Today in British History

Captain Gavin John Hamilton MC (died 10 June 1982) was the Officer Commanding (OC) 19 (Mountain) Troop, D Squadron, 22 Special Air Service (SAS) during the Falklands War in 1982.

He was killed whilst behind enemy lines on West Falkland on 10 June 1982. Hamilton was a Green Howards officer before passing SAS selection and being attached to 22 SAS. He was the first posthumous recipient of the Military Cross and the only such recipient until the war in Afghanistan nearly twenty years later. Before the Falklands, Hamilton had served in Cyprus, Belize and South Armagh in Northern Ireland, Having survived two helicopter crashes in appalling weather conditions on the Fortuna Glacier in South Georgia during Operation Paraquet, two days later Captain Hamilton led the advance elements of the forces which captured the main Argentine positions in Grytviken. This action resulted in the total surrender of all enemy forces in South Georgia. A short while later, Captain Hamilton led his troop into the raid on Pebble Island which resulted in the destruction of eleven grounded FMA IA 58 Pucará and T-34 Mentor enemy aircraft. Once British ground forces had landed at San Carlos, Hamilton deployed with his Squadron 40 miles behind the enemy lines to observe the main enemy defensive positions in Port Stanley. Again, his leadership and courage proved instrumental over seven days of continuous operations in seizing this vital ground from which the attack on Port Stanley was ultimately launched. On 27 May he identified an Argentine probe into the squadron position and in the ensuing battle captured a prisoner of war. The next night he and his troop held off another enemy attack and by doing so enabled 42 Commando Royal Marines to fly in as planned to reinforce the position on 31 May, an important step in the repossession of the Falklands. On the following day his troop ambushed another Argentinian patrol, capturing all five members of it, three of whom were wounded. On 5 June, he was deployed in command of a four-man observation patrol into positions, again behind enemy lines, on West Falkland to carry out observation of Argentine activities at Port Howard. He established himself in an observation post only 2500 metres from the Argentine positions, from which he sent detailed and accurate reports on the enemy position and activities. Shortly after dawn on 10 June he realised that he and a radio operator had been surrounded in a forward position. Although heavily outnumbered by troops of the 1st Section 601 Commando Company, and with no reinforcements available to call upon for assistance, Hamilton ordered an engagement of the enemy force, instructing the signaller with him that they should both attempt to fight their way out of the encirclement. Since the withdrawal route was completely exposed to enemy observation and fire he initiated a fire fight in order to cover the signaller's withdrawal first. After the resulting exchange of fire Hamilton was wounded in the back and it became clear to the signaller that Hamilton was only able to move with difficulty. Nevertheless he instructed the radio-operator that he would continue to hold off the Argentinians to cover his escape, which he then did. Shortly after this he was killed. Hamilton was buried with full military honours by the Argentinians. The Argentine Army commando patrol commander involved, First Lieutenant José Martiniano Duarte, met Hamilton's wife (Vicky Hamilton) in 2001 and praised the heroism of the SAS officer. Hamilton was posthumously awarded the Military Cross. Some think he should have been given a Victoria Cross (VC). But because no superior officer was present during this action no VC was awarded. When the Argentine Commander of Port Howard, Colonel Juan Ramon Mabragaña, was interrogated after the Argentine surrender, he asked that 'the SAS Captain' be decorated for his actions as he was 'the most courageous man I have ever seen'.

Captain Hamilton was buried at the small cemetery in Port Howard

Sandhurst documentary BBC’s Panorama (YouTube)

Time interval 41.26 Captain Gavin John Hamilton MC, SAS, can be seen being interviewed as a 2nd Lt. The only footage I’ve been able to find.
 

Cutaway

LE
Kit Reviewer
There are a great many books on the market that give a more accurate account of the events : Start with Operation Paraquet by Roger Perkins
Ah, I think after this time he - and most people - might be more appreciative of an informative post than an instruction to read a publication.
Though maybe you have a different view on how best to hold the interest of people.
 
Ah, I think after this time he - and most people - might be more appreciative of an informative post than an instruction to read a publication.
Though maybe you have a different view on how best to hold the interest of people.
Thanks for the tip I’m still trying to get to grips with this forum, so here my stab at the posed question.



Citations for unit commanders in the main are written for their command and are written in a sensationalist ‘boys own’ manner.

I think it’s worth pointing out that regarding the Falklands conflict, outside of the UK it was thought that the recovery of the Islands could not be achieved. Also we still had enemies at home (Northern Ireland) and abroad (Warsaw Pact) to contend with. Hence, the victory of our armed forces was something to be capitalised upon, especially in a country retreating from empire and in such a state of decline as the United Kingdom had been during during the 1970’s and 1980’s.



The SAS’s reputation had soared worldwide since the Prices Gate embassy siege of 1980 and they had become most probably Margret Thatcher’s Praetorian Guard. So mythology I would consider to be a useful tool in the national armoury (although the SAS proper hated this level of attention and scrutiny).



What I’ve been able to garner from open sources on the Falklands conflict is that ‘some’ members of D Sqn survived the two helicopter crashes, but not so much the command elements who were in Humphrey and later on HMS Antrim and were involved in discussions on how to retrieve the survivors from Fortuna Glacier.



Regarding the Pebble Island raid, 19 Mountain Troop where initially to be held in reserve, but a navigational error by Mobility Troop (who where supposed to carry out the demolition of the aircraft) meant that Captain Hamilton’s Troop took on and did an outstanding job.



Diversionary raid at Darwin and Goose Green prior to the landings was just a noisy distraction from the main landings of Operation Sutton. The Argentine commander on the spot telephoned command at Port Stanley a little perplexed as to what was happening as his unit was incurring no casualties.



On Mount Kent it was the ‘heights around Mount Kent’ not so much the summit that had been taken by aggressive SAS patrolling. The summit was taken by 42 Commando RM after being told by Major Cedric Delves that they ‘had not been up there’.



Skirmish at Many Branch point just appears to be a case of bad luck with the SAS IR patrol compromised by an Argentinian special forces patrol who themselves were looking for a place to observe Port San Carlos. It seems as though the fight was 4 against 2 in a small rock cave complex; just pure bad luck.



Captain Hamilton, MC as the small unit commander, in my opinion was an outstanding officer who did an exceptional job commanding on the orders he was given. He was basically an eager officer who put himself forward for everything doing a difficult but exceptional job under arduous circumstances and fully deserved his award if not a higher one.



I think the SAS troops were excessively used during the campaign because of the need to gain operational experience and to get in on the act of a major war. To that point there was an element of military units getting in each other’s way and making work.

Hopefully we shall get a more accurate picture from Cedric Delve’s forthcoming book ‘Across an angry sea’.



Note:

In the Sandhurst documentary by the BBC’s Panorama (YouTube)

Time interval 41.26 Captain Gavin John Hamilton MC, SAS, can be seen being interviewed as a 2nd Lt at Sandhurst. The only footage I’ve been able to find.
 
Centenary of the Armistice with Turkey.

And if he hadn't died forty years ago my Father would have been ninety five today.
 
Yep that’s the one, Gavin Hamilton appears in a group of 3 soldiers ( Turtle helmets and all) talking about how to manage troops in counterinsurgency situations. He’s the main talker on the extreme right.

I always used to look at soldiers from WW2 and wonder what their back story was (The German Soldier in winter with the linked ammo around his neck in the Ardennes, during the battle of the Bulge 1944 comes to mind).

For as long as people are talking about soldiers and their deeds and sacrifices they remain in living memory. If anyone has any other information on Captain Hamilton MC it would be great to share and keep people talking about him.

These give more information on his operations:

Helicopter Wars- The Falklands (can be bought on iTunes)
This gives a really good account a what happened on Fortuna Glacier I.e. the helicopter crashes with (SAS testimony’s)etc.

Soldiers A History of Men in Battle ( 1986 tv series) episode 4 Irregulars - This gives a good detailed account of the Pebble Island raid - commentary by Major Cedric Delves OC D Sqn 22 SAS.

The whole series can be acquired from- MediaOutlet.com
 
4 November the centenary of the Battle of the Sambre, the last major action y the British Army in WW1.

The attachment goes into more detail.
 

Attachments

WW1 and the GAA - Frank 'Scout' Butler
Thursday 8 November 2018

To commemorate the 1918 centenary the GAA has been running a series of articles on its website on members who fought in WW1.



The first one I read concerns a man named Frank Butler (above right). The other lads in the photo are Paddy 'Creamy Top' Daniel, and Willie 'Doheny' Sayers.

Article by Michael Foley

When the firing stopped in Croke Park on Bloody Sunday November 21, 1920, the Tipperary goalkeeper Frank ‘Scout’ Butler was lying flat on the ground, arms outstretched. In the middle of the chaos, as people crushed through the exits and ran for their lives and the extent of the tragedy that claimed 14 lives began to unfold, a policeman walked over to Butler and kicked him.

“You’re one of those gunmen that killed our lads,” the policeman said, recalling the killings of 14 British agents across Dublin that morning by Michael Collins’s Squad. Burke looked at him and rolled up his sleeve, revealing a regimental army tattoo. “The last time I fired a gun was in Europe,” he said.

Another policeman was brought across to compare his tattoo with Butler’s. They both matched. When Butler told the story at home in Fethard he always reckoned his war tattoo, followed by his swift recollection of his army regiment and serial number, saved his life.

In many ways Butler’s story captured the random nature of that atrocity and the tangled mix of personal histories that ran through every part of Irish life for years after World War One. Apart from being a British Army war veteran in a team dotted with active IRA volunteers, Butler wasn’t Tipperary’s regular goalkeeper. Arthur Carroll from Templemore usually stood in goals but hadn’t travelled that weekend due to the death of his mother, obliging Butler to travel as a replacement. Any other Sunday Butler would have been playing football in Fethard, a million miles away from any more combat. Instead he had been landed back into a battlefield by pure chance.

Butler was born in February 1896, the youngest in a family of four sons and a daughter. When war broke out the same rush of young volunteers to the front that emptied communities across Europe washed through Fethard. Reports suggest 127 men marched in Fethard for the first armistice day parade in 1919. “Probably as many more never came back,” said one veteran.

As the years went on and the stories of Ireland’s war veterans either got erased or faded from history, Butler’s went the same way. Some old stories recall Butler talking about fighting in Flanders. Others place him in Mesopotamia, now Iraq. Joining the distant dots in the British army military records suggest Butler may have been a driver in the Royal Field Artillery. For now, his story remains open ended and inconclusive.

Butler returned home after the war and played for Fethard into the 1930s, dipping in and out of goals for Tipperary as required. He returned regularly to Dublin for annual Bloody Sunday commemorations with his former team mates and a plaque was unveiled in October 2017 at his grave in Fethard marking the 40th anniversary of his death in 1977, aged 81, an affectionate tribute from his own people to a footballer, soldier and survivor of a remarkable life in history.

WW1 and the GAA - Frank 'Scout' Butler
 
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WW1 and the GAA - Laurence Roche
Wednesday 7 November 2018

Limerick Commercials - the 1896 All-Ireland Senior Football Champions displaying a comprehensive range of dodgy Victorian moustaches. As a member of the team Roche is probably in the pic but which one he is is uncertain.
By Dr. Will Murphy

Laurence ‘Larry’ Roche, born in Dromin, County Limerick in 1869, was perhaps the most prominent GAA athlete and official to both join and recruit for the British Army during World War One.

Roche was a member of that class of Catholic who emerged as the new elite of provincial Ireland in the last decades of the nineteenth century. He farmed, in succession, substantial holdings on the border of Limerick and Cork in the vicinity of the large towns of Kilmallock and Charleville, settling at Ballymuddagh House, near the village of Bruree, in 1913.

He was well-connected, holding the post of rates collector for Kilmallock Poor Law Guardians during the mid-1890s, and for Limerick County Council after its establishment in 1898. His brother Robert was secretary to Limerick County Council between 1900 and 1913, while Laurence was an associate of the Irish Party MP for Limerick, Thomas Lundon. For a time around 1910 he does, however, appear to have flirted with the All-For-Ireland League, a new party formed by Cork MP William O’Brien.

Roche had made his name as an athlete in the mid-1890s. In 1894 he won the All-Ireland title for slinging the 56lb weight at the Irish Amateur Athletics Association (IAAA) Championship, beating into second fellow Limerick man John J. Flanagan, who would go on to win three Olympic gold medals in a row for the hammer (1900, 1904, and 1908).

Roche’s career was shorter and more modest, but on switching from the IAAA to the rival GAA, he won All-Ireland titles for putting the 56lb weight (1895) and the shot put (1897). He also made a significant contribution to the All-Ireland football title victory of Limerick Commercials in the championship of 1896. He played in the final (held on 6 February 1898), but his influence on the Munster final, when not playing, was arguably more important.

During that match, Commercials were leading 3 points to 1 against Erin’s Hope of Dungarvan when the referee awarded them a controversial fourth point. The umpire had not flagged for it, but the referee awarded the score when Roche waved his handkerchief and explained that the ball had passed between the posts and come back out, having struck a spectator. Erin’s Hope disputed the score and left the field, with the referee then awarding the match to Commercials.

Simultaneously, Roche was becoming an official, being elected to the Central Council of the GAA in 1894 and one of its vice-presidents in 1896. This was a period when a new generation of sports-focused administrators took control of a GAA on the verge of collapse following a divisive IRB takeover in the late 1880s and the subsequent Parnell split. From the late 1890s, he was frequently listed as a judge at significant athletics meetings and acted as a referee at hurling matches.

In February 1906 Roche came close to death when assaulted while refereeing a match at Ballyagran, Limerick. He was chairman of the Limerick County Board for a period from 1904, and represented Limerick at the Munster Council and at Annual Convention over the following five years or so. In February 1905 he was elected to a new national athletics committee formed to manage that element of the GAA’s business.

In 1908 he unsuccessfully sought the removal of a series of recent rules. These had seen the introduction of bans on the playing of foreign sports and of groups such as RIC men, as well as rules that saw a breakdown in relations with the IAAA. He appears to have drifted from prominence in the association soon after.

By the summer of 1914 Roche was the secretary of the Volunteers in County Limerick. At the split in the Volunteers he followed John Redmond in his support for the war effort. In November, the newspapers reported that he had sought leave of absence from Limerick County Council and enlisted. He was given a commission as a captain in the 8th Battalion of the Royal Munster Fusiliers, and became a significant recruiting figure from the final days of 1914 till the summer of 1915, first in the district of Kilmallock but later all over much of north Munster.

The provincial press reported his activity and his face appeared on posters. By the spring of 1916 he had been at the front for several months, and was now Major Roche, second in command of the battalion. As Ronan McGreevy recounts in his book Wherever the Line Extends, the 8th Royal Munster Fusiliers were with the 16th (Irish) Division occupying ground near Hulluch in northern France. While the Easter Rising unfolded at home, Hulluch was the site of a major German attack, between 27 and 29 April, during which the Munster’s colleagues in the 8th Royal Dublin Fusiliers lost 368 men.

On 1 May, German soldiers in position opposite Roche’s battalion placed two signs in front of their trench, taunting the Irish. One read, ‘Irishmen! Heavy Uproar in Ireland. English guns are firing at your wifes [sic] and children.’ Roche ordered the capture of the signs, and when this was done they were dispatched back to Limerick where they went on public display in the city as propaganda trophies.

Roche’s war ended in December 1917 due to ill-health. He returned to Ireland to his holdings and, for a period, he was employed by the Ministry of Labour to run a facility for disabled soldiers in Tipperary on a salary of £500 per annum. It was from Tipperary that he travelled to Marlborough Barracks in Dublin on the weekend of Bloody Sunday, November 1920.

He was there to give evidence for the defence at the General Court Martial of Michael O’Rourke. O’Rourke, who was accused of murder, had been arrested on 29 July in a sweep of a locality just outside Bruree, on the Bruree to Kilmallock Road, in the immediate aftermath of an IRA ambush. One British soldier, William Rodgers, and two IRA men, Thomas Harris and Patrick Duggan, had been killed. O’Rourke was acquitted of Rodgers killing and released.

This did not stop Roche becoming a target in the months that followed. In making claims to the Irish Grants Committee, established by the British to compensate those loyalists who were attacked or suffered loss during the Irish troubles, he stated that he had come to be thought of as an ‘alien’ or ‘damaged goods’. ‘I was a marked man,’ he wrote, ‘and was several times threatened and revolvers pushed in my ribs.’

An attempt was made to seize his lands at Bruree in June 1921 and in July 1922 Ballymuddagh was occupied by anti-Treaty forces. This resulted in a clash there with Free State forces that August during which the house was damaged and cattle lost. When, in May 1927, Ballymuddagh House went up for sale he had been living in Manchester for some time. Eventually, in January 1935 at Limerick Circuit Court, he received £100 compensation for the Civil War loss. He had already received £250 compensation from the British government for his losses during the period.

Roche died in Manchester in May 1947 and is buried there at Moston Cemetery.

WW1 and the GAA - Laurence Roche
 
WW1 and the GAA - Thomas Bradley
Tuesday 6 November 2018

Monaghan goalkeeper, Thomas Bradley from Ballybay saw action at the Somme and at Paaschendale in World War I.

The 1930 All-Ireland Final was a dismal affair for Monaghan. Before a crowd of 33,280 in Croke Park, they lost to a superb Kerry side on a scoreline of 3-11 to 0-2. This was one of the 1929-32 four-in-a-row All Ireland titles for the Kingdom.

The Monaghan side that day had a link with the Great War.

Monaghan goalkeeper, Thomas Bradley from Ballybay saw action at the Somme and at Paaschendale in World War I. A native of East Belfast, where he was born in 1895, Bradley enlisted in the Royal Irish Fusiliers early in 1914. He rose to the rank of sergeant and qualified as an instructor of bayonet fighting and physical training. He was stationed back at Portobello Barracks in Dublin when he married Agnes Kavanagh of Denmark Street in West Belfast in May 1917. After the war, Bradley remained in the army reserve until his discharge in early 1920.

After the war, Bradley returned to Belfast until 1922 when sectarian rioting forced them to move to his mother’s native place in Ballybay, Co Monaghan. He worked on the outdoor staff of Monaghan County Council and became a Group Leader of the Local Defence Forces in Ballybay at the start of World War II, before moving back to Belfast in 1941.

After he arrived in Ballybay he started to play for the local Pearse Brothers GAA club. He became the goalkeeper on the Monaghan county team from 1925. He won three Ulster Senior Football Championship medals in 1927, 1929 and 1930. In the 1927 Ulster semi-final he saved a late penalty-kick by Cavan’s Jim Smith, which allowed Monaghan to survive the day. Thomas Bradley also played for Ulster provincial teams from 1928 until 1931. He continued to play for Ballybay until the late 1930s and was also a referee until he and his family returned to Belfast in 1941. He died in east Belfast in June 1976.

WW1 and the GAA - Thomas Bradley
 

Cutaway

LE
Kit Reviewer
WW1 and the GAA - Frank 'Scout' Butler
Thursday 8 November 2018

To commemorate the 1918 centenary the GAA has been running a series of articles on its website on members who fought in WW1.



The first one I read concerns a man named Frank Butler (above right). The other lads in the photo are Paddy 'Creamy Top' Daniel, and Willie 'Doheny' Sayers.

Article by Michael Foley

When the firing stopped in Croke Park on Bloody Sunday November 21, 1920, the Tipperary goalkeeper Frank ‘Scout’ Butler was lying flat on the ground, arms outstretched. In the middle of the chaos, as people crushed through the exits and ran for their lives and the extent of the tragedy that claimed 14 lives began to unfold, a policeman walked over to Butler and kicked him.

“You’re one of those gunmen that killed our lads,” the policeman said, recalling the killings of 14 British agents across Dublin that morning by Michael Collins’s Squad. Burke looked at him and rolled up his sleeve, revealing a regimental army tattoo. “The last time I fired a gun was in Europe,” he said.

Another policeman was brought across to compare his tattoo with Butler’s. They both matched. When Butler told the story at home in Fethard he always reckoned his war tattoo, followed by his swift recollection of his army regiment and serial number, saved his life.

In many ways Butler’s story captured the random nature of that atrocity and the tangled mix of personal histories that ran through every part of Irish life for years after World War One. Apart from being a British Army war veteran in a team dotted with active IRA volunteers, Butler wasn’t Tipperary’s regular goalkeeper. Arthur Carroll from Templemore usually stood in goals but hadn’t travelled that weekend due to the death of his mother, obliging Butler to travel as a replacement. Any other Sunday Butler would have been playing football in Fethard, a million miles away from any more combat. Instead he had been landed back into a battlefield by pure chance.

Butler was born in February 1896, the youngest in a family of four sons and a daughter. When war broke out the same rush of young volunteers to the front that emptied communities across Europe washed through Fethard. Reports suggest 127 men marched in Fethard for the first armistice day parade in 1919. “Probably as many more never came back,” said one veteran.

As the years went on and the stories of Ireland’s war veterans either got erased or faded from history, Butler’s went the same way. Some old stories recall Butler talking about fighting in Flanders. Others place him in Mesopotamia, now Iraq. Joining the distant dots in the British army military records suggest Butler may have been a driver in the Royal Field Artillery. For now, his story remains open ended and inconclusive.

Butler returned home after the war and played for Fethard into the 1930s, dipping in and out of goals for Tipperary as required. He returned regularly to Dublin for annual Bloody Sunday commemorations with his former team mates and a plaque was unveiled in October 2017 at his grave in Fethard marking the 40th anniversary of his death in 1977, aged 81, an affectionate tribute from his own people to a footballer, soldier and survivor of a remarkable life in history.

WW1 and the GAA - Frank 'Scout' Butler
ISTR Tom Crean having had a run in with Black and Tans or similar and having to produce his medal rack.
 
Who told you that load of bollocks ?
From the Armistice 2018 thread.

Only the signing of that armistice (the last of four signed in 1918) was not the end of the war. The Treaty of Versailles was signed 28 June 1919, but was deemed to have come into effect only on 10 January 1920 - the actual end of the war. The CWGC regard 31 August 1921 as the last date for WW1 casualties because, those armistices notwithstanding, British soldiers were still being killed in the fallout from the war - the 3rd Afghan War ended on 8 August 1919 and in Russia the last British troops left the north on 12 October 1919 and the south sometime in March 1920. 25/Middlesex didn't leave Vladivostok until September 1919. And then there's the 28th Division in Turkey.....
 
From the Armistice 2018 thread.

Only the signing of that armistice (the last of four signed in 1918) was not the end of the war. The Treaty of Versailles was signed 28 June 1919, but was deemed to have come into effect only on 10 January 1920 - the actual end of the war. The CWGC regard 31 August 1921 as the last date for WW1 casualties because, those armistices notwithstanding, British soldiers were still being killed in the fallout from the war - the 3rd Afghan War ended on 8 August 1919 and in Russia the last British troops left the north on 12 October 1919 and the south sometime in March 1920. 25/Middlesex didn't leave Vladivostok until September 1919. And then there's the 28th Division in Turkey.....
Termination of the Present War (Definition) Act 1918 - Wikipedia
 
Quite so. But nowhere is 11 November 1918 regarded as the end.....
Presumably the participants were just happy that the fighting had ended. Although there are accounts of the fighting continuing for several days after the Armistice as word failed to trickle through.

And then there's the poetic ring to the 11th hour of the 11th day and so on.

Edited to add that if you haven't read it, I recommend The Greatest Day in History: How the Great War Really Ended


 
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