Thiepval Barracks in Lisburn, County Antrim, is the headquarters of the British Army in Northern Ireland and its 38th (Irish) Brigade. In August 2008, 19th Light Brigade moved into Thiepval Barracks from Catterick Garrison, North Yorkshire. The barracks is named after the village of Thiepval in Northern France, an important site in the Battle of the Somme (1916) and site of the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme.
The Army's Belfast Regional Command corresponds to the Police Service of Northern Ireland's Belfast Region.
Thiepval is one of the 14 military bases remaining in Northern Ireland after the implementation of the Good Friday Agreement. Personnel levels dropped to 5,000 from around 12,000 (this from a height of nearly 30,000 during the height of The Troubles).
The Cold War[edit | edit source]
Between 1954 and 1992 Lisburn contained the operational headquarters of No 31 Belfast Group Royal Observer Corps who operated from a protected nuclear bunker on Knox Road within Thiepval Barracks. Converted from a 1940s anti-aircraft operations room (AAOR) the bunker would support over one hundred ROC volunteers and a ten man United Kingdom Warning and Monitoring Organisation warning team responsible for the famous four-minute warning in the event of a nuclear strike on the UK. The ROC would also detect radioactive fallout from the nuclear bursts and warn the public of approaching fallout.
The two organisations were stood down in 1992 at the end of the Cold War. In 2007 a commemorative plaque was mounted on the wall of the nuclear bunker which still stands, marking the volunteer service of ROC volunteers all over the Province.
See also[edit | edit source]
39 Infantry Brigade[edit | edit source]
The barracks had previously been home to 39 Infantry Brigade and Ulster Defence Regiment Headquarters. The Brigade, as 39 Airportable Brigade, was involved in The Troubles in Northern Ireland, eventually taking on responsibility, under HQ Northern Ireland, for an area including Belfast and the eastern side of the province, but excluding the South Armagh border region. From September 1970, it was commanded by (then) Brigadier Frank Kitson.
The Brigade took on some units from 3 Brigade when it was disbanded on 1 September 2004. The HQ 8 Infantry Brigade based in Shackleton Barracks, Ballykelly, County Londonderry was disbanded and handed over responsibility to HQ 39 Infantry Brigade, Lisburn, on 1 September 2006.
Bombing[edit | edit source]
On 7 October 1996 the Provisional Irish Republican Army penetrated the heavily fortified base to detonate two car bombs. The first detonated at 15:35 GMT followed by the second around ten minutes later close to the base's medical facilities where victims were gathering. Warrant Officer James Bradwell (43) was killed and 21 soldiers and 10 civilians were injured. This bombing was the first major attack on a military base since the ending of the IRA's ceasefire on February 9, 1996 when it exploded a device in London's Docklands.
Notes[edit | edit source]
- Potter p24
- Bloody Sunday Inquiry website—Statement of General Sir Frank Kitson. Retrieved 28 May 2008.
- "Shackleton Barracks Ballykelly to Close". Sandes (26 June 2006). http://www.sandes.org.uk/news_detail.asp?id=13. Retrieved 21 June 2008.
- Hansard, proceedings of the British Parliament
Bibliography[edit | edit source]
- A Testimony to Courage – the Regimental History of the Ulster Defence Regiment 1969 – 1992, John Potter, Pen & Sword Books Ltd, 2001, ISBN 0-85052-819-4
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