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  • Christina Drummond

Major Ivan Toombs, Ulster Defence Regiment

Remembering the Fallen: on this day in 1981, Major Ivan Toombs, Ulster Defence Regiment, was killed at the Warrenpoint customs post in Northern Ireland.

Major Toombs was a part-time officer in the regiment and also worked as a senior customs officer. He had survived a previous attack in Newry in 1976, being seriously wounded when he was shot at while driving to work, but was able to continue on to his office, from which he was rushed to hospital for treatment.

On the day of his death, at 11:00 a.m., two gunmen burst into his office at the customs post and shot him several times in the head and chest at point blank range. He was rushed to Daisy Hill Hospital in Newry, but was pronounced dead on arrival. Eamon Collins, a customs officer who had joined the IRA, planned the killing and was originally charged with the murder but was cleared when his confession was deemed inadmissible. He described Major Toombs as decent and kind, and so befriended him as he figured out the best time and place for the killing – he himself was later murdered by the IRA.

At his funeral, the minister told of a conversation with Major Toombs from just a few weeks earlier, in which the major said that he believed good would ultimately overcome evil. At the unveiling of a memorial tablet in his honour at the Warrenpoint Masonic Hall, he was described as “a man of immense courage who had a very great concern for the good of the whole community”.

Ivan, from Warrenpoint, was 42 years old and married with five children.

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