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Norfolk veterans to join London rally in support of Soldier F charged with Bloody Sunday murder

PUBLISHED: 06:30 06 April 2019

Ex-serviceman John Roberts, from Spixworth, is joining the Rolling Thunder support ride for Soldier F in London. Picture: John Roberts

Ex-serviceman John Roberts, from Spixworth, is joining the Rolling Thunder support ride for Soldier F in London. Picture: John Roberts

John Roberts

Scores of Norfolk veterans are to join the London rally in support of Soldier F - a former British soldier charged with murder over Bloody Sunday.

James Wray (left) and William McKinney died on Bloody Sunday. Northern Ireland's Director of Public Prosecutions has announced that a solider will face prosecution for their murder. Picture: Bloody Sunday Trust/PAJames Wray (left) and William McKinney died on Bloody Sunday. Northern Ireland's Director of Public Prosecutions has announced that a solider will face prosecution for their murder. Picture: Bloody Sunday Trust/PA

Bikers from all over the UK will be taking part in the Rolling Thunder support ride on Friday, April 12 for Soldier F as well as Dennis Hutchings, a 77-year-old ex-soldier who will be tried for attempted murder for a fatal shooting in Northern Ireland in 1974.

On March 14, the Public Prosecution Service said there was sufficient evidence to prosecute Soldier F over the murders of James Wray and William McKinney in Londonderry on January 30, 1972, which came to be known as Bloody Sunday.

It was one of the most violent events of the Northern Ireland conflict, in which paratroopers opened fire at civil rights demonstrators, killing 13 people and wounding 15.

But veterans across the country - including Norfolk - have described the prosecution of former soldiers as a travesty, stating many of them are elderly and in poor health.

A member of the Parachute Regiment clashing with a rioter on Bloody Sunday. Picture: PAA member of the Parachute Regiment clashing with a rioter on Bloody Sunday. Picture: PA

A spokesman for the rally said around 7,000 people were expected at the protest, with similar rallies planned in Edinburgh and Belfast.

He added: “Many of the riders are themselves veterans, or family and friends of veterans - some of whom have this threat hanging over them too.”

One of those joining the rally is John Roberts, 53, from Spixworth, who served seven years in the 6th Battalion Royal Anglian Regiment between 1985 and 1992.

He said around 100 people from Norfolk had expressed an interest in going to the protest, which will gather at Parliament Square at 1pm.

People receiving attention during the shooting incident in Londonderry, Northern Ireland, which became known as Bloody Sunday. Picture: PA WirePeople receiving attention during the shooting incident in Londonderry, Northern Ireland, which became known as Bloody Sunday. Picture: PA Wire

“There is a huge passion about this,” he said. “I think it’s abhorrent.

“I don’t think it should be brought against him, he was in the army at the time, he was following orders.

“There were terrible things happening on both sides - it was a war, a nasty war and now it’s 46 years later.”

He added: “We are not a political group, we are simply there to voice our opinion.”

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