Robert Ardagh MC

Robert Ardagh was awarded the Military Cross for his part in the crossing of the River Shweli north of Myitson in Burma when the 2nd Battalion the Buffs were fighting the Japanese in 1945. The river, a tributary of the Irrawaddy, was 400 yards wide at that point but only 4 or 5 feet deep. The Japanese force on the other bank was formidable and a daylight attack was planned despite the objection raised by the CO of the Buffs. The leading company of the Buffs established a bridgehead after crossing in rubber boats but came under heavy fire. They sustained 114 casualties but the survivors were successfully withdrawn. Another attempt was made a few days later with a larger force. The Buffs were part of this and they managed to force a crossing and fight their way to Mandalay. Ardagh, as well as receiving the MC, was also mentioned in despatches.

Robert Henry Ardagh was born on 24th Jan 1917 in Waterford. His father died when he was 7 and he came to England to be educated at Sherborne, and then at Worcester College, Oxford. He was a descendant of General Sir John Ardagh of the Royal Engineers who played a prominent part in the Egyptian campaigns of 1882 and 1884-5.

Robert was commissioned into the Buffs and fought at Alamein, then Persia and then India and Burma. He had planned to be a lawyer after the War but became a Prep school master. He was not a boastful man; when asked how he won his medal he replied that it was for being in charge of the brewery in Mandalay. He was keen on sport, playing rugby and tennis, and he came close to winning a Blue at rowing. The photo shows him on his wedding day in 1941 when he married Barbara.

They had a son but he sadly died in 1955 when a live mine was washed ashore in Dorset. It exploded killing the boy and several of his friends. Robert Ardagh died in 2000. His obituary was published in the Daily Telegraph on 8th September.

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by Stephen Luscombe