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Operation Motorman was an operation carried out by the British Army in Northern Irelandmarker during the Troubles. The operation started at 4:00am 31 July 1972 to retake the no-go areas (i.e., areas controlled by the Provisional Irish Republican Army) established in Derrymarker and Belfastmarker in the aftermath of internment the previous year. The operation used almost 22,000 soldiers, 27 infantry and two armoured battalions aided by 5,300 UDR men. Several Centurion AVRE demolition vehicles, derived from the Centurion tank, were used, the only heavy tanks to be deployed operationally by the Army in Northern Ireland during the Troubles. The tanks had been transported to Northern Ireland on board the amphibious landing ship HMS Fearless, and were operated with their demolition guns pointed to the rear, covered with tarpaulins.

The Provisional and Official IRAs were not equipped for a battle with an army and did not attempt to hold their ground. The Army employed an overwhelming force of troops (roughly 4% of its entire strength). By the end of the day, there were no more no-go urban areas in Northern Ireland, but the Army remained cautious when operating in areas such as west Belfast (which they nicknamed the Wild West ), the Bogsidemarker in Derry and the New Lodge in Belfast.

During Operation Motorman 15-year-old Daniel Hegarty was shot dead by the Army in Creggan, and two cousins were shot and wounded. In June 2007, 35 years later, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) released a document that described Daniel Hegarty as a terrorist and claimed that he was armed. In August the MoD withdrew and apologised for the document, accepting that "Daniel was innocent and that the reference to him as a terrorist was inaccurate."

Known IRA member Seamus Bradley, 19, was also shot shortly after this incident on the same estate. He was shot in the leg and bled to death whilst in the custody of British soldiers.

A few hours after the success of Operation Motorman, the Claudy bombings occurred: a massive co-ordinated car bomb attack on the centre of the village of Claudymarker, County Londonderry, which killed nine people. Five of the victims were Catholic, and four were Protestant.

References

  1. An Analysis of Military Operations in Northern Ireland, prepared under the direction of the Chief of the General Staff. Retrieved 2007-09-02.
  2. Osprey Publishing: Centurion Universal Tank 1943–2003 ISBN 1-84176-387-X
  3. MoD apology to shot teen's family BBC News Online, 31 August 2007. Retrieved 2007-09-02.
  4. Operation Motorman — Seamus Bradley The Pat Finucane Centre. Retrieved 2007-09-02.
  5. History – Operation Motorman, Museum of Free Derry. Retrieved 2007-09-02.
  6. http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2002/sep/21/northernireland.ireland


External links

  • http://www.patfinucanecentre.org
  • http://www.britains-smallwars.com/ni/Motorman.htm
  • http://cain.ulst.ac.uk/othelem/places/freederrycorner/appeal.htm
  • http://www.birw.org/Daniel%20Hegarty.html


See also


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