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Remembered Today:

Captain William Gabbett


Stanley_C_Jenkins

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On Saturday 14th May 1921 a Captain William Gabbett (or Gabbitt) of Mount Rivers near Newport (in County Limerick?) was involved in an ambush while motoring between Glenstal and Newport in company with District Inspector Major Harry Biggs of the RIC, and Miss Winifred Barrington, the only daughter of Sir Charles and Lady Barrington of Glenstal Castle. The party also included a young lady named Miss Coverdale and Lt Trengrouse of the Oxfordshire & Bucknghamshire Light Infantry.

On reaching Coolboreen Bridge near Newport the motor car was fired ambushed by a party of armed IRA men led by Sean Gaynor, Miss Barrington and the district inspector being fatally wounded, while Captain Gabbett surrendered and Lieutenant Trengrouse ran away down the road. It was later reported that Major Biggs – the target - was shot 'ten or twelve times' while he was lying injured in the roadway, though the IRA gunmen then went back to the motor car where Miss Barrington was lying dead and mumbled something about being sorry.

I know that Lieutenant Trengrouse, who may have managed a few shots from his Webley revolver, resigned his commission on 1st June 1921, but I have been unable to obtain any details about Captain Gabbett, who was possibly a serving or former member of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers. Does the name ring any bells?

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Stanley

There is a Lt/Col and Major R.E.P Gabbett who has 2 MIC's on Ancestry. 1st Battalion Royal Welsh Fusiliers from Mount Rivers, Newport, Limerick.

A relation perhaps? Can't find a William in the RWF.

Ellie

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Thank you Ellie. I have found a reference to a William Gabbett, but I suspect that those who gave evidence at Winifred Barrington's inquest, etc., may have got some of the names muddled up - hence the various spellings of Gabbett and Gabbitt, and a further confusion over Lt Trengrouse and a "Captain Tamgouse", who is one and the same person.

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Stanley

There is a service record at Kew in WO374/26148 for a Captain W H GABBETT. No hits on the spelling GABBETT in WO339,nor any for GABBITT in either 374 or 339.

Sotonmate

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I assume these two London Gazette references (and links) relate to the W H Gabbett that Sotonmate has found, no link (as far as I can see) to the RWF but Pembrokeshire Yeomanry instead. Does at least prove he was a William though.

Pembrokeshire (Castlemartin).

Lieutenant William H. Gabbett to be Captain. Dated 26th August, 1914.

http://www.londongazette.co.uk/ViewPDF.asp...p;exact=GABBETT

Pembroke

Capt. W. H. Gabbett relinquishes his comm. on account of ill-health. 27th May 1916.

http://www.londongazette.co.uk/ViewPDF.asp...t=&similar=

Steve

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Stanley

Captain Gabbett's file at Kew yesterday,WO339/26148. A few details,not necessarily in order:

Home address: Mount Rivers, Newport, Limerick.

Papers are about disability and War Gratuity. He sufferred from acute eczema from around October 1916 when he was a Captain in the 2/Pembrokeshire Yeomanry (no mention of the RWF),aged 47 and with 13 years service. In 1916 he was declared unfit for further service. July 1917 referred to in an Army Medical Board in Limerick as MR GARBETT. London Gazette published his resignation from his Commission on 26 May 1919.

No details at all in the file about the Irish incident you describe in your post No 1. I would think that he was no longer a soldier in 1921,which might explain his escape from the predicament which took the lives of others.

Sotonmate

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  • 2 years later...

Always interesting coming across these old threads.

I am researching the Coolboreen Ambush at the moment, and have got a bit more on William Gabbett on this link

He was in Boer War as a Private.

Gabbett, William Hampden, Private 2277. 7th company, 4th Battalion Imperial Yeomanry. The Queen's South Africa (QSA) Medal Clasps: Wittebergen, Cape Colony

Died in 1946, unmarried

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In some ways, the actions of Lt Trengrouse during the ambush are of greater interest - did he, or did he not run away and hide behind a wall, or was he trying to take aim with his Webley revolver? The bare facts suggest that he ran away while the women were being attacked, and this is probably why he resigned his commission. If I remember correctly, Captain Gabbett remained at the scene and shouted out to the IRA gunmen that there were ladies in the car - which may well have prevented further bloodshed.

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Trengrouse went off to Brazil, married and settled there as a tobacco manufacturer on this link

It certainly looks as if he ran away, I have some doubts as to whether he even fired his revolver. This is his evidence at the inquiry

evidence.jpg

And this is Gabbett's evidence to the inquiry

when they got to Coolboreen bridge, which was three miles from Newport, fire was opened on the car. The motor carried on for a few yards, and then stopped. Captain Biggs, who was driving, had Miss Barrington beside him, and he appeared to be hit. Witness saw Miss Barrington tumble out of the car on to the side of the road, and he thought that she must have been also hit then. Captain Biggs got out of the car and advanced about twenty yards up the road and then fell. Witness and [Lt Trengrouse], also got out, and he saw [Lt Trengrouse] on the road with his revolver in his hand. Witness started to crawl in the direction of Captain Biggs, the other lady remaining in the car. The firing was going on all the time on his right and left and from behind. Witness next heard [Lt Trengrouse] ask Capt. Biggs if he could help him, but he received no reply. [Lt Trengrouse] then turned Biggs over and eventually he thought he saw [Lt Trengrouse] fire two or three shots. Biggs and [Lt Trengrouse] were in civilian clothes. While the firing was going [Mr Gabbett]saw some men come out on the bridge, and he shouted to them to stop firing, that there was only a girl in the car. At this time he had his hands up, and he next saw about twelve men on the road.

His family believe that he fought in France until the last week of the war when he was gassed and became blind. He was sent to Russia where he regained his sight.

I have not been able to substantiate any of that. He was commissioned in Apr 1918 from Sandhurst, into Ox & Bucks, but I cannot get any more on his actual service

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