40 years since Warren Point, Narrow Water Northern Ireland

On 27th August 1979 an army convoy of three-ton lorries and land Rovers from the 2nd Battalion the Parachute Regiment (2 Para) drove into a well-planned IRA ambush.

The first explosion (IED) is thought to have been a device weighing half a ton which was concealed under hay on a flat bed lorry. The explosion killed six members of 2 Para travelling in a lorry at the rear of the convoy. 

Warren point
Searching the area

Immediately after the explosion other members of 2 Para cordoned off the area, called for reinforcements and soldiers from the Queens Own Highlanders flew to the scene in helicopters from their base at Bessbrook in county Armagh.

The dead  and injured were being air lifted from the scene when a second explosion killed a further ten soldiers from 2 Para, a lance corporal from the Queens Own Highlanders and his commanding officer.   

After this explosion one eyewitness said they heard heavy automatic fire from the other side of  the canal which forms the border and soldiers returned fire.

RUC Inspector Error McDowell said, “We were patrolling in South Armagh at the time and we got the call to come to Narrow Water… It was just complete devastation, bodies everywhere… The second device detonated as troops raced to those killed and injured by the first…”

One member of 2 Para who survived the attack, Tom Caughey, later told the Irish Sun, “I was in the last wagon and I remember we just came through the roundabout and onto the dual carriageway and it went up… I remember it as a flash and a rumble, the sensation of flying… jettisoned from the three-ton truck…. I found myself coming around and seeing my legs on fire, not really taking it in. Sitting up and looking about… There was carnage everywhere, I couldn’t see anybody actually moving… I kept looking at my legs which were on fire, burning and suddenly a switch went off and I thought to myself, your legs are burning…”

18-year-old Tom Caughey  was being  evacuated by helicopter when the second large IED exploded.

The eighteen soldiers killed at Warren Point

Roll of honour Warren Point  27 AUGUST 1979

Andrews- Corporal Nicholas J, age 24 (2 Para) Married

Barnes -Private Gary I, age 18 (2 Para) Single

Beard- Warrant Officer Walter, age 31 (2 Para)

Blair- Lieutenant Colonel David, age 40 (Queen’s Own Highlanders) Married with two children

Blair- Private Donald F, age 23 (2 Para)

Dunn- Private Anthony G, age 20 (2 Para) Single

England- Private Robert N, age 23 (2 Para) Married with one child

Fursman- Major Peter, age 35 (2 Para)

Giles- Corporal John C, age 22 (2 Para) Married

Jones- Private Jeffrey A, age 18 (2 Para)

Jones, Corporal Leonard, age 26 (2 Para) Married with 18-month-old daughter

Jones- Private Robert D.V, age 18 (2 Para) Single

MacLeod- Lance Corporal Victor, age 24 (Queen’s Own Highlanders)

Rogers- Sergeant Ian A, age 31 (2 Para) Married

Vance – Private Thomas R, age 23 (2 Para)

Wood- Private Anthony G, age 19 (2 Para) Single

Woods- Private Michael, age 18 (2 Para) Single

Ireland- Lance Corporal Chris G, age 25 (2 Para) Married with one child

Author: Alan Malcher

Military historian and defence commentator

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