Captain (Father) Gerry Weston MBE, Parachute Regiment
Remembering the Fallen: on this day in 1972, Captain (Father) Gerry Weston MBE, Catholic chaplain with the Parachute Regiment, was killed in a 200lb gelignite car-bomb attack at Aldershot.
Six other people (five female domestic staff members and a male gardener) also died; nineteen other people were injured. Those who died were: John Haslar (58), Jill Mansfield (34), Thelma Bosley (44), Margaret Grant (32), Cherie Munton (20) and Joan Lunn (39). The Official IRA stated the following day that the attack was in direct retaliation for the Parachute Regiment’s role in Bloody Sunday – they had anticipated the deaths of at least a dozen officers, and declared: “Any civilian casualties would be very much regretted as our target was the officers responsible for the Derry outrages”. They also said threatened that the bombing would be the first of many on the headquarters of British Army regiments serving in Northern Ireland
Father Weston was just getting out of his car after drawing up outside the officers’ mess of the 16th Parachute Brigade when there was a massive explosion, which reduced the three-storey building to an almost-skeletal framework; buildings a mile away were shaken by the blast, with many windows being broken. The bomber, Noel Jenkinson from Meath (who had been living in England for fourteen years) was jailed for life in November of that year, but died in prison of a heart attack four years later.
Father Weston had been ordained in 1960 and joined the army as a chaplain in 1967, serving in Germany and the Persian Gulf as well as Northern Ireland.
A senior army officer said: “While in Belfast Gerry did good work in Ballymurphy, also in Turf Lodge. He did a tremendous amount to try and bridge the gap between the Catholic community and the Catholic Church and our soldiers. He was continually going around into Catholic estates to try and achieve this, very often by himself and obviously completely unarmed and dressed as a priest. He often went into certain areas at great danger to himself. His life was threatened more than once as it was thought he was a spy in priest’s clothing.” A week before his death, he had been awarded the MBE for his work in Northern Ireland.
Gerry from Liverpool, was 38 years old.