Inquest told of 'smell of death' at scene of Kingsmill massacre

The van the workmen were travelling in
The van the workmen were travelling in

The first person at the scene of the Kingsmill massacre has described the "smell of death" he found.

Gerald Byrne said he still lies in bed reliving the memory of the 1976 slaughter of 10 Protestant workmen by the IRA.

He said he could still remember seeing the bullet holes after gunmen opened fire on a remote road in South Armagh.

"The smell of the scene was indescribable. It was the smell of death. The blood was running down the road."

He arrived in a vehicle driven by his brother-in-law.

"My hair rose up on my head," he told the inquest in Belfast.

He lost two stone in weight due to not eating afterwards.

"I still lie in bed reliving this scene in my mind, it is so clear in my mind, I can still see the bullet holes."

He counted 10 bodies. "I then heard a noise and became aware that there was someone still alive. We put him in the recovery position but he was bleeding terribly."

The gang had stopped the textile workmen on their way home from work.

They opened fire after picking out the sole Catholic in the van and telling him to flee.

Alan Black was the only survivor.

Mr Byrne said: "The scene was shocking.

"Joe Lemmon will haunt me for the rest of my life. He was lying on his back on top of the pile with his head opened."

Mr Byrne said he ran to a neighbour's house to summon help.