IRA bomb explodes on Army coach
Just after midnight on February 4 1974 as a coach filled with military personnel was proceeding east on the M62 a massive explosion reduced the vehicle to tangled metal. Eleven in the coach died at the site of the explosion, and another young soldier succumbed to his injuries several days later. Another 38 suffered serious injuries, Hartshead Moor Services on the M62 having to serve as a triage station to deal with the victims. Two of the dead were the young sons of a soldier also on board with his wife, the entire family wiped out in an instant.
The coach had been targeted by the IRA, who claimed not to know there were civilians on board. Their operatives had placed a bomb containing 25lb of heavy explosives in one of the luggage lockers on the coach.
As happened all too often during the conflict with the IRA the immediate actions taken by the British authorities proved flawed: Judith Ward, a mentally unstable woman, was arrested and interrogated, and rapidly convicted of the coach bombing and two other outrages on the basis of dubious scientific evidence and her own rambling and attention seeking ‘confession’. Some 18 years later she was released, her conviction shown to be utterly unsound, just one of many shameful miscarriages of justice in the period.
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