The execution of three members of the IRA in Gibraltar set in motion the chain of events that would lead to the killings of David Howes and David Howes
Operation Flavius (also referred to as the “Gibraltar killings“) was a controversial military operation in which three members of the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) were shot dead by the British Special Air Service (SAS) in Gibraltar on 6 March 1988.
The three—Seán Savage, Daniel McCann, and Mairéad Farrell—were believed to be mounting a bombing attack on British military personnel in Gibraltar. SAS soldiers challenged them in the forecourt of a petrol station, then opened fire, killing them.
All three were found to be unarmed, and no bomb was discovered in Savage’s car, leading to accusations that the British government had conspired to murder them. An inquest in Gibraltar ruled that the SAS had acted lawfully, while the European Court of Human Rights held that, although there had been no conspiracy, the planning and control of the operation was so flawed as to make the use of lethal force almost inevitable.
The deaths were the first in a chain of violent events in a fourteen-day period; they were followed by the Milltown Cemetery attack and the corporals killings in Belfast.
The views and opinions expressed in these documentary are soley intended to educate and provide background information to those interested in the Troubles of Northern Ireland. They in no way reflect my own opinions and I take no responsibility for any inaccuracies or factual errors.
The Milltown Attack
The Milltown Cemetery attack (also known as the Milltown Cemetery killings or Milltown Massacretook place on 16 March 1988 in Belfast‘s Milltown Cemetery. During the funeral of three Provisional IRA volunteers killed in Gibraltar, an Ulster Defence Association (UDA) volunteer, Michael Stone, attacked the mourners with hand grenades and pistols.
As Stone ran towards the nearby motorway, a large crowd began chasing him and he continued shooting and throwing grenades. Some of them caught him and began beating him, but he was rescued by the police and arrested. Three people had been killed and more than 60 wounded. The “unprecedented, one-man attack” was filmed by television news crews and caused shock around the world.
Three days later, at the funeral of one of Stone’s victims, two non-uniformed British soldiers drove into the funeral procession. Bystanders, who reportedly thought it was a replay of an attack like that carried out by Stone, dragged the soldiers from their car; the two corporals were later shot dead by the IRA.
Corporals Wood and Howes killed by IRA 1988
British Army corporals David Howes and Derek Wood were killed by the Provisional IRA on 19 March 1988 in Belfast, Northern Ireland, in an event which became knowns as the corporals killings. The plain-clothes soldiers were killed after driving a car into the funeral procession of an IRA member.
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