Public houses bombed in Guildford 1974

1974, 5 October: Just before 9 pm on Saturday a massive explosion caused by a terrorist bomb ripped apart the Horse and Groom Public House in North Street, Guildford. Some time later a second bomb detonated at the town's Seven Stars pub. The pubs were targeted by terrorists because they were popular with soldiers. Five people died and sixty five people were injured. After lengthy enquiries four people were arrested and later convicted of the bombings. In 1989 their convictions were overturned on appeal.

Len Rickard: Two bombs exploded in the centre of Guildford on the night of Saturday 5th October 1974. Both had been placed under bench seats in the bars of the two public houses popular with Guards and WRAC recruits from nearby army training camps at Stoughton, Aldershot and Pirbright, and timed to explode when many of them could be expected to be among the customers. No warning was given.

Horse & Groom public house in Guildford

The Horse & Groom

The first bomb exploded in an alcove in the Horse and Groom in North Street at around 8.50 pm causing the deaths of five people. Fifty others of a total of almost eighty in the public house at the time were injured, some very seriously. The public house itself, an old listed building, was severely damaged and left in danger of collapse.

The second bomb exploded about two hundred and fifty yards away at approximately 9.30 pm in the bar of The Seven Stars public house in Swan Lane. Warned of the risk of a further bomb the licensee had managed to evacuate the building and search the bars. Nothing had been discovered and customers were beginning to re-enter the building when the device exploded injuring eleven people and severely damaging the building and nearby shops.

Thus began the largest criminal investigation undertaken by Surrey Constabulary and maybe it remains so to this day. ACC Rowe was in overall charge of the investigation with Detective Chief Superintendent Simmons dealing with day to day running of the operation. He was supported by Detective Superintendent Underwood. Commander Huntley and Detective Chief Superintendent Neville from the Metropolitan Police Bomb Squad also became involved. DS Nick Carter ran the Incident Room.

At its height one hundred and seventy officers were involved and in excess of three thousand statements were taken. Whilst we are concerned with the history of the Surrey Constabulary it is important to include the fact that there was a second bombing incident on the 7th November 1974 which took place at 10.10 pm. A bomb was thrown through a window of the King's Arms Public House, Woolwich. (Another public house near to an army barracks.) Two people were killed instantly and another died later, although his cause of death was likely of natural causes.

In October 1975 four people, three men and a woman, were convicted of both the Guildford and Woolwich bombings. On the 19th October 1989 the convictions were quashed by the Court of Appeal. In 1998 Avon and Somerset Police had been tasked to re-evaluate the whole case and during their investigation they came upon a discrepancy in the evidence as it related to one of the defendants. They reported their findings and as a result the convictions were quashed.

Lord Justice May was instructed by Parliament to carry out a Judicial Review and Avon and Somerset Police were requested to carry out a criminal investigation into Surrey Constabulary and its handling of the case. The discrepancy was this: The notes of one interview of one defendant were claimed to have been made contemporaneously. The prisoner movement log in the Detention Record indicated that the prisoner was not in interview long enough for such a contemporaneous interview to have taken place.

As a result, the notes themselves were subjected to ESDA (Electrostatic Detection Analysis) analysis and it was determined that indentations on an under-page did not correspond with the writing on the page which immediately preceded it.

There was no suggestion that the content of the notes was inaccurate only a question about when and how they were made. This was sufficient to bring about a quashing of the conviction for both Guildford and Woolwich. Three Surrey officers were charged with Conspiracy to Pervert the Course of Justice and others dealt with under the disciplinary process. All three were acquitted.

Colin Browne: I have one or two tales to tell about the Guildford bombings, one against myself suggesting to the Kodak Kid that the cause could have been a gas fire that was shown 'on' belching gas when I arrived, however that theory was shot to pieces as during the telling the other bomb detonated (exit Colin very quickly to the scene hoping the chief would forget the conversation), he never did of course and used it as a warm up to his major disaster lectures, citing me as the skipper who made a good attempt at writing off a bombing. From that day on he always had a knowing smile on his face when our paths crossed!

I was battling with a certain Superintendent who kept dragging the troops away to control traffic after I insisted that we needed witnesses (even for a gas fire explosion). Just as an aside, I arrived very quickly after the explosion and went into the pub to help with the injured, etc, and I noticed a barman calmly doing the till, I went over to him and realised that he was in deep shock but he wouldn't leave, so I unplugged the till and off he went carrying it, I'm not sure what happened to him or the money?

Robert Bartlett: I was working 4-12 midnight and was in the office at Cranleigh when I received a call that there had been a serious explosion in Guildford. I was to wait there and the inspector would come from Godalming to collect me. (The one car we had already on route to the scene). I was to rustle up anyone I could. Inspector Harry Lee came and after collecting a PC Michael Beckett at Shamley Green, a car full of us arrived in North Street.

The incident was less than an hour old and of course it takes time in a constabulary to gather together large numbers of police offices. Also there were by now officers at the hospital, and on traffic duty undertaking diversions away from the area. We parked the car just down the hill on the left in North Street from the Horse and Groom, close to Haydn Place.

Sitting against the wall in front of me and around the corner by the public toilets into Hayden Place were the injured. There seemed to be a great many, but by now the most serious had been taken from the scene.

By the library on the opposite side of the road to the Horse and Groom there were a small crowd many of whom were obviously from the armed services. They were noisy and there was an element of hysteria in the crowd that was so tangible it could almost be touched.

There were ambulances and a few fire engines under the command of Divisional Officer Shettle, a tall man of enormous enthusiasm who I had known from Dorking days. The emergency services were getting on with their jobs quietly and without panic. Colin Brown, a Detective Sergeant, was standing by the entrance to the pub shouting, "Remember it is a crime scene" as people came and went into the building.

It was said by someone that it had been a gas leak. However Jackie Parish a young WPC who had been in North Street at the time of the explosion had other views. As she went into the pub the floor gave way and bodies and injured dropped down into the cellar. It was all pretty dreadful, but eventually order was brought as people and senior officers arrived and systems were put in place.

The contingency plan allowed for a notification to the hospital before the casualties arrived but the first casualties came in by taxi soon after the bang, including young women soldiers from the WRAC at the "Powder Puff" barracks at Stoughton. This was why the pub was a target. The girls from the barracks attracted the soldiers from Aldershot and Pirbright, including young members of the Parachute Regiment a particular target of the IRA.

Jim Hart the station sergeant at Guildford was to earn his pay that night. He telephoned all the pubs and warned them of the incident. Most closed and searched their premises. Just as well. The scene at the Horse and Groom had been contained and all the injured removed when there was a terrific explosion.

There was a huge bang; followed by what appeared to be a lengthy silence but was in fact a few seconds; followed by the sound of falling glass; the outburst of hysterical cries from the crowd outside the library; Divisional Officer Shettle shouting "Stand-by your pumps"; all within seconds. The Seven Stars in Swan Lane about a hundred yards or so from the first incident had exploded.

I ran down North Street to where already a cordon was being placed by Sergeant Barry England from Ash, across the entrance to Swan Lane. I passed through the cordon and ran to the pub and was the first through the door, heart in mouth to be prepared for some horrible sight. As I went through the door the dust was beginning to settle.

The landlord was there with a few friends, having cleared the bar earlier. The landlord was bleeding from a head wound but was not seriously injured nor were his drinking friends who had defied the warning and stayed behind.

I stood still to collect myself and to take in what I was faced with and what needed to be done; again all within seconds. At this point, unbeknown to me, a tin of paint tipped over in the room above. The ceiling was wrecked by the explosion and through a gap paint dripped down the back of my uniform. Instead of a yellow streak, I had a white one from tip to toe.

The pub was evacuated and sealed for the scene of crime examination, and I eventually returned to the command post, which had been established in the major incident vehicle in North Street just below the library. There I reported to Chief Superintendent Bill Sutherland. The media were arriving.

Trevor McDonald from the ITN news had been in the Angel Hotel having dinner and there was an immediate need for a temporary press officer until the HQ PR staff arrived. The chief constable who was at the scene, nominated me as the press liaison officer as I was so obvious with my streaks of white paint. I therefore acted as spokesman for a while.

This was to have an embarrassing consequence for me. I believe it was the Sunday Express that led the following day with the story of the explosion quoting me, as saying that I had done many of the things my colleagues clearly knew that I did not. The reporter had used my name and added to it a composite story of the evening. (I was later to complain to the chief constable about this and he told me not to be so sensitive!)

The dust literally settled. Expert explosives officers arrived from the Metropolitan Police, Major Henderson, in his Range Rover looking calm and authoritative. "I have done this a few times lads. I know what I am at" was the confidence that came from this very professional man. After some time the focus moved to the investigation away from the scene.

At the scene I was given the responsibility for the cordon around the Horse and Groom all night. The job was to secure the scene and not allow anyone access until the following day when the scenes of crime and forensic specialists would start to thoroughly examine the scene. I was therefore to get home at about 9 am.

Some time later I was posted for a few shift duties at Godalming, to be in charge of security for my time on duty, along with two armed constables, because a lady called McGuire and a Carol Richardson were locked up there. On several occasions I was to be involved in the security of the magistrate's court in Ward Street Guildford, along with many others of all ranks, where the terrorists were brought for remand and committal hearings.

This job was to bounce back again in 1991 when I was a superintendent at Caterham. Two officers came all the way from Bristol to interview me. They were carrying out yet another review of the case for the Appeal Court. "You were on armed duties in the cell block at Guildford" they started. "No I was not", said I. "I have never been authorised to carry a gun." "Oh; good bye!" then drive back another 150 miles.

Brian Whicher: October 1974: I was a cadet, and was back from Hendon. I had taken my girlfriend out to the Odeon Cinema at Guildford. During the performance it was evacuated and we did not know why so we decided to go for a walk down to the High Street. We came across police activity and offered help. This was declined! We carried on walking.

I am not sure if we heard the second explosion at the Seven Stars Public House in Swan Lane. A week or so later I went to the Jolly Farmer at the bottom of Guildford, but I was refused service and asked to leave. I was told this was because I had short hair and looked like a soldier and could make the pub a target.

Graham Ingram: I happened to be at the RSCH (Royal Surrey County Hospital) that night having taken my neighbour, Bill Murrell, there for treatment to an injured shoulder (Rugby injury earlier in the day) when the call was received by the hospital that there had been a bomb. Bill and I stayed at the hospital for some hours helping out. I recall bodies being put in an old garage opposite the A and E entrance as a temporary mortuary, and the overpowering smell of the burnt flesh and clothing. Bill and I were stationed at HQ in the control room at the time.

David O'Connell: July 2010: On the evening of Saturday the 5th October 1974 my wife and I were going to a social function at Woking. At the time we were living in Godalming and had arranged to meet up with others at the Guildford Police social club before proceeding to Woking.

We arrived in the underground car park at Guildford at around 8.45 pm when we bumped into John Dobson and John Stewardson who were the crew of the area crime car that evening. They were running towards the car and apologised for not being able to stop and talk as a report had come in of a gas explosion in the Horse and Groom public house in North Street, Guildford. It was feared that there had been fatalities. We continued up to the bar.

Rumours began to float up that there had been a large explosion at the Horse and Groom with many dead and wounded. Those members of the force present in uniform left the bar to offer assistance. After I had been in the bar for about half an hour a sergeant came in and asked if he could speak to me outside the bar area. He was quite visibly shaken.

We went into the corridor where as far as I knew we were on our own. The sergeant told me that he could not raise the duty inspector either at Guildford or Godalming nor could he contact the divisional chief superintendent, his deputy or the detective inspector. He was on his own and in his own words finding it very difficult. He was newly promoted and had no experience or training in managing a major incident whereas I had been a sergeant for five years with experience as a detective constable and as a detective sergeant. He asked if I would take over control of the incident. I of course agreed.

As far as I was concerned no other person had overheard our conversation and until now I have made no mention of it. Some twenty years later I was having lunch with a senior officer who at the time of the explosion was a PC at Guildford. During the course of the lunch he leant over to me and repeated the conversation I had on that fateful night with the sergeant.

Evidently he had come in to offer assistance and had walked up to the corridor where we were speaking and overheard the complete exchange. Those of you familiar with the layout of the Police Station will recall that there were two parallel corridors running the length of the police station with interconnecting passages. My lunch companion had been in one of the interconnecting passages and hearing what was being said decided to remain out of sight. In view of this I have decided to put on record the events of that night.

I told the sergeant that I would just go and speak to my wife and guests to explain what was happening and then I would join him. I asked if he had opened up the major incident room. He said he had not as the key was missing. I said we would use the communications room behind the station office as the command post until we could get into the incident room.

I asked him to photocopy the relevant pages from the Surrey Atlas covering the Guildford area and to post these around the room. I also told him to make sure that the GPO telephone engineer was called to activate the telephone points in the incident room once we got access. I asked him to check the manpower and as far as he could record who was on duty and working and where. I wanted to set up road check points on the edge of town not just to apprehend the miscreants but to note who was in the area for future reference.

These instructions were carried out. I then utilised the services of a cadet as a runner and arranged with the headquarters control room for one of the force channels to be utilised exclusively for the Guildford incident and for the divisional personal radio network to be permanently monitored by them.

After this length of time I can not recall who was on duty in the control room but their calm efficiency under extreme stress was quite magnificent. It was a much smaller staff than presently employed with all messages recorded by hand. All 999 calls went through the one headquarters control room.

By now the incident had been running for close on an hour. I had only expected to have had control for a short period of time but no senior officer appeared. I told the sergeant who had requested my help to go to the scene and to take with him as many clip boards as could be found or notebooks.

I said to remember that we were dealing with a crime scene where preservation of evidence was to be important although of course the protection of life was paramount. I told him to recruit three or four constables and instruct them to make a note of the identity of all attending the scene including fire service and ambulance personnel. Also where possible identify any witnesses. I said to keep the area clear of sightseers. I also told him to identify injured people being removed to hospital where possible and to establish which hospital they were being taken to.

This information was later used to cross reference with the officers on duty at Guildford Hospital to ensure that all persons removed from the scene were identified and there whereabouts accounted for.

At the hospital a casualty team was assembled to record the identity of the dead and injured where possible. Sergeant Clive Stanbury a patrol sergeant from Guildford took charge of this detail and a safer pair of hands would not have been found anywhere. This team carried out magnificent work throughout the night. There were no misidentifications and faultless records were kept. All without the use of computers, just methodology and common sense with dedicated police officers getting on with the job.

I then instructed that all the Guildford town centre pubs should be told to close and the customers to clear the area completely and move away from the vicinity of The Horse and Groom.

We did not want the area of the incident to be clogged up with sightseers. We still could not find the key to the incident room and the communications office was lacking in space to deal with all the incoming telephone calls and the paperwork created from these. The telephone engineer had arrived to open up the phones in the incident room and he showed us how to isolate two of the station phone lines solely to our own use.

We closed the main gates to the police station and posted two constables at the gates and another at the end of the road to check on visitors. By now it was pretty obvious that the town had been subject to a terrorist attack. I was worried having served in Cyprus during the EOKA campaign, that there would be a follow up bomb hence my direction to clear the town pubs and centre.

Still no senior officer made an appearance but I received a phone call from Tony Forward who was then a chief inspector at Woking. He asked what was going on and who was in charge of the incident, I told him I was. He and I had served on a number of occasions together and had always had a good working relationship. He said he would come over to assist. By now the death toll had started to rise with numerous injuries of a very serious nature having occurred.

Reports coming back into me showed that the scene was being well handled. Many officers from all over the county had arrived in uniform of their own volition to offer their services, nearly all were constables and off-duty. They were in the main directed to the scene with a few being sent to the mortuary to receive bodies of the dead. I do not recall who took charge of this detail but it came under the overall control of Sergeant Clive Stanbury.

By now we were about two hours into the incident. The news agencies had picked up the story not only from the UK but throughout the world, especially the USA. One has to acknowledge that they have a job to do but to a man (I can not recall a female reporter) they would not get off the line when asked to call back later for updates.

We were still running the control centre with both limited space and personnel; most of the available manpower was directed to the scene. I suggested to HQ control that traffic officers should be directed to the A3 at Wisley to carry out stop checks on vehicles travelling towards London. To the best of my knowledge this was done.

I also contacted the Metropolitan Police at Kilburn and asked if they could set up checks on known IRA sympathisers in the area. This was a throw back to my days as a detective constable when I had on more than one occasion visited that area in pursuit of Irishman wanted for theft and other offences committed during the electrification of the railway line from Waterloo to Portsmouth. Woking where I had been stationed was the hub of this undertaking with the vast majority of the labourers being Irish.

The Met Police in Kilburn had a pretty good intelligence network amongst the Irish community. Even in this early stage of the investigation it was generally accepted that we were dealing with the work of the IRA. I took the view that if no one else was running the incident I would take control until relieved and work on my hunches.

Tony Forward the chief inspector from Woking arrived around about two and a half hours into the incident. He said that as he was the senior in rank he would take over control. I brought him up to date as best I could, at the same time the incident was on going. I recall that one of the first things Tony did was to conduct an on-the-phone interview with an American news network. We later learnt that the interview went out coast to coast in America with Tony being referred to as The chief of police throughout, much to the chagrin of the chief constable when he got to hear about it.

A second bomb detonated at The Seven Stars Public House in Swan Lane which had by now been cleared of all customers. There were only minor injuries, the worst being caused by flying glass cutting a member of staff who was returning to the pub to ensure all the customers and staff had cleared the area. The scene of the second blast was immediately isolated as a crime scene and the identities of most of the customers were established and their details recorded. It is surprising how useful a clip board and an abundant supply of paper can be! The main focus of attention remained The Horse and Groom.

At last the mystery of the missing key to the incident room was solved. Each divisional police headquarters had a room set aside for use in the advent of a major incident. The chief constable of the day Peter Mathews also known as the Kodak Kid throughout the force because of his penchant for self publicity and photo opportunities, had risen to prominence in the police service as a result of producing a plan for dealing with major incidents.

This had resulted from his experiences as a chief superintendent in the Metropolitan Police at the time of the Hither Green train disaster. In that incident many mistakes had been made. Wrong people were identified as having been killed and their relatives informed of their death only for them to turn up at home. Conversely people were told that their relatives were safe only to be informed later that they were dead. Casualties were mislaid resulting in relatives trailing the local hospitals looking for their loved ones.

The Police had lost control of the incident as there was no plan in place. Several court cases followed where the Police were sued for negligence.

Mathews spent a great deal of time in producing his plan which one has to say was very good. As the chief constable of Surrey he held regular exercises to test the system. On visits to divisional headquarters he would check to make sure that the major incident rooms were in order and ready to operate. Woe betide any superintendent or chief superintendent who had utilised the major incident room for any other purpose.

The chief superintendent at Guildford Bill Sutherland was determined not to fall foul of the chief so he had locked the key to the major incident room in his desk and taken his desk key home with him. He did not want the room being used by some recalcitrant sergeant for preparing court files in his absence. He had by now been contacted at his home; he had been out for the evening. There were no mobile phones in those days. He informed us that he would be coming into the police station. What he did not say was that he would be accompanied by others when he arrived.

Sure enough about three hours into the incident the chief superintendent arrived accompanied by Chief Constable Peter Mathews, Assistant Chief Constable Christopher Rowe, Detective Chief Superintendent Walter Simmons head of the Surrey CID, Detective Chief Inspector Ron Underwood of HQ CID. I was quite taken aback by this as clearly all had arranged to meet at Mount Browne and to arrive at Guildford together.

Given the severity of the incident in my ignorance, I would have expected senior officers to make there way to Guildford police station to ensure all that could be done was being done. In fairness the chief constable did not interfere with the workers on the ground or at the scene but quietly assured himself all was as well as it could be. He did produce bottles of whisky for use of those returning from the scene as the night wore on!

Once we got the incident room up and running and fully staffed mostly by local WPCs, matters took on a routine air. Hundreds of calls were logged and dealt with in the first hours of the incident. There were no computers in those days just a system of recording messages and creating actions based on those messages.

The identities of the deceased were recorded on a board with china pen showing where their bodies were now being stored and whether or not relatives had been informed and formal identifications made. Bearing in mind most of the deceased and injured were serving soldiers their nearest relatives were spread wide and far.

The identities of the hospitalised injured and their location was also written up visible to all in the room so that when enquiries were made any of the staff could see straight away if their location was known.

I finally went off-duty at about midday on the Sunday some seventeen hours after starting but the night had gone by in a flash. The crime investigation was nominally under the charge of the Assistant Chief Constable Christopher Rowe but for all practical purposes was lead by Detective Chief Superintendent Walter Simmons.

It would be nice if an investigative journal could be produced into the workings of the investigation whilst we still have some of the participants with us. It is a matter of record that the four people convicted of being responsible for the bombings were eventually exonerated by the Court of Appeal after serving fifteen years in prison. The main plank of the appeal was police malpractice.

It is also a matter of record that three serving junior police officers were charged with in generic terms perverting the course of justice. There was a distinct smell of political interference in the process of law at the highest level to have these officers charged with an offence. It must be obvious to anyone that if all four defendants were the subject of police misconduct it could only have been orchestrated at the highest level not by three junior officers acting alone. All the officers were found not guilty after trial.

By then I had left the police force and become a solicitor. I was angered by the lack of support these officers got from the leading players in the investigation into the bombings. To use modern parlance, the officers were hung out to dry. Thank God that the system eventually exonerated them.

There had been many twists and turns along the way for them. One officer has since died and it is a firmly held belief by his family that the court proceedings protracted as they were, hastened his end. The other two officers were also subjected to tremendous pressure. There is much more that could be written but perhaps that would be better covered elsewhere.

On the night of the bombings in Guildford matters were dealt with in the main by junior officers acting as a team with great skill and judgement. Each supported the other. There were no heroes but they were all heroes. Anyone who took part in the police operation that evening can stand tall and be proud that order was quickly restored to a scene of chaos and disaster.

The crime scene was well preserved. Despite the horrific nature of the injuries suffered that night by many there was no repeat of the mistakes of Hither Green. The officers worked on with no break for many hours and witnessed horrific scenes that no doubt have stayed with them for all of their lives. The actions of the Surrey Constabulary in Guildford on the night of the 5th October 1974 were the cause for pride in jobs well done.

Tony Forward: My recollections of the events of the evening of 5th October 1974 differ in some respects from that of David O'Connell a very old friend. However we are both trying to remember events that took place nearly 36 years ago.

I was Chief Inspector (Admin) at Woking at the time. The Chief Superintendent was Maurice Jackman and his deputy was Superintendent Ron Bamford. Tom Style was the Detective Chief Inspector.

I lived in Guildford and at some time that evening I received a telephone call at home from the 2-10 duty Inspector at Woking (Ivan Bushnell) to the effect that there had been an explosion at a pub in North Street, Guildford and that HQ Control had asked for all available personnel to be sent to North Street. He was ringing me because he was unable to contact either the chief superintendent or his deputy. At that time it was thought to be a gas explosion.

I instructed him to call out the 10-6 am officers out to replace the 2-10 shift and then direct the 2-10 shift to Guildford police station. I could see that if everyone went to North Street there would be chaos with no chance of a briefing. I put on my uniform and went straight to Guildford police station.

On the matter of timing, it is a matter of record that the explosion at the Horse and Groom was shortly before 9 pm and that the explosion at the Seven Stars was shortly after 9.30 pm. I was at Guildford Police Station before the second explosion. The fact that I had been giving instructions to the 2-10 Inspector at Woking is an indication of time. David's account that I arrived 2½ hours after the incident is clearly mistaken.

On arrival at the police station a newly promoted sergeant was behind the counter and told me that everyone had gone to the scene and left him on his own to run the police station. He gave me a brief run-down on the situation. Guildford police station had been operational for only a few weeks.

On the third floor there was a conference room, planned to double as a major incident room. I was told that the telephones in that room had not yet been connected. I therefore dictated that the communications room behind the station office would be the incident room and that I would take command. All on-duty personnel, except the sergeant had left the police station for the scene.

I was told that the bar was open on the fourth floor and that there were some off-duty officers there. On my instruction, they came to the station office. Among those who appeared was David O’Connell who was a uniform sergeant at Godalming; however, I had no idea before reading his contribution that he had been personally responsible with the sergeant for organising things prior to my arrival.

The chief superintendent Guildford Division at that time was Bill Sutherland and both he and Superintendent David Harding attended the scene. The investigation was later nominally headed by ACC Christopher Rowe but actually by Detective Chief Superintendent Walter Simmonds.

Among those who came to the station office was DC Greg Seabrook and a WPC whose name I have forgotten. The second explosion at the Seven Stars in Swan Lane was then reported and it was then realised that both explosions were bombs and not gas explosions. The WPC operated the switchboard while calls were put through to Sergeant O’Connell or me. I gave Greg Seabrook the job of telephoning as many pubs as possible in Guildford to advise them to evacuate, lock up and stay away until the 'all clear' was given.

As David has said, the media were aware from an early stage and the switchboard was swamped with calls. Some were media enquiries, others were from members of the public asking what was going on and others from people who had seen a news flash on TV and wanted to know if their relatives were among the injured. The calls were passed to David and me and we did our best with them, while also monitoring main scheme and divisional radio frequencies.

When it was realised that the explosions were bombs and that the IRA might be involved, police cars were placed on roads leading out of Guildford but the perpetrators were probably well out of the district by that time. Superintendent Bert Futter (deputy to Mr Sutherland) came to the police station later that night. The major incident room was opened and the telephone lines connected. He then took over the running of the incident room from me and I eventually left for home, probably sometime after midnight.

David Harding has reminded me that he wrote a report with my assistance concerning police action on the night of the bombings, the responsibility for that having been delegated to him by Mr Sutherland.

David has referred to the three officers who were charged in connection with the investigation. For the record they were Superintendent Tom Style, Detective Sergeant John (Jamie) Donaldson and Detective Constable Vernon Attwell. They were charged with perverting the course of justice but were found 'not guilty' during a short trial at the Old Bailey on 19th May 1993. Newspaper reports at the time referred to Tom as Det. Chief Inspector but this was the rank he held at the time of the investigation into the bombings. He retired as the Superintendent of Reigate Sub-Division and went on to work for the MOD. (I read the tribute at his funeral.)

It has been an interesting experience to rack my brains over this. It was a memorable experience but 34 years is a long time for both David O’Connell and me.

Marilyn Parsons: I was involved in the Guildford Bombings which occurred during the early evening on Oct 5th 1974. I was on CID at Woking (a month after starting there as one of the first female detective constables in Surrey. The six girls who were the first female detective constables in Surrey were Nancy Faull, Clare Weedon, Gwen Crossan, Mary Amos (Dobson), Pam Sweetman and me Marilyn Parsons (then Fisher). This was when us women apparently got equality!)

We heard there had been an explosion in Guildford town centre and were all sent over there. When we got there it was not clear what had happened, at first it was thought to be a gas explosion, the pub was badly damaged. There had been fatal injuries in the Horse and Groom pub where a young Women's Royal Army Corps girl was holding her birthday party with four friends. The bomb had been placed beneath their seat and they were all killed. We were told just to take names and addresses of people standing around.

I was standing in North Street near Army and Navy (House of Fraser) when the second explosion at The Seven Stars, in Swan Lane, boomed out and shook the ground where I was standing. I ran around the corner into Swan Lane and saw members of staff staggering out of the pub. PC Jerry Spindlove was there assisting the landlord out. Apparently there had been an IRA warning and the pub had been cleared of customers only staff remained. Pictures of us were in the national papers the next day.

I was then sent down to the police station to assist setting up the incident room, which Nick Carter eventually ran with me, Detective Constables Gwen Crossan, Pat Crossan and Ray Parratt. I spent the whole enquiry in the incident room and then went over to Caterham Incident Room to deal with the Caterham pub bombing in the August the next year with Ray Parratt, Pat Crossan and I can't recall who else. I worked in quite a few incident rooms, as that is what policewomen were good at!

I was on the Guildford Bombing and Caterham bombing and some murder rooms in 1974 and 1975. I used to take calls from the public and create actions for the action teams. I also read all the statements that came in and logged every aspect and detail mentioned in the card system. Every name was carded or part name, every car, address, person seen with any relevant description, i.e. he wore a red coat with blue fur. Red coat, blue fur separately carded and man in red coat, etc. It was very concise.

The statements were read by the officers in charge first and then given to us to card and create actions. It was very intense but we all worked together. The sergeant was always the same. (Nick Carter)

Richard Bond: I was in a Traffic patrol car, single crewed, parked in Pine Close, Ash Vale, I was writing up my pocket book. There was a report on the radio that there had been an explosion at the Horse and Groom, Guildford. This was at a time that the IRA was very active so I KNEW that it was a bomb. I could not reply because a lot of mobiles were acknowledging so I started off towards Guildford driving as fast as I could.

After a few minutes there was a message stating that it was thought to be a gas explosion, standing non-local vehicles down, but I kept going. I remember going past some traffic at Fairlands at a very high speed. When I arrived in North Street (I don't know where I parked) I went to the front of the pub, there were a lot of police, ambulance personnel and a team from the RSCH already there.

My most vivid memory was that I looked through the front door or window and there was no floor. The cellar was full of grey dust and there were nurses and doctors down in there working - I don't know how they got down there. I was looking at the back of a nurse and she was kneeling over something or somebody, everything was covered in grey plaster dust, you couldn't make out the shape of any thing apart from the medical team.

The nurse was doing something with her right hand and her left hand was out to the left side doing something. There was a small pink wet shape in the grey dust and she had her finger in it. I realised that she was working on one victim with her right hand and trying to keep the airway of another open with her left. That is the image that I will always remember. I realised that there was enough medical people there so I tried to keep the public away and eventually helped to tape the area off.

I know Geoff Larkins and Gerry Spindlove were there but cannot remember any others. At one point the barman of the Horse and Groom came up and asked me what to do with the pub till. Senior officers started turning up. The bodies started to be carried out. They were covered in blankets or tarpaulins. I remember one body I think it was female, both legs were sticking out under the covering, they were just shredded, below the knee, no feet, they looked like two old mops, the colour, grey. I helped putting some of the bodies in Ambulances.

During this time there was a large explosion lower down North Street, we looked at each other and said "Another one" or something like that. Some officers went down to this situation, which was the Seven Stars Bomb. By this time I think we all thought that there could possibly be bombs all over Guildford. I saw a man coming up North Street on the pavement on the left towards the cordon. As he got closer I realised it was Trevor MacDonald the newsreader who lived in Guildford. I said "Oh it's you" I thought that I had better let him through, so I did.

Later we were told to go round all the pubs in Guildford and clear them. I went to the Jolly Farmer on the A281 which was busy. I spoke to the landlord and went to the bar and asked everybody to leave. There was no hostility but they didn't believe me at first. Eventually they all left, I told them all to avoid the town centre. The last thing I remember was a debriefing in a room in the back of the Guildhall (North Street entrance) at about 2 o'clock in the morning.

Martin West: I was in Guildford Section House preparing for nights when I heard the explosion. I reported downstairs and was despatched to the scene with about twelve other officers in one Ford Escort. I was standing on the corner of North Street and Swan Lane directing evacuated cinema goers away from the scene when the second explosion occurred.

I headed into the cloud of dust and smoke in Swan Lane (the cloud from which Malcolm the Special emerged with the child in his arms in the much used newspaper photograph) and came upon a parked and locked Austin 1100 car that was impeding the approach of fire appliances, etc., that were redeploying from North Street. I smashed a window of this car and sat in the pile of glass in the driver's seat to steer (don't think it had a steering lock) whilst others, including Peter Matthews, who had just arrived at the scene, pushed me out into North Street.

Ian Carter: I was a civilian wireless operator on duty at Guildford police station that night and vividly remember that the first call which came in to me and logged, if my memory serves, about three minutes before the first 999 call, two Guildford WPCs, whose names, to my shame, I cannot remember had just passed the pub going up North Street. I think Jerry only beat them to the actual scene by seconds. I was on 2-10 and finally left at about 2 am after the busiest five hours of my life.

Bill Bethell: Our Section was 2-10 that day. I believe that Bill Murray had just taken over from Peter Wickens as our section inspector, as Peter had gone off to bigger and better things. Tony Jackson was the outside sergeant whilst Jim Hart was the station sergeant that week.

We had quiet a large section turning to that afternoon which included Robin Young and Pat Scully on the area car. Hugh Landon on the A area panda, Dudley Norman on B area and I was C area. I believe the C area panda was off the road that day. The others were Mick O'Brien, John Young, John Robini, Dennis Hepherd, Jacki Parish, Andrea Gibson (later Wood), and Bob Moffatt; cannot remember the others.

There were a lot of soldiers in town and the town beat lads were to keep an eye on them and when required the outer sections would come into assist. As it was, all remained quiet. I went to Merrow with Tony Jackson in the Sergeant's dark blue mark one Escort, which did not have a light or siren. There was an old statement to be got for another force on some traffic matter or other.

I was half way through the statement when we received the information that the Horse and Groom had suffered an explosion, believed people injured. The statement was forgotten - never did go back, and I had one of the most hair-raising drives from Merrow to Guildford with Tony's heavy right foot and continual horn blowing.

When we reached North Street (I think we were about the fifth on the scene) Jerry was on the pavement with a badly injured male trying to assist him. Tape was going up across North Street by Cinderella Rockefellers and I was given the task of making sure that no-one, repeat, no-one crossed the taped line. A member of the public came up and gave me a car number. This car had fled at speed after the explosion, which at this time we thought was gas. There was a very strong smell of gas coming from the ruins.

I passed the information on and a short while later saw the car stopped at the junction of Chertsey Street and the occupants hauled out and thrown into a couple of police cars and then they were gone, leaving the car stationary with the doors open. I found out later that they were Turkish students who had been driving through town and been frightened by the explosion. They had then come back to see what had happened only to be arrested.

The town's MP turned up and was very miffed that I would not let him cross the line even after all the old "Do you know who I am?" bit. He later got through when Sir Peter arrived in his old faithful wellington boots. I had no knowledge of the second bomb in the Seven Stars until it went off. I felt the ground tremble and scores of scared people ran up North Street past the Library.

The old Pye radios were doing there best and the calm communication's operator, Ian Carter, was doing his best to keep things measured. I was eventually relieved about 11 am the following day. By then we were aware of what had happened. Some weeks later there was a real buzz around the nick. An Irishman had been arrested in Southampton, I believe, and had been talking about the Guildford bombings. He had been brought back and on the way had not been able to stop talking about the night of the bombing.

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