The 40th anniversary of a coach bombing which killed 12 people was marked with a memorial service yesterday.

Nine soldiers, a woman and two children travelling in the Armed Forces’ vehicle died as a result of the IRA blast shortly after midnight on February 4, 1974, on the M62.

Families of the victims, members of the Armed Forces and dignitaries were at the event held at the memorial at Hartshead Moor Services yesterday morning.

Former Kirklees councillor for Liversedge and Gomersal Derrick Yates and his wife, Ruth, help organise a memorial event each year.

Mrs Yates, who was a radiographer at Dewsbury, Batley and Staincliffe hospitals at the time, said: “We were called out to Batley Hospital because some of the injured were taken there.

“It was just horrific; we didn’t know to begin with what had happened.”

When medical staff found out it was a coach full of servicemen that had been injured, they thought the IRA might be involved. “We realised that people could do this to other people and so indiscriminately because there was a family with two kids on the bus and it just seems horrific. If you’re in a war and fighting, that’s maybe one thing, but just killing people like that is awful,” she said.

Mr Yates volunteered as a porter as injured people were taken to the hospital.

“It’s something that’s never left us,” Mrs Yates said.

Among those paying tribute was 76-year-old Jean Home, of Wythenshawe, whose 17-year-old son Paul Reid, of the 11th Signal Regiment died. She heard about the blast on the radio.

“We didn’t have a phone then and a couple up the street let my husband use their phone and that’s how we found out,” she said. “I felt terrible. A mother losing a son, it never goes away.”

The Mayor of Calderdale, Coun Ann Martin, opened the service which was led by the Rev Brunel James of St John’s in Cleckheaton and included reading, prayers, the playing of the Last Post and an Act of Remembrance.

The Mayor of Kirklees, Coun Martyn Bolt, also spoke.

“Remembering is an important part of what makes us human. The desire for justice, for truth and for healing and love and for wisdom and learning are some of the others. And so again this year, while the passage of time and the demands of other events on the world’s attention mean perhaps others have forgotten what took place 40 years ago, we will remember,” he said.

The coach was taking servicemen and their families from Manchester to camps at Catterick and RAF Leeming when the 25 pound bomb exploded, destroying the rear ten feet of the coach. Those killed were from the Royal Artillery, Royal Corps of Signals and the 2nd Battalion Royal Regiment of Fusiliers. Among the 50-plus people injured on the bus was Fus Roy Stuart Young, then 23, who was at Hartshead Moor yesterday. “We thought we’d had a crash at first.

“Then obviously we saw the bodies on the motorway, even then we didn’t think it was a bomb,” he said.