Report - - RAF Ballykelly/ Shakleton barracks, Northern Ireland | Military Sites | 28DaysLater.co.uk

Report - RAF Ballykelly/ Shakleton barracks, Northern Ireland


28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
I visited this site in January this year and originally intended to return for more/better photos before writing this report. The site is massive spanning over 776 hectares, which I only scratched the surface of on my first visit. We didn't even touch the accommodation blocks etc. Access can be challenging especially as farmers and the department of agriculture appear to have taken up part of the site.

RAF Ballykelly opened during WW11 in 1941 as an airfield for RAF coastal command. Unusually extensions to the main runway resulted in it crossing an active railway line (trains were given right of way). The airfield was used for anti-submarine patrols and escort convoys over the Atlantic Ocean. Consolidated B-24 Liberator aircraft also flew from Ballykelly in the fight against German U-boats, ranging from the Bay of Biscay to northern Norway. By the end of the war, Ballykelly squadrons had been responsible for sinking twelve U-boats, sharing with other aircraft and surface ships in the destruction of several others, and damaging many more.

In 1955, RAF Ballykelly was home to three squadrons of Shackletons, 204 Squadron, 206 Squadron and 240 Squadron. These were housed in the huge Ballykelly Cantilever Hangar which was more than 700 feet wide and 130 feet deep. There was also a station flight with two Lockheed Hudsons, two Douglas Dakotas and an Auster. In 1957 and again in 1958, 240 Squadron was among those involved in Operation Grapple, nuclear weapon testing on Christmas Island in the Pacific Ocean. By 1959, 206 and 240 Squadrons had been replaced by two other Shackleton squadrons: 203 Squadron and 210 Squadron. The three Squadrons were part of the ASW (Anti-Submarine Warfare) force. They also covered search and rescue (SAR) standby duties together with their counterparts at RAF Kinloss and RAF St. Mawgan. Some Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm units including 819 Squadron moved onto the station in 1962 and the navy referred to it as HMS Sealion or RNAS Ballykelly. The main runway (the one which crossed the railway) was extended again in 1963 to 7,500 feet to allow for potential dispersal of the RAF's V bomber force. This included the addition of V-bomber Operational Readiness Platforms at the eastern end. In April 1968, 204 Squadron flying from Ballykelly suffered the loss of an RAF Shackleton. Sqn Ldr Clive Haggett and his crew, a total of 12 men, were killed when their aircraft flew into the Mull of Kintyre early one rainy morning

RAF Ballykelly was handed over to the British Army as Shackleton Barracks on 2 June 1971. Battalion HQ and HQ Company of the 5th Battalion, Ulster Defence Regiment arrived there shortly after the barracks opened. Ballykelly suffered badly in 1982 with the Droppin Well bombing which killed 18 people including both locals and soldiers from Shackleton Barracks. The 5th Battalion, Ulster Defence Regiment moved out in 1992. The camp became the HQ of 8th Infantry Brigade in October 2003 and the brigade remained there until it was disbanded and responsibility handed over to HQ 39th Infantry Brigade at Thiepval Barracks in Lisburn on 1 September 2006. It was then home to an infantry battalion - 2nd Battalion Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment. The British Army vacated Shackleton Barracks in March 2008 when 2nd Battalion, Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment moved to Royal Artillery Barracks at Woolwich. The site was also where the infamous 'hooded men' news story arose, some of whom are still fighting for justice today.

On 29 March 2006, an Airbus A320 aircraft operated by Eirjet on behalf of Ryanair landed at Ballykelly after the pilot mistook the runway for that of nearby City of Derry Airport. The 39 passengers who boarded the flight at Liverpool airport continued their journey to the airport by bus. Thankfully the soldiers took it well and came on board to great the passengers.


View from top of flight control tower


Top of flight control tower


I assume you can all read




Radiation Caution as I believe some gun sights use radioactive substances



Back of Vulcan hangar


The armoury


The armoury


Vulcan Hanger complete with underfloor heating


Vulcan Hanger- These photos don't do the size of it justice


Part of the main runway




Emergency Hangar door


Hanger was most recently used for covert vehicles


Another bad photo of the Vulcan Hangar




Shower cubicle


On site Fire Station


Flight control tower



Laws on the rightful detention of prisoners


View from inside the flight control tower



Female possibly cadet accommodation block




Kitchen of portable accommodation block


Possible old anti-aircraft gun station? With hangar in background

Thanks for looking!

Amy :thumb


28DL Regular User
Regular User
Very nice.

Worth a visit for the control tower alone.


28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
Excellent report. I just passed the place on the train a few days ago and it got me wondering if the site was in use or not. I was thinking of a drone overflight some of these days for a closer look. I don't think I'll be getting landing clearance from that tower though :D


28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
Excellent report. I just passed the place on the train a few days ago and it got me wondering if the site was in use or not. I was thinking of a drone overflight some of these days for a closer look. I don't think I'll be getting landing clearance from that tower though :D
Thank you! Sending a drone up would be class, would love to see the photos from that perspective if you send one up :D


28DL Member
28DL Member
been a while since i was on, this report reminds of everything i love about the forum!!