Belfast 1977 - A Soldier’s Pictures

These photographs were taken in Belfast in 1977 during some of the darkest days of ‘The Troubles’ and lent to me in 2015 by a friend and work colleague who had served in the Royal Anglian Regiment during two tours in Northern Ireland, the first being in 1975. They were taken with a small point and shoot Instamatic and given to me as small 4x4 prints which I scanned and made into a self published photo book.

 The images are from various places, mainly in Catholic West Belfast where the IRA were deeply entrenched. Locations include Belfast Docks, the British Army’s Mulhouse base and barracks, the streets of West Belfast and the notorious Divis Flats. Many were taken during patrols in the street where people carried on with their everyday lives having to face the constant threat of sectarian violence and in spite of large tracts of this part of the city being laid to waste. I believe that the photographs are quite remarkable in that they are a purely personal set of images taken by an ordinary soldier at no small risk to himself, either from his army superiors, from the IRA or from the citizens of West Belfast among whom the British Army troops were often a cause of great resentment. 

Though he was born in England, my friend lived most of his life in south Wales, in Church Village near Pontypridd. Sadly he died of a brain tumour in 2017, of causes not related to his military service in Northern Ireland.

John Briggs

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