Memorial remembers soldiers killed by IRA bomb

First Light Infantry members at the site of the 1988 IRA Ballygawley bomb for an act of remembrance on 13 November 2016. James Leatherbarrow (middle of picture with beret) suffered severe injuries but survived the bomb. Also pictured are other members of the regiment and their partners, with Neil Tattersall, survivor of the 1992 Manchester bomb (far right in black jacket.)

First Light Infantry members at the site of the 1988 IRA Ballygawley bomb for an act of remembrance on 13 November 2016. James Leatherbarrow (middle of picture with beret) suffered severe injuries but survived the bomb. Also pictured are other members of the regiment and their partners, with Neil Tattersall, survivor of the 1992 Manchester bomb (far right in black jacket.)

A soldier who survived an IRA bomb which murdered eight of his colleagues attended a roadside act of remembrance in their honour yesterday.

A republican bomb killed the soldiers at Ballygawley, Co Tyrone in 1988 as they travelled to their Omagh barracks by bus after returning from leave.

James Leatherbarrow was on the bus which was bombed, but he survived, though suffered a broken back and perforated eardrums.

Yesterday he attended a roadside event attended by 150 people, organised by UUP councillor Allan Rainey, who lives nearby.

“It gets easier every year,” he told the News Letter.

He paid tribute to the Omagh Protestant Boys Flute Band who stopped their bus to help the wounded and dying soldiers in 1988. He attended the band’s special 40th anniversary celebrations on Saturday night where he was treated as a guest of honour.

“It is so good we are still thought of like this after all these years. We come back each year to thank the people that saved our lives.”

He once again met Grace Curry, who administered first aid to him at the roadside after the bomb.

Other members of the First Light Infantry attended the event with their partners.

Afterwards they travelled to Omagh where they laid wreaths at the Garden of Remembrance for the Omagh bomb victims.

Lisnaskea-based South East Fermanagh Foundation once again facilitated the visit of the survivors from Great Britain. Director Kenny Donaldson said the aim was to help “in dealing with demons of the past and in building a support structure for them when they return to their homes”.