This Day in History: 1998-08-15

In Omagh, Northern Ireland, a car bomb planted by Republican Irishmen kills 29 people, including a woman pregnant with twins, and injures 220 others. It is the worst single atrocity of the Northern Ireland Troubles. 1st Battalion Queen’s Lancashire Regiment, stationed at Lisanelly Barracks in the town, turns out to assist. A medical team and a company of soldiers are on the scene within minutes, dealing with the horrific injuries of many of the injured. The Regimental Medical Officer and two wives of officers who are doctors move to the small and overwhelmed local hospital to help. The victims are carried to a temporary morgue set up in the Barracks gym, and a reception and viewing room for relatives is created in the cricket pavilion, using flowers from the Officers Mess Ball held the previous evening. Senior soldiers from the battalion, all with experience of dealing with battle casualties in Bosnia, prepare the terribly mangled bodies for viewing. The whole battalion works for days to help the community recover, and later receives the thanks of the town, creating a bond which continues to this day.