Mick Herbert and Joe Cotton shooting

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lesdavey
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Mick Herbert and Joe Cotton shooting

Postby lesdavey » Sat Dec 20, 2014 3:38 am

I still find it hard to talk about that awful night, but the years have helped me deal with it.

Newspaper cuttings I kept of the incident:

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Needless to say the actual story is very different from what the papers say! I am eternally grateful for that telephone box, which without doubt saved my skin, but unfortunately Joe Cotton was caught out in the open.

I hired a car and drove up north to the scene of both shootings on my own many years later during a weekend off while working training police in Templemore College, Tipperary. I said a few words and laid some flowers for them both at each spot. The phone box isn't there any more and I did speak to the occupants of the old post office which is now just a house who remembered the incident. I then spent the night in Markethill and the evening speaking to the landlord of the pub run by an ex 2nd Tankie.

Below is a photo I sent home (hence the writing on it) of the Ops Room Mick Herbert and I worked in at Newcastle The photo name is wrong as Al Beveridge pointed out (thanks Al). In my defence, I did work in Bangor for a while after leaving the service, so it wasn't entirely off the wall!
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lesdavey
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Re: Mick Herbert and Joe Cotton shooting

Postby lesdavey » Sat Dec 20, 2014 3:43 am

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Re: Mick Herbert and Joe Cotton shooting

Postby Bob_H » Sat Dec 20, 2014 8:13 am

Les, that's an extremely poignant report. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us about this tragic event.
Owfen born and Warburtons bred :lol:

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Re: Mick Herbert and Joe Cotton shooting

Postby Al Beveridge » Sat Dec 20, 2014 9:32 am

Hi Les, These photographs are great and bring back many memories. However, as far as my memory goes yourself and Mick Herbert were stationed at Newcastle, Co Down police station, with my troop. You were both the SHQ Operators which supported us. When you and Mick went on R & R myself and Mr Bowes-Lyon stood in for you.

Looking at the first photograph that is me coming out of the Ops Room in Newcastle Police station compound. I have never stayed in Bangor, apart from visiting it for a day out shopping.

Which one of us is correct? Al.

lesdavey
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Re: Mick Herbert and Joe Cotton shooting

Postby lesdavey » Sat Dec 20, 2014 12:00 pm

Al Beveridge wrote:Hi Les, These photographs are great and bring back many memories. However, as far as my memory goes yourself and Mick Herbert were stationed at Newcastle, Co Down police station, with my troop. You were both the SHQ Operators which supported us. When you and Mick went on R & R myself and Mr Bowes-Lyon stood in for you.

Looking at the first photograph that is me coming out of the Ops Room in Newcastle Police station compound. I have never stayed in Bangor, apart from visiting it for a day out shopping.

Which one of us is correct? Al.


You are absolutely right. Not sure where I got Bangor from - senior moment! I tried changing the photo file name andhave now stuffed up the post! Will sort it later. Cheers Les

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Re: Mick Herbert and Joe Cotton shooting

Postby Geoff Hutch » Sat Dec 20, 2014 6:34 pm

Thanks for posting these, as I wrote in a Hawk in Ireland I was on a night off with my half troop from Newry and was at Gosford that night. Mick came in the bar and we had a pint together before he left, for what I thought was Newton Hamilton. Al Bev put me right on that and I've since changed it. Mick was a good friend, he took me under his wing when I was a new boy in Paderbourne and again when he ran the ski hut on snow queen. I managed to swap my R&R and went to his funeral with Trevor Batcheldor, It was a very sad affair but his family most welcoming and generous with the drams before and after. A great bloke and as a trooper he was a hero of mine, gone but not forgotten.

lesdavey
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Re: Mick Herbert and Joe Cotton shooting

Postby lesdavey » Sat Dec 20, 2014 8:06 pm

Geoff Hutch wrote:Thanks for posting these, as I wrote in a Hawk in Ireland I was on a night off with my half troop from Newry and was at Gosford that night. Mick came in the bar and we had a pint together before he left, for what I thought was Newton Hamilton. Al Bev put me right on that and I've since changed it. Mick was a good friend, he took me under his wing when I was a new boy in Paderbourne and again when he ran the ski hut on snow queen. I managed to swap my R&R and went to his funeral with Trevor Batcheldor, It was a very sad affair but his family most welcoming and generous with the drams before and after. A great bloke and as a trooper he was a hero of mine, gone but not forgotten.


Hi Geoff, you are right actually, in that it was our first destination as we were heading out that way to drop off others before Mick and I returned to Newcastle. However, as fate would have it there was a suspect device on the Newry Road between Newtownhamilton and Newry, so we had to take a detour and ended up breaking down at the side of Shaw's Lake just south of the bend.

Mick and I had spent a couple of months working together by then and as I remember it he was going home to see his new born child for the first time and was full of it before and after when we got picked up at Aldergrove. Great man and as you say, sadly missed. Les

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Re: Mick Herbert and Joe Cotton shooting

Postby Ron Flowers » Sun Dec 21, 2014 3:01 pm

At this time I was stationed at Sutton Coldfield and went to Joe Cottons funeral where a couple of RUC lads attended. Mick and Eric Lowden had been my first troop Cpls when I arrived in Paderborn and like Geof had been taken under Micks wing he taught me a lot about soldiering oh yes and drinking lol. I had missed his return to the regiment after he rejoined and was looking forward to meeting up with him on my return to the regiment.Sadly missed both of you RIP

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Brian Moulton
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Re: Mick Herbert and Joe Cotton shooting

Postby Brian Moulton » Tue Dec 30, 2014 7:01 am

Seem to remember a conversation Les, where you told us that at the telephone box, you just went down and played dead. Am I dreaming this ?
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lesdavey
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Re: Mick Herbert and Joe Cotton shooting

Postby lesdavey » Wed Dec 31, 2014 6:15 pm

Brian Moulton wrote:Seem to remember a conversation Les, where you told us that at the telephone box, you just went down and played dead. Am I dreaming this ?


You are right - Jo had been using the box to phone Gosford for help and when the firing started we both got under the Landover for cover, where he was killed lying next to me. I returned fire and emptied my mag under the Landover (mainly hitting the tyres and opposite dry stone wall!), and then promptly run out of ammo with that awful clunk. I managed to crawl back out and get down behind the box for cover. I waited for the next volley of shots and feigned being hit clattering my SMG to the ground beside me.

Luckily they were reluctant to come into the courtyard to check and then I heard them radio for more backup saying two terrorists engaged, both believed killed. It was only then I realised they were police rather than Provos as they had come in shooting without warning. So I started shouting "Security Forces, don't shoot." and after several calls, they then came in, frisked me and fortunately believed me!

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Brian Moulton
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Re: Mick Herbert and Joe Cotton shooting

Postby Brian Moulton » Wed Dec 31, 2014 6:50 pm

Glad you are still around Les, pity that Joe and Mick aren't.

At the end of the day, was it all worth it when you see the Queen having to meet McGuiness, and Adams still at large and prospering.

Have a good 2015
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Brian "Solly" Moulton

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Re: Mick Herbert and Joe Cotton shooting

Postby charley » Wed Jan 14, 2015 9:08 pm

hi I was on duty the night of this very nasty incident I was duty officer and remember well tasking Joe cotton to go out meet and recover the mini bus that Mick Herbert was in when found,he still had a cigarette in his hand. the whole thing was caused by a liaison officer not briefing the RUC on the movement of our troops. That led to the sad loss of life and two very good fiends. I was then to take over joe's Troop, what a great crowd of unsung heroes who always got the job done. All of of them where an honour to serve and work with thank you.

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Re: Mick Herbert and Joe Cotton shooting

Postby Bulldog » Sat Jan 24, 2015 3:27 pm

Could I thank you all for your input in this post and its nice to see you ok Les

Less we forget

We do remember them
Enjoy Life

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Re: Mick Herbert and Joe Cotton shooting

Postby mike » Mon Jan 11, 2016 8:27 pm

I WAS ON PERMANENT STAFF ON EX SNOW QUEEN WITH MICK TOP MAN .R.I.P.
Mike Grundy
X Hussar.

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Paul W. Baker
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Re: Mick Herbert and Joe Cotton shooting

Postby Paul W. Baker » Mon Oct 03, 2016 3:56 pm

Just read all of this, thank you for sharing, such a sad tale. They will be remembered!!


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