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23 August 2001 Edition

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Remembering the past

IRA double whammy rocks Brits


In two devastating attacks on the same day in 1979, the IRA ambushed and killed 18 British soldiers and executed the former Viceroy of India and cousin of the British Queen, Lord Louis Mountbatten.

Mountbatten and three other members of his boat party were killed when a 50lb, remote-controlled bomb blew up his yacht, the Shadow V at Mullaghmore, County Sligo. Mountbatten had served as Chief of Britain's Naval Staff and Chief of the United Kingdom Defence Staff.

In a statement claiming responsibility for the attack, the IRA said the bombing was ``a discriminate operation to bring to the attention of the English people the continuing occupation of our country''.

The Mountbatten execution, which struck at the very heart of the British establishment, was followed by an IRA ambush at Narrow Water near Warrenpoint, County Down, which resulted in the deaths of 18 members of the British Army's Parachute Regiment.

In the Narrow Water ambush a 500lb bomb planted in a lorry loaded with hay was detonated by the IRA as a British Army convoy passed, killing six Paras. A second explosion damaged a British helicopter carrying members of a quick reaction force and killed twelve more troops. It was the most successful IRA attack against British forces in 58 years.

The ambush at Narrow Water was followed by wild and indiscriminate shooting from the British Army across the nearby border with the 26 Counties, during which an uninvolved civilian was shot and killed.

The Mullaghmore and Narrow Water attacks took place on 27 August 1979, 22 years ago this weekend.


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