Guildford Pub Bombings: Anniversary
Today is the anniversary of the Guildford Bombings. RIP Gerry Conlon, Carole Richardson, and all those who died in the bombings.
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. 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.
The dreadful bombings led to another long running saga and miscarriage of justice.
In October 1975, Paul Hill, Gerard ‘Gerry’ Conlon, Patrick ‘Paddy’ Armstrong and Carole Richardson were convicted of murder and other charges and given life sentences. On the night of the attacks, Richardson was in London seeing the band ‘Jack the Lad’ at the South Bank Polytechnic. She was unable to recall this upon being arrested, but witnesses came forward. However, the prosecution put together a version of events in which she left for Guildford at high speed by car. Hill and Armstrong also presented alibis, Hill’s placing him at Southampton. A witness named Charles Burke placed Conlon at a London hostel, but his evidence was not presented at trial. Despite the fact that a number of IRA men, later arrested, admitted to the bombings, it would be fifteen years before the “Guildford Four” could prove their innocence