Page last updated at 11:14 GMT, Wednesday, 15 July 2009 12:14 UK

Battle of the Bogside 40 years on

The RUC battle with rioters in the Bogside in August 1969.
The Royal Ulster Constabulary battle with rioters in the Bogside in August 1969

The summer of 1969 saw the first British troops deployed on the streets of Northern Ireland.

In Londonderry they arrived to restore order as riots raged in the Bogside following an Apprentice Boys march in the August of that year.

Forty years on, the three-day long Battle of the Bogside is remembered as one of the first confrontations in what was to become The Troubles.

Next month the Gasyard Feile will mark it with an exhibition and is on the look out for memorabilia.

Mary Nelis, one of the organisers of the exhibition, wants photographs, milk bottles, CS canisters and hopes members of the public can help with the search.

"I know Derry people are forever hording things in their homes," she said.

"A woman came to me with a great scrapbook of Bogside Bulletins, Barricade Bulletins and a single LP of the Bernadette Devlin song which I'd never heard tell of.

Mural in the Bogside
The RUC used CS gas for the first time during the Battle of the Bogside

"The bulletins are amazing, they give you updates on how the battle is progressing, there is appeals for volunteers, then in the midst of this you will have a notice about bingo at whichever parish hall.

"The Bogside was absolute rubble yet life was going on around it."

But this is not an exhibition that will look to the past with a nostalgic eye.

"It was violent, it was disturbing, it was very dangerous for all those involved. In a 36 hour period 1,000 canisters of CS gas were actually fired into the Bogside," said Mary.

"I don't think there has ever been a sufficient enquiry into the effects of CS gas on the general health of the people of that area."

It was the first time the RUC used CS gas to try to disperse large crowds.

"We will never learn about the present if we don't understand the past.

"Many of our young people don't have a notion of what went on during that period in August, and even prior to that, from the civil rights movement and the descent into what became ordinary people in the Bogside area taking on the State."

The Battle of the Bogside exhibition will open on July 30 and will run for three days,

Anybody who wishes to loan their memorabilia to the exhibition can drop it off at the Gasyard.



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