The blinding of Emma Groves – front cover of ‘Socialist Woman’, March-April 1972

I met Emma Groves back in the early 1990s, or possibly very end of the 1980s, as she came to Dublin to help support the campaign against extradition.  The story of her blinding by a British soldier, who deliberately shot her in the face at point-blank range with a rubber bullet, shocked people in Dublin and elsewhere in the south.  Many southerners were simply unaware of the harsh realities of daily life as experienced by northern nationalist working class people. 

This morning I was looking at a copy of a British left-wing women’s liberation journal from the early 1970s, Socialist Woman, and saw it had a short item on Mrs Groves’ blinding on the front cover of its March-April 1972 issue.  Here is the item:

Emma Groves, of Anderstonstown, Belfast lost the sight of both her eyes when a paratrooper fired a rubber bullet into her face at point-blank range.

The incident occurred on the morning of 4th November (1971 – PF) when yet another military search was taking place in her area.  One group of soldiers had completed their work and left, and then the paras moved in.

Mrs Groves opened her window.  She was told by a para to “close your fucking window”.  She didn’t, and so he shot her in the face.  The rubber bullet collapsed the bridge of her nose and blinded her for life.  Many Catholics listening to their radios heard an army voice say on a walkie-talkie: “I hope we killed the cunt.”

The photograph on this cover has never appeared in the British press.  At the time it was too busy condemning the tarring and feathering of collaborators to bother about the activities or the role of the British Army.

Posted on February 1, 2020, in British state repression (general), British strategy, Democratic rights - general, Historiography and historical texts, Repression and resistance in 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, Women. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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