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  • Christina Drummond

The M62 Coach Bombing

Remembering the Fallen: on this day in 1974, eight soldiers and three civilians were killed when the coach in which they were travelling was blown up by an IRA bomb hidden in a luggage locker on the coach. One soldier died three days later. In the photo on the top row: Corporal Terence Griffin (4th Field Regiment, Royal Artillery), age 24, from Bolton in Lancashire; and Fusilier Stephen Whalley, age 19, from Bloxwich, who died three days later from his injuries. On the bottom row: Fusilier Clifford Houghton, age 23, from Manchester, whose wife and two sons (ages 2 and 5) also died; Fusilier Jack Hynes, age 20, from Oldham; and Lance Corporal James McShane (Royal Regiment of Fusiliers), age 29, from Oldham. Those whose photos were not available: Gunner Leonard Godden (4th Field Regiment, Royal Artillery), age 22, from Crayford in Kent; Signalman Michael Waugh (4th Guards Brigade Signal Squadron), age 22, from Manchester; Signalman Leslie Walsh, age 19, from Kildersley in Lancashire; Signalman Paul Reid, age 17. The coach had been specially commissioned to carry British Army and R.A.F. personnel on leave with their families from and to the bases at Catterick and Darlington during a period of railway strike action. They had left Manchester and were on the M62 motorway when shortly after midnight, near Oakwell Hall, the bomb exploded. The survivors all suffered severe injuries. IRA Army Council member Dáithí Ó Conaill was challenged over the bombing in an interview, and stated that the coach was bombed because IRA intelligence indicated that it was carrying military personnel only. The atrocity led to much stricter anti-terrorism laws in the U.K., and police were allowed to hold those suspected of terrorism for up to a week without charge. Swift justice was called for, but the police investigation was later considered “rushed, careless and ultimately forged” resulting in the arrest and wrongful conviction of a mentally-ill woman. After her arrest the IRA issued a statement that she had nothing to do with the coach bomb. However, she was jailed until 1992, and finally released when three Appeal Court judges held unanimously that her conviction was "a grave miscarriage of justice", and that it had been "secured by ambush.”

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