Remembering the Fallen: on this day in 1972, Private Keith Bryan, 1st Battalion, the Gloucester Regiment, was killed in Northern Ireland.
He had been covering others in his patrol in the Divis area of Belfast when a sniper fired from the direction of St. Peter’s Pro-Cathedral. They had taken up defensive positions as one of their number approached and spoke to a man who had been paying them too much interest. Soldiers in the patrol returned fire but the gunman escaped, however Private Bryan was shot in the chest by what was believed to be a dum-dum bullet and died an hour later in hospital. Another soldier said, “Private Bryan was 15 yards from me by a wrecked car. We had been there only a few minutes when a shot rang out and he reeled to the left and fell to the ground. I ran to him and he was lying spreadeagled on the ground. I comforted him as best I could until a civilian ambulance arrived. The gunman who fired the shot was not seen.” It is believed that the shooting was in retaliation for the death of a seventeen-year-old IRA member the day before, shot when a Gloucesters’ patrol returned fire during an attack.
Private Bryan had joined the army as soon as he was old enough to do so - his brother was serving in the same regiment which sadly at that time had one of the heaviest casualty records. His local pub, the Bristol Bulldog, was presented with a commemoration plaque by members of his platoon. Keith, from Bristol, was 18 years old.