Fifteen thousand gathered in Creggan to march against internment. The weather was crisp, bright. Reports circulated of barbed wire across all exits from the Bogside, and of paratroopers behind the barriers.

But the mood was set by satisfaction at the turn-out. The intended route was down Southway, through the Brandywell and Bogside, then out from Free Derry into the city centre. Shortly after three, the march began.

Information that both IRAs had promised to stay away encouraged confidence that the day would prove peaceful. The march included many family groups. 

Roars of genial derision greeted soldiers’ positions as the procession passed. At William Street, NICRA stewards directed marchers off the planned route, into Rossville Street, towards Free Derry Wall. Younger marchers, less minded than ever to obey brusque instruction, continued along William Street, towards the Army’s barrier 14, blocking access to the city centre. A riot ensued, gas, water cannon and rubber bullets versus any missiles to hand.

General Ford observed the unfolding events from behind barrier 14.  

At Free Derry Wall, a majority of the marchers waited to hear speakers including Bernadette Devlin MP and Lord Fenner Brockway. Then came the crack-crack of bullets from the William Street direction.