Ballygawley land mine attack

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Ballygawley land mine attack
Part of the Troubles
Ballygawley land mine attack is located in Northern Ireland
Ballygawley land mine attack
Location Near Ballygawley,
County Tyrone,
Northern Ireland
Coordinates 54°31′42″N 7°12′39″W / 54.52833°N 7.21083°W / 54.52833; -7.21083Coordinates: 54°31′42″N 7°12′39″W / 54.52833°N 7.21083°W / 54.52833; -7.21083
Date 13 July 1983
19:00 p.m.
Target Ulster Defence Regiment personnel
Attack type
Roadside bomb
Deaths 4 UDR soldiers
Non-fatal injuries
Perpetrator Provisional IRA

The Ballygawley land mine attack was a bomb attack carried out by the Provisional Irish Republican Army (PIRA) on the 13 July 1983. The IRA exploded a landmine under an Ulster Defense Regiment's (UDR) mobile patrol at Ballygawley Road, near Dungannon in County Tyrone, Northern Ireland. Four UDR soldiers were killed in the incident.


After the 1981 Irish hunger strike floods of recruits signed up to join the IRA. Republicans in Tyrone were especially angry over the death of Martin Hurson from the small Tyrone village of Cappagh, one of the small village's famous & well liked sons. Lots of young men flocked to join the East Tyrone Brigade to avenge Hurson's death. Some of those who joined after being radicalized by the Hunger Strike would go onto become famous IRA Volunteers like Declan Arthurs & Martin McCaughey who were both small children when the conflict broke out in 1969 and who died in SAS attacks; Arthurs at Loughgall police station in 1987 & McCaughy in a barn also in Loughgall in 1990.[1] Cappagh was a stronghold for the IRA & Irish Republicans. The Cappagh Monument - In the middle of the Cappagh village is a monument to local people who were killed by British security forces and paramilitaries during The Troubles. It features a stone figure of a Provisional IRA volunteer, in front of a number of stone plaques commemorating various aspects of the conflict, such as the hunger strike of 1981 and local Republican guerrillas who died. The focal point is the plaque for eight Provisional IRA members who died during a gun and bomb attack on Loughgall Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) base, and are referred as the "Loughgall Martyrs" by locals and supporters. The monument reflects the srong Republican tradition of the village population & Cappagh village itself is mentioned in many Irish rebel songs.[2]

The attack

Four British Army (Ulster Defence Regiment) soldiers (Ronald Alexander, Thomas Harron, John Roxborough, and Oswald Neely), all Protestant members of the 6th Battalion UDR, were travelling in their mobile patrol along a road in Tyrone close to the small town of Ballygawley. IRA Volunteers from the East Tyrone Brigade planted a 500lb landmine along the road the UDR patrol was coming along. The IRA unit noticed the UDR took a similar route every so often and had spotted weakness in the patrol. The IRA Volunteers were watching the UDR patrol while being well hidden, once the UDR patrol was close to the landmine the IRA Volunteers detonated the landmine by remote control killing the four UDR soldiers almost straight away. This was the highest casualty rate suffered by the UDR in a single incident during The Troubles & worst attack suffered by the security forces since 1981. The attack was carried out by an Active Service Unit (ASU) of the IRA's East Tyrone Brigade which was starting to become one of the most successful ASUs in the IRA.


Within five years the IRA's East Tyrone Brigade would launch two more high-profile attacks in Ballygawley. In 1985 during the Attack on Ballygawley barracks an IRA unit led by Patrick Joseph Kelly & Jim Lynagh attacked the Ballygawley RUC barracks shooting dead two RUC officers who were at the front of the station, a 200lb bomb destroyed the whole barracks and injured 3 more RUC officers.[3] In 1988 the IRA killed eight British soldiers and injured twenty eight others during the Ballygawley bus bombing,[4] a lot of Republicans saw this as revenge for the Loughgall Ambush the year before when the SAS shot dead 8 IRA Volunteers.[5]

See also


  1. ^ Taylor, Peter (29 May 2014). "The Provos: The IRA and Sinn Fein". A&C Black – via Google Books. 
  2. ^ IRA memorial (Cappagh),; accessed 7 November 2015.
  3. ^ Sutton, Malcolm. "CAIN: Sutton Index of Deaths". 
  4. ^ Sutton, Malcolm. "CAIN: Sutton Index of Deaths". 
  5. ^ Sutton, Malcolm. "CAIN: Sutton Index of Deaths". 
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