William David Brown QGM



13 March 1977









Royal Ulster Constabulary



Homicide - Shot

Duty Status


On Duty

Roll of Honour Citation

Fatally shot when his mobile patrol was ambushed by terrorist gunmen. Posthumously awarded the Queen’s Gallantry Medal.

Constable William Brown was from Castlederg, Co. Tyrone. He joined the RUC Cadets at 16 and just after he turned eighteen he joined the RUC as regular Constable, passing out from the training depot in November 1976. After a short posting in Belfast he was transferred to Lisnaskea in Co. Fermanagh.

Constable Brown was on duty on Sunday 13th March and at 2.40pm he left Lisnaskea Police Station to go on mobile patrol in an unarmoured and unmarked Ford Cortina. William was the driver, and was accompanied in the vehicle by a Reserve Constable and a female Constable. As the patrol reached Ballagh Crossroads in the townland of Kilturk North less than half an hour later, terrorists opened fire on the police car with high velocity weapons, hitting the two male officers who were in the front of the vehicle.

The Reserve Constable, although injured in his right arm and leg, returned fire and Constable Brown, despite being injured, managed to drive the police car out of the immediate scene of the ambush before crashing into a field a short distance away. The police officers could not call for help as both radios in the car were broken. As was routine at that time the female police officer was unarmed, but managed to draw William’s firearm and return fire at the terrorists to protect her wounded colleagues, scaring the attackers off from pursuing their victims further.

When help arrived fellow officers administered first aid to their injured colleagues. Despite doing all they could to save William’s life, he was seriously injured by three gunshot wounds to his back, and he died before medical assistance arrived 45 minutes later.

Constable Brown’s funeral was held at Derg Parish Church, the minister told the congregation that “history might one day say to us that Northern Ireland asked too much of the RUC.”

William’s courage in driving his companions away from the scene of the IRA gun attack, despite being severely injured, and having had just four months experience as a fully-fledged police officer, was recognised when he was posthumously awarded the Queen’s Gallantry Medal on 13th February 1981. Queen Elizabeth II later made the presentation of William’s posthumous QGM to his sister and a brother at Buckingham Palace.

William Brown was the one hundredth RUC officer to be murdered in Northern Ireland by terrorists, and at just eighteen years and ten months old, William was also the youngest police officer to be killed in the Troubles. He was the first British police officer to be posthumously awarded the Queen’s Gallantry Medal.