Dennis Oldfield was married on March 28th, the following morning he was on Parade at Hopton Barracks in Devizes. Four days later he was on patrol in the Ballymurphy district of Belfast.

Dennis 20, a Lance Bombardier with 42 Medium Regiment Royal Artillery flew with more than 500 men of the Regiment to Belfast on April 3rd to relieve the Royal Scot,s, who had been dealing with the new wave of troubles that hit the capital just after Easter.

Today the men return to Devizes and their job is being done by another Regiment but they will go back to Northern Ireland in August to spend four months near Londonderry.

Dennis,s wife Lyn is a Devizes girl, she was not very happy when he was whisked away from her so soon after their wedding. Dennis himself comes from Peterborough and has been in the Regiment for three years and has spent a year of that time in Devizes.


We found Dennis on guard at the Springfield Presbyterian Church which was at the centre of three nights of rioting early in April.
Gnr Dennis Oldfield

He and another 104 men are billeted in the Church and they maintain a constant patrol on foot and in Landrovers of the surrounding council housing estates.
The Church is on the edge of the new Barnsley estate which has a mixed population of Roman Catholics and Protestants. It looks across the Springfield Road peace line to the almost completely Catholic Ballmurphy estate
The men spend four days down on the streets and then return to Palace Barracks at Hollywood on the north east side of Belfast. There they spend four days resting and recuperating, long walks, swims in the freezing sea and rock climbing may not seem much of a rest but at least the men get a chance to escape the tensions of street patrols.


Back at the Barracks we found two other men who had married Devizes girls on easter saturday. Gunner Michael Hedges 20, was called back from Honeymoon in Devon to go to Northern Ireland (The regiment had been on stand-by since last August but no one had expected the departure to be so swift as it turned out to be)
Michael and his wife Marilyn 19, have a house in Ferozeshah road. He has been in the Army for five years and has served in Cyprus and Germany but he finds the Northern Ireland situation peculiar " you don't know whose side your on" he said "there are two sides and your stuck in the middle"

Gnr Michael Hedges (Tiny)

Lance Bombardier Michael Thorpe 22, the other recently married man also finds the situation strange "its very weird doing a police job among your own people" he said. He was in a hurry to get back to his home in Drakes avenue and to his wife Linda.

L/Bdr Mick Thorpe ----L/Bdr Terry Kitson -Gnr Philip Everitt


Even when back at the barracks the men are not allowed to forget the job they have come to do. We talked to Michael just before he went off for riot control practice, with him were Lance Bombardier Terry Kitson and Gunner Philip Everitt.

Terry comes from Yorkshire but married a Devizes girl a year and a half ago. He has an eight month old son Roger, and is a neighbor of Gunner Hedges in Ferozeshah Road. He is one of the few men we met who has been involved in some kind of Military action before - he was in Malaysia from 1965 to 1967.

Philip Everitt was at 18, the youngest of the men we met, his home is in Ainsworth Road Park South Swindon. He has been in the Regiment for just three months but was in the Junior Leaders Regiment for three years. he said that a few milk bottles had been heaved at patrols he had been with but he had not been involved in any riots.


But then the Regiment as a whole has had no trouble to handle, The Royal Scotts were still in Ballymurphy when the uneasy peace was disrupted by three nights of violence.
The men who came from Devizes to relieve them have had the job of maintaining the calm that had been re-imposed. Their mobile patrols have a constant radio link with headquarters. Foot patrols try to prevent Catholic squatters from moving into houses and flats in New Barnsley evacuated by Protestant families during the past five weeks.
They man observation posts and at night throw up road blocks to eliminate arms running.
Back in Ballymurphy we found Gunner John Deacon 21, cleaning his rifle in a billet in a wood yard in Springfield Road. He was one of 78 men sleeping in a recreation room and conditions were not luxurious.

Gnr John Deacon


John comes from Glasgow but his wife Judith, 18, comes from Devizes, they were married in February . John was married three weeks after Gunner Robert Robinson who was on sentry duty at Springfield Presbyterian Church.
Gnr Robert Robinson

The local children - and there are lots of them 0 love to gather round the sentry posts and many of them have managed to cadge pieces of uniform from the troops. Given half a chance they would dismantle a semi-automatic rifle.
Roberts wife Mary 19, lives in Drakes Avenue Devizes.

It was obvious that none of the wives was keen to see their Husbands disappear across the Irish Sea to a trouble spot for a month but from what was said the men would have been glad to have stayed in Belfast to complete a full four month tour of duty..........

MAY 7th 1970