UPDATE TO THE STORY OF

LORD MOUNTBATTEN'S CEREMONIAL ROYAL FUNERAL ON 5TH SEPTEMBER 1979

A first time personal visit to Ireland [Northern Ireland and the Republic] since the atrocities of thirty seven years ago, to see where the events occurred. to view the memorials, and to pay my respects to the victims.

WARRENPOINT [Registered in the media as both a small town and a village]

About one mile outside the lovely seaside town of Warrenpoint in County Down Northern Ireland,  with a lovely view out to sea in the generous bay [a sea lough called Callingford]  escorted on the Northern Ireland side by the majestic Mountains of Mourne and on the Eire side by a range of Irish mountains/high hills believed to be called the Cooley Mountains, and thirty five miles south of Belfast, is the makeshift roadside memorial to those who perished in this atrocity. The geographical divide between the Republic of Eire and the UK Northern Ireland is not a 'mater-of-fact' straight line running east-west, but a wiggly line running here, there and hither, following streams, rivers, roads etc.  This picture tells all.

All areas below this line are in the Republic and all areas above, even though in latitude terms they are below the Republican normal latitudes are in the UK. The town of Warrenpoint is in the UK [red splodge on map] whereas the first town above and to the right of the word Google. Omeath, is in the Republic: a 15 minute ferry crossing over to Omeath runs regularly from Warrenpoint. Note that the line runs straight through the waterway to the east of Warrenpoint [the River Newry]. In reality, if that waterway was 50 metres wide, the distance from the Republic border to the Warrenpoint mainland is not 50 meters but 25 metres, discounting the tidal affects of the sea lough.

Leaving town and heading for the city of Newry in a NNW direction [also in a Northern Ireland] one travels on the Warrenpoint Road  [the A2, a dual carriageway] running alongside the River Newry.  Shortly after passing the Warrenpoint Docks sign, there is a roundabout. Take the first exit and almost upon you there is a small layby which you should ignore. Travel a little further along this road to reach a substantial layby: stop and park here. This picture shows the start of the layby; note its name 'Narrow Water'.  You can see the River Newry far right, high and flowing, and in front of them the mud flats, free of deep water because the tide from the sea lough was out.  You can also see the Cooley Mountains. This park area [the home to permanent memorials] is the end or the beginning,  and finishes [or starts]  at the layby. Rostrevor is a town at the far end of the Warrenpoint promenade some three or four miles distant. The road sign on the far carriageway shows the roundabout you crossed after having passed the town's docks sign into and out of Warrenpoint.

This picture shows where the atrocity took place within sight of the Narrow Water Castle, now an ancient monument. Not shown to scale. It is on the A2 anyway.

Along this stretch there is a simple wooden railing system, and hanging from it or attached to it are six wreaths and eighteen poppy-crosses simply saying,  in remembrance: the six wreaths obviously represent three soldiers per wreath. My wife took me kneeling down at the back of the memorial.  Note the brown wooden cross in the ditch extreme left hand side. The Narrow Water Castle can be seen up ahead. Any body walking on the pathway under the trees on the Eire side can easily be seen and heard if they are making a noise. The IRA observed the paratroops from this vantage position and detonated their massive bombs,  and this is where the gunfire battle took place across this section of the river. See newspaper clippings further down the page.

 

 In the ditch below this makeshift memorial we found a very simple wooden cross, painted brown, loose at the time of our visit, but it might have been an integral part of the memorial when first rigged. As best we could, we stood it upright and wedged it in front of a fence upright vertical post. From what we could gather from local people, it is brought up to standard on a yearly basis to coincide with the anniversary date [August 27th]. Our visit was just two weeks into that new year, but we gather that there are times when cowardly louts approach the memorial intend on defiling it. Fortunately for us, it was in pristine condition [save for the cross] on our visit. This, we understand is why there is no permanent memorial for fear of it being vandalised, one assumes from the thugs living across the 'Narrow Water' in Eire. However, virtually all Irish people were and are disgusted, sickened and grossly saddened/offended by the sheer wickedness of the atrocity but also by the ever threat of this memorial and others being trashed. From what we gathered, they share their grief in equal amounts with us UK mainlanders and abhor violence from whatever side of the divide. Being realistic and remembering the parachute regiments' involvement on Bloody Sunday way up north in Derry, an atrocity however described for which we should be ashamed, we saw the beautiful and decorative memorial to those who died, proudly displayed in the Bogside. Given the inevitability of the "troubles" and the inexplicable bigotry involved to bring it about, isn't now the time when memorials should be erected to others who died in the "troubles" without fear of them being desecrated and wrecked?

This item comes from the Daily Telegraph of the 29th August 1979

Articles from The Times

 

MULLAGHMORE [Very much a very small Irish harbour/fishing port in the Republic,  and one huge lonely castle on its own hill top - namely Lord Mountbatten's pad called  CLASSIEBAWN CASTLE]

Quote - In 1916 the house was cleared and remained empty until 1950. It was inherited by Edwina Mountbatten, Countess Mountbatten of Burma (when she was still officially styled as Lady Louis Mountbatten), in 1939 who, with her husband Admiral of the Fleet The 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma, made a number of improvements, installing electricity and a mains water supply. After his wife's death in 1960, Lord Mountbatten, the last Viceroy of India, spent his summers there until his death when his boat was blown up off the coast of Mullaghmore by the IRA in August 1979 Unquote.

We arrived in this lovely part of the world on Friday 9th September 2016 just days after the 37th anniversary of Lord Mountbatten's Royal Ceremonial funeral in London. Talk about rain, sleet and snow......well, torrential rain and winds which stopped me getting out of my car because it stopped me from opening my door: I had to manoeuvre the car to put my offside to leeward. When I alighted, I went straight to the most obvious centre of life at that time, to the Pier Head Hotel on top of the harbour. I burst in as though I was an ancient mariner, wild and wet, although the young lady sitting in the reception centre, wasn't at all flummoxed by my unannounced entry, not even seeking a meal, a drink or a bed for the night, but local advice. There I met a young lady called Grainne McMahan. I asked whether there was a memorial in the village to Lord Mountbatten murdered there 37 years previously, full well knowing that she wasn't even born then, indeed, far from it, such was her obvious youth.

Anyway, she assured me that was no Memorial as such, and told me that in 2015 [36 years after Lord Louis' death] TRH Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall had paid a visit to lay a tribute to the dead of the "troubles" and had visited the hotel to take refreshments. The wall at the far end of the reception hall was covered with pictures of their visit and activities. After some pleasant small talk and an approximate site to visit to find the memorial [remember the gale force winds] and me climbing up high away from the hotel onto a low, undulating cliff top  which eventually fell rapidly down to the village some distance from the harbour. There, near the appointed position, we saw a small  humble wooden  painted cross [in the colour of Lord Mountbatten's boat - a shade of green]  hammered into the grassy cliff top. Nothing else was seen until we alighted from the car and walked to the cliff top. Then immediately in front of the cross, and sunk into the ground with its top level with the grass when first positioned, and now already requiring another cut to stop the grass growing over the top of it, was a sunken stone, engraved and colour-filled  as shown in this picture.

 

Whether the bombed boat exploded at sea off this part of the cliff is not known, but those off-shore rocks threaten any boat, big or small sailing in those waters! It could be the viewing point of the proposer of the memorial site, who witnessed Lord Mountbatten's progress from the harbor out to sea in a different direction. Whoever chose the site picked a lovely position, but one subjected to fierce winds and gales direct from the Atlantic.  Having sailed [with the navy] in these and nearby waters, I can tell you that only the largest and fastest acting stabilisers  will make the journey anywhere near to what is considered comfortable or tolerable. Casual and leisure-only sailors, especially in small vessels, would need to plan well for a journey out of this harbour in anything over force 4 or face the consequences. I understand that on the 27th of August 1979 conditions were perfect, although the man made consequences were unbelievably wicked, subhuman and totally diabolical, without any prior warning or one ounce of sympathy. Murdering old people and very young people in one foul move,  must rank as a crime carrying the ultimate punishment, in previous times hanging until dead, and in more compassionate times a full life imprisonment, with no possible chance of parole or release except to an undertaker. As it was, a terrible injustice was meted out to the murderer, ridiculing the concept of justice for millions of people.

This picture is only about ten feet from the cross, so imagine the view from the road at near on forty feet. Take the wreath away and even the cross could be missed. Alongside this road there are other monuments, one in particular very grand, which commemorates the rider of a motorbike who was killed: on the same Memorial is a plaque remembering a diver who was drowned in the sea below.

Mullaghmore Harbour on a overcast, windy and very wet day.

This is the engraved stone, possibly granite.
Whilst the message is clear and of course fitting, it is nevertheless very different to what I had expected. That Lord Louis name is mentioned on an appropriate Memorial is not in question or doubt,
but his special international fame and his royal status surely warrants something more personal and grander?

Whilst in Enniskillen viewing the cenotaph which was attacked on Remembrance Sunday in 1987 with eleven killed by an IRA bomb, we were told that such a memorial for Mountbatten would be a red rag to a bull for republicans the more so because of his royal connection,  no matter where they resided/operated. Dreadfully sad were that the case. Evidently the IRA see his scalp as a prized possession!