Failed coup could have left thousands dead in its wake

June 10 was celebrated as the 52nd anniversary of the failed attempt by the People’s Action Movement (PAM) to overthrow the lawfully-elected government of Premier, Hon. Robert L. Bradshaw on June 10, 1967.

Citizens and residents of the twin-island Federation have remembered the failed coup as an attack on the country’s democratic institutions.

Anticipating that the coup would have been successful on Saturday June 10, 1967, The Democrat – PAM’s official mouthpiece of the same date, announced that Monday June 12, 1967 had been declared “Freedom Day.”

The June 10th event has been documented by Anguillian authors Nat Hodge and Colville Petty. In their books and other written articles on the Anguilla Revolution, they wrote that the attempt to overthrow Bradshaw on June 10, 1967, was the brainchild of Ronald Webster and a prominent Kittitian politician, Founder and Political Leader of the People’s Action Movement, Dr. William V. “Billy” Herbert Jr. Herbert is the uncle of PAM chairman, Jonel Powell.

According to their publication: “It (June 10th 1967) had two principal objectives which were interrelated: Firstly, the defence of the Anguilla Revolution.

Secondly, the overthrow of Robert Bradshaw’s government and its replacement by one sympathetic to Anguilla’s cause.

Ronald Webster, leader of the Anguilla Revolution, was fearful of an invasion from St. Kitts and reasoned that the best way of preventing it, was to attack St. Kitts before St. Kitts attacked Anguilla.

On the other hand, the sole objective of the prominent Kittitian politician was the removal of Premier Bradshaw. To this end, he thought it expedient to use the ‘armed might’ and revolutionary fervour of the Anguillian people to assist him. It was not difficult for him and Webster to join forces because both of them had goals, which, they envisaged, could be accomplished by defeating their common enemy: Bradshaw.

Detailed plans for the attack were worked out in Anguilla, St. Kitts and St. Thomas, United States Virgin Islands. They were fine tuned in Anguilla.

The authors quote Clarence Rogers: “[The prominent Kittitian politician] discussed the details … with me again in Anguilla around 7th June. He came by mother’s house, in East End, between 6:30 pm and 7:00 pm, where he sat on her bed and drew a plan showing where the men should land and the places to attack.”

The plans included capturing Bradshaw and his deputy, Paul Southwell, and taking them to Anguilla; the announcement by Ruby Gumbs, over radio station ZIZ in St. Kitts, that the new Premier was the prominent Kittitian politician; the demolition of the Defence Force Camp; the capture of the Police Headquarters; the destruction of the Power Station; the blowing up of the fuel depot and the capture of the Revenue Cutter used by the Police.

Prominent Kittitian historian, the late Sir Probyn Inniss, during his feature address at an annual Service of Thanksgiving to honour fallen Labour stalwarts, said that despite the armed attack to overthrow the lawfully elected government of then Premier Robert Bradshaw, the St. Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla leader remained strong and resolute.