Private and Bandsman Walter Spencer Gammon

Private and Bandsman Walter Spencer Gammon (aged 29) of the 1st Battalion, The Buffs/East Kent Regiment (Labbacallee near Glanworth)

Date of incident: 26 Nov. 1920

Sources: CE, 29 Nov., 4 Dec. 1920, 1 Feb. 1921; FJ, 29 Nov. 1920; II, 28, 29 Nov., 3 Dec. 1920; CC, 4 Dec. 1920; CWN, 4 Dec. 1921; II, 29 Jan. 1921; RIC County Inspector’s Monthly Report, Cork City and East Riding, Nov. 1920 (CO 904/113, TNA); Thomas Barry’s WS 430, 10-12 (BMH); Seámus O’Mahony’s WS 730, 6-7 (BMH); William C. Regan’s WS 1069, 3-4 (BMH); O’Donoghue (1954, 1986), 108-9; ‘The Irish Rebellion in the 6th Division Area’, Irish Sword, 27 (Spring 2010), 140; irishmedals.org (accessed 28 July 2014); Commonwealth War Graves Commission; http://www.cairogang.com/soldiers-killed/list-1921.htmlhttp://www.cairogang.com/soldiers-killed/glanworth/gammon/gammon.htmlhttp://www.cairogang.com/soldiers-killed/glanworth/glanworth.html (accessed 1 Aug. 2014). 


Note: On the evening of 26 November 1920, Volunteers ambushed a military patrol from Fermoy at Labbacallee Hill, a few miles from the village of Glanworth. Killed in the ambush were bandsmen Private Walter Gammon and Corporal Earnest Hall. Other soldiers (four in number) were wounded, as noted by Fr F. O’Donoghue in his sermons denouncing the action at Sunday Masses in St Patrick’s Church, Fermoy, on 28 November 1920. See CE, 29 Nov. 1920. Bandsman Gammon was buried at Ramsgate Cemetery in Kent.

Reprisals were widely expected in both Glanworth and Fermoy: ‘The residents of Glanworth were in a state of panic when they became aware of what took place, and many of them left the village with whatever property they could take. In Fermoy also merchants and shopkeepers as well as the general community were in a condition of nervous excitement, and naturally so, having painful experience on previous happenings in the district.’ See CE, 29 Nov. 1920. The local IRA took precautions: ‘The column [of the Castletownroche Battalion of the Cork No. 2 Brigade], together with members of the local companies, were mobilised that night [26 November] at Glanworth in anticipation of reprisals, but although a strong enemy force arrived in the village in an armoured car and four or five lorries, they did no damage. They were apparently out on a drinking spree—all drinks of course were free. As they did not burn or shoot, no action was taken by our party.’ See William C. Regan’s WS 1069, 4 (BMH).

According to Florrie O’Donoghue’s account of the Labbacallee ambush, a British military party had been holding an inquiry at Glanworth into the shooting of the Meadstown tailor Denis O’Donnell by RIC men. Volunteers from the column of the Castletownroche Battalion of the Cork No. 2 Brigade, led by Thomas Barry (O/C) and his Vice O/C William O’Regan, ‘inadvertently’ opened fire on the first of two lorries from an ambush position on a very steep hill. ‘The result was that three of the occupants were killed and four wounded. An officer was blown out of the lorry by a grenade thrown by one of the attacking party. He was found on the road subsequently badly wounded. The staff car did not, however, come into the ambush position; the officers abandoned it and escaped across the fields to their barracks at Fermoy.’ See O’Donoghue (1954, 1986), 108-9. This ambush at Labbacallee led to another outbreak of the troops at Fermoy.

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