Castlederg Young Loyalists

FLUTE BAND

Operation Banner 1969 – 2007

 

The longest campaign of the British army to date and one of the few to reach a successful conclusion

 

It was a surreal afternoon that British troops first arrived in Northern Ireland, Marching across Craigavon Bridge and placing large spiralling spools of jagged barbed wire across the Waterloo Place end of William Street. The RUC officers were slumped in shop doorways, exhausted after three days of the 1969 battle of the Bogside and tear gas hung heavily and sickeningly the air.

 

 

 

At first, smiles, hugs, handshakes and cups of tea greeted the soldiers but the “honeymoon period” didn’t last long.

 

 

Within weeks they were being shot at and stoned, alleged informers were murdered and girls who began dating squaddies were tarred, feathered and tied to lamp posts. Worse was to follow. Operation Banner, especially after Bloody Sunday in Londonderry, had a long, bloody, heart-shattering haul ahead of it.

 

 

 

Eighteen British soldiers were killed in an IRA bomb attack at Warrenpoint, South Down, on 27 August 1979, in what was described as "the most devastating attack" the British Army had suffered in Northern Ireland.

 

The encouraging sight today, now that the high protective barricades have been removed, of work going on to preserve the historic Napoleonic-time buildings and to landscape the sprawling riverside grounds of the former Ebrington Barracks in the waterside  Londonderry symbolises to the passer-by the fact that times are changing.

  

But there were many brave people during Operation Banner, who gave their lives 763 in total who must never be forgotten by anyone