Flight Lieutenant Gurth Alwyn Richardson (aged 30) of the Royal Air Force, on attachment to the Essex Regiment (Newcestown ambush)
Date of incident: 9 Oct. 1920
Sources: II, 11, 14 Oct. 1921; CE, 11, 13, 14, 15 Oct. 1920; FJ, 12 Oct. 1920; II, 14 Oct. 1920; IT, 15 Oct. 1920; Frank Neville’s WS 443, 5 (BMH); Philip Chambers’s WS 738, 5 (BMH); William Desmond’s WS 832, 21-22 (BMH); Ted O’Sullivan’s WS 1478, 23 (BMH); Richard Russell’s WS 1591, 12 (BMH); Daniel Donovan’s WS 1608, 7-8 (BMH); Daniel Canty’s WS 1619, 14-16 (BMH); Con Flynn’s WS 1621, 11-12 (BMH); James Doyle’s WS 1640, 9-11 (BMH); Jeremiah Deasy’s WS 1738, 12-13 (BMH); Cornelius O’Sullivan’s WS 1740, 10-11 (BMH); Deasy (1973), 144-46; ‘The Irish Rebellion in the 6th Division Area’, Irish Sword, 27 (Spring 2010), 139; Sheehan (2011), 120; Bielenberg, Borgonovo, and Ó Ruairc (2015), 74; Commonwealth War Graves Commission; http://www.cairogang.com/soldiers-killed/list-1921.html; http://www.cairogang.com/soldiers-killed/percival-ambush/richardson/richardson.html; http://www.cairogang.com/soldiers-killed/percival-ambush/percival-ambush.html (accessed 1 Aug. 2014); irishmedals.org (accessed 28 July 2014); Hollybrook Memorial, Southhampton.
Note: In this ambush the IRA succeeded in inflicting serious casualties, fatally
wounding Richardson. Besides the death of this veteran, ‘a lieutenant and three other ranks were also wounded in the affray, one man having [a] portion of his jaw blown away.’ See II, 11 Oct. 1920. The official British account of this ambush made it appear a costly victory for the side of empire: ‘When leaving Newcestown one night, Major Percival was ambushed with a party of two officers and twelve men in two Crossley cars by forty Irish. Three men were wounded by a bomb thrown into the leading car, but the remainder sprang out into the road and drove off the assailants, suffering, however, the loss of two officers (Flight Lieutenant Richardson, R.A.F., of the wireless detachment at Bandon, and Lieutenant Robertson of the Essex). . . . The Irish loss was believed to be at least ten killed and mortally wounded. For this service the battalion was congratulated by divisional and brigade commanders, whilst Major [Arthur] Percival was awarded the O.B.E. and C.S.M.; [Harry] Benton, the M.B.E. Private [Lawrence] Wootten [recte Wootton] was given the Medal of the British Empire.’ See Deasy (2007), 146. In fact, the IRA column suffered no casualties and its members were not driven off, but instead, after an engagement lasting little more than thirty minutes, the IRA attackers saw the two British Crossley tenders race away ‘into the darkness’.
Lieutenant Richardson was taken from the scene of the ambush while still alive, but he died on the return journey to Bandon according to the subsequent military inquiry. He was the driver of the lorry in which Major Percival was travelling. See FJ, 12 Oct. 1920. British soldiers and police accorded military honours to Lieutenant Richardson when his body was removed from Cork Military Hospital to Glanmire station (on its way to Norwich) on 12 October 1920: ‘The gun-carriage, drawn by 4 black horses with white trappings, on which rested the oak coffin covered with the Union Jack, was preceded by the band of the Hampshire Regt. Three military officers walked on either side of the carriage, and 4 naval men marched behind. The county inspector, R.I.C., and 20 military officers followed, the rear being brought up by military and R.I.C. with rifles reversed.’ See II, 14 Oct. 1920. Richardson was buried in Norwich with an RAF escort from Pulham Air Station.