Remembering the Fallen: on this day in 1972, Corporal Alan Buckley, 1st Battalion, the King’s Regiment, was killed in Northern Ireland, his regiment’s first fatality in the province.
On the day of his death, a car bomb had gone off outside Kelly’s Bar, located at the junction of the Springfield Road and Whiterock Road in west Belfast – the pub was crowded because it had a colour television and was showing the England and West Germany football match. The previous evening UVF gunmen had settled into abandoned flats overlooking the Ballymurphy estate. They opened fire as people escaped from the damaged pub. Ambulances were called and their crews had to brave the gunfire to attend to the injured, some of of whom were children. Members of the Provisional and Official IRA were returning fire, and they then turned their attention to the British troops at the scene.
Corporal Buckley was on foot patrol on the Whiterock Road when he was shot in the chest. Reports vary as to whether he was shot by the Provisionals or caught in the cross-fire. Soldiers had to give covering fire so that a medic could attempt to help him, but his wounds were fatal and he died within twenty minutes. He had served in Northern Ireland twice before, and had only arrived back for his third tour three weeks before his death.
Major Gerry Smith said of him: “He had been in the army since he was a boy. He was a very well-liked, popular and respected member of the regiment.”
Alan, from Manchester, was 22 years old and married with a three-year-old son.