Inquest into Guildford pub bombings: Soldier recalls being trapped

An ex-soldier recalled being trapped in a pub that was bombed in 1974 by the IRA when a live electrical cable was wrapped around his foot.

Inquest into Guildford pub bombings: Soldier recalls being trapped

An ex-soldier recalled being trapped in a pub that was bombed in 1974 by the IRA when a live electrical cable was wrapped around his foot.

Alexander Findlay described to an inquiry that the cable flashed and gave electric shocks, before he was able to free himself.

On 5 October 1974, the IRA detonated bombs in two pubs for soldiers in Guildford. It killed five people and injured 65.

An inquest at Woking Coroner's Court heard that Mr Findlay stood near the four soldiers who had died.

Before the IRA claimed responsibility, the Guildford Four and Maguire Seven were incorrectly convicted of the attacks.

The victims were 21-year old civilian Paul Craig, and the soldiers Ann Hamilton (19 years), Caroline Slater (18 years), William Forsyth (18, and John Hunter (17).

Mr. Findlay was just 19 years old and was serving with the Royal Household Cavalry. He said, "I saw a flash. It blew my ears away. An electric cable was wrapped around my leg. I tried to pull the cable free. I fell and I don't know if I should go backwards or forwardeds.

He claimed that he saw the blue lights from emergency services outside the pub.

He replied, "I managed to get up. He said, "I managed to get up." I replied, "I have to get out of this place!"

The inquest was told by Mr Findlay that the cable around his foot was live and flashed constantly, giving him shocks.

He was stuck in the pub for five to ten minutes, before he finally managed to escape through a window or door.

He said, "You couldn’t see for dust, debris and smoke."

Now 67-year-old Mr. Findlay is retired, but he spent 30 years as a firefighter. He was left with perforated ears, injuries to his leg and cuts, burns, and lacerations.

Inquest hearings heard Prof Arthur Mant, a pathologist from 1974, give the cause of death to those who died from blast injuries.

They suffered injuries such as fractures and burns.

Prof Mant stated that Ms Hamilton, Mr Hunter, and Mr Forsyth sustained injuries from an explosive device which was detonated to their right. Ms. Slater suffered injuries consistent with the device being placed beneath her. The device was to the right of Mr Craig's injuries.

Next week, Mr Travers will present his conclusions.

The inquest is looking into five deaths and is being conducted without the participation of a jury. The inquest is not going to investigate the perpetrators, wrongful convictions, or the original police investigation.

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