|Aldershot barracks bombing|
|Date||February 22, 1972|
|Target||Aldershot British army barracks|
|Attack type||Car bomb|
|Perpetrator(s)||Official Irish Republican Army|
The Aldershot bombing occurred on February 22, 1972 in Aldershot, Hampshire, just three weeks after Bloody Sunday. It was the Official Irish Republican Army's largest attack in Britain during the Troubles and one of the last major actions of their armed campaign before their ceasefire in June of that year.
A Ford Cortina with a large bomb hidden inside was left in the base car park, deliberately positioned outside the officer's mess. The time-release bomb exploded on the morning of the 22nd, and the blast destroyed the officer's mess and wrecked several nearby army office buildings in an explosion which could be heard over a mile away.
The soldiers who were the intended targets of the bomb were not present, as the regiment itself was stationed abroad and most staff officers were in their offices, not in the mess. Nonetheless, seven people were killed, including an elderly gardener, five female kitchen staff just leaving the premises and Father Gerard Weston, a Roman Catholic army chaplain who had just parked behind the car bomb. Nineteen people were also wounded by the explosion.
Authorities were shocked and concerned by this first major attack in Britain, and lax security at many bases was tightened up in an effort to prevent a repeat of the attack.
The day after the explosion, the Official IRA stated that they carried out the attack in revenge for Bloody Sunday and that it was the start of a protracted bombing campaign in England. However as the bomb had killed only civilians and a Catholic priest brought severe criticism on the Official IRA and this was one of a number of factors that caused their leadership to halt their armed campaign later that year.
The larger, and more militant, Provisional IRA continued to attack targets in Britain (see Balcombe Street Active Service Unit). In 1989 they bombed a Royal Marine barracks killing 11 Royal Marine bandsmen (See 1989 Deal barracks bombing).
In November 1972 Noel Jenkinson was convicted of the murders and received a lengthy jail term, dying in prison of heart failure four years later.