Hugh Henry Martin of Stewartstown, formerly of Ochill and Drumcairne
Born 29 January 1919
Died 2 June 1977
Excerpt from Lost Lives
The stories of the men, women and children who died as a result of the Northern Ireland troubles
By David McKittrick, Seamus Kelters, Brian Feeney, Chris Thornton and David McVea
2 June 1977
Samuel Derek Davison, Tyrone
RUC, Protestant, 24, married
The constable, who came from Donegal, was one of three RUC officers killed when their patrol car was ambushed by three IRA gunmen, each armed with an Armalite rifle, from behind a hedge on a lane at Ardboe, close to Lough Neagh. The other men were Constable Kenneth Norman Lynch and Reserve Constable Hugh Martin.
Their RUC vehicle crashed and the gunmen approached, firing a further 20 shots into the Ford Escort. The officers’ bodies were discovered by a passing motorist. A local man who arrived on the scene said, ‘I’ve never seen anything like it. I found Hugh Martin, a man I have known all my life, lying in the middle of the road. The two young officers were still in the car and they too seemed to be breathing their last. One was lashing about in the car and I tried to comfort him for a time and then lifted him out and left him by the roadside. It was a horrific scene.’
A bottle of orange squash and some sandwiches were found where the gunmen had waited for the police car.
In 1979 a 22-year old man from Coalisland was jailed for life for the murders of the three policemen. A number of other people received lesser sentences. The IRA’s East Tyrone brigade said it had carried out the attack. The weapons used were later said by police to have been used in the killings of a number of members of the security forces.
See also: Kenneth Norman Lynch, Hugh Martin
2 June 1977
Kenneth Norman Lynch, Tyrone, RUC, Protestant, 22, single
From Donemana, Co Tyrone
2 June 1977
Hugh Martin, Tyrone
RUCR, Protestant, 58, married, 7 children
The reserve constable was from Stewartstown. He was brought up a quarter of a mile from where he died and at his funeral was described as a faithful church member and a solid, respected member of the local community.
Excerpts from The Democrat – Thursday 9 June 1977
TRIPLE MURDER OF POLICE OFFICERS AT CARNAN
Despite the fact that over the past seven years the people of Tyrone have witnessed some of the most dreadful atrocities imaginable, the manner in which three RUC men were cold-bloodedly murdered at Carnan on Thursday last stunned all decent people. The three officers who lost their lives were Reserve Constable Hugh Martin, who formerly resided adjacent to where he was murdered but who at the time of his death resided at Chambre Park, Stewartstown; Constable Samuel Derek Davidson, 24, married with no family, and a native of Co Donegal, and Constable Kenneth Norman Lynch, 22, a native of Donemana, Co Tyrone.
The three were travelling in their patrol car at Carnan and had just passed the spot where the gunmen had been lying in wait when their car was raked with automatic fire and the driver obviously killed, as the vehicle crashed into a hedge. The gunmen then stepped out onto the road and fired at least twenty shots into the bodies of the officers still alive, inflicting such awful wounds that caused hardened police officers and journalists, who later reached the scene, to pale.
The ambush situation was only a matter of yards from a small housing estate, and in a densely populated area where an ambush-point would have been thought unlikely as the road carries a considerable amount of traffic. Among the first to reach the scene was a local farmer from Ballynagowan. Describing the incident he said, ‘I’ve never seen anything like it. After the shooting I drove down and found Hugh Henry Martin, a man I have known all my life, lying dying in the middle of the road. The two young officers were still in the car and they too seemed to be breathing their last. The driver was lashing about in the car and I tried to comfort him for a time and then lifted him out and left him by the roadside. It was a horrific scene. The two young officers had been shot in the back of the head and Hugh Martin in the back. I am certain none of the local people was responsible for this. It has shocked and abhorred everyone.’
The shooting is believed to have occurred sometime around 2.30pm and at first local people were reluctant to approach the scene and it was the local farmer and a lorry driver who were first to raise the alarm. Tribute must be paid to the very speedy manner in which ambulances from South Tyrone Hospital responded to the call. Although only receiving the call a few minutes before 3.00pm, the first ambulance had reached the murder scene and had arrived back at the hospital before 3.30pm. However despite their best efforts their patient, Constable Davidson, died on his way to the hospital although the ambulance crew continued in their efforts to preserve his life.
Within an hour of the news of the killings the area around the murder scene was a moving mass of police, army and pressmen. It was not until after 6.00pm that the bodies of Reserve Constable Martin and Constable Lynch were removed to the mortuary, and members of the media were allowed to the actual scene.
Police are satisfied that while only three men may have been involved in the actual killings, there was a number of others with local knowledge involved in the planning and in assisting the gunmen to escape. They point out that only persons with local knowledge would have been able to bring the gunmen to the scene or assist tin the escape along the maze of roads which border Lough Neagh. It has also been established that forensic tests, carried out on spent cartridges found at the scene, have established that the guns used in the killings have also been responsible for a number of other killings in the Coalisland-Dungannon district over the past four years.
Condemnations of the killings have poured in from all sections of the community. Among the first to condemn the killings were the Rev Ian Paisley and Fr Denis Faul. The Police Federation, the Presbyterian Church and the Auxiliary Bishop of Armagh issued statements. Father Faul, in condemning the murders, said that they could not be justified on any pretext; they flouted the laws of God and man. He said that the killings endangered the lives of everyone in the community, and he repeated his call for a Provisional IRA ceasefire. Speaking during a confirmation service at Coalisland on Thursday evening the Auxiliary Bishop of Armagh, Most Rev Dr Francis Lenny, said, ‘I want to condemn this callous act as a violation of the fifth commandment: Thou shalt not kill.’ Dr Lenny also conveyed his deep sympathy to the families of the three policemen.
The Moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, Rev Jack Weir, said he was appalled by what he described as wanton killings. ‘Such attacks discredit any cause which they pretend to serve,’ he stated.
On Saturday upwards of 2,000 mourners of all religions and from all walks of life attended the funeral of Reserve Constable Martin, which took place from his home at Chambre Park, Stewartstown, to Brigh Presbyterian Church. A guard of honour of former colleagues, under Chief Superintendent Pollock, led the funeral cortege through Stewartstown, where all business premises were closed and blinds on the windows of private residences were drawn. The coffin, on which was placed the deceased’s cap, was borne though the town by relatives and neighbours. Among those who walked in the funeral cortege was Charles McConaghy, a former colleague of the deceased, who was blinded in a booby trap explosion on the outskirts of Stewartstown over two years ago.
At the funeral the Northern Ireland secretary of State was represented by Mr Brian Hill of the Northern Ireland Office. Assistant Chief Constable Harry Bailie represented the Chief Constable, Mr Kenneth Newman, and the Police Authority was represented by Mr Jack Hassard and Mr R Austin. Also present were representatives of the Army and UDR, in addition to Unionist and SPLP members of Cookstown District Council.
At the service in Brigh Church the Presbyterian Moderator, Dr Jack Weir, claimed that if atrocities like the Ardboe triple killings were taking place in England, the Government would not be handling the situation so calmly. He said the violence in Ulster was not a struggle between paramilitaries and the security forces, where the rest of the community could stand apart and watch, shouting their cheers and sympathies. The real struggle was between those who practised violence and the rest of the community.
The late Mr Martin was well-known in the Dungannon area, where he had been employed as groundsman at Drumglass Hospital for many years. He was a person who was liked and respected by all who knew him. Former SDLP Convention member Mr Paddy Duffy, who is also one of the area’s representatives on Cookstown District Council and a former neighbour of deceased, described Hugh Martin as an honourable man who would never have been involved in any dishonourable activities. In a strong condemnation of the killings Mr Duffy said that all decent people would deplore them. He added that the killings had stunned an area which has known much tragedy since the commencement of the troubles, and the fact that Hugh Martin had a close association with the district added poignancy to the dreadful affair.