Harrods Bombing turned Christmas shopping in London into death and destruction

The nation was in a state of shock on December 17 in 1983 when the lives of young families out Christmas shopping were put at risk by callous terrorists who planted a car bomb.

At around 1:21pm, the IRA set off the devastating blast which destroyed one side of Harrods in London as broken glass rained down on the pavements.

The killer blast resulted in six people losing their lives while around 100 others suffered injuries.

Shoppers were left fearing for their lives as mothers were seen holding onto young children following the attack on the iconic department store.

Children had even been in the store seeing Father Christmas when the car bomb went off. Members of the Provisional IRA planted the bomb and sent a warning over half an hour before it exploded, but the area was not fully evacuated in time.

Witnesses described seeing the scene of devastation with smoke, broken glass and debris littering the streets as half-naked mannequins were hanging out of broken windows at the department store.

Speaking to the BBC at the time, Nik Lawrence described the moment when the bomb went off as he just walked past the first floor window.

He said: “The window blew in but the glass was caught by the special net curtains, weighted at the bottom. If it hadn't I would have been cut to pieces.

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“A mother clutched her two children in terror at the top of the stairs. I was strangely calm and tried to calm her but couldn't.”

One of those killed by the blast was 34-year-old Metropolitan Police Inspector Stephen Dodd, who sacrificed his own life to save others in the attack, and died from injuries days later on December 24.

Writing in News Letter, Inspector Dodd’s daughter Susanna spoke of how her dad continued to direct people away from the car bomb despite knowing he was in “tremendous danger”.

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She said: “I was seven years old and I can still remember it being Christmas and praying to Father Christmas to bring my dad home.

“I have never recovered from the loss of my poor dad and I still think of him every day.”

Two more police officers, Sergeant Noel Lane, 28, and Constable Jane Arbuthnot, 22, were killed in the explosion.

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Journalist Philip Geddes, 24, also died after hearing about the alert and rushing to the scene.

Two more members of the public were killed, Jasmine Cochrane-Patrick, 25, and Kenneth Salvesen, 28, a US citizen.

Professor and Addiction Scientist Michael Farrell was one of those working at Westminster Hospital trying to save the lives of those injured in the blast 38 years ago.

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Mr Farrell spoke on Twitter about helping save PC Jon Gordon after learning the bombing survivor had passed years later.

He unexpectedly received a reply from PC Gordon’s youngest son Stuart, who tweeted: “I am Jon's youngest son, and am forever in debt to you for what you did to save my dad. He lived another 22 years thanks to all those that helped him.”

PC Gordon lost both legs and part of a hand in the blast.

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The Prime Minister at the time, Margaret Thatcher, called the attack "brutal and barbaric."

She continued: "It's difficult to understand the minds of people who can do that. There are very evil people in our society, and we have to do everything we can to catch them."

IRA made a statement following the bombing of Harrods to say the bomb had not been authorised by the IRA's Army Council.

Despite the destruction and tragic loss of life Harrods reopened just three days after the bombing.

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