Remembering the Fallen: on this day in 1991, Warrant Officer Philip Cross, Royal Army Medical Corps, and Driver Craig Pantry, Royal Corps of Transport, were killed in an explosion at Musgrave Park Hospital in Belfast. Although primarily a civilian hospital, there was a military wing which was guarded by an adjacent army base. The bomb exploded in a tunnel leading from the basement of the civilian section to the recreation room of the military wing where people were watching a Rugby World Cup final; ten people were injured including the five-year-old daughter of a soldier and a four-month-old baby who was being held by her father in the newly-refurbished children’s ward. Both Warrant Officer Cross and Driver Pantry were killed instantly by the 10 lb Semtex device as the two-storey building above them was reduced to rubble. A hospital porter, Liam Dougan from Poleglass, received two life sentences for the bombing. Alliance Party leader, and doctor, John Alderdice said: “This devilish atrocity strips away the IRA’s pretence to be fighting a war. Soldiers of every civilised army have always respected the sanctity of hospitals. Direct attacks on the sick and injured have always been regarded as unacceptable.” Ninety-seven operations scheduled for that week had to be cancelled, and eighty hospital beds were rendered unusable; the damage to the hospital facilities amounted to at least £250,000.
Warrant Officer Cross had served for seventeen years, having wanted to be an army medic since he was a child. He took his interest in music with him when posted to Northern Ireland and was a volunteer stage manager for the Lisburn theatre group; his wife stated that they both loved Northern Ireland and while their children were in boarding school they would take the opportunity to travel around. Philip, from Salford, was 33 years old, and he and his wife had two sons.
Driver Pantry’s funeral was held in Wales at the Lliswerry Baptist Church, and Warrant Officer Cross’ wife travelled to attend on the day before her own husband’s funeral. His uncle gave the eulogy, at which he praised his nephew’s character as generous and thoughtful, and said that he had dedicated himself to preserving life, not taking it. Craig, from Gwent, was 20 years old.