It was a simple and very dignified ceremony. As motorists were passing by on the main A5 Dublin to Derry road, they might have wondered what was going on at the side of the road at Curr, between Ballygawley and Omagh. People gathered there on Sunday morning to pay their respects to eight British soldiers who had been killed in what became known as the Ballygawley bus bomb, 25 years ago today on August 20th 1988.
The music by the Omagh Protestant Boys flute band set the mood. You can see my video on youtube here.
The soldiers were returning to their base in Omagh, having flown into RAF Aldergrove. They were being transported in an unmarked coach, driven by a soldier. Reports at the time suggested that although the A5 road was meant to be ‘out of bounds’ for military transport, diversion signs had been put in place and that was why the driver travelled that way from Ballygawley. But that claim was disputed at the inquest. A 200lbs roadside bomb consisting of Semtex and fertiliser exploded, killing eight members of the 1st Battalion, Light Infantry Regiment and injuring 28 of their colleagues.
In the brief commemoration at the scene of the blast, the Last Post was sounded and the Roll of Honour was read with the following names:-
Private Blair Bishop (19), Private Peter Bullock (21), Private Jayson Burfitt (19), Private Richard Greener (21), Private Alexander Lewis (18), Private Mark Norsworthy (18), Private Stephen Wilkinson (18) and Private Jason Winter (19).
In addition, four UDR members killed in a landmine at Gort, Errigal Keerogue, near Ballygawley were also remembered. They died on July 13th 1983, 30 years ago. They were:- Private Ronald Alexander (19), Corporal Thomas Harron (25), Private John Roxborough (19) and Private Oswell Neely (20).
A thirteenth name was added to the roll of honour, Lieutenant Andrew Somerville (20), a member of 15th/6th Lancers, killed in a landmine attack near Ballymacilroy, Ballygawley on March 27th 1973, 40 years ago.