Tag Archives: Guildford pub bombings

Walton’s Restaurant Bombing – 18th November 1975

Walton’s Restaurant Bombing

walton restaurant bombing

On 18 November 1975 an Irish Republican Army (IRA) unit nicknamed the Balcombe Street Gang without warning threw a bomb into Walton’s Restaurant in Walton StreetKnightsbridge, London, killing two people and injuring almost two dozen others.

Background

 

Related image

The IRA began a bombing campaign on Britain on 8 March 1973 when they exploded a car bomb outside the Old Bailey which injured 180 people and one man died from a heart attack. The IRA unit responsible for the Old Bailey bombing were arrested trying to leave the country.

 

Image result for ira asu

Thereafter to try to help avoid their active service units (ASUs) from being captured and to have a better chance of carrying out a sustained bombing assault , the IRA decided to send to England sleeper cells who would arrive within weeks before actually carrying out any military activity and blend in with the public as not to draw attention to themselves. According to the leader of the Balcombe Street unit, the first bombing they carried out was the Guildford pub bombings on 5 October 1974, which killed five people and injured over 60 for which four innocent people known as the Guildford Four were arrested and received large jail sentences.

 

 In February 1975 the Provisional Irish Republican Army agreed to a truce and ceasefire with the British government and the Northern Ireland Office Several “incident centres” were established in Irish nationalist areas in Northern Ireland to monitor the ceasefire and the activity of the security forces. Before the truce, the IRA ASU, later dubbed the Balcombe Street Gang (because of the December 1975 Balcombe Street siege), had been bombing targets in England since autumn 1974, particularly in London and surrounding areas.

Their last attack was an assassination attempt on former Prime Minister Edward Heath but he was not home when the attackers threw a bomb into his bedroom window on 22 December 1974.

Bombing

———————————————

The Provisional IRA bomb Waltons London restaurant – 18 November 1975

 

———————————————

After the 1975 PIRA–British Army truce began to break, the IRA’s Balcombe Street ASU stepped up its bombing and shooting campaign on mainland Britain. On the night of 18 November 1975 the unit picked Walton’s Restaurant to bomb. Two civilians, Audrey Edgson (aged 45) and Theodore Williams (aged 49), were killed  when a bomb was thrown by one of the IRA Volunteers through the window of Walton’s Restaurant in Walton Street, Chelsea.

The device injured 23 other people, the oldest of them 71 years of age. In the bomb the IRA used miniature ball bearings to maximise injuries. Two persons, a man and woman, died at St. Stephen’s Hospital shortly after being taken there. According to Dr. Laurence Martin the consultant in charge of the casualty department in St. Stephen’s Hospital said that four of those injured required emergency operations.

“We have been involved with nine bomb incidents in the past two years but this is the worst,”

Dr. Martin said.

 

Senior Scotland Yard official, James Nevin, deputy head of the bomb squad, said that the bomb used in the attack had been a “shrapnel‐like device.” containing three pounds of explosives.

“This was obviously designed to kill and injure people rather than damage property,”

he said.

This was a calculated bombing campaign aimed at destroying businesses and scaring customers in London’s West End.

Other previous attacks by the unit in 1975 included Scott’s Oyster Bar bombing on 12 November, the London Hilton bombing on 5 September and the Caterham Arms Pub Bombingon 27 August. In total the unit carried out around 40 bomb and gun attacks on mainland Britain between October 1974 – December 1975.

Aftermath

This was the Balcombe Street gang’s last major attack during their fourteen-month bombing campaign of the British mainland. The IRA units bombing campaign would come to an end in December 1975 when they were caught at the Balcombe Street Siege which is where the unit got its name from.

See: Balcombe Street Siege 

The unit would eventually end up exploding close to 50 bombs in England and carried out several shootings which cost millions of pounds in damages, claimed the lives of 18 people, which included 10 civilians, 7 British soldiers and one London police officer, and injured almost 400 people, but they were only sentenced for the deaths of seven people.

The IRA would continue to attack targets in England during the rest of the 1970s and throughout the 1980s but would not launch such a sustained campaign on the British mainland again until the early 1990s.

 In custody the ASU also admitted to carrying out the Guildford pub bombings and the Kings Arms, Woolwich bombing for which the Guildford Four had been arrested, and received lengthy jail terms

See: Guildford Pub Bombings

M62 Coach Bombing – 12 People including two children slaughtered by the IRA

The M62 coach bombing happened on 4 February 1974 on the M62 motorway in northern England, when a Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) bomb exploded in a coach carrying off-duty British Armed Forces personnel and their family members.

Twelve people (nine soldiers, three civilians) were killed by the bomb, which consisted of 25 pounds (11 kg) of high explosive hidden in a luggage locker on the coach. Judith Ward was convicted of the crime later in 1974, but 18 years later the conviction was judged as wrongful and she was released from prison.

The Bombing

The coach had been specially commissioned to carry British Army and Royal Air Force personnel on leave with their families from and to the bases at Catterick and Darlington during a period of railway strike action. The vehicle had departed from Manchester and was making good progress along the motorway. Shortly after midnight, when the bus was between junction 26 and 27, near Oakwell Hall, there was a large explosion on board. Most of those aboard were sleeping at the time. The blast, which could be heard several miles away, reduced the coach to a “tangle of twisted metal” and threw body parts up to 250 yards (230 m).

The explosion killed eleven people outright and wounded over fifty others , one of whom died four days later. Amongst the dead were nine soldiers – two from the Royal Artillery, three from the Royal Corps of Signals and four from the 2nd battalion Royal Regiment of Fusiliers.

Royal Fusiliers Regiment.svg
The Capbadge of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers

One of the latter was Corporal Clifford Haughton, whose entire family, consisting of his wife Linda and his sons Lee (5) and Robert (2), also died. Numerous others suffered severe injuries, including a six-year-old boy, who was badly burned.

The driver of the coach, Roland Handley, was injured by flying glass, but was hailed as a hero for bringing the coach safely to a halt. Handley died, aged 76, after a short illness, in January 2011.

Suspicions immediately fell upon the IRA, which was in the midst of an armed campaign in Britain involving numerous operations, later including the Guildford Pub Bomb and the Birmingham pub bombings.

Reaction

Memorial plaque at Hartshead Moor services

Reactions in Britain were furious, with senior politicians from all parties calling for immediate action against the perpetrators and the IRA in general. The British media were equally condemnatory; according to The Guardian, it was:

“the worst IRA outrage on the British mainland” at that time, whilst the BBC has described it as “one of the IRA’s worst mainland terror attacks”.

The Irish Sunday Business Post later described it as the “worst” of the “awful atrocities perpetrated by the IRA” during this period.

IRA Army Council member Dáithí Ó Conaill was challenged over the bombing and the death of civilians during an interview, and replied that the coach was bombed because IRA intelligence indicated that it was carrying military personnel only.

The attack’s most lasting consequence was the adoption of much stricter ‘anti-terrorism‘ laws in Great Britain and Northern Ireland, allowing police to hold those ‘suspected of terrorism’ for up to seven days without charge, and to deport those ‘suspected of terrorism’ in Britain or the Republic of Ireland to Northern Ireland to face trial, where special courts judged with separate rules on ‘terrorism‘ suspects.

The entrance hall of the westbound section of the Hartshead Moor service area was used as a first aid station for those wounded in the blast. A memorial to those who were killed was later created there. following a campaign by relatives of the dead, a larger memorial was later erected, set some yards away from the entrance hall.

The site, situated behind four flag poles, includes an English oak tree, a memorial stone, a memorial plaque and a raised marble tablet inscribed with the names of those who died.

A memorial plaque engraved with the names of the casualties was also unveiled in Oldham in 2010.

M62 coach bombing

—————————————————————————

Victims

—————————————————————————

04 February 1974
Leonard Godden,   (22)

nfNIB
Status: British Army (BA),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Killed in time bomb attack on British Army (BA) coach travelling along M62 motorway, Yorkshire, England.

—————————————————————————

04 February 1974


Terence Griffin,   (24)

nfNIB
Status: British Army (BA),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Killed in time bomb attack on British Army (BA) coach travelling along M62 motorway, Yorkshire, England.

—————————————————————————

04 February 1974
Michael Waugh,   (22)

nfNIB
Status: British Army (BA),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Killed in time bomb attack on British Army (BA) coach travelling along M62 motorway, Yorkshire, England.

—————————————————————————

04 February 1974
Leslie Walsh,  (19)

nfNI
Status: British Army (BA),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Killed in time bomb attack on British Army (BA) coach travelling along M62 motorway, Yorkshire, England.

—————————————————————————

04 February 1974
Paul Reid,  (17)

nfNIB
Status: British Army (BA),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Killed in time bomb attack on British Army (BA) coach travelling along M62 motorway, Yorkshire, England

—————————————————————————

04 February 1974
Jack Hynes,  (19)

nfNIB
Status: British Army (BA),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Killed in time bomb attack on British Army (BA) coach travelling along M62 motorway, Yorkshire, England.

—————————————————————————

04 February 1974
James McShane,  (28)

nfNIB
Status: British Army (BA),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Killed in time bomb attack on British Army (BA) coach travelling along M62 motorway, Yorkshire, England.

—————————————————————————

04 February 1974


Clifford Houghton,   (23)

nfNIB
Status: British Army (BA),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Killed in time bomb attack on British Army (BA) coach travelling along M62 motorway, Yorkshire, England

—————————————————————————

04 February 1974


Linda Houghton, (23)

nfNIB
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Killed in time bomb attack on British Army (BA) coach travelling along M62 motorway, Yorkshire, England

—————————————————————————

04 February 1974


Lee Houghton, (5)

nfNIB
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Killed in time bomb attack on British Army (BA) coach travelling along M62 motorway, Yorkshire, England

—————————————————————————

04 February 1974


Robert Houghton,   (2)

nfNIB
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Killed in time bomb attack on British Army (BA) coach travelling along M62 motorway, Yorkshire, England.

—————————————————————————

04 February 1974


Stephen Whalley,   (18)

nfNIB
Status: British Army (BA),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Injured in time bomb attack on British Army (BA) coach travelling along M62 motorway, Yorkshire, England. He died 7 February 1974.

—————————————————————————

See: Palace Barracks Memorial Garden

04 February 1974

Prosecution

Second memorial at Hartshead Moor services

Following the explosion, the British public and politicians from all three major parties called for “swift justice”. The ensuing police investigation led by Detective Chief Superintendent George Oldfield was rushed, careless and ultimately forged, resulting in the arrest of the mentally ill Judith Ward who claimed to have conducted a string of bombings in Britain in 1973 and 1974 and to have married and had a baby with two separate IRA members. Despite her retraction of these claims, the lack of any corroborating evidence against her, and serious gaps in her testimony – which was frequently rambling, incoherent and “improbable”  – she was wrongfully convicted in November 1974. Following her conviction, the Irish Republican Publicity Bureau issued a statement:

Miss Ward was not a member of Óglaigh na hÉireann and was not used in any capacity by the organisation. She had nothing to do what-so-ever with the military coach bomb (on 4 February 1974), the bombing of Euston Station and the attack on Latimer Military College. Those acts were authorised operations carried out by units of the Irish Republican Army.

The case against her was almost completely based on inaccurate scientific evidence using the Griess test and deliberate manipulation of her confession by some members of the investigating team. The case was similar to those of the Guildford Four, the Birmingham Six and the Maguire Seven, which occurred at the same time and involved similar forged confessions and inaccurate scientific analysis. Ward was finally released in 1992, when three Appeal Court judges held unanimously that her conviction was “a grave miscarriage of justice”, and that it had been “secured by ambush

See: Guildford Pub Bomb

See: Birmingham Pub Bombings