A few minutes after a sentry had found a bomb at Gough Military Barracks, Armagh, yesterday, the commanding officer, Major H J Baxter, was racing it in an Army truck to open country, where it was rendered safe in a field about half-a-mile away.
As the truck dashed out of the main gate and along Barrack Hill at top speed, pedestrians were unaware that it carried a bomb which might have exploded at any moment.
During his dramatic dash, Major Baxter, 37, who is in command of the Royal Irish Fusiliers depot, heard a bang – a defective detonator had misfired.
While this drama was being enacted, officers at Gough Barracks, who had now been joined by the police, were investigating the discovery of the bomb.
Since previous IRA attacks, there has been a heavy day and night guard on the barracks, and early this morning it was still a mystery as to how the bomb was slipped through the network of strict security precautions.
The bomb, containing gelignite in a very dangerous condition, was in a zip-bag which was found near the armoury wall by a sentry who heard a ticking noise. He raised the alarm, the barracks was quickly alerted and the area cleared of troops.
While the police were being alerted, Major Baxter, at great personal risk, placed the bomb in an Army truck in which he made his dash to the open country where in a field, well away from houses, the bomb was dismantled by Warrant Officer Fussell, Ordnance Depot, NID. Later he exploded the gelignite. The explosion was heard over a wide area but the public were still unaware of the dramatic story that lay behind it.
The armoury which the bomb was intended to destroy is used for storing gelignite belonging to quarry owners and contractors who are not allowed to keep large quantities of explosives on their premises.