Droppin Well bombing

Droppin Well bombing
Part of the Troubles
Droppin Well bombing is located in Northern Ireland
Droppin Well bombing
LocationBallykelly, County Londonderry, Northern Ireland
Coordinates55°02′39″N 7°01′11″W / 55°02′39″N 7°01′11″W / 55.0442; -7.0196
Date6 December 1982
23:15 (UTC±0)
Attack type
Bombing
WeaponsTime bomb
Deaths17
(11 soldiers, 6 civilians)
Non-fatal injuries
30
PerpetratorIrish National Liberation Army

The Droppin Well bombing or Ballykelly bombing occurred on 6 December 1982, when the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) exploded a time bomb at a disco in Ballykelly, Northern Ireland. The disco, known as the Droppin Well, was targeted because it was frequented by British Army soldiers from nearby Shackleton Barracks. The bomb killed eleven soldiers and six civilians; 30 people were injured, this made it the deadly attack during the INLA's paramilitary campaign and the most deadly attack during The Troubles carried out in County Londonderry.

Attack

The bomb was manufactured by the INLA in nearby Derry city. One of those involved later revealed that the INLA unit had carried out reconnaissance missions to the Droppin Well to see if there were enough soldiers to justify the likelihood of civilian casualties.[1]

On the evening of Monday 6 December 1982, an INLA member left a bomb inside the pub. There were about 150 people inside.[2] The Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) believed that the bomb, estimated to be 5 to 10 pounds (2.3 to 4.5 kg) of commercial (Frangex) explosives, was small enough to fit into a handbag. It had, however, been left beside a support pillar and, when it exploded at about 23:15,[2] the blast brought down the roof. Many of those killed and injured were crushed by fallen masonry.[3]

Following the blast, it took many hours to pull survivors from the rubble. The last survivor was freed at 04:00, but it was not until 10:30 that the last of the bodies was recovered.[2] Ultimately, 17 people died (11 soldiers, six civilians) and about 30 were injured, some seriously.[3] Five of the civilians were young women and three (Alan Callaghan, Valerie McIntyre and Angela Maria Hoole) were teenagers.[2] Angela Hoole was celebrating her engagement to one of the soldiers who survived the incident. Of the eleven soldiers who died, eight were from the 1st Battalion Cheshire Regiment, two from the Army Catering Corps[4] and one from the Light Infantry. One of those on the scene was Bob Stewart, then a company commander in the Cheshire Regiment. He lost six soldiers from his company and was deeply affected as he tended to the dead and injured.[5]