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Lord Mountbatten killed by IRA

Lord Mountbatten killed by IRA


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On August 27, 1979, Lord Louis Mountbatten is killed when Irish Republican Army (IRA) terrorists detonate a 50-pound bomb hidden on his fishing vessel Shadow V. Mountbatten, a war hero, elder statesman, and second cousin of Queen Elizabeth II, was spending the day with his family in Donegal Bay off Ireland’s northwest coast when the bomb exploded. Three others were killed in the attack, including Mountbatten’s 14-year-old grandson, Nicholas. Later that day, an IRA bombing attack on land killed 18 British paratroopers in County Down, Northern Ireland.

The assassination of Mountbatten was the first blow struck against the British royal family by the IRA during its long terrorist campaign to drive the British out of Northern Ireland and unite it with the Republic of Ireland to the south. The attack hardened the hearts of many Brits against the IRA and convinced Margaret Thatcher’s government to take a hard-line stance against the terrorist organization.

READ MORE: The IRA Assassination of Lord Mountbatten: Facts and Fallout

Louis Mountbatten, the son of Prince Louis of Battenberg and a great-grandson of Queen Victoria I, entered the Royal Navy in 1913, when he was in his early teens. He saw service during World War I and at the outbreak of World War II was commander of the 5th destroyer flotilla. His destroyer, the HMS Kelly, was sunk off Crete early in the war. In 1941, he commanded an aircraft carrier, and in 1942 he was named chief of combined operations. From this position, he was appointed supreme Allied commander for Southeast Asia in 1943 and successfully conducted the campaign against Japan that led to the recapture of Burma.

In 1947, he was appointed the last viceroy of India, and he conducted the negotiations that led to independence for India and Pakistan later that year. He held various high naval posts in the 1950s and served as chief of the United Kingdom Defense Staff and chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee. Meanwhile, he was made Viscount Mountbatten of Burma and a first earl. He was the uncle of Philip Mountbatten and introduced Philip to the future Queen Elizabeth. He later encouraged the marriage of the two distant cousins and became godfather and mentor to their first born, Charles, Prince of Wales.

Made governor and then lord lieutenant of the Isle of Wight in his retirement, Lord Mountbatten was a respected and beloved member of the royal family. His assassination on August 27, 1979, was perhaps the most shocking of all horrors inflicted by the IRA against the United Kingdom. In addition to his grandson Nicholas, 15-year-old boat hand Paul Maxwell was killed in the attack; the Dowager Lady Brabourne, Nicholas’ grandmother, was also fatally injured. Mountbatten’s grandson Timothy–Nicholas’ twin–was injured; as was his daughter, Lady Brabourne; and the twins’ father, Lord Brabourne. Lord Mountbatten was 79.

The IRA immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it detonated the bomb by remote control from the coast. It also took responsibility for the same-day bombing attack against British troops in County Down, which claimed 18 lives.

IRA member Thomas McMahon was later arrested and convicted of preparing and planting the bomb that destroyed Mountbatten’s boat. A near-legend in the IRA, he was a leader of the IRA’s notorious South Armagh Brigade, which killed more than 100 British soldiers. He was one of the first IRA members to be sent to Libya to train with detonators and timing devices and was an expert in explosives. Authorities believe the Mountbatten assassination was the work of many people, but McMahon was the only individual convicted. Sentenced to life in prison, he was released in 1998 along with other IRA and Unionist terrorists under a controversial provision of the Good Friday Agreement, Northern Ireland’s peace deal. McMahon claimed he had turned his back on the IRA and was becoming a carpenter.

READ MORE: Irish Republican Army: The Troubles, Attacks & Ceasefire


Was Lord Mountbatten killed by the IRA in a boat explosion?

LORD Mountbatten's death in 1979 shocked the nation when the boat he was on with his family suddenly exploded, killing him instantly.

In scenes that have been re-enacted on The Crown, Prince Charles' great-uncle was brutally murdered, leaving the Royal family devastated.


  • Lord Mountbatten died off the coast of Mullaghmore in Republic of Ireland, 1979
  • Graham Yuill, a former Army security expert, claims SAS targeted the assassins
  • It is claimed Sinn Fein leader Martin McGuinness personally approved the attack

Published: 22:26 BST, 17 August 2019 | Updated: 01:08 BST, 18 August 2019

An SAS hit squad tracked down the IRA terrorists who murdered Lord Mountbatten and were later involved in the mysterious death of a Republican cleared of the killing, The Mail on Sunday has been told.

Speaking for the first time, Graham Yuill, a former Army security expert, said SAS operatives launched missions targeting the assassins of Lord Mountbatten, the Queen’s cousin.

Lord Mountbatten’s fishing boat was blown up off the coast of Mullaghmore in the Republic of Ireland 40 years ago next week.

The Queen's cousin Lord Mountbatten died when the IRA bombed his fishing boat off the coast of Mullaghmore in the Republic of Ireland in 1979. The SAS hit squad tracked down those responsible, according to an Army expert

A BBC documentary tomorrow night will also claim that Sinn Fein leader Martin McGuinness, who died in 2017, personally approved the operation to kill Lord Mountbatten in his capacity as an IRA regional commander.

Mr Yuill told this newspaper: ‘The Provos had killed the Queen’s cousin, do you think the British establishment was going to take that lying down? All bets were off, especially as just hours after Lord Mountbatten’s death, the IRA killed 18 British soldiers in two bomb blasts at Warrenpoint, County Down, just across the border.’

Lord Mountbatten was killed immediately in the boat blast, along with his teenage grandson Nicholas Knatchbull and deckhand Paul Maxwell, 15.

Lady Brabourne, 83, the mother-in-law of Lord Mountbatten’s daughter, Patricia, died from injuries the next day.

Mr Yuill told the MoS their lives could have been saved had senior Army officers followed his advice and ensured that Lord Mountbatten’s 27ft boat, the Shadow V, was guarded around the clock.

The IRA was able to plant a huge bomb aboard the boat when it was moored at Mullaghmore. Having studied Lord Mountbatten’s movements, they also knew when he went sailing with his family. The bomb was triggered using a radio device on August 27, 1979.

Louis Mountbatten with members of his family on his 30-foot boat, Shadow V, in 1975. Left to right: David Hicks, Lord Brabourne, Lord Mountbatten, Lady Brabourne, India Hicks, Nicholas Knatchbull (who was also killed in the bombing), Timothy Knatchbull, Ashley Hicks and Philip Knatchbull

An Irish police officer looked through the rubble remains of the Shadow V boat. The documentary will claim that Sinn Fein leader Martin McGuinness personally approved the operation to kill Lord Mountbatten

Bombmaker Thomas McMahon and alleged accomplice Francis McGirl were arrested the same day and a search was launched for an IRA surveillance team and leaders who sanctioned the killing.

McMahon was sentenced to life but released in 1998 under the Good Friday Agreement. McGirl was acquitted and died in an accident in 1995.

But Mr Yuill said: ‘Supposedly he was run over by his own tractor after drinking heavily. I’ve been told it was made to look that way and the SAS were involved.’

Martin McGuinness, pictured here in June 1972, when he was leader of the Provisional IRA in Londonderry


‘Who the hell would want to kill an old man anyway?’

Despite his high ranking status within royal circles, Lord Mountbatten perhaps modestly believed he was an unlikely target for a politically motivated killing.

Every year he took his family on vacation to Sligo, on the west coast of Ireland, to Classiebawn Castle.

The IRA had threatened to make attempts on his life several times, however, Mountbatten - affectionately known as Dickie - reportedly responded saying: “Who the hell would want to kill an old man anyway?”

In actual fact, Mountbatten had been an IRA target since the early 1960s - and there had been several attempts to kill him already, with an almost obsessive focus on his fishing boat.

A year earlier, in 1978, a planned attempt to shoot him on the boat, named Shadow V, had been aborted last minute when choppy seas meant it was too difficult for the sniper to get a good aim.


'It's still shocking': site of Mountbatten's killing braces for 40th anniversary

The remembrance will be held on a grassy hill overlooking the Atlantic waters where the IRA bomb exploded on a clear sunny morning 40 years ago, killing Lord Louis Mountbatten and three companions.

There will be prayers and hymns, recollections and tributes, messages and flowers, a small, intimate affair.

But for Mullaghmore, a village in County Sligo on Ireland’s north-west coast, it may feel on Tuesday as if the whole world is watching. And perhaps judging.

Fascination with that terrible day on 27 August 1979 is so enduring that residents wonder if Mullaghmore will forever be deemed synonymous with atrocity.

“I’d prefer that we could be left alone,” said Joe McGowan, 80, a local historian and author. “It’s like picking at a scab, these anniversaries. And it keeps getting resurrected again. It shouldn’t be forgotten but it shouldn’t be promoted either.”

Joe McGowan, a historian and author in Mullaghmore. Photograph: Rory Carroll/The Guardian

Instead of celebrating Mullaghmore’s beauty an endless stream of books, documentaries and articles – including this one – stigmatise the community and force it to revisit the tragedy, said McGowan. “You’re a plague. We get our snouts pushed into it whether we want to or not.”

Fr Christy McHugh, the parish priest, said Mullaghmore faced a dilemma. “It should not be glossed over. It’s part of our history and we shouldn’t let it slide by. But it has cast such an awful cloud over the place that we seem forever associated with it.”

The IRA planted a bomb on Mountbatten’s fishing boat, Shadow V, detonated by remote control. The blast killed Mountbatten, 79, along with his grandson Nicholas Knatchbull, 14, a boat boy named Paul Maxwell, 15, and Lady Doreen Brabourne, 83. Mountbatten’s daughter Patricia, her husband John and their son Timothy, Nicholas’s twin, were injured but survived.

The IRA called Mountbatten’s murder an “execution”.

The death of the Queen’s second cousin – the last viceroy of India – was so shocking it attracted more global attention than a separate IRA ambush that killed 18 British soldiers a few hours later at Warrenpoint, 120 miles away.

Mountbatten was royalty, a historic figure, and he was targeted with his family in a scenic idyll that had seemed remote from the Troubles.

A memorial in Mullaghmore, Co Sligo, overlooking the spot where an IRA bomb blew up Lord Mountbatten’s boat in 1979. Photograph: Rory Carroll/The Guardian

Mullaghmore has a handsome stone harbour framed by Ben Bulben mountain. The Mountbattens used to summer at Classiebawn Castle, a baronial mansion overlooking the village.

The killers were outsiders from the IRA’s south Armagh unit. There is no evidence Mullaghmore residents had any involvement. They helped the survivors and grieved for the dead.

“When I heard the bang I thought maybe it was a gas cylinder,” recalled Peter McHugh, 64, who was a friend of Maxwell and knew the Mountbattens.

McHugh joined the little flotilla that sped to the scene. “We did what we could – took the casualties from the water, brought them ashore. We were in total shock, we just reacted. You go on autopilot and keep on going.”

Irish security forces, British police, royal family representatives and the world’s press descended, turning the Pier Head hotel into an operations centre.

They left but grief and an “air of gloom” stayed for many years, said McHugh. One symptom was the fall in the number of Protestant holidaymakers from Northern Ireland, he said. “Things never went back to normal.”

Charles, the Prince of Wales, helped draw a line under the atrocity during a poignant visit with the Duchess of Cornwall and Timothy Knatchbull in 2015. The prince spoke of reconciliation and called Mountbatten the grandfather he never had.

The Mountbatten initials at the gates of Classiebawn Castle, Mullaghmore. Photograph: Rory Carroll/The Guardian

“That was a huge moment in the healing history of these islands,” said Fr McHugh. “That fact that he came showed things had moved on.”

Four years later Mullaghmore knows there is no fully escaping history.

In the run-up to the anniversary a BBC TV documentary included gut-wrenching testimony from relatives of the victims, plus a claim from a former IRA member that Martin McGuinness, the late Sinn Féin leader, was the IRA commander who gave the green light.

The Mail on Sunday reported a separate claim that an SAS hit squad tracked down and killed Francis McGirl, one of the alleged bombers, in 1995 and made it resemble an accident.

Netflix is likely to shine a fresh spotlight on Mullaghmore in the third series of The Crown which launches in November and brings the story of the royal family into the 1970s. Charles Dance reportedly plays Mountbatten.

Tourists enjoying sun and ice-cream by the harbour last week said they were aware of what unfolded there in 1979.

“It’s still shocking. It makes you feel very sad,” said Peter Torney, 52, from Omagh, a Co Tyrone town that suffered its own devastating bombing. “What happened here was stupidity,” said his wife, Michelle, 53. “It was like everything that happened over the years – shouldn’t have happened, end of.”

There are three physical memorials: a small cross on a hillside, a bench in a peace garden and a plaque in the grounds of Classiebawn Castle. The property passed to different owners but the gates still have the Mountbatten initials.

A bench inscribed with a quote from Prince Charles, who visited Mullaghmore in 2015. Photograph: Rory Carroll/The Guardian

It is right to remember Mountbatten and his companions, said McGowan, the historian. He has written about them on his blog.

But there is inequality in death, he said. Margaret Perry, a young woman murdered and buried in Mullaghmore in 1992, is a forgotten victim of the Troubles, he said. “Who comes for her anniversary? Do you need a title to be remembered?”


'One of the most respected figures in Britain'

The Provisional Irish Republican Army quickly claimed responsibility, issuing a statement that its operatives had placed a 23-kilogram bomb on board the vessel, which was triggered by a remote control.

"It was the single most stunning, outrageous incident the IRA has ever staged in its history," the CBC's Dan Bjarnason reported on The National that night.

"In killing Lord Mountbatten, it struck at the inner circle of the Royal Family and assassinated one of the most respected figures in Britain."

The same group claimed responsibility for another attack that day — one that killed 18 British soldiers, nearly 200 kilometres away, across the border in the port town of Warrenpoint in Northern Ireland.

But it was the death of Mountbatten and the attack on his life that led the news on The National.


'The Crown': Lord Mountbatten's Death at the Hands of the IRA Was a Dark Chapter for the Monarchy

The opening chapter of The Crown's fourth season finds the royal family under siege from the IRA, with the nervous climax of the episode focusing on the assassination of Lord Louis "Dickie" Mountbatten.

The episode recreates the August 1979 day on which Lord Mountbatten took a boat out lobster-potting and tuna fishing with his daughter, son-in-law and two twin grandsons, as well as several other family members and a young crew member. Unbeknownst to the group, IRA member Thomas McMahon had left a radio-controlled bomb on the unguarded boat the previous evening which was then detonated when the ship was out at sea.

The episode cuts between the scene on the boat, Charles fishing alone, Philip shooting on his own and the Queen with a small group deerstalking at Balmoral, before showing us the explosion of Lord Mountbatten's fishing boat in County Sligo, Ireland.

In 'Clear Blue Sky: Surviving the Mountbatten Bomb', a book by Mountbatten's grandson Timothy Knatchbull who survived the blast which killed his twin brother, he recounts the ordinariness of the day on which, "The sun was warm, and the sea flat and calm. We were enjoying ourselves like countless other families that morning. My grandfather was at the helm, looking very content. He was never happier than when mucking about in a boat."

Knatchbull goes on to write that, "A few minutes later Paul, Nick and my grandfather lay dead in the water. A bomb had detonated under their feet. The wooden boat had disintegrated into matchwood which now littered the surface, and a few big chunks which went straight to the seabed."

The IRA swiftly claimed responsibility for the attack as well as for the 18 British soldiers killed after a bomb went off in a coordinated attack 100 miles away. The statement the IRA released noted that: "The death of Mountbatten and the tributes paid to him will be seen in sharp contrast to the apathy of the British Government and the English people to the deaths of over three hundred British soldiers, and the deaths of Irish men, women, and children at the hands of their forces."

Lord Mountbatten was a particularly effective target for the IRA as a member of the royal family who owned a summer home in the Irish seaside village of Classiebawn Castle in Mullaghmore, an estate which the IRA felt amounted to stolen property.

As with much of the history which The Crown turns its focus to, the assassination is grounded in fact but has some colouring between the lines as to how the royal family emotionally responded to the tragic incident in 1979.

Peter Morgan's series highlights the emotional fallout of the incident, which in real life was a dark chapter for the monarchy. In a letter to a friend Prince Philip called his uncle's death a "senseless act of terrorism" while also expressing his hope that the violence of that day would cause the IRA to have a change of heart. Speaking at the funeral, at the request of his great uncle, Prince Charles passionately referred to Lord Mountbatten's killer McMahon as "the kind of subhuman extremist that blows people up when he feels like it."

The killing of Lord Mountbatten represented a pointed attack on the monarchy which continued as the Queen remained a prime target of the IRA. Following the assassination Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams Sinn Féin said that the IRA achieved their objective in that "people started paying attention to what was happening in Ireland." Despite their comments, for many senior figures in the IRA the incident seemed to cross a line in that killing of innocent children on the boat constituted a "war crime", with Irish Times reporter Olivia O'Leary noting that, "Almost everybody spoke with regret and shame about what had happened to Mountbatten".

The dramatisation of Mountbatten's death in The Crown is bookmarked by his penning a letter to Prince Charles warning him of the perilous situation his affection for Camilla Parker-Bowles is putting him in, telling him that he is,"not working hard enough to reach and to rise". Though the letter appears to be fictional, Mountbatten did in fact pen a letter to Charles remonstrating with him for his perceived similarities to Edward VIII after Charles was careless about how his plans would impact the household staff, saying, "you&rsquore becoming just like your great-uncle".

In The Crown, the letter that Charles is given after learning of the death of his "honorary grandfather" is presented to us as a nudge toward him settling down, something we then see play out in his asking out Diana. While it may not have been explicitly put on paper before his death, Lord Mountbatten had long advised Charles of the need to find a suitable partner and sought to stop him from marrying Camilla. As such the letter feels more like a dramatic symbol, but one which is grounded in how Charles's great uncle felt.

The dramatic opening episode sets the tone for this next era of The Crown, one in which Charles's turbulent relationship with Diana sets the royal family on a doomed path. The Troubles and the violence surrounding the IRA also mirrors the unrest that the arrival of Margaret Thatcher brings to the country, setting the stage for the dark times we are walking into.

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Why did the IRA kill Lord Mountbatten?

Mountbatten was well aware that he was an IRA target. In March of 1979, the Northern Irish Shadow Secretary of State, Airey Neave, was assassinated, and according to BBC History Magazine Extra , Mountbatten was warned by his protection detail that he was the likely target of a plot to assassinate a member of the royal family. Though he was strongly advised not to visit Ireland that year, Mountbatten went ahead with his regular family vacation.

The IRA claimed responsibility for the bombing of Mountbatten's boat swiftly, referring to it as an "execution," while also claiming responsibility for two roadside bombings on the same day. Those bombings in Warrenpoint in Northern Ireland killed 18 British soldiers and one civilian.

In the show, the IRA's statement is read out in a voiceover, and though the exact words seem fictionalized, it's based directly on real IRA sentiment. "Thirteen gone but not forgotten&mdashwe got 18 and Mountbatten," the statement begins, referring to the 13 people killed in the Bloody Sunday Massacre of 1971. The statement then goes on to describe how Mountbatten had become a symbol of everything the IRA stood against: "To Irish Republicans, Lord Mountbatten was the ultimate symbol of imperialist oppression. Each year he came to sit in his castle on land stolen by the English. He knew the risks in coming here, and his death represents a legitimate blow against an enemy target."

In reality, "Thirteen gone but not forgotten&mdashwe got 18 and Mountbatten" was a phrase that appeared in graffiti in Belfast, the capital of Northern Ireland, shortly after Mountbatten's death.


Contents

The ambush took place on the A2 road at Narrow Water Castle, just outside Warrenpoint, in the south of County Down in Northern Ireland. The road and castle are on the northern bank of the Newry River (also known as the Clanrye River), which marks the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. The Republic's side of the river, the Cooley Peninsula in County Louth, was an ideal spot from which to launch an ambush: it was thickly wooded, which gave cover to the ambushers, and the river border prevented British forces giving chase. [10]

First explosion Edit

On the afternoon of 27 August, a British Army convoy of one Land Rover and two four-ton lorries—carrying soldiers of the 2nd Battalion, Parachute Regiment—was driving from Ballykinler Barracks to Newry. [11] [12] The British Army were aware of the dangers of using the stretch of road along the Newry River and often declared it out of bounds. However, they had to use it sometimes to avoid setting a pattern. [10] At 16:40, as the convoy was driving past Narrow Water Castle, an 800-pound (360 kg) fertiliser bomb, hidden among strawbales on a parked flatbed trailer, was detonated by remote control by IRA members watching from across the border in County Louth. [12] The explosion caught the last lorry in the convoy, hurling it on its side and instantly killing six paratroopers, whose bodies were scattered across the road. [13] There were only two survivors amongst the soldiers travelling in the lorry they both received serious injuries. The lorry's driver, Anthony Wood (aged 19), was one of those killed. All that remained of Wood's body was his pelvis, welded to the seat by the fierce heat of the blast. [10]

According to the soldiers, immediately after the blast they were targeted by rifle fire from the woods on the Cooley Peninsula on the other side of the border, [14] [15] and this view was supported by two part-time firefighters assisting the wounded, who were "sure they had been fired on from the Omeath side of the water". [16] Shortly afterwards, the two IRA members arrested by the Garda Síochána (the Republic of Ireland's police force) and suspected of being behind the ambush, were found to have traces of gunsmoke residue on their hands and on the motorbike they were riding. [17] The IRA's first statement on the incident, however, denied that any shots had been fired at the troops, [18] and according to Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) researchers, the soldiers might have mistaken the sound of ammunition cooking off for enemy gunfire. [19] Nevertheless, at the official inquiry the soldiers declared on oath that they had been fired on. [20]

The surviving paratroopers radioed for urgent assistance, and reinforcements were dispatched to the scene by road. [12] A rapid reaction unit was sent by Gazelle helicopter, consisting of Lieutenant-Colonel David Blair, commanding officer of the Queen's Own Highlanders, his signaller Lance Corporal Victor MacLeod, and army medics. Another helicopter, a Wessex, landed to pick up the wounded. Colonel Blair assumed command once at the site. [21]

Shooting of Hudson cousins Edit

William Hudson, a 29-year-old from London, was killed by the British Army and his cousin Barry Hudson, a 25-year-old native of Dingle, was wounded when shots were fired across Carlingford Lough into Omeath, a village on the Cooley Peninsula in the north of County Louth. [15]

The pair were partners in 'Hudson Amusements' and had been operating their amusements in Omeath for the duration of the Omeath Gala. When the first explosion was heard across the Lough, the pair went down to the shore to see what was unfolding. The pair made their way to Narrow Water on the southern side to get a better view of what was happening on the northern side of the Lough. Barry Hudson was shot in the arm and as he fell to the ground he saw his cousin, who was the son of a coachman at Buckingham Palace, fall to the ground, shot in the head. He died almost immediately. [22]

Second explosion Edit

The IRA had been studying how the British Army behaved after a bombing and correctly predicted that they would set up an incident command point (ICP) at the stone gateway on the other side of the road. At 17:12, thirty-two minutes after the first explosion, another 800-pound (360 kg) bomb exploded at the gateway, destroying it and hurling lumps of granite through the air. It detonated as the Wessex helicopter was taking off carrying wounded soldiers. The helicopter was damaged by the blast but did not crash. [11]

The second explosion killed twelve soldiers: ten from the Parachute Regiment and the two from the Queen's Own Highlanders. [23] Colonel Blair was the highest-ranking British Army officer to be killed in the Troubles up until then. [12] Only one of Colonel Blair's epaulettes remained to identify him as his body had been vaporised in the blast. The epaulette was taken from the scene by Brigadier David Thorne to a security briefing with prime minister Margaret Thatcher to "illustrate the human factor" of the attack. [24] Mike Jackson, then a major in the Parachute Regiment, was at the scene soon after the second explosion and later described seeing human remains scattered over the road, in the water and hanging from the trees. He was asked to identify the face of his friend, Major Peter Fursman, still recognisable after it had been ripped from his head by the explosion and recovered from the water by divers from the Royal Engineers. [10]

Press photographer Peter Molloy, who arrived at the scene after the first explosion, came close to being shot by an angry paratrooper who saw him taking photographs of the dead and dying instead of offering to help the wounded. The soldier was tackled by his comrades. Molloy said, "I was shouted at and called all sorts of things but I understood why. I had trespassed on the worst day of these fellas' lives and taken pictures of it". [25]

The Warrenpoint ambush was a victory for the IRA. It was the deadliest attack on the British Army during the Troubles and the Parachute Regiment's biggest loss since World War II, with sixteen paratroopers killed. [11] General Sir James Glover, Commander of British forces in Northern Ireland, later said it was "arguably the most successful and certainly one of the best planned IRA attacks of the whole campaign". [11] [26] The ambush happened on the same day that Lord Mountbatten, a prominent member of the British royal family, was killed by an IRA bomb aboard his boat at Mullaghmore, along with three others.

Republicans portrayed the attack as retaliation for Bloody Sunday in 1972 when the Parachute Regiment shot dead 13 unarmed civilians during a protest march in Derry. Graffiti appeared in republican areas declaring "13 gone and not forgotten, we got 18 and Mountbatten". [27] The day after the Mountbatten and Warrenpoint attacks, the Ulster Volunteer Force retaliated by shooting dead a Catholic man, John Patrick Hardy (43), at his home in Belfast's New Lodge estate. Hardy was targeted in the mistaken belief that he was an IRA member. [28]

Very shortly after the ambush, IRA volunteers Brendan Burns and Joe Brennan were arrested by the Gardaí. They were stopped while riding a motorbike on a road opposite Narrow Water Castle. They were later released on bail due to lack of evidence. [29] Burns died in 1988 when a bomb he was handling exploded prematurely. [30] In 1998, former IRA member Eamon Collins claimed that Burns had been one of those who carried out the Warrenpoint ambush. [11] No one has ever been criminally charged. [31]

According to Toby Harnden, the attack "drove a wedge" between the Army and the RUC. Lieutenant-General Sir Timothy Creasey, General Officer Commanding Northern Ireland, suggested to Margaret Thatcher that internment should be brought back and that liaison with the Gardaí should be left in the hands of the military. [32] Sir Kenneth Newman, the RUC Chief Constable, claimed instead that the British Army practice, since 1975, of supplying their garrisons in South County Armagh by helicopter gave too much freedom of movement to the IRA. [33] One result was the appointment of Sir Maurice Oldfield to a new position of Co-ordinator of Security Intelligence in Northern Ireland. His role was to co-ordinate intelligence between the military, MI5 and the RUC. Another was the expansion of the RUC by 1,000 members. [34] Tim Pat Coogan asserts that the deaths of the 18 soldiers hastened the move to Ulsterisation. [35]

Lieutenant-Colonel Blair is remembered on a memorial at Radley College, Oxfordshire. [36]


Lord Mountbatten's death

Near the end of his life, Mountbatten was a well-known public figure and, as Oprah Daily explains, a "high-ranking member of the military and a well-regarded diplomat." In other words, he was an ideal target for a political assassination.

In 1979, the ongoing tensions and violence between Northern Ireland's Catholics and its Protestants (whose sympathies lay with the crown) were so bloody and protracted, they became known simply as "The Troubles." On August 27 of that year, Lord Mountbatten became a victim of The Troubles and, significantly, the conflict's first royal casualty.

Mountbatten was on vacation in Ireland's County Sligo, near the border with Northern Ireland, when he and several members of his family (along with a few others) took a boat out on Donegal Bay. According to History, they'd been sailing less than 15 minutes when the boat, carrying a total of seven people, was ripped apart by a massive explosion. A witness described the boat after the blast as looking "like a lot of matchsticks floating on the water." Mountbatten and his grandson were among those killed that day. A splinter group associated with the IRA immediately claimed responsibility for the assassination, reports History.

In 2015, Prince Charles returned to the site of the explosion and, in an emotional speech, struck a conciliatory tone, saying, "Let us, then, endeavor to become the subjects of our history and not its prisoners."


Watch the video: The True Story Of Lord Mountbattens Death (June 2022).


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