Droppin Well bombing – INLA Slaughter 6th December 1982

Droppin Well bombing – INLA Slaughter 11 Soldiers & 6 Civilians

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.

 

 

Attack

The bomb was made by INLA members in nearby Derry. 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 possibility of civilian casualties.[1]

On the evening of Monday 6 December 1982, an INLA operative 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]

 

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Dropping well Bomb INLA.

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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] 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]

The Victims

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06 December 1982


Stephen Smith,   (24)

nfNI
Status: British Army (BA),

Killed by: Irish National Liberation Army (INLA)
Off duty. Killed by time bomb left in disco at Droppin Well Bar, Ballykelly, County Derry.

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06 December 1982
Philip McDonough,   (26)

nfNI
Status: British Army (BA),

Killed by: Irish National Liberation Army (INLA)
Off duty. Killed by time bomb left in disco at Droppin Well Bar, Ballykelly, County Derry.

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06 December 1982
Steven Bagshaw,   (21)

nfNI
Status: British Army (BA),

Killed by: Irish National Liberation Army (INLA)
Off duty. Killed by time bomb left in disco at Droppin Well Bar, Ballykelly, County Derry

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06 December 1982


Clinton Collins,  (20)

nfNI
Status: British Army (BA),

Killed by: Irish National Liberation Army (INLA)
Off duty. Killed by time bomb left in disco at Droppin Well Bar, Ballykelly, County Derry.

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06 December 1982
David Murray,   (18)

nfNI
Status: British Army (BA),

Killed by: Irish National Liberation Army (INLA)
Off duty. Killed by time bomb left in disco at Droppin Well Bar, Ballykelly, County Derry.

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06 December 1982
David Stitt,  (27)

nfNI
Status: British Army (BA),

Killed by: Irish National Liberation Army (INLA)
Off duty. Killed by time bomb left in disco at Droppin Well Bar, Ballykelly, County Derry.

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06 December 1982
Shaw Williamson,  (20)

nfNI
Status: British Army (BA),

Killed by: Irish National Liberation Army (INLA)
Off duty. Killed by time bomb left in disco at Droppin Well Bar, Ballykelly, County Derry.

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06 December 1982
Terence Adams,   (20)

nfNI
Status: British Army (BA),

Killed by: Irish National Liberation Army (INLA)
Off duty. Killed by time bomb left in disco at Droppin Well Bar, Ballykelly, County Derry.

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06 December 1982
Neil Williams,  (18)

nfNI
Status: British Army (BA),

Killed by: Irish National Liberation Army (INLA)
Off duty. Killed by time bomb left in disco at Droppin Well Bar, Ballykelly, County Derry

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06 December 1982
Paul Delaney,  (18)

nfNI
Status: British Army (BA),

Killed by: Irish National Liberation Army (INLA)
Off duty. Killed by time bomb left in disco at Droppin Well Bar, Ballykelly, County Derry.

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06 December 1982


David Salthouse,   (23)

nfNI
Status: British Army (BA),

Killed by: Irish National Liberation Army (INLA)
Off duty. Killed by time bomb left in disco at Droppin Well Bar, Ballykelly, County Derry.

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06 December 1982


Ruth Dixon,  (17)

Protestant
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Irish National Liberation Army (INLA)
Killed by time bomb left in disco at Droppin Well Bar, Ballykelly, County Derry.

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06 December 1982


Carol Watts,   (25)

Protestant
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Irish National Liberation Army (INLA)
Killed by time bomb left in disco at Droppin Well Bar, Ballykelly, County Derry.

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06 December 1982
Angela Hoole, (19)

nfNI
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Irish National Liberation Army (INLA)
English visitor. Killed by time bomb left in disco at Droppin Well Bar, Ballykelly, County Derry

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06 December 1982
Patricia Cooke,   (21)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Irish National Liberation Army (INLA)
Injured by time bomb left in disco at Droppin Well Bar, Ballykelly, County Derry. She died 16 December 1982.

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06 December 1982
Valerie McIntyre,   (21)

Protestant
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Irish National Liberation Army (INLA)
Killed by time bomb left in disco at Droppin Well Bar, Ballykelly, County Derry.

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06 December 1982


Alan Callaghan,   (17)

Protestant
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Irish National Liberation Army (INLA)
Killed by time bomb left in disco at Droppin Well Bar, Ballykelly, County Derry.

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Aftermath

Suspicion immediately fell upon the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA), who denied involvement. By 8 December, the British Army was blaming the INLA on grounds that the IRA, in a mixed village, would have made greater efforts not to risk killing civilians.[6]

Shortly afterwards, the INLA issued a statement of responsibility:

We believe that it is only attacks of such a nature that bring it home to people in Britain and the British establishment. The shooting of an individual soldier, for the people of Britain, has very little effect in terms of the media or in terms of the British administration.[2]

The INLA also described the civilian women killed as “consorts“.[1] The attack was criticised by many on both sides of the conflict in Northern Ireland due to the high loss of civilian lives. Soon after the INLA had issued its statement, the government of the Republic of Ireland banned the INLA, making membership punishable by seven years imprisonment.[2]

In an interview after the bombing, INLA leader Dominic McGlinchey said that the Droppin Well’s owner had been warned six times to stop offering “entertainment” to British soldiers. McGlinchey added that the owner, and those who socialised with the soldiers, “knew full well that the warnings had been given and that the place was going to be bombed at some stage”.[7] It later emerged that the INLA may also have targeted Ballykelly because it believed that the military base was part of NATO‘s radar and communications network.[1]

Six days after the bombing, RUC officers shot dead INLA members Seamus Grew and Roddie Carroll near a vehicle checkpoint in Armagh. The officers said they believed that the two men were ferrying McGlinchey into Northern Ireland. Neither was armed, nor was McGlinchey in their car.[8]

Convictions

Bomber Anna Moore & Daughter

 

 

In June 1986, four INLA members (Anna Moore, Eamon Moore, Helena Semple and Patrick Shotter)[9] received life sentences for the attack. Anna Moore would later marry loyalist Bobby Corry, whilst both were in prison.[10] Another woman was given ten years for manslaughter as the court believed she had been coerced into involvement. All of those convicted were from Derry.[2][1]

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Old News

Village marks INLA atrocity

It was one of the worst atrocities of the Troubles

A remembrance service has been held on Sunday to honour 17 people killed in an INLA bomb.This weekend marks the 20th anniversary of the Droppin’ Well bomb in Ballykelly, County Londonderry.

It was one of the worst atrocities of the Troubles.

John Cooke:

John Cooke: “We loved spoiling her and she loved us”

Eleven soldiers from a nearby Army base and six civilians died in the explosion, which was claimed by the Irish National Liberation Army.

Sunday’s remembrance service was held at Shackleton barracks in Ballykelly.

On 6 December 1982, the bomb ripped through the Droppin’ Well pub where 150 people were enjoying a night out.

‘Errand’

Most of the victims were crushed under the heavy masonry of the pubs concrete ceiling.

Patricia Cooke, 21, suffered terrible injuries and died in hospital 10 days later.

Her brother – who still owns the pub – left to go on an errand just three minutes before the blast.

She was 25 when she was killed, she was killed instantly

Sharon McClarey
Victim’s sister

“She was the baby in the family,” said John Cooke.

“She was spoilt. We loved spoiling her and she loved us.

“One of the comments at the post mortem, the doctor who did it didn’t understand how she lived so long because of the injuries.

“I’m sure part of that was the way she loved us and we loved her. She was trying to hold in there and we wanted her to hold in. It was a sad loss.”

‘Two graves’

Sharon McClarey said every anniversary is very emotional. She lost her sister Carol in the bomb.

Sharon believes the attack eventually cost another sister – Nicola – her life too.

“Carol was married with two children aged six and two,” she said.

“She was 25 when she was killed, she was killed instantly. My other sister Nicola was 19 at the time.

Sharon McClarey:

Sharon McClarey: “Every anniversary is very emotional”

“She was very badly injured. The hospital staff told us to get two graves dug because we had lost both of them.

“But she fought. She never enjoyed good health, she suffered badly and was mentally tortured.

“We will never know what Nicola went through or what she experienced. You could nearly say the bomb ended her life.”

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