Victims of IRA bombing in Aldershot honoured in memorial service 50 years on

Video report by ITV News Meridian's Derek Johnson

A memorial service has been held to mark 50 years since seven people died in an IRA bomb attack at an army barracks in Hampshire.

A plinth was unveiled at the former 16th Parachute Brigade headquarters in Aldershot to honour those who lost their lives, followed by a parade and march.

Nineteen people were also injured in the bombing which happened on 22 February 1972.

Seven people died and 19 were injured in the IRA bombing in Aldershot. Credit: Archive

The garrison town was rocked by the explosion as a Ford Cortina packed full of explosives detonated outside the Officers' Mess. It was to be the first atrocity committed on the UK mainland  by the IRA as a result of the Northern Ireland troubles.

It had been intended to kill and maim officers of the Parachute Regiment and Airborne Forces whilst they were at lunch, but it is thought to have gone off prematurely and in so doing, took the lives of a gardener, five civilian members of the mess staff and an Army Chaplain.

Each side of the new heptagonal memorial plinth represents each of the victims; John Haslar, Jill Mansfield, Thelma Bosley, Margaret Grant, Cherie Munton and Joan Lunn and Father Gerard Weston MBE the Army Chaplain.

A memorial service held to honour the victims of the IRA bombing in Aldershot in 1972. Credit: ITV News Meridian

John Grant was just twelve when his mother, Margaret Grant, died in the bombing.

He said: "My brothers were eight and six, so we were left without a mother.

"My father was left without a wife, my auntie was left without a sister, and my grandparents left without a daughter. So it has been a long time coming, this today."

John Grant, Margaret Grant's son

Brian Bosley's mother Thelma was also killed in the explosion, and says she was just 44-years-old.

Mr Bosley said: "It achieved nothing. It took out a gardener, a priest, and five women.

"My mother was a waitress in the Officers' Mess and she was just having her break, and they parked the car directly outside. One minute she was talking to her friends, the next minute she was gone."

Ian Rogers, Chairman of the Aldershot Parachute Regimental Association said: "There was a monument here from 1974 which was built by the Montgomery Lines maintenance staff, because it was the staff and the cleaners that caught the brunt of the explosion, so we thought with the redevelopment of the area, a more befitting monument ought to be put up.

"This is a two-year project and this is the first part. As the development goes on, then the monument will be further developed with trees, shrubbery and plants etc."

Ian Rogers, Chairman, Aldershot Parachute Regimental Association

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