Thursday 9 July 2020


The Provisional IRA murdered two British soldiers in a bomb attack near the republican stronghold of Crossmaglen in South Armagh.  The terrorists had hijacked a lorry and abandoned it in a country lane near an army observation post.  The post had been built just a few weeks earlier on a hill less than 500 yards from the Irish border.  Four soldiers came down from the post at around 21:00 to inspect the vehicle.  The lorry trailer had been loaded with a powerful bomb, estimated at between 700 and 1,000 lb, and was detonated by remote control.

Two of the soldiers were killed instantly, while the others escaped with minor injuries.  A civilian received chest injuries.  The blast was so loud it could be heard more than ten miles away in the town of Newry.  The lorry driver later told the inquest how gunmen had taken the vehicle, blindfolded him and left him under a hedge with instructions not to move for half an hour.  He was still there when he heard the explosion.

The slain soldiers were both from the Royal Anglian Regiment's 2nd Battalion.  Private Mitchell Bertram was 20 and came from Cramlington in Northumberland.  He had joined the army three years earlier and was on his second tour of Northern Ireland.  Pte Bertram would have turned 21 the following month.  In 2016 a memorial bench was unveiled in his home town, paid for by a crowdfunding campaign.  Veterans attended the event from as far away as Wiltshire, including the two survivors of the bombing.

Private Carl Davies was 24 and came from Colchester.  He had served in the army for seven years and was on his third tour of Northern Ireland.  During that time he had married a Londonderry woman who was heavily pregnant at the time of the attack with their second child.  Pte Davies is also remembered on the memorial bench in Cramlington alongside Pte Bertram.

Pte Bertram and Pte Davis
Pte Bertram's mother Catherine unveiled the memorial bench to the two
soldiers in 2016