At three minutes past seven on the evening of Wednesday 21 December 1988 a bomb exploded on board Pan Am Flight 103, a Boeing 747 en route from London to New York. The aircraft broke up almost immediately, and wreckage came to earth over a wide area. The largest parts of the aircraft landed on the Scottish town of Lockerbie. All 243 passengers and 16 crew on board Flight 103 were killed, as were 11 people on the ground in Lockerbie.
The Lockerbie Bombing or the Lockerbie Air Disaster remains the deadliest aviation incident, and the deadliest act of terrorism, ever to take place in the United Kingdom. With 189 Americans killed, it was also the deadliest act of terror against the United States prior to 9/11. Those killed included nationals of 21 different countries in five different continents, and the victims ranged in age from 2 months to 82 years old. Thirty-five of the passengers were students of Syracuse University returning home for Christmas after studying at the university's London campus.
There are a number of memorials to those killed by the Lockerbie Bombing, notably at Arlington National Cemetery and Syracuse University in the United States. In Scotland, there are memorials in Sherwood Crescent in Lockerbie where the wings of the aircraft created a 50m long crater and the ground fatalities occurred; and at Tundergarth Church, near where the nose section of Flight 103 came to rest. There is also a Memorial Window in Lockerbie Town Hall.
The main focus for remembrance in Scotland lies just under a mile west of Lockerbie along the A709 Lochmaben road. Dryfesdale Cemetery extends back to the north of the road, and here you find the Garden of Remembrance and Lockerbie Air Disaster Memorial. The garden lies towards the far end of the cemetery and is a beautiful and tranquil place in which to think about those who lost their lives in the skies above the town and on the ground.
The garden leads you through beds of flowers and past individual memorials to the Lockerbie Air Disaster Memorial. This is constructed of grey granite and is arranged in the form of a triptych. It is imposing in its sheer size, but sobering too, when you realise that the size of the memorial is simply a function of the number of names it carries.
Near the entrance to the Dryfesdale Cemetery is the Dryfesdale Lodge Visitors' Centre. This was originally the cemetery caretaker's cottage, but since 2003 has served as a centre for the local community, for visitors to Lockerbie and, in particular for visitors to the Garden of Remembrance and Lockerbie Air Disaster Memorial. A number of rooms have been converted to accommodate information about the area, and about the the air disaster. The visitors' centre is also the home of the Book of Remembrance.