status: British Army (BA),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Killed in mortar bomb attack on Newtownhamilton British Army (BA) base, County Armagh

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19 March 1981
Gerry Rowland,  (40)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Shot by sniper while travelling in car with off duty Ulster Defence Regiment member, near Crossmaglen, County Armagh.

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19 March 1988


Derek Wood,  (24)

nfNI
Status: British Army (BA),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Undercover British Army (BA) member. Found shot, shortly after being abducted at the funeral of Irish Republican Army (IRA) member Caoimhin MacBradaigh, on waste ground off Andersonstown Road, Belfast.

See Corporal Killings

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19 March 1988


Robert Howes,   (23)

nfNI
Status: British Army (BA),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Undercover British Army (BA) member. Found shot, shortly after being abducted at the funeral of Irish Republican Army (IRA) member Caoimhin MacBradaigh, on waste ground off Andersonstown Road, Belfast.

See Corporal Killings

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19 March 1989


David Braniff,   (63)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
Shot at his home, Alliance Avenue, Ardoyne, Belfast.

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The Corporal Killings – Sickening IRA Murder of Two Off Duty British Army Corporals Belfast March 19th 1988

The Corporal Killings 

19th March 1988

Sickening IRA Murder of Two Off Duty British Army Corporals Belfast 1988

 

Corporals Killings

 

– Disclaimer –

The views and opinions expressed in this post / documentary  are soley intended to educate and provide background information to those interested in the Troubles of Northern Ireland.

They in no way reflect my own opinions and I take no responsibility for any inaccuracies or factual errors.

Lest We Forget

Corporal Derek Wood was killed at the IRA funeral of Kevin Brady in Andersonstown in 1988..

Corporal Derek Wood was killed at the IRA funeral of Kevin Brady in Andersonstown in 1988..

British Army corporals David Howes and Derek Wood were killed by the Provisional IRA on 19 March 1988 in Belfast, Northern Ireland, in an event which became known  as the corporals killings.

Corporal David Howes

Corporal David Howes  was killed at the IRA funeral of Kevin Brady in Andersonstown in 1988.

Image result for Catholic bishop Cahal Daly

Catholic bishop Cahal Daly said:

“For a ghastly half-hour the mask slipped. The real face of IRA violence was shown.

The plain-clothes soldiers were killed after driving a car into the funeral procession of an IRA member. Three days before, loyalist Michael Stone had attacked an IRA funeral and killed three people. Believing the soldiers were loyalists intent on repeating Stone’s attack, dozens of people surrounded and attacked their car.

During this, Corporal Wood drew his service pistol and fired a shot in the air. The soldiers were then dragged from the car, beaten, and taken to nearby waste ground where they were stripped and shot dead.

The incident was filmed by television cameras and the images have been described as some of the “most dramatic and harrowing” of the conflict in Northern Ireland.

IRA Murder of Two Off Duty British Army

Background

The killings took place against a backdrop of violence at high-profile Irish republican funerals. A heavy security presence was criticized as instigating unrest, leading authorities to adopt a “hands off” policy with respect to policing IRA funerals.

On 6 March 1988, three unarmed IRA members preparing for a bomb attack on the band of the Royal Anglian Regiment  were killed by members of the Special Air Service (SAS) in Gibraltar during Operation Flavius. Their unpoliced funerals in Belfast’s Milltown Cemetery on 16 March were attacked by Ulster Defence Association (UDA) member Michael Stone with pistols and hand grenades, in what became known as the Milltown Cemetery attack.

Three people were killed and more than 60 wounded, one of the dead being IRA member Caoimhín Mac Brádaigh (Kevin Brady). Mac Brádaigh’s funeral, just three days after Stone’s attack, took place amid an extremely fearful and tense atmosphere, those attending being in trepidation of another loyalist attack.

 The attendance at the funeral included large numbers of IRA members who acted as stewards.

David Robert Howes (23) and Derek Tony Wood (24) were corporals in the British Army’s Royal Corps of Signals. According to the British Army, Howes and Wood ignored general orders to stay away from IRA funeral processions. It has been presumed that the two men drove into the procession by accident.

The Killings

Image result for the corporal killings

David Howes and Derek Wood were wearing civilian clothes and driving in a silver Volkswagen Passat hatchback. The Mac Brádaigh funeral was making its way along the Andersonstown Road towards Milltown Cemetery when the car containing the two corporals appeared. The car headed straight towards the front of the funeral, which was headed by several black taxis. It drove past a Sinn Féin steward who signalled it to turn. Mourners at the funeral said they believed they were under attack from Ulster loyalists.

The car then mounted a pavement, scattering mourners, and turned into a small side road. When this road was blocked, it then reversed at speed, ending up within the funeral cortege. When the driver attempted to extricate the car from the cortege his exit route was blocked by a black taxi.

When the car was surrounded and the windows smashed, those surrounding attempted to drag the soldiers out. Wood produced a handgun, which certain off-duty members of the security forces were permitted to carry at the time.

Image result for the corporal killings

Wood climbed part of the way out of a window, firing a shot in the air which briefly scattered the crowd. Television pictures showed the crowd surging back, with some of them attacking the vehicle with a wheel-brace and a stepladder snatched from a photographer. The corporals were eventually pulled from the car and punched and kicked to the ground.

Journalist Mary Holland recalled seeing one of the men being dragged past a group of journalists:

“He didn’t cry out, just looked at us with terrified eyes, as though we were all enemies in a foreign country who wouldn’t have understood what language he was speaking if he called out for help.”

They were dragged to the nearby Casement Park sports ground. Here they were again beaten and stripped to their underpants and socks by a small group of men. According to the BBC and The Independent the men were also tortured.

A search revealed that the men were British Army soldiers.

Redemptorist priest Father Alec Reid, who later played a significant part in the peace process leading to the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, intervened and attempted to get someone to call for an ambulance, but was dragged away and threatened with shooting if he did not stand up; he was then pulled away from the men.

The corporals were further beaten and thrown over a high wall to be put into a waiting black taxi. It was driven off at speed, while camera crews captured one of its passengers waving a fist in the air.

The two men were driven less than 200 yards to waste ground near Penny Lane (South Link), just off the main Andersonstown Road. There they were shot several times. Wood was shot six times, twice in the head and four times in the chest. He was also stabbed four times in the back of the neck and had multiple injuries to other parts of his body. Reid had been following the perpetrators in an attempt to intervene and save Howes and Wood; when he arrived at the scene he gave the last rites to the two men.

Priest Father Alex Reid gives last rites to one of the murdered soldiers on the waste ground. Picture: Pacemaker

According to photographer David Cairns, although photographers were having their films taken by the IRA, he was able to keep his by quickly leaving the area after taking a photograph of Reid kneeling beside the almost naked body of Howes, administering the last rites. Cairns’ photograph was later named one of the best pictures of the past 50 years by Life magazine.

Shortly after, the IRA released a statement:

The Belfast brigade, IRA, claims responsibility for the execution of two SAS members who launched an attack on the funeral cortege of our comrade volunteer Kevin Brady. The SAS unit was initially apprehended by the people lining the route in the belief that armed loyalists were attacking them and they were removed from the immediate vicinity.

Our volunteers forcibly removed the two men from the crowd and, after clearly ascertaining their identities from equipment and documentation, we executed them.

Aftermath

Image result for Alex Murphy and Harry Maguire

Northern Ireland Secretary Tom King acknowledged that the Milltown Cemetery attack and the killing of Howes and Wood were:

“wholly unacceptable and do require immediate review in regard to policing to be followed at any future funeral.”

Conservative MP Michael Mates nonetheless defended the “hands off” policy, saying “A return to heavy-handed policing could provoke riots, which is what the IRA want so they can say to the world:

‘They won’t even let us bury our dead in peace.'”

Fine Gael leader Alan DukesLabour leader Dick Spring and Taoiseach Charlie Haughey all condemned the killings. The British prime minister at the time, Margaret Thatcher called the killings :

“an act of appalling savagery”.

On 2 August 1988, Lance-Corporal Roy Butler of the Ulster Defence Regiment was shot and killed in Belfast with one of the guns taken from the corporals.

Two men, Alex Murphy and Harry Maguire, were found guilty of the murder of the corporals.

They were jailed for life in 1989, with a recommendation of a minimum 25 years. Murphy received a further 83 years, and Maguire 79 years, for bodily harmfalsely imprisoning the soldiers, and possessing a gun and ammunition.

Sir Brian Hutton, sentencing, said

“All murders are brutal, but the murders of Corporal Howes and Corporal Wood were particularly savage and vicious . . . They were stripped of most of their clothing and they lay in their own blood in the back of the taxi when you took them to the waste ground to be killed, and in that pitiable and defenceless state you brought about their murders as they lay on the ground.”

Both men had been listed as senior members of the IRA’s Belfast Brigade. In 1973, at the age of 15, Murphy had been the youngest republican internee in Long Kesh prison, which later became known as the Maze. Maguire became a member of the IRA’s “camp staff” in the Maze, one of the senior IRA men effectively in control of the republican wings, and met Northern Ireland Secretary Mo Mowlam when she visited the jail to negotiate with prisoners.

In November 1998, Murphy and Maguire were released from the Maze prison as part of the early prisoner release scheme under the Good Friday Agreement. Maguire is now chairman of the Belfast office of Community Restorative Justice Ireland, a police-supported group aimed at dealing with low-level crime through mediation and intended to replace the practice of “punishment beatings” and kneecappings by paramilitaries.

A further three men were in 1990 found guilty by common purpose of aiding and abetting the murder. The men (Pat Kane, Mickey Timmons, and Seán Ó Ceallaigh) were dubbed the “Casement Three” by republicans who disputed the validity of their convictions. Kane’s conviction was quashed on appeal due to the unreliability of his confession.

 Ó Ceallaigh was released in 1998 under the Good Friday Agreement.

Terence Clarke, the chief steward on the day, was sentenced to seven years’ imprisonment for assaulting Corporal Wood. Clarke had served as Gerry Adams‘ bodyguard; he died of cancer in 2000.

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See See The Corporals killings & the events leading up to it

see Operation Flavious

See Michael Stone

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