IRA bomb Caterham Arms

1975, 27 August: IRA bomb: An explosive device was detonated in the dance area of the Caterham Arms, causing severe injuries and extensively damaging the pub. A bomb was placed under a bench seat in the Caterham Arms in Caterham, Surrey, a pub frequented by soldiers from the 1st Battalion Welsh Guards, whose barracks were nearby and they had just returned from duty in Northern Ireland. No warning was given. Among the casualties are a man who lost his right leg and a soldier who lost both legs and an arm.

1975, 8 August: The Times: Eight people seriously injured and at least twenty five hurt at an explosion in the Caterham Arms. The explosion occurred at 9.30 pm in the Coulsdon Road, four hundred yards from the Welsh Guards depot to where the soldiers recently returned from Northern Ireland. It is believed the bomb was placed under a bench in the bar and made up of about five pounds of explosive.

A policeman, one of six playing bowls opposite the pub, was one of the first on the scenes said there were bodies everywhere. "Some were pretty seriously injured. I believe one of them was blown clean out of the pub and hit the railings on the opposite side of the road." There had been a warning that another bomb had been placed close by. Surrey Bomb Squad had been reformed with fifty men under Detective Chief Superintendent Walter Simmonds head of Surrey CID.

Dave Spratt: I attended this incident with numerous other officers. I was put in charge of a team of CID personnel who attended the Redhill General Hospital to obtain statements from all of the soldiers who had been injured as result of the bombing. It was not a task I looked forward to with any relish.

However a number of us attended the hospital to be confronted by a number of people who had various limbs blown off and I was amazed to find these people were actually laughing and joking which I considered at the time to be delayed shock. We obtained the statements and in particular I obtained a statement from a Welsh Guardsman who was burnt from the top of his head to his feet and it took me two to three days to obtain this statement as he was in pain and the nurse had to keep attending to him to rearrange his dressings.

I remember that one of the other officers with me was DC Derek Cordery.

Chris Kearsey: We had just finished playing bowls at St Lawrence's Hospital and I was following Inspector Fred Rumbold through the gates when the bomb went off in front of us as we drove out. The main thing I remember was trying to clear the crowd that had gathered because at that time we were warned that the IRA was in the habit of planting secondary bombs to catch all those people who were trying to rescue those from the first explosion. I can remember spending a long time in the mobile communications vehicle.

John Gladwell: At the time I was a detective chief inspector Reigate Division and was playing bowls for a police team at St. Lawrences Hospital, Caterham right opposite the Caterham Arms Public House when the bomb went off. The whole police team were on the scene within minutes to assist the injured and I worked on the case for the following six months.

Caterham Arms

Caterham Arms

A package containing a bomb was placed under a seat in the public bar of the Caterham Arms Public House which was packed with locals and soldiers from Caterham Barracks. Several people were injured, mostly military personnel. Some had very serious injuries including limb amputations.

The people responsible were eventually prosecuted. They were the four IRA gunmen Martin O'Connell, Edward Butler, Harry Duggan and Hugh Doherty who were arrested by the Metropolitan Police after a six day siege ended peacefully with the release of two hostages. (Balcombe Street) I interviewed them with Superintendent Tom Style and they were charged with ten murders and twenty bombings, including the Caterham job. They were jailed for life but were freed in April 1999 under the terms of the multi-party peace deal for Northern Ireland.

1975: BBC: Couple under siege in Balcombe Street: Three armed IRA men on the run from police have burst into a flat in central London and taken at least two people hostage. Officers have now sealed off the corner of Dorset Square and Balcombe Street, in Marylebone, after a car chase through the West End during which shots were fired. The gunmen are believed to be members of an IRA hit squad which has been behind a number of attacks in the capital and Home Counties over the past few months. They are accused of shooting dead TV presenter Ross McWhirter at his Enfield home a week ago, and also of carrying out attacks on London restaurants, the Hilton Hotel and the Caterham Arms public house at Caterham in Surrey.

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