Londonderry Orangemen murdered during the Troubles

MORE than 300 members of the Orange Order were killed during the Troubles, representing almost one in ten of those killed during the span of the conflict.

Between 1972 and 1994, 26 members of the Orange Order were murdered in County Londonderry. Of those 26, eight were murdered in the city council area.

The first two victims, James McClelland a 65-year-old man from Cross (LOL 621) and David Miller, who was 60-years-old (LOL 1969) died on July 31, 1972, when three car bombs tore through Claudy. The third of the devices were responsible for killing the two men who died instantly. After the first two explosions many people moved towards the Beaufort Hotel when the last device had been placed inside a Mini.

A coroner later described the attack as "Sheer, unadulterated, cold, calculated fiendish murder."

George Ellis Hamilton (LOL 1967), was 28-years-old electrician and married with one child. He also served part-time with the UDR. Mr Hamilton was working at Croppy Hill reservoir not from the city when an IRA sniper hit him with a single shot on December 20, 1972. An employee of the Derry Development Commission (DDC), he worked regularly at the reservoir. The victim and three other electricians were repairing a fault when the attack took place.

Ellis Hamilton was hit in the back and died around two hours later at Altnagelvin Hospital.

Later that evening UDA gunmen entered a bar in the Gobnascale area and opened fire killing five people. Several newspapers reported the loyalist attack had been in retaliation for the killing of Ellis Hamilton.

Just around two weeks later on January 4, 1973, 48-year-old James Hood (LOL 1969) was shot dead as he entered his home at Straidarran, near Feeny. He was second-in-command of the UDR's 5th Battalion. As he returned from duty at around 10.45pm one shot was fired from a shotgun from the cover of shrubbery. Captain Hood's son, who was putting their car away, ran back to find his father with a head wound which caused almost immediate death. He was survived by his wife, twin sons and a daughter.

On November 25, 1975, Robert Stott (LOL 858-Churchill Orange Lodge), was murdered by the IRA as he returned home to the Fountain from his job at a local shirt factory.

A part time member of the UDR, Mr Stott was also a prominent member of the Young Unionists and was shot ten times by the IRA. His brother said he heard the shots in quick succession and went to the door to find him lying face down on the pavement bleeding heavily.

Robert Stott died on the same date that his grandfather was killed fighting in WWI in 1917. Amongst the 100 wreaths was one inscribed 'from the mothers of Creggan and Bogside'.

Two days later the UDA shot and injured two Catholic workmen. They said the shooting was in retaliation for Mr Stott of Fountain Street.

Robert Stott's father was superintendent of the city's council offices and was in charge of the Guildhall when it was twice bombed. In 1979 he campaigned for better compensation for the relatives of security force casualties. A year earlier, in 1978, Londonderry Young Unionists to First Derry Presbyterian Church in memory of Robert Stott.

RUC Reservist, John Olphert (LOL 871), was shot dead by the IRA at his shop in the Nelson Drive area on January 18, 1983.

Mr Olphert was serving customers in his combined shop and post office when two masked gunmen appeared. On seeing them coming, the shopkeeper ran to a door, closing it behind him, but a bullet was fired through it wounding him. The killers then pushed the door open and shot him again. The victim died in his wife's arms.

The killers used a red Ford Cortina as a getaway car which had been taken from a family in Robert Street at 1pm-30 minutes before the killing. The family were held at gunpoint until after the shooting when the car was found abandoned on Rossdowney Road. Two controlled explosions were carried out on in it in case it had been booby-trapped.

Reserve Constable Olphert had opened the shop in 1982, tendering his resignation from the RUC reserve to enable him to spend more time on the business. The resignation was due to take effect a month later. The then Church of Ireland Bishop of Derry and Raphoe, Dr James Mehaffey, told mourners at Mr Olphert's funeral that he had "been given no chance and shown no mercy."

And, six Catholic priests in the city issued a statement expressing their revulsion at the murder.

It said: "People often seek to justify their evil deeds by attempting to portray their victims as enemies of some noble cause, and on that account, as somehow deserving of of their fate. Catholics should not leave themselves open to such deception. They must always remember that each of us will one day have to render an unaided and strict account of our lives on earth to God."

On June 29, 1991, Cecil McKnight (LOL 1866), was talking to a police inspector and a constable at his home in Melrose Terrace when the IRA fired through a window of the house.

The policemen pursued the attackers but when shots were fired at them they did not return fire because of the presence of civilians in the area.

A senior UDA/UFF man in the city, the IRA claimed that Cecil McKnight had been involved in planning the murder of Donegal Sinn Fin councillor Eddie Fullerton. An IRA statement from the time said: "Members of loyalist paramilitary groups involved in the killing of nationalists will pay a heavy price for their participation in such deeds. Members of the Protestant community, in Derry, however have nothing to fear from the IRA."

The then Catholic Bishop of Derry, Dr Edward Daly, described the killing as a cruel sectarian murder and said: "May I say on behalf of the Catholic community that we do not want anything to do with this type of sectarian conflict or tit-for-tat murders of the IRA or loyalist groups. We reject this unequivocally."

On October 30, 1993, one of those murdered by the UDA in the notorious 'Trick or Treat' massacre in Greysteel was 54-year-old John Burns (LOL 764).

Married with three children, his wife was also badly wounded in the attack. John Burns was on his way to the toilet when the gunmen arrived.

A teenage witness said at the time: "When they came in through the door and and shouted 'trick or treat' he started to laugh and shout, but then he was hit in the stomach. He was in a really bad way. John was was lying there and he told me everything would be alright and told me to look after his daughter and make sure she was okay. I bent down and kissed him on the head and told him he was going to be alright, but I knew he was dying because he was so cold. It was awful. I have not been able to sleep. Every time I closed my eyes all I could was dead bodies."

John Burns was a former UDR man from St Canice's Park in Eglinton and had sons aged 19 and 14 and a daughter aged 14.