Remembering the Fallen: on this day in 1980, Captain Herbert Richard Westmacott M.C., 2nd Battalion, the Grenadier Guards, on Extra Regimental Employment to the SAS, was killed in Northern Ireland.
He was shot dead as he led a plain-clothes eight-man SAS operation against the IRA’s M60 gang (who were named after the heavy-duty, rapid firing machine gun which they used) in Belfast. The gang had taken over a house on the Antrim Road, and when Captain Westmacott’s team arrived the gang opened up from a window with the M60 gun. Captain Westmacott was hit in the head and the shoulder and died instantly. The gang members eventually surrendered after a priest arrived; four of them were tried the following year for the murder, but escaped with several others from the Crumlin jail. They were sentenced to life imprisonment in their absence.
Captain Westmacott, posthumously awarded the Military Cross, was the highest ranking SAS officer to be killed during Operation Banner. He is buried in St. Michael’s churchyard in Up Marden, West Sussex.
Herbert, from Chichester in West Sussex, was 28 years old, and he and his wife were expecting their first child.