Guildford pub bombings
|Guildford pub bombings|
|Part of The Troubles|
|Location||Horse & Groom pub;
Seven Stars pub,
|Date||5 October 1974
20:30 – 21:00 (GMT)
|Target||British Army soldiers|
|Attack type||Time bombs|
(4 soldiers, 1 civilian)
The Guildford pub bombings occurred on 5 October 1974. The Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) detonated two 6-pound gelignite bombs at two pubs in Guildford, England. The pubs were targeted because they were popular with British Army personnel stationed at the barracks in Pirbright. Four soldiers and one civilian were killed, whilst a further sixty-five were wounded.
The bomb in the Horse and Groom detonated at 8:30 pm. It killed Paul Craig (a 22-year-old plasterer), two members of the Scots Guards and two members of the Women's Royal Army Corps. The Seven Stars was evacuated after the first blast, and thus there were no serious injuries when the second bomb exploded at 9:00 pm.
These attacks were the first in a year-long campaign by an IRA Active Service Unit – who were eventually captured after the Balcombe Street Siege. A similar bomb to those used in Guildford, with the addition of shrapnel, was thrown into the Kings Arms pub in Woolwich on 7 November 1974. Gunner Richard Dunne and Alan Horsley, a sales clerk, died in that explosion.
The Guildford Four
The bombings were at the height of The Troubles in Northern Ireland. The Metropolitan Police were under enormous pressure to apprehend the IRA bombers responsible for the attacks in England. In December 1974 the police arrested three men and a woman, later known as the "Guildford Four". These were:
They were falsely convicted of the bombings in October 1975, and held in prison for fifteen years, during which Gerry Conlon's father, Patrick "Giuseppe" Conlon died in prison. Their convictions were later overturned in the appeal courts after it was proved the convictions had been based on confessions obtained by torture, whilst evidence clearing them was not reported by the police.
During the trial of the "Balcombe Street Four" in February 1977, the four IRA members instructed their lawyers to "draw attention to the fact that four totally innocent people were serving massive sentences" for three bombings in Woolwich and Guildford. The Balcombe Street Four were never charged with these offences. The movie In the Name of the Father is based on these events.
- CAIN - Index of Deaths - 5 October 1974
- McKee G, Franey R, Time Bomb, 1988, Bloomsbury Publishing, ISBN 0-7475-0099-1. Page 18 notes that a new ASU was set up in August 1974 comprising O'Connell, Dowd etc whose first attack was the Guildford Bombings
- McKee G, Franey R, Time Bomb, 1988, pp. 426-36, Bloomsbury Publishing, ISBN 0-7475-0099-1
- Joe O'Connell's speech from the dock
- Bergman, Paul and Asimow, Michael (2006). Reel justice: the courtroom goes to the movies. Andrews McMeel Publishing, p. 43. ISBN 0-7407-5460-2