Bloody Gun Battle for the Bakery
By Micheal Cuerden and James Standfield
The Bloody gun battle for the bakery began in Belfast at 0350 yesterday 9th Aug 1971.
That is when the army moved in to `The Markets` to flush out a gang of gunmen who had expelled the night shift at gun point.
Dawn was in the sky, but for the previous five hours soldiers had already engaged snipers from the fringes of the catholic area near the City Centre.
Around the Inglish Bakery, the largest in Northern Ireland, terrorist where believed to be waiting and the Army Command where convinced that an ambush was being set up. Last May they lost Corporal Robert Bankier, killed when his platoon was lured into the same area. So the four platoons 100 men of the 1st Battalion Royal Green Jackets, waited until dawn.
Then they executed a`back door` pincer movement, it was just as well, as Eliza Street, the main approach to the Bakery , was sprayed with automatic fire from both ends as the soldiers began their approach. The encircled the narrow streets among the meanest of the City’s ghettos. From Lagan Street, Cromac Street and Stewart Street they gave covering fire while their main attack was spearheaded along McAuley Street.
The terrorist raked the streets with a Thompson sub-machine gun, 303 rifles and .22 small-arms fire, the fighting was SAVAGE.
0450 As the soldiers moved from doorway to doorway, one gunman was killed near the barricades of Market Street and Eliza Court.
0515 The soldiers had reached Bond Street. Two of the gang, one still armed, had been captured. But six terrorist where thought to be on the roof.
0550 The troops where outside the Bakery, but the doors where locked. As the smashed through them they where met with a spray of bullets.
Inside the building they where engaged in savage fighting with two men, believed to be fighting a rear guard action while the rest escaped. One is believed to have been hit.
An Officer said :`The place was like a rabbit warren, with hiding places everywhere,`
0615 The last shots where fired. Soldiers began the hazardous operation of searching the three floors.
Six people in the Bakery where handed to the police for questioning, five who where employees where later released.
0800 The building had been combed, the troops moved to the nearby houses. They had seen men running into the back door, out through the front and down the alley`s between the streets during the battle.
The search produced a 303 rifle from a drain and ammunition found on an outhouse roof.
0900 The army began to bulldoze the barricades. Five men where in police custody. All that remained where streets littered with debris, a 2 foot pile of bread and a pool of blood in Eliza Street.
” The Bakery “
Pipes and Ovens, Rollers to” What a place to Fight your way through”.
The smell of warm rotting bread,
A Walk-in the Park the Boss man said.
See a Gunman take a shot, Back it came just as Hot,was it a ricochet…I think not.
Moving forward bit by bit…Jesus Christ this place is Shit.
Along a Gantry,Down some stairs….Made it through…I’ll say some Prayers.
By fellow Rifleman