Sergeant William George Gibbs 312181, 17th Lancers (Duke of Cambridge's Own)

1896 Apr/Jun Born Bedford. William Gibbs father had died when William was very young and his mother had re-married).

1901 census living at 40, Bower Street, Bedford Eastern Ward St Cuthbert. His father is dead.

1911 census living at 67 Asset Street Bedford. His mother has re-married

1914 Jan 10. Attested at Bedford. He was a railway labourer

1915 Feb 16 Landed in France with 17th Lancers

1915 Apr 28 Posted back to UK

1915 Oct 17. Posted back to France

1916 Mar 11. Posted back to UK

1916 Apr 20 .Posted back to France

1919 Feb 10. Posted back to UK

1918 Aug 10. Transferred to Labour Corps

1919 May 7 Posted back to France

1920 May 1. Transferred to Lancers

1920 Jul 27. Posted back to UK

1920 Sep 28 Died in a IRA raid on Mallow Barracks

Ernie O'Malley in "On another man's wound" covers the raid on the barracks in great detail. The Column took up position in houses overlooking the barracks overnight. In the morning after the cavalry had left, O'Malley walked up to the gate of the barracks, knocked and told the sentry that he had a letter for the Commanding Officer, as the sentry reached for the letter O'Malley leant forward and put the safety catch to the on position on the sentry's rifle, then grabbed the rifle and held the man up with his own gun. O'Malley was then able to let the IRA men move into the barracks

Sergeant Gibbs was the senior NCO left in charge of Mallow Barracks County Cork after most of the detachment of the 17th Lancers had left the barracks to exercise their horses. There appear to have been about 12 soldiers left in the Barracks. As Gibbs ran towards the guard room to get a rifle three shorts rang out and Gibbs fell mortally wounded.

37 rifles were taken. Lynch says 27 rifles, 2 Hotchkiss light machine guns, boxes of ammunition, and other military material taken. Others who took part in the raid included Mallow Battalion IRA Volunteers Richard Willis and John Bolster (who were working in the barracks) and Patrick MacCarthy (QM of Newmarket Battalion). The attackers tried unsuccessfully to set the barracks on fire as they left.

In retaliation the Crown forces sack the town, burning many buildings including both the large Cleeve creamery and Town Hall. According to O'Donnoghue, they were under the command of officers and Hopkinson says that "ironically" it was the Auxiliaries who moved in to quell the violence by the British Army.

The raid was followed by reprisals - burning of many buildings and the wounding of civilians

1920 Oct 4. Sgt Gibbs body was returned to Bedford (Kempston Barracks) accompanied by a detachment of troops from his own regiment On the day of his full military funeral the hearse was preceded to St. Leonard’s Church by the Depot band and a firing party. The service was conducted by the Reverend J.S.Spratt who also officiated at the committal service at Bedford Cemetery. Three volleys were fired over the grave. CWGC

1920 Oct 23. Daniel Sullivan, Michael Sullivan, Cornelius Moynihan were remanded and charged with Gibbs murder. There followed further arrests, and eventually 6 men were tried for Sgt Gibbs murder

1921 May 23-28 May six Mallow-area Volunteers were tried by court-martial at Cork Military Detention Barracks. The accused men were Denis Barter, Timothy Breen, David Buckley, Owen Harold, Donal McCarthy, and John C. Murphy. Although Breen was acquitted, the other five were convicted and sentenced to death without any recommendation from the court for clemency. They were finally reprieved in December 1921 (six months after the Truce) and were released on 12 January 1922 from Cork Male Prison (to which they had been transferred on 19 December 1921).

The IRA men on their release in Jan 1922

British Soldiers died in Ireland