Lt Henry James Hambleton

Lt Hambleton was shot while on a motor cycle about a mile and a half outside Nenagh on 4 Nov 1920. He was the Intelligence Officer in the area, which would explain why he was out alone on a motor cycle, and why he was shot. Gurneys History of the Northamptonshires records As Intelligence Officer with the Nenagh company he had shown himself to be absolutely fearless and had become a marked man. He was shot from behind a house in particularly brutal circumstances when returning from Templemore on a motor cycle.

1893 Born Ferozepore, Indian Subcontinent and registered as an Army Birth. (William John H Hambleton born Poona as an Army Birth 1894 is probably his brother). IGI births suggest that the parents might have been Susannah Esther and Robert Henry Hambleton (fits with MIC too for mother) who had a son Herbert Adolph born in 1896 in Barrackpore, West Bengal. When Herbert Adolph Hambleton marries he gives his mother as Mrs S E Hambleton of Sidcup, Kent). His father, if those indeed are his parents, was a War rent Officer in the Indian Army in 1912.

1915 May 14. Arrived in France with 1st Battn Northants

1915 Jul 28. Noyelles. 2/Lt H J Hambleton suffered a GSW to the head due to a shell splinters

1915 Aug 24. His father dies in India

Indian Army Quarterly for 1912 list Henry Robert Hambleton, born 6 Aug 1867 was on 25 July 1908 a Warrant Officer in Military Work Serv. & Public Works Dept., India. REMARKS: Sub--Engr., 3rd.gr.,& 2nd Gr. Tempy., M.W., Poona. Gazette of 3 Dec 1915 has 'To be Assistant Commissaries, with the honorary rank of Lieutenant. ' Conductor Henry Robert Hambleton (since deceased). Dated 9th July, 1915.

1915 Aug 28, Indian Army Reserve List of Officers. From unattached List, 2nd Lts to be 2nd Lts. Henry James Hambleton.

1915 Sep 1. Rank of Lieutenant to be ante-dated as shown. Henry James Hambleton, attached 88th Carnatic Infantry. During World War I the 88th Carnatic Infantry were attached to the 9th (Secunderabad) Division which remained in India on internal security and training duties.

1915 Dec 18. Leaves UK for Bombay on SS "City of Cairo". He is an Army Officer, 2nd Lt, on ships manifest and travels 1st Class. It would appear that following his wounding he returns to India for a period, but is back with Northamptonshire Regt by 1918

1916 Nov 15. India Office. 2nd Lt to be Lt. Henry James Hambleton, attached 88th Carnatic Infantry.

1917 May 17. North'n R.—Lt. H. J. Hambleton, from Ind. Army, to be Lt. 1st Sept. 1915, but not to reckon for pay or allowances prior to 17th May 1917.

So it would appear that Captain Hambleton commanded "C" company from June to August (?) 1918; was Second-in-Command for a while; went on a Senior Officers Course at Aldershot over Christmas 1918; returned to Command "A" company in January/February 1919; and finally left 2nd Battalion on 10-2-1919.

1918 Aug 15. North'n R.—Lt. H. J. Hambleton to be temp. Capt. . Capt. Hambleton noted as being 2nd in Command in War Diary

1918 Jun 22. North'n R .—The undermentioned Lts. to be actg. Capts. whilst comdg. Cos.: H. J. Hambleton. Joined 2nd Battalion at Meneslies as a replacement following the capture of the 2nd Battalion at the Chemin des Dames.

1918 Nov 19 Capt. Friendship assumed command of "A" Company

1919 Jan 1. Capt. Hambleton returns from Senior Officers School, Aldershot

1919 Jan 2. Capt. Friendship departs battalion on Leave (Captain Hambleton may have taken command of "A" Coy at this point)

1919 Jan 19 Capt. Friendship returns from leave and appears to have been given command of "D" Company instead of "A"

1919 Jan 26. Final parade of 2nd Battalion at Brussels - Capt. Hambleton commanding "A" Company; Captain Nailer 2nd-in-command; captain Frienship in command of "D"

1919 Feb 10, Capt. Hambleton proceeded to the UK (final departure from battalion)

1919 Aug 1. North'n R.—Lt. H. J. Hambleton relinquishes the temp, rank of Capt.

1920 Nov 4. Killed near Nenagh, Tipperary at 6pm on the Thursday evening while motor cycling. The local paper, Nenagh Guardian, records that it appears that he acted as Intelligence Officer in this area. The fact that he was out alone on a motor cycle indicates that he was indeed an Intelligence Officer for the Batallion

1920 Nov 10. The report of his ambush by Sir Hamer Greenwood in Westminster :-" Reference Nenagh. Police report of murder of Lieut. Hambleton, 1st Batt. Northants Regiment, is as follows:— On the afternoon of the 4th instant, Lieutenant H. J. Hambleton, who was stationed at Nenagh, left Templemore about 4 p.m. to motor-cycle to Nenagh. Nothing further was heard about him until about 6 p.m. when a message was received that a military officer was lying wounded on the road about two miles out of Nenagh on the Templemore road. On receipt of the message a search party was sent out, and he was found lying in a field, with a man of the farming class in attendance on him. Lieutenant Hambleton died about 5 minutes after our arrival. About 5.15 p.m. a man was cycling home from Nenagh and when near Knockalton he was halted by some men and told to turn back. He did so. Soon after he heard some shots, and, after waiting some time, he retraced his footsteps, and saw a motor cycle lying on the road, and looking over the fence he saw a wounded man, and went to his assistance, and was warned by a person he did not know to clear out or he would get the same. The farmer went away a few yards, and immediately a motor containing a number of men drove away from the scene. This man had been in the R.A.M.C. during the War, and went to the wounded man's assistance, and on ascertaining that he was a military officer, requisitioned a farmer from Resheen, who was passing with a horse and cart at the time, to look after the officer while he went for a doctor and the police. The deceased was shot in the lung over the heart by a bullet, and his left forearm was almost blown off. Death was due to hæmorrhage. No evidence can be obtained about the tragedy. It was just getting dark at the time of the occurrence. Following this murder, the troops got out of hand for a short time, despite the efforts of the officers, and committed a certain amount of destruction before they were again got in hand. Lieut. Hambleton was a most popular officer with the men, and had a very gallant record in the late War.

Sean Gaynor, local IRA Commandant, records in "Memoirs of a Tipperary family" that Ned O'Leary took 3 or 4 men and waited near Cleary's house in Lisstunny for Hambleton. The officer was only wounded by the first volley of shots which knocked him off his bike and onto the ground. He returned fire from the ground, but further shots from his ambushers killed him.

His death is recorded in Ireland GRO as "Henry John Hambleton"

In the aftermath, the troops ran amock, the local creamery, a pub and a printing office were burnt and the two O'Brien men were arrested and "shot while trying to escape"

Greenwood made a statement in Parliament on the reprisals

Here is an official statement about Lieutenant Hambleton, of the Northampton Regiment. I will read it as I have it: The men all crowded round and some of them shouted, 'Thank God, he is still alive.' Mr. Hambleton was unconscious and was lying on his back, with his feet towards Templemore, lying parallel to the road. I could see that his right arm was nearly blown off, but it was too dark to see any wounds. I noticed that the grass was trampled down round the body as if he had been rolling about. He was covered in blood. The district inspector and sergeants cut the clothing away from his arm, and started to bind him up. The wound was just above the elbow and the forearm was hanging by sinews only. We had a lamp to see by. Five or six of the men collapsed and fell down crying. Some of them said, 'This is the best officer we have ever had and we are not going to have him killed for nothing.' Others were muttering among themselves. I collected the 16 men who had come in the three-ton lorry. After explaining how they started back the officer continued, 'As I got near the police barracks in Nenagh, four policemen shouted out something which I did not hear and a few seconds later several men started firing from the back of the lorry and everyone was shouting "Rapid fire." I climbed round into the back of the lorry as it was going and shouted "Cease fire." The men were absolutely mad and took no notice of me, except to shout "Rapid fire." None of them molested me. I then stopped the lorry and as they were still firing I fired two shots over their heads with my revolver, at the same time shouting to them to "cease fire" or I would shoot them. The firing then stopped. On arrival at the barracks I got another party of four men to carry the body over to the hospital, which is in barracks. The doctor followed them. All the men in barracks rushed up to know if he was dead. They were all crying and were so upset they had difficulty in carrying him. By this time his jacket had been cut open by the doctor and the wounds were visible. They were all blackened. He had been murdered at very close range. Then the men became mad.' Realise what had happened. That officer was one of the most popular officers in the battalion. His men loved him. They would have shot and killed and have burned the town of Nenagh to the ground, and there are many men who would say they would have been justified. I do not. That officer held them with his revolver, and brought them into the barracks, and nothing was done beyond the breaking of a few windows.

1920 Nov 10. Funeral at St Martins Exminster Church near Exeter. He is buried in Exminster churchyard. A memorial plaque in what was the Peamore Chapel in the Church reads as follows: "To the glory of God & in memory of a very gallant gentleman Henry James Hambleton Lieut Northanptonshire Regiment who severely wounded in the Great War regained his health at Peamore & was assassinated by the Irish rebels near Nenagh 4th November 1920 in the 27th year of his age and rests in this churchyard."

Photos from robbie pearson

1920 Nov 4. Probate. He is given as of "The Barracks, Northampton and Peamore, Exeter"

1924 Feb 6. His mother applies for his medals

1952 Apr 1. This appears to be his brother marrying and the mother is given as Mrs S E Hambleton of Sidcup, Kent (see our man's MIC above)

1955 Apr/Jun. His mother Susannah E Hambleton dies in Sidcup, she was born circa 1870

British Soldiers killed in Ireland