Birmingham & Black Country

Birmingham pub bombings: Ex-officer says scene 'pure carnage'

Back row: Steven Whalley, Ann Hayes, Charles Gray, John Clifford Jones, James Caddick, Neil Marsh (silhouette), Eugene Reilly; Second row: James Craig, Thomas Chaytor, John Rowlands, Maxine Hambleton, Lynn Bennett, Marilyn Nash, Maureen Roberts; Third row: Michael Beasley, Pamela Palmer, Trevor Thrupp, Stanley Bodman, Paul Davies, Desmond Reilly, Jane Davis
Image caption Twenty-one people died when two bombs were detonated in Birmingham in 1974

The first police officer to go into a Birmingham pub after it was blown up by a bomb in 1974 broke down while giving evidence as he recalled "pure carnage".

Some 21 people died in blasts between 20:15 and 20:20 at two pubs on 21 November.

There were wood splinters "all over the place" and water was coming down at the Mulberry Bush, former PC Derek Bradbury told inquests in the city.

He brought six of the dead out of the pub on the night.

Mr Bradbury also discovered teenagers Neil Marsh and Paul Davies, who had been walking outside when the bomb went off, and were among the deceased.

Jurors have heard the Irish Republican Army (IRA) admitted a series of attacks in the months before the pub bombings, although no-one has ever claimed responsibility for the "two vast explosions" in Birmingham.

The ex-officer left the witness box for a few moments.

After returning, he said: "There was a woman staggering about towards me and she was not screaming but moaning and saying, 'I have been hurt', and holding her stomach.

"There was not much of her stomach left really."

Image caption Ten people died in the first blast at the Mulberry Bush, below the Rotunda building

The former West Midlands Police officer added: "This poor bloke, he was lying on his back and his legs had been blown off."

Mr Bradbury told of another "kid" he pulled out and whom he believed to be dead; another man who had lost a leg; and a young girl he also believed to be dead.

He said following a coded bomb warning, he was told to search the Rotunda.

There had been no mention of the Mulberry Bush, or the Tavern in the Town pub, in the warning at 20:11, jurors have heard.

The inquests heard that as PC Bradbury got into the Rotunda's lift in the main foyer, he heard a "huge thud".

The former officer and two others ran around the side of the Rotunda to the Mulberry Bush.

He said: "It was just a scene of pure carnage - nothing left of the pub.

"You had to be careful, it was like walking on a rubbish tip because of all the bricks and rubble."

Image caption The families of the victims have fought for years to have inquests re-opened

He was asked by Leslie Thomas QC, representing nine of the bereaved families, why no cordon had been established around the Rotunda, once a warning had been received.

Mr Bradbury said: "A perimeter is a brilliant idea if you can do it - the numbers my seniors sent down, there were not enough."

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