Brook's Club bomb attack

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Brook's Club bomb attack
Part of the Troubles
Location Brook's, St James's Street, London
Date 22 October 1974
22:00 (GMT)
Attack type
Throw Bomb
Deaths 0
Non-fatal injuries
3
Perpetrators Provisional IRA

The Brook's Club bomb attack occurred on 22 October 1974 on St James's Street in London. The Provisional Irish Republican Army's Active Service Unit nicknamed the "Balcombe Street Gang" threw a 5 lb (2.27 kg) bomb into an empty dining room causing extensive damage and injuring three members of staff of the Brook's gentlemans club. The attacks occurred just two weeks after the ASU began its bombing campaign with the Guildford pub bombings which killed 5, 1 civilian and 4 soldiers and injured over 60 others.[1]

Background

The Northern Ireland Troubles had been raging since August 1969. The PIRA (who called themselves Óglaigh na hÉireann) launched an all out offensive campaign against the Northern Ireland state in February 1971, attacking British soldiers, police officers, Loyalist paramilitaries Unionist politicians, what they saw as economic & establishment targets and drug dealers. In 1972 the IRA started using car bombs on a regular basis to attack military barracks and economic targets. In March 1973 the PIRA attacked the British mainland for the first time when they exploded two car bombs in the middle of London, one just outside the Old Bailey and the other just of Whitehall, one person was killed and 250 others were injured from the two bombings, the highest injury toll at that point from a bombing in Ireland or Britain since The Troubles began in 1969.

The Bombing

The IRA ASU dubbed the "Balcomble Street Gang" which was responsible for over 40 separate bombings in & around the London area between October 1974 - until they were caught at the siege of Balcombe Street in December 1975 hence the nickname carried out the bombing. At around 22:00 a member of the IRA unit more than likely the leader of the ASU Joe O'Connell threw a 5 lb bomb into the outer dining room area of Brook's which was empty but the force of the blast still injured three members of staff in the next room were injured one of them badly.[2] The dining room was wrecked and some rooms near the dining room suffered small damage. Former British Prime Minister Edward Heath who had been eating his dinner nearby was one of the first people on the scene, in relation to the bomb being meant for Heath himself he said:

"I don't think it was meant for me. I didn't decide to have dinner out until a quarter of an hour before,"

He went on to say:

"There is a lot of damage, the ceiling is down in one room and it is a shambles." [3]

This was the first ever throw bomb attack by the IRA on mainland Britain & police were confused about how the IRA actually detonated the bomb as seen here with an interview with Commander Robert Hardy of Scotland Yard who said.

"It may well have been placed from the inside rather than the outside by someone who may have had access. There is always a possibility it could have been thrown," [3]

Aftermath

Just two days later on 24 October the same unit struck again with another 5 lb bomb this time against a cottage in the grounds of Harrow School which just a few days before the cottage was attacked it was used to house the head of the school's Combined Cadet Force, so nobody was hurt in the bombing. This was the sixth bomb attack the group carried out in October 1974 and in those six attacks five people were killed and 70 injured.[4]

The first phaze of the units bombing campaign in England lasted from the 5 October 1974 - 10 February 1975 when the IRA agreed to a truce, with the last attack during this period occurring on 27 January 1975 when they planted seven time bombs all across London.[4][5] The second phaze of the bombing campaign began on 27 August when they bombed the Caterham Arms public house which injured 33 people and phaze two ended on the 6 December when the unit was caught at Balcombe Street.

See also

References

  1. ^ "CAIN: Sutton Index of Deaths". Cain.ulst.ac.uk. 1974-10-05. Retrieved 2016-12-17. 
  2. ^ Gordon McKie (2015-01-28). British Clubs and Societies: An A-Z. Books.google.ie. p. 25. Retrieved 2016-12-17. 
  3. ^ a b "BBC ON THIS DAY | 22 | 1974: Bomb blast in London club". BBC News. 1966-10-22. Retrieved 2016-12-17. 
  4. ^ a b "CAIN: Chronology of the Conflict 1974". Cain.ulst.ac.uk. Retrieved 2016-12-17. 
  5. ^ "CAIN: Chronology of the Conflict 1975". Cain.ulst.ac.uk. Retrieved 2016-12-17. 

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