‘I remember like it was yesterday’: Glenanne barracks bomb recalled

The widow of a UDR soldier killed in an IRA bomb attack 30 years ago has said she remembers the events of the time “like it was yesterday”.

Tuesday, 1st June 2021, 6:56 am
A memorial in Co Armagh to those killed in the 1991 Glenanne barracks bombing by the IRA. Image courtesy of Ancre Somme Association

Yesterday marked exactly 30 years since the Glenanne barracks bombing in Co Armagh.

A driverless truck bomb was rolled towards the barracks on May 31, 1991 and exploded. Three UDR soldiers were killed — Lance corporal Robert Crozier, 46, Private Sydney Hamilton, 44, and Private Paul Blakely, 30, and 14 more people were wounded, including four civilians.

Services were held on Sunday and yesterday to remember those who lost their life in the attack.

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Mr Blakely left behind a wife and four young children.

His widow, Denise, shared her memories of the event in an interview with the News Letter after attending a memorial service.

“When Paul was working I always liked to hear the news before I went to bed but that particular night I missedthe 12 o’clock news,” she recalled.

“I went on to bed and I actually heard the explosion myself, but I thought it was a window being closed. I heard the bang.

“The next thing I knew Paul’s sister and her husband was knocking at the bedroom window to tell me there was an explosion.

“I kept saying Paul would be alright. Him being killed was the last thing on my mind. You know they are in the job but you don’t expect it to hapoen to you.”

She continued: “When Paul’s mum and dad came out to commiserate with me I still didn’t believe it. It was very hard to take in.

“The house was very busy all hours of the night. I had four young children and they slept through the whole thing, with people coming in and out of the house until about sevenin the morning.

“The oldest one was seven, the next one was five, and then 13 months and three months.

“The rest of the night was sort of in a daze.”

She continued: “We couldn’t bring the body home to the house. I think that was one of the worst things, not seeing him.”

She added: “I just tried to keep remembering what he was like when he went out to work, happy memories.

“He was easy-going, a good father and a good husband. He thought the world of his children. He was happy.”

Reflecting on the anniversary, she said: “It’s hard to believe it is 30 years. I can still remembereverything like it was yesterday. I can still viusualise everything that happened. I could recite every word that was said.

“I’m thinking of the Hamilton and Crozier family.”

She added: “I never brought my children up to bebitter or anything. Thank goodness thefour of them have done me proud and have done Paul proud.”

Kenny Donaldson, director of services at the victim’s organisation SEFF, said: “Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of Paul, Sydney and Robert and all others who were physically or psychologically impacted by this brutal attack committed by Provisional IRA terrorists who had previously murdered many other local UDR soldiers.”