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Adam Elsdon

Tracing a serious MV related incident in Northern Ireland

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Some time ago i had a phone call out of the blue, from somebody telling me that he knew some history of my MK1 Humber Pig, he seems to think that it may be the same one that a friend was driving when it was hit by a landmine, killing the commander.

 

I have been doing some searching over quite some considerable time, and the only incident that fits in with the time period is this:

 

Cpl David Powell 16th/5th Queens Royal Lancers, aged 22 killed in a landmine attack on his Armoured Personnel Carrier in Kinawley, County Fermanagh on the 22nd October 1971.

 

There is some evidence on the vehicle, on the commanders side, which would suggest that something has taken place, and was repaired at a later date.

I am of the opinion that until i have irrefutable proof, that history like this has to be 100% accurate before linking it with a vehicle held in private collector hands.

 

Does anybody know how i could find out any more than what i have at the moment?

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I don't know about procedures at the time, but there must have been a coroner's inquest and/or, I don't know if these incidents were dealt by the Police or Army, an Army/Police incident report.

I'd try to find what kind of report/inquest was the SOP at the time, then under the Freedom of Information act I'd ask to see the file. Surely you'll find a description of the vehicle with its army reg, and with a bit of luck some pictures.

 

Andrea

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Some time ago i had a phone call out of the blue, from somebody telling me that he knew some history of my MK1 Humber Pig, he seems to think that it may be the same one that a friend was driving when it was hit by a landmine, killing the commander.

 

I have been doing some searching over quite some considerable time, and the only incident that fits in with the time period is this:

 

Cpl David Powell 16th/5th Queens Royal Lancers, aged 22 killed in a landmine attack on his Armoured Personnel Carrier in Kinawley, County Fermanagh on the 22nd October 1971.

 

There is some evidence on the vehicle, on the commanders side, which would suggest that something has taken place, and was repaired at a later date.

I am of the opinion that until i have irrefutable proof, that history like this has to be 100% accurate before linking it with a vehicle held in private collector hands.

 

Does anybody know how i could find out any more than what i have at the moment?

 

Not much help, but background. The RAC Regiment based in Omagh based a squadron on the border in Fermanagh. This squadron's HQ was based at St Angelo Airport, near Enniskillen. Troops were based in villages including Kinawley, Belcoo (where I was), Beleek and a couple of others (we had six sabre troops).

 

(There had also, I believe, been a squadron based at Cookstown in East Tyrone, but by the time I caught the tail-end of the tour, it had gone. Although the RAC could perform the Infantry role in NI on a much smaller establishment than an (equivalent) infantry battalion, the pressure of so much work on so few heads had a negative impact. Also over time, mission creep occurred. Cookstown was sacrificed to balance the workload.)

 

As I say, this is before my time but ...

 

15/19H handed over Omagh to 9/12L when we moved to Tidworth. 18 months later we handed over to them again in Tidworth as we moved to Paderborn.

 

All such rotations occurred off what was known as The Arms Plot. The MOD and the General Staff worked out years in advance what units they needed and where, so that in theory everybody got a change of scenery and also, in those days, RAC regiments changed role between armour and recce periodically. (This has been scrapped. Wherever a regiment ended up, that's where they stay in the foreseeable future. Saves retraining a whole armoured regiment in the fine arts of recce - which remember to the rest of the world is a euphemism for Special Forces.)

 

Omagh was a staging post. As regiments cycled out of the armour role based in BAOR, they did an 18 month tour of Omagh before cycling through Tidworth and learning the recce trade, then off to BAOR as a Recce Regt.

 

We took over Aliwal Barracks in Tidworth from 1RTR and I have no reason to believe we had not previously taken over from them in Omagh. (Maybe Baz can confirm?)

 

One thing that I noticed in Tidworth was that there was a store room, in the window of which was clearly visible a box marked 16/5L Canoing Club. The date you have given for this incident is IIRC verly close to three years before our Omagh tour started, which implies to me that 16/5L had not long been in situ, and that they handed over to 1RTR 18 months before they handed over to us.

 

What does intrigue me is that they had Pigs. As I mentioned in another thread not so long ago, I never saw any evidence of Pigs while we were in Omagh. However, looking at the longer-term history, in 1971 the troubles were still fresh.

 

15/19H bad previously been based in Omagh in IIRC the late 1950s - early 60s, before Lisanelly Barracks had been handed over to an infantry batallion sometime in the 1960s (but not necessarily immediately after us). (Lisanelly was again, AIUI, again passed back to the infantry some time after our 74-76 tour when further mission creep meant that it made better sense to station an infantry battalion there.)

 

So why did 16/5L have Pigs? I am guessing that the infantry had indeed been resident in Omagh when the troubles started, but when the four-month emergency tours started flying thick and fast, it made sense to somebody to park an RAC regiment in Omagh on a full tour, freeing up more infantry for a continuous stream of Op Banner tours to Belfast. (Although 15/19H served on Op Banner, technically the Omagh posting was not an Op Banner tour: Omagh was a permanent NI posting like Aldershot, Tidworth or Catterick. That's why we did 18 months and took families.)

 

So the troubles kick off and the infantry need more rifles, so 16/5L, earmarked for retraining as recce, take over from the infantry in Omagh, along with their Pigs, which have been bought back from the Portuguese to whom we'd just sold them off because it was the most suitable vehicle for the role.

 

Then at some point it becomes clear that the Pig is more suited for urban use than for the largely rural role of the Omagh garrison, so the RAC regiment in Omagh gets Saracens for troop carriers (plenty of these spare since the mechanised infantry are by now all on 432s) freeing up Pigs for use in the urban role, with some spare for upgrading to meet the new threat which hadn't been envisaged when they were sold. They may have been the best vehicle for the job, but they were far from perfect - that's why we had sold them off.

 

Sorry. A lot of wind and it's largely surmise, but I hope it's interesting.

Edited by AlienFTM
missed a bit

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Sorry. A lot of wind and it's largely surmise, but I hope it's interesting.

 

AlienFTM, It's never a lot of wind, you can read the books etc, but its always one mans point of view, and anyway first hand accounts always paint a more interesting picture!

 

Buying Pigs from portugal is an interesting lead, my particular vehicle was sold at Ruddington in 1967 and was potentially blown up in 1971, i have no history apart from the auction stuff and RLC Museum dont have any record of the vehicle either.

 

One interesting fact about the vehicle that was involved in the incident, the driver recalls it being painted desert colour (whether that was original british cam or portuguese), it was out on its first patrol, pushed into service before they could get a coat of green on it, when the landmine attack took place, so it must of stuck out like a sore thumb in rural county fermanagh.

Not like the British forces to use vehicles unsuitable for the job. when will they learn.:-(

 

And if my pig is the same vehicle, how the heck do you tastefully present that sort of information, been ex job myself id rather keep it low key, the data plate on the commanders side of the bulkhead under the window is missing, so i will probably make a brass memorial plate, so the history remains with the vehicle.

 

I'm open to suggestions on this!

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I think the brass plate is the one to go with.

That way your remembering and if some one has an intrest they can see it but your not shoving it out in bad taste. Just a thought

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Had a quick look through the British Army in Ulster, unfortunately the 16/5 lancers are not one of the units that get a special mention, however in Book 1, in the border war section it does mention their part.

 

It refers specifically to three incidents, the first involving a saracen (its comander smelt the home made explosives of a mine just prior to detonation, the driver braked and the sadcan ended up in the resulting crater) and the second two both involving ferret a/cs, one of which is the incident mentioned above where a cpl was killed, (although it references it taking place on the 27 October 1971) this being the first casualty the regiment suffered within hours of taking the operational area over.

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Alan, i just logged on to put an update on here, and you beat me to it, however my info came from the 16th/5th forum, somebody on there was on the same tour, apparently it was Cpl Powell in a MK2 Ferret that took the hit, the reported description of the vehicle, not exactly correct for the vehicle type.

 

Back to the drawing board, i will have to see if i can get in contact with the chap who seems to think it is the same vehicle, and get his regiment etc, i can then work out who and when, and then see if i can tie in the vehicle details, and see if that equates to my vehicle...or not.

 

However the memory of Cpl David Powell of the 16th/5th Queens Royal Lancers has been remembered and is not forgotten.

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An old thread I know but my "Ferret Buddy" awful I know but its better than saying fellow Ferret Fiddler served in NI with David Powell and can confirm that he was killed whilst in a Ferret. Another name to try and trace is Andrew Somervell, also in a Ferret

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Good afternoon,

I came across this forum when I was searching for relatives of  servicemen who have been killed during the Troubles. I work for the South East Fermanagh Foundation (SEFF), a foundation who works for the victims of terrorism during the Troubles and we try to locate family and friends of a group of men killed in Fermanagh during the Troubles. One of the men we try to find more information on is Cpl David Powell, service number 24118235, killed on 28/10/1971, originally from Stoke-on-Trent, England. Would anyone have more information that would help us with our search? You can contact me via email: rachel.glover.afiv@seff.org.uk or check our website www.seff.org.uk. Thank you in advance!
With every best,

Rachel from the Advocacy for Innocent Victims (AfIV) Project Team at SEFF

On a side note: We also would wish to advise you that SEFF offers a range of services for innocent victims/survivors of terrorism and we work in partnership with other groups across Fermanagh, Tyrone, County Down and Great Britain. If you or other members of your family would benefit from services such as; counseling, befriending, welfare/benefits advice, respite opportunities, social support, truth, justice and acknowledgement programmes then we would be privileged to assist. Please call our office on: 028 677 23884. 

 

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Hi

Have you tried Clive Elliot (fv1609) on the forum, he is the fountain of all knowledge on Humber Pigs

Cheers

Richard

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