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
LocationNear Ballygawley,
County Tyrone,
Northern Ireland
Coordinates54°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
Date13 July 1983
19:00 p.m.
TargetUlster Defence Regiment personnel
Attack type
Roadside bomb
Deaths4 UDR soldiers
PerpetratorProvisional IRA

The Ballygawley land mine attack was a bomb attack carried out by the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) 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 who was from the small Tyrone village of Cappagh, Hurson was one of Cappagh's most famous sons. Cappagh became a Republican stronghold in the 1980s. 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.

Sinn Fein member Francie Molloy said the following on Hurson's funeral and the effect his death had on the young people of Cappagh:

"There was people everywhere. The village was black with them. It was the first sign in Tyrone of thousands and thousands of people assembling to honor the remains of a native son coming home. Martin was young when he went to jail and young when died on hunger strike. His death just made young people more determined that they were going to replace him. They saw ten men dead as the British government taking people out of the struggle. I think the young people of Cappagh and surrounding areas decided there and then that they were going to replace everyone one of them and replace them tenfold. And that is what they did. The number of young people who joined up in response was massive." [1]

The attack[edit]

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 one of the most active & successful Brigade areas in the IRA during the 1980s.


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.[2] In 1988 the IRA killed eight British soldiers and injured twenty eight others during the Ballygawley bus bombing,[3] a lot of Republicans saw this as revenge for the Loughgall Ambush the year before when the SAS shot dead 8 IRA Volunteers.[4]

See also[edit]


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