Belfast Telegraph

Sunday Life

Miami Showband survivor 'has name' of British Army officer at scene of massacre

Stephen Travers
Stephen Travers
Ciaran Barnes

By Ciaran Barnes

A Miami Showband massacre survivor says he knows the name of the British Army officer who he alleges was present during the massacre.

Writing on social media, guitarist Stephen Travers said: “Just as sure as I saw the British officer take charge of the slaughter of The Miami Showband, I have seen an official British Ministry of Defence statement naming him. This is not about revenge, it’s about accountability.”

The musician would not reveal the identity of the solider when asked by Sunday Life but he will be named in court in the coming months.

“I wouldn’t want to jeopardise the ongoing legal proceedings,” he said.

The 1975 Miami Showband murders are among the most notorious of the Troubles, with three of the band shot dead by a UVF gang, two of whom blew themselves up.

The musicians had been returning to Dublin along the A1 road following a gig in Banbridge when their minibus was waved down by what they thought was an Army checkpoint.

The ‘soldiers’ were in fact UVF members who placed a time-bomb on the vehicle which was designed to explode after it set off on the road again.

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However, the device exploded prematurely, killing loyalists Harris Boyle and Wesley Somerville who were both serving members of the UDR.

The other UVF members then opened fire on the dazed band members, killing lead singer Fran O’Toole, guitarist Tony Geraghty and trumpeter Brian McCoy.

Although shot and badly wounded, bassist Stephen Travers survived by pretending to be dead, as did saxophonist Des McAlea.

Stephen Travers (second from right) with the Miami Showband a month before the massacre
Stephen Travers (second from right) with the Miami Showband a month before the massacre

Mr Travers has always alleged that the UVF gang were acting on the orders of a British Army officer with “a posh, educated English accent” who was present at the scene of the slaughter.

Now he claims to have seen an official Ministry of Defence document naming this individual.

A UVF gang based out of a farm in Glenanne, Co Armagh is believed to have been responsible for the massacre.

Last summer the Court of Appeal ruled that there needs to be a full independent investigation into allegations of collusion between it and the security services.

The Glenanne gang has been linked to more than 120 sectarian murders and had members in both the Army and police.

It was also implicated in the Dublin and Monaghan bombs which killed 33 people.

Memories of the night in which his friends were murdered have never left Stephen Travers, who still struggles with its sheer horror 45 years later.

Recalling the moment the UVF bomb exploded, he previously said: “I can see that night in my head as clearly as I can see you now.

“I can see the ditch on fire. I can hear them (the assailants) saying they’d killed us with dumdums. I’d never heard of such bullets before, they’re ones that explode. I can see how the moon was that night.”

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From Belfast Telegraph