‘Pure carnage’ of Birmingham pub bombing described at inquest

Ex-police officer Derek Bradbury recalls awful injuries and taking six dead people from bar

The first police officer to go into a Birmingham pub after it was blown up by an IRA bomb in 1974 broke down on Monday while giving evidence to an inquest about the “pure carnage” he witnessed.

Former PC Derek Bradbury recalled the dreadful in injuries suffered by some of those inside the Mulberry Bush, which had been turned to “rubble” and “splinters”.

Inquests are being held in Birmingham into the 1974 bombings, which left 21 people dead and 220 injured.

Mr Bradbury said that, following a coded bomb warning, the police control room had told him and colleagues to search the Rotunda building, where the Mulberry Bush was located.

There had been no mention of the Mulberry Bush, or the Tavern in the Town, in the telephone warning phoned in to a newspaper earlier that night, the inquest has already heard.


As Mr Bradbury and colleagues got into the Rotunda’s lift in the main foyer, he described hearing a “huge thud”.

“We knew instinctively, that a bomb had gone off,” he said.

He and two colleagues then ran the short distance around the side of the Rotunda to the Mulberry Bush.

Mr Bradbury, formerly of West Midlands Police, said: “I went in there and there was a chap standing there, only a young lad, obviously on his night out to town.

“He had his best mac and tie and he comes up to me and says ‘I’ll come in with you mate’.”

Describing what was in front of them, 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...As I was going in there a woman came out towards me.”

Mr Bradbury, recounting events from 44 years ago, broke down, and had to leave the witness box for a few moments.

When he returned, he took up his story, and 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. She was the first one we took out, and I sat her down by (WPC) Maggie (Adams) and said, you know, ‘do your best’.

‘Blown off’

He continued: “I went back in again. There was a bloke lying there. This poor bloke, he was lying on his back and his legs had been blown off.”

Mr Bradbury told of another person who he pulled out and believed was already dead, another man who had lost a leg, and a young girl who he also believed was deceased. In all, he brought six of the dead out of the pub that night.

He also discovered teenage friends Neil Marsh and Paul Davies, who had been walking outside when the bomb went off, and were among the deceased.

Mr Bradbury said he could remember having no specific training in how to deal with bomb warnings, but had been on duty in the July when a bomb had gone off at the Rotunda — causing only damage to property.

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

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

He added that “twice the amount” of officers would have not been enough, and that running down the street “shouting ‘bomb’ ” would have had little impact.

The inquest continues. - PA