Reuters Sports Editor, Pictures, Greg Bos recalls covering the 1988 Lockerbie bombing in the following question and answer session.
What role were you in when the bombing happened?
I was working on the Reuters pictures desk at the time, but was also part of the rotation system we had – where photographers could go out and cover picture assignments.
How did you hear about it?
I was at home nursing a bad cold, when staff photographer colleague Nick Didlick called and asked if I could get up to Scotland asap. The company had arranged for a private plane to fly me and two text journalists from Stansted Airport to Carlisle on the Scottish border in the middle of the night. Meanwhile, Nick and fellow staffer Rob Taggert drove to Lockerbie through the night in the pool car with all the darkroom equipment. We arrived at Carlisle Airport at around 4:00 or 5:00am and I was told to stay put because a media helicopter was due to go up at dawn for aerial shots. I was the designated pool photographer on the first morning. However, it was a very foggy morning and I could not see any of the wreckage or the large crater. I remember the aerial pictures from the first morning were unusable. I was terribly disappointed after spending several hours in a freezing cold helicopter with blocked sinuses.
How long did you stay at the site?
I stayed at Lockerbie over the Christmas holiday period – about two weeks. Nick and Rob left before me, and I was later joined by staff photographer colleague Russell Boyce. We were housed in a hotel just off the main highway. They had planned to close for the holidays, but stayed open to accommodate Reuters staff and several other journalists covering the story. Everyday we would go up to the main crash site out of town and take pictures from a small church yard across the road. I recall it was very cold standing there for hours, snapping off a few frames at a time, or when something happened. The large crater was either off limits to media for awhile, or did not produce any new imagery. I was lucky – having the color camera in hand – when I captured the rescue workers carrying a body bag and walking past the wreckage of the cockpit fuselage. I believe at the time most of the other photographers were shooting black and white film. This image was published on many front newspaper pages in the UK and around the world.
What camera equipment were you using?
It was Nikon cameras and black and white film in those days – with some color film for big stories. It was quite a juggling act shooting color in one camera and black and white in another as there was always the risk you would miss something important that needed to be recorded in color. I even shot half a roll of Ektachrome transparency film – protectively – in case something happened to the color negative film we were using. I also had the misfortune of accidentally breaking a bathroom sink while I was tapping the air bubbles out of a stainless steel film development tank. The hotel owner was not happy about it, but Reuters paid for a new sink.