The HET has obtained additional information from a Platoon Commander who saw Martha fall to the ground having been shot. As promised, and at your request this e-mail confirms the substance of my conversations with the Platoon Commander and my verbal update to you based on this conversation.
The soldier could not remember the date but the circumstances he describes leaves me in no doubt that he is talking about Martha being shot.
The soldier, who has requested that he is not named, was a Platoon Commander for the 1st Kings Regiment and deployed to take up an Observation Point in the Moyard area to provide cover for the ‘Para’s who were due to come on duty later that evening and deploy from Ballymurphy up through to the Black Mountains. He deployed his platoon to some flats in Moyard and recalls that they occupied the landings and stairs along the top floor looking so that they were able to have a 360 degree view around the area. They were to remain in this location until they were relieved. He does not recall who they were to be relieved by.
This does of course add further clarity to the response given to your question numbers 4, 12 where the HET stated that there was no record from army or open sources to indicate that the army where in this area and that the 1st King’s Regiment had gone off duty at 1910hrs.
He was looking out towards Ballymurphy with Springfield (correction -Springhill) Crescent being within his vision. He was not aware that any other members of his platoon were looking in the same direction. Unfortunately, he is unable to recall how far away he was from Springhill Crescent but believes it was possibly 300- 400 metres away. He does not recall whether any other platoons were similarly deployed.
He recalls that there had been shooting going on in the area for most of the day although none of his platoon were fired at, neither did any of them discharge any of their firearms. However, he does not recall hearing any shooting in the previous hour or so.
Within a short space of time, he cannot recall how long after they took up position, he recalls seeing a girl walking out from behind a house, in a direction that he described as moving from his left to his right. At about this time he was also aware that another person was standing near her, he believes that they were standing on the Ballymurphy side (to the right of the girl). This person looked older but he cannot describe them (guessing; he believes that the build of this person suggested to him that this person may have been a female). He cannot recall what the girl was wearing but thought that she was about 11/12 years of age.
Within seconds of seeing the girl, as he was looking over towards Ballymurphy, he heard a shot and instinctively looked left, towards where he had seen the girl and he saw her fall to the ground. He instantly presumed that she had been shot and he looked around to see if he could identify where the shot had come from. He could not see or hear anything.
The way the girl fell down towards her left and the sound he heard made him think that the shot had come from either somewhere behind him in Moyard or from behind and to his right in Springmartin. He thought the shot sounded as though it had come from a high velocity weapon.
He called out to his platoon to look out all around for someone who might have been responsible for the shooting. Neither he, nor any of them, saw anything to indicate the location of the gunman. Although the rest of the platoon heard the shot, none of the rest of them saw the girl being shot or heard any earlier shot.
This shooting was radioed into his control room and within a minute he recalls someone picking up the girl and disappearing out of sight. Sometime later, he cannot recall how long, he was aware that the Royal Anglian Regiment arrived in the area. The ‘Para’s also arrived in the Ballymurphy area at some stage and shortly after this his platoon returned to base. He did not complete any paperwork but his men discussed the shooting for several days and were extremely upset.
The soldier cannot recall any further information at this time but he does have a diary, newspaper cuttings, maps and other documentation stored away, which he will go through to see if they help him recall any further. If they do he will contact me direct and, as stated, colleagues of mine will be going to see him towards the end of April to obtain some background information. They will go through his account with him again and advise me of any additional information.
His reasons for not wishing to be named appear genuine and he is concerned that, through the passage of time, his memory of the events is now blurred. He is in regular contact with one or two members of his old platoon and one of them is making an attempt to contact others; to see if they can add any further information.
I hope this information, along with the Review Summary Report, assist you and the rest of your family. As stated above, should the HET receive any further information, I will ensure that you are updated immediately. If, in the meantime, I can be of any further assistance, please feel free to contact me.
Senior Investigating Officer
Historical Enquiries Team