The families of four off-duty soldiers targeted in an IRA car bomb attack in Co Fermanagh more than 30 years ago today with “heavy hearts” returned to the scene of the atrocity to unveil a plaque.
On May 18, 1984, off-duty members of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers – Thomas Agar, Robert Huggins, Peter Gallimore and Clive Aldridge – were targeted with a car bomb near the Lakeland Forum in Enniskillen.
They had just returned from a day’s fishing.
Mr Huggins and Mr Agar died in the attack while Mr Gallimore died five months later from his injuries.
Mr Aldridge suffered life-changing wounds but survived until very recently.
Widow Annette Gallimore, 59, from Lancashire, said she found the unveiling “very difficult and emotional”.
“But with the help of friends in South East Fermanagh Foundation (SEFF) we got there,” she said.
“I took my son, my grandson and my mother with me to Fermanagh. But I got to meet with people I have not seen for 32 years. My son was only four-years-old when Pete died from his injuries and he remembers his father.”
Mrs Gallimore said at the time of the IRA bomb “everything was like a whirlwind and literally I was told he was severely injured”.
“Then after about a week I came back to our quarters in Ballykelly, picked up a few clothes we were taken by helicopter in England where he had five months of intensive care, two heart operations, amputations, severe burns and a lot of trauma. And then he died.
“They didn’t have everything they have now to deal with injuries. It was a horrible time.”
Mrs Gallimore said when she was initially invited to the plaque unveiling “I wasn’t going to go because I knew it would open it up again, but I am glad I did”. She said: “There will never be closure but I think maybe today makes it more bearable.”
First Minister Arlene Foster, DUP MLA Maurice Morrow and UUP MP Tom Elliott were among those who attended the unveiling of the plaque at the Royal British Legion in Enniskillen on Sunday, just three days before the 32nd anniversary of the attack.
Fourteen relatives of the four soldiers attended. The plaque was unveiled ten metres away from the scene of the attack.
Director of Services at SEFF Kenny Donaldson said a retired doctor who had tended to victims’ at the scene of the bomb also attended the ceremony.
He said SEFF “will continue to reach out to the families of regular British Army soldiers who are hurting in silence throughout Great Britain and who have unfinished business with this place”.
“Because of their sacrifices and others Northern Ireland remains free and its people have hope of something better,” he said. He added that this weekend “has been difficult for the families returning to Fermanagh and a number came with heavy and hurting hearts”. “We pray that they leave this weekend with a knowledge that very many people in County Fermanagh care about them,” he added.