Tributes paid to M62 coach bomb victims 40 years on
It was a simple, moving service.
Hundreds of people attended the poignant memorial service and military guard of honour – almost 40 years to the day when nine soldiers and a young family were killed by a terrorist coach bomb on the M62.
Twelve people died and 50 were wounded when the bomb planted on a coach exploded close to Hartshead Moor Service Station .
The coach had been specially-commisioned to carry British Army and Royal Air Force personnel on leave with their families to Catterick and Darlington during a train strike. A memorial service is held at the service station each year but this year saw many more attend, perhaps due to marking the 40th anniversary of the tragedy tomorrow.
Clr Bolt told those assembled: “Remembering is an important part of what makes us human. The desire for justice and truth for healing and love and wisdom and learning are some of the others. And so again this year, whilst the passage of time and the demands of other events for the world’s attention mean that others have forgotten what took place here 40 years ago, we remember.
“This fine memorial is a focus for our remembering. It stands as a physical reminder of the cost that those affected by the bombing have paid.”
He went on to recall his own personal recollection of the impacts of the bombing on families and those who worked in local hospitals when he was a pupil at a Whitcliffe Mount School, Cleckheaton.
He paid tribute to the emergency services and to the coach driver, who although injured, managed to secure the bus on the hard shoulder then went to help others.
Among those at the service were members of the Haughton family who lost Linda, 23, Clifford, 23, and their two children five-year-old Lee and two-year-old Robert.
Clifford’s sister Elizabeth Burns said: “We want to thank everybody who has come today to remember our family and others who died in the tragedy.
“ It may be 40 years but in our hearts it feels like only yesterday. We really appreciate those who organise this memorial and all the preparation that goes into i t.”
Also attending were Linda’s sister Kath Moores and her two brothers Joe and Dennis.
Kath, 61, of Oldham said: “Clifford was in the Fusiliers and was on his way to Catterick with his young family.
“We come every year for the service. I want to thank the people who remember them.”
Relatives placed wreaths and flowers next to a monument at the westbound service station which bears the names of those killed in the blast.
Dignitaries from Yorkshire, Lancashire and Greater Manchester and staff and veterans of the armed forces joined the families.
A roll of honour was read out and flags lowered before the Last Post was played and a minutes silence.
Ex Royal Signalman Les Robinson, 65, was serving in Germany at the time of the atrocity and heard on his return his mate Michael Waugh had been killed in the blast.
Mr Robinson said: “We were both based at Catterick together. It wasn’t until I came home that I learnt the terrible news that he was on the back seat of the coach that day.
“I think there are more people here than in previous years with it being 40 years. I’ve spoken to many servicemen and set up a Facebook group to spread the word. It is so important that we remember them.”
The M62 coach bomb was one of the most notorious terrorist atrocities in mainland Britain.
The M62 coach bombing happened on February 4, 1974 when a bomb thought to have been planted by the Provisional IRA exploded in a coach carrying off-duty British Armed Forces personnel and their family members from Manchester to Catterick. Shortly before midnight, when the bus was near Hartshead Moor motorway service area, there was a large explosion on board.
Most of those aboard were asleep at the time. The 25 pounds of high explosive had been hidden in a luggage locker on the coach. The blast could be heard for several miles away and reduced the coach to ‘a tangle of twisted metal’,
The explosion killed 11 people outright and one man four days later. It wounded over 50 others and been described since as ‘one of the IRA’S worst mainland terror attacks’.
As a consequence of the bombing, Great Britain and Northern Ireland adopted much stricter anti-terrorism laws.