Christopher Ewart-Biggs

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Christopher Ewart-Biggs, CMG, OBE (1921 – 21 July 1976) was the British Ambassador to Ireland and an author. He was assassinated by the Provisional Irish Republican Army in Sandyford, Dublin.

His widow, Jane Ewart-Biggs (died 8 October 1992), became a Life Peer in the House of Lords, campaigned to improve Anglo-Irish relations and established the Christopher Ewart-Biggs Memorial Prize for literature.

Contents

Background

Christopher Ewart-Biggs was educated at Wellington College and University College, Oxford. He served in the Royal West Kent Regiment of the British Army in the Second World War. At the battle of El Alamein in 1942 he lost his right eye and as a result he wore a smoked-glass monocle over an artificial eye. Also, as a British consul in Algiers in 1961 (before the French withdrawal), he had been a potential target for assassination by diehard French colonialists.

Death

Ewart-Biggs was 55 when he was killed by a land mine planted by the IRA. He had taken previous precautions to avoid such an incident since coming to Dublin only two weeks before the incident (e.g. varying his route many times a week), but due to a vulnerable spot on the road connecting his residence to the main road, at that point had only the choice between left or right. He chose right, and approximately 150 yards from the residence, hit a land mine (said to contain hundreds of pounds of explosives). Ewart-Biggs and fellow passenger and civil servant Judith Cooke (aged 26) were killed. Driver Brian O'Driscoll and third passenger Brian Cubbon (aged 57, the highest-ranking civil servant in Northern Ireland at the time) were injured.

Manhunt

Dublin launched a man-hunt involving 4,000 Gardaí and 2,000 soldiers. Taoiseach Liam Cosgrave declared that "this atrocity fills all decent Irish people with a sense of shame." In London, Prime Minister James Callaghan condemned the assassins as a "common enemy whom we must destroy or be destroyed by".[1] Thirteen suspected members of the IRA were arrested during raids as the British and Irish governments attempted to apprehend the killers, however no one was ever convicted of the killings.

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