Glasdrumman ambush
The Glasdrumman ambush was an attack by the Provisional Irish Republican Army
Provisional Irish Republican Army
The Provisional Irish Republican Army is an Irish republican paramilitary organisation whose aim was to remove Northern Ireland from the United Kingdom and bring about a socialist republic within a united Ireland by force of arms and political persuasion...

 (IRA) against a British Army
British Army
The British Army is the land warfare branch of Her Majesty's Armed Forces in the United Kingdom. It came into being with the unification of the Kingdom of England and Scotland into the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707. The new British Army incorporated Regiments that had already existed in England...

 observation post
Observation post
An observation post, temporary or fixed, is a position from which soldiers can watch enemy movements, to warn of approaching soldiers , or to direct artillery fire...

. It took place on 17 July 1981 at a scrapyard southwest of Crossmaglen
Crossmaglen or Crosmaglen is a village and townland in south County Armagh, Northern Ireland. It had a population of 1,459 people in the 2001 Census and is the largest village in south Armagh...

, County Armagh
County Armagh
-History:Ancient Armagh was the territory of the Ulaid before the fourth century AD. It was ruled by the Red Branch, whose capital was Emain Macha near Armagh. The site, and subsequently the city, were named after the goddess Macha...



The crisis triggered by the Hunger strikes
1981 Irish hunger strike
The 1981 Irish hunger strike was the culmination of a five-year protest during The Troubles by Irish republican prisoners in Northern Ireland. The protest began as the blanket protest in 1976, when the British government withdrew Special Category Status for convicted paramilitary prisoners...

 of IRA and INLA
Irish National Liberation Army
The Irish National Liberation Army or INLA is an Irish republican socialist paramilitary group that was formed on 8 December 1974. Its goal is to remove Northern Ireland from the United Kingdom and create a socialist united Ireland....

 prisoners in 1981 led to an increase of militant republican activity in Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland is one of the four countries of the United Kingdom. Situated in the north-east of the island of Ireland, it shares a border with the Republic of Ireland to the south and west...

. Intelligence reports unveiled the IRA intentions of mounting illegal checkpoints and hijacking vehicles on the IRA-controlled roads in South Armagh, near the border. To counter it, the British army deployed the so-called COPs (close observation platoons), small infantry sections
Section (military unit)
A section is a small military unit in some armies. In many armies, it is a squad of seven to twelve soldiers. However in France and armies based on the French model, it is the sub-division of a company .-Australian Army:...

 acting as undercover units, which was introduced by Major General
Major General
Major general or major-general is a military rank used in many countries. It is derived from the older rank of sergeant major general. A major general is a high-ranking officer, normally subordinate to the rank of lieutenant general and senior to the ranks of brigadier and brigadier general...

Dick Trant in 1977.

On 6 May 1981, a day after the death of hunger-striker Bobby Sands
Bobby Sands
Robert Gerard "Bobby" Sands was an Irish volunteer of the Provisional Irish Republican Army and member of the United Kingdom Parliament who died on hunger strike while imprisoned in HM Prison Maze....

, two IRA members were arrested while trying to set up a roadblock east of the main Belfast-Dublin highway by twelve members of the Royal Green Jackets
Royal Green Jackets
The Royal Green Jackets was an infantry regiment of the British Army, one of two "large regiments" within the Light Division .-History:...

 divided in three teams. Another IRA man escaped, apparently injured.

The attack

After this initial success, the army continued these tactics. On 16 July, another operation was carried out by 18 members of the Royal Green Jackets. That night, four concealed positions – Alpha, Bravo, Charlie and Delta – were inserted into the Glassdrumman area, around a scrapyard along the border. The plan was that another unit – called the triggering team – would ambush any IRA unit on sight, while the other four would block the expected escape routes. On 17 July the commanders in charge of Alpha and Delta teams, suspecting that the operation had been compromised by the presence of local civilians, ordered the withdrawal of his men. Shortly thereafter, Bravo team was suddenly engauged by automatic fire from an M60 machine gun
M60 machine gun
The M60 is a family of American general-purpose machine guns firing 7.62×51mm NATO cartridges from a disintegrating belt of M13 links...

 and AR-15
The AR-15 is a lightweight, 5.56 mm, air-cooled, gas-operated, magazine-fed semi-automatic rifle, with a rotating-lock bolt, actuated by direct impingement gas operation. It is manufactured with the extensive use of aluminum alloys and synthetic materials....

 rifles fired by six or seven IRA members. The concealed position, emplaced inside a derelict van, was riddled by more than 250 bullets. The team's leader, Lance Corporal
Lance Corporal
Lance corporal is a military rank, used by many armed forces worldwide, and also by some police forces and other uniformed organizations. It is below the rank of corporal, and is typically the lowest non-commissioned officer, usually equivalent to the NATO Rank Grade OR-3.- Etymology :The presumed...

 Gavin Dean, was killed instantly, and one of his men seriously wounded. The IRA members fired their weapons from 160 yards away, across the border.


British army commanders concluded that risking lives in order to prevent the IRA from mounting roadblocks was untenable. The incident also exposed the difficulties of concealing operations from local civilians in South Armagh, whose sympathy with the IRA was manifest. Several years later, the IRA would repeat its success against undercover observation posts in the course of Operation Conservation
Operation Conservation
Operation Conservation was a British Army attempt to ambush a large Provisional Irish Republican Army unit along the Dorsey Enclosure, between Cullyhanna and Silverbridge, in south Armagh, during the early days of May 1990...

 in 1990.

See also

  • Timeline of Provisional Irish Republican Army actions
  • Drummuckavall Ambush
    Drummuckavall Ambush
    The Drummuckavall Ambush was a Provisional Irish Republican Army attack on a British Army observation post southeast of Crossmaglen, County Armagh, along the border with the Republic of Ireland...

  • Operation Conservation
    Operation Conservation
    Operation Conservation was a British Army attempt to ambush a large Provisional Irish Republican Army unit along the Dorsey Enclosure, between Cullyhanna and Silverbridge, in south Armagh, during the early days of May 1990...

  • Attack on Cloghogue checkpoint
    Attack on Cloghogue checkpoint
    The attack on Cloghogue checkpoint was an unconventional bomb attack carried out on 1 May 1992 by the Provisional Irish Republican Army against a British Army permanent vehicle checkpoint...

Further reading

  • Harnden, Toby: Bandit Country:The IRA & South Armagh. Coronet Books, London, 1999. ISBN 0340717378.

  • English, Richard: Armed Struggle: The History of the IRA. Oxford University Press, 2005. ISBN 0195177533.
The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.