Chelsea Barracks bombing

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Chelsea Barracks bombing
Part of the Troubles
Ebury Bridge, SW1 - geograph.org.uk - 340298.jpg
Junction of Ebury Bridge Road, close to the bomb's location
Location Belgravia, City of Westminister, London
Date 10 October 1981
12:00 (GMT)
Target Irish Guards
Attack type
Nail bomb IED
Deaths 2 civilians
Non-fatal injuries
40 (23 soldiers)
Perpetrators Provisional IRA

The Chelsea Barracks bombing was a remote controlled nail bomb attack carried out by a London-based Active Service Unit of the Provisional IRA on 10 October 1981. The bomb targeted a bus carrying British Army soldiers just outside Chelsea Barracks. The blast killed two civilians and injured 40 people.[1]

Background

October 1981 was when the Irish Hunger Strike, (in which ten Irish Republican prisoners died) was coming to an end. The strike was started by Bobby Sands, and the prisoners wanted their political status reinstated. During the strike IRA volunteers Bobby Sands and Kieran Doherty were elected to the British and Irish parliaments respectively.[2] The IRA's rank and file and supporters demanded action to be taken against the British Army or British Government to match the sacrifice made by the strikers.

Bombing

An IRA ASU in London had been targeting members of the Irish Guards British Army regiment and had planned to bomb two bus loads of the guards on 10 October as it was entering Chelsea Barracks, as the IRA unit assumed this would be a place unlikely to have civilians passing it and to not get caught in the blast. The device was believed to be a remote controlled bomb hidden in a parked van near the barracks, close to the junction of Ebury Bridge Road and St. Barnabas Street. The bomb detonated when the bus passed but the bomb was not close enough to the bus when it detonated, missing its main target and instead killing two civilians (Nora Field, 59 and John Breslin, 18).[3] Along with the two deaths 40 people were injured in the blast – 23 of them soldiers. Eight of those injured received severe injuries, all of them soldiers on the bus.[4][5] This was the worst attack carried out by the IRA in England since the London Hilton bombing, which killed two civilians and injured over 60 others.[6]

Aftermath

The IRA said in a statement the day after the bombing from Dublin that "the attack was aimed at a party of British soldiers." The statement added:

The attack is attributable to the state of war which exists between the British government who occupy Northern Ireland and the oppressed Irish people who strike out through the Irish Republican Army. We await the hypocrisy which will undoubtedly follow from British political leaders whose attitude to Irish victims of their violence in our country only strengthens our conviction in our cause and methods.[7]

The IRA continued bombing targets in England. A week after the Chelsea bombing the IRA seriously injured Lieutenant-General Sir Steuart Pringle when they exploded a booby-trap bomb under his car. Pringle lost his right leg, but he eventually survived his injuries.[8][9] On 26 October 1981 Kenneth Howorth a police explosives officer was killed trying to defuse an IRA bomb placed in a Wimpy Bar in Oxford Street, London.[10] A month later on 23 November 1981 a bomb exploded at the Royal Artillery Barracks in Woolwich injuring two people.

A year later, on 20 July 1982, two bombs killed 11 British soldiers and injured 50 soldiers and civilians during the Hyde Park and Regent's Park bombings.[11] This was the deadliest IRA attack against the British Army in England during The Troubles. In December 1983 six people were killed and 90 injured in London when an IRA car bomb exploded outside Harrods.[12] The IRA's most notable attack in Britain on that period occurred in Brighton in October 1984 when they killed five people and injured dozens during the Brighton hotel bombing which was an attempt to kill British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.[13]

Convictions

In 1986, Paul Kavanagh and Thomas Quigley, then aged 29, were given life sentences for the bombing in Chelsea as well as the booby-trap bomb in Oxford Street.[14] They were released in 1999 after the Good Friday Agreement.[15]

INLA bombing attempt

Four years later on 11 November 1985 the Irish Republican Socialist-Revolutionary paramilitary organization the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) attempted to bomb Chelsea barracks.[16] An INLA unit placed three bombs right outside the barracks, each bomb weighed about 12.5 lbs and were packed with nuts and bolts designed to cause maximum damage, all three bombs were found before they went off and defused by the British Army. A man from Derry called Patrick McLaughlin was arrested in 1986 with the bombing attempt and was sentenced to life imprisonment. McLaughlin claimed he was innocent since he was arrested and claims he was a victim of a miscarriage of justice. In the book INLA: Deadly Divisions Henry McDonald & Jack Holland wrote: "McLaughlin is almost certainly an innocent man...His links to the bomb team seem to be no more than accidental".[17] [18][19] A campaign protesting his innocence gathered some momentum in the 1990s.[20] He was released in 1999 as part of the Good Friday Agreement.[21]

Sources

  • NYTimes 11th October 1981
  • Peter Taylor, The Provos: The IRA and Sinn Féin
  • CAIN project

References

  1. ^ ChristopherLong., Christopher Long, Christopher A Long, Christopher Aidan Long,. "CHRISTOPHER A LONG - Chelsea Barracks IRA Bomb (Irish Guards)". www.christopherlong.co.uk. Retrieved 2018-03-09. 
  2. ^ Peter Taylor -Behind The Mask: The IRA & Sinn Fein p.278 -783
  3. ^ Sutton, Malcolm. "CAIN: Sutton Index of Deaths". cain.ulst.ac.uk. Retrieved 2018-03-09. 
  4. ^ Jr, Leonard Downie (1981-10-11). "IRA Nail Bomb Kills 1, Injures 40 in London". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2018-03-09. 
  5. ^ Murray, Paula (2012-09-09). "IRA bomb left me disabled, but I fought back with the help of Remploy. Now I feel lost". Express.co.uk. Retrieved 2018-03-09. 
  6. ^ Sutton, Malcolm. "CAIN: Sutton Index of Deaths". cain.ulst.ac.uk. Retrieved 2018-03-09. 
  7. ^ Times, Special to the New York (1981-10-11). "London Bomb Kills O Ne, Hurts up to 50". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2018-03-09. 
  8. ^ Melaugh, Dr Martin. "CAIN: Chronology of the Conflict 1981". cain.ulst.ac.uk. Retrieved 2018-03-09. 
  9. ^ AP. "I.R.A. BOMB WOUNDS A BRITISH GENERAL". Retrieved 2018-05-27. 
  10. ^ Sutton, Malcolm. "CAIN: Sutton Index of Deaths". cain.ulst.ac.uk. Retrieved 2018-03-09. 
  11. ^ Sutton, Malcolm. "CAIN: Sutton Index of Deaths". cain.ulst.ac.uk. Retrieved 2018-03-09. 
  12. ^ Sutton, Malcolm. "CAIN: Sutton Index of Deaths". cain.ulst.ac.uk. Retrieved 2018-03-09. 
  13. ^ Sutton, Malcolm. "CAIN: Sutton Index of Deaths". cain.ulst.ac.uk. Retrieved 2018-03-09. 
  14. ^ http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/40874.stm
  15. ^ "Charity cash IRA row". Evening Standard. Retrieved 2018-05-27. 
  16. ^ Wharton, Ken (2016-10-19). Another Bloody Chapter In An Endless Civil War. Volume 1: Northern Ireland and the Troubles, 1984-87. Helion and Company. ISBN 9781912174270. 
  17. ^ Henry McDonald & Jack Holland INLA: Deadly Divisions p.260, 261
  18. ^ https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/they-thought-i-was-an-ira-bomber-1365510.html
  19. ^ https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topic/misc.activism.progressive/j712FKwOe9Y
  20. ^ https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/ira-ceasefire-four-inmates-at-the-centre-of-controversy-1446129.html
  21. ^ https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/ira-releases-delay-seen-as-signal-on-arms-issue-26157411.html
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