Staff at the garage were forced outside at gunpoint and asked to provide their names. When the owner gave his name one of the terrorists raised his pistol to shoot him. However, the part-time UDR man was light on his feet and made a run for it while he dodged bullets from his would-be assassins. He managed to get to his house, a hundred yards away, and returned fire with his personal protection weapon. A 13-year-old boy from the Irish Republic, who was at the garage, was struck in the arm during the shoot-out. The UDR man continued to fire at his assailants as they fled back over the border and said at least one of his bullets struck their vehicle. This was the second time his business had been targeted, having been bombed earlier in the Troubles.
During the botched garage operation the second group was planting their bombs. They robbed the post office before leaving a bomb concealed in a plastic bag. They left another bomb at the temporary customs post before returning to the Republic. The permanent customs building had been destroyed by an earlier bomb and had been replaced by a caravan. The whole operation was over within 30 minutes and both groups were safely back across the border, despite the best efforts of the garage owner.
While the IRA failed to kill their intended target, they would still claim a military victim that day. At around midday the device at the caravan exploded, but no-one was hurt. The device at the post office failed to detonate and a bomb disposal squad was called. Staff Sergeant Ronald Beckett of the Royal Army Ordnance Corps was tasked with making the bomb safe. He examined the device and found that it contained around 20-30lbs of explosive and was connected to a ticking clock. He attempted to disrupt the device remotely and then entered the building armed with wire cutters in case the bomb was still active. Around two minutes later the device exploded, gutting the post office and killing S/Sgt Beckett.
|Staff Sergeant Ron Beckett
S/Sgt Ron Beckett was 36 and came from Hereford. He was survived by his wife and two daughters. He had been present during an IRA bombing a month earlier in which another soldier had been killed, Cpl Bryan Criddle.