The Info List - Ross McWhirter

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Alan Ross McWhirter (12 August 1925 – 27 November 1975) was, with his twin brother, Norris, the co-founder of The Guinness
Book of Records and a contributor to Record Breakers. He was murdered by the Provisional Irish Republican Army
Provisional Irish Republican Army
(IRA) in 1975.[2]


1 Early life 2 Career 3 Political activity 4 Views on Ireland 5 Assassination 6 Selected bibliography 7 References 8 External links

Early life[edit] McWhirter was the youngest son of William McWhirter, editor of the Sunday Pictorial, and Margaret "Bunty" Williamson. He was born at "Giffnock" (after Giffnock Church in Glasgow, where the McWhirters were married), 10 Branscombe Gardens, Winchmore Hill, London, N21. In 1929, as William was working on the founding of the Northcliffe Newspapers Group chain of provincial newspapers, the family moved to "Aberfoyle", in Broad Walk, Winchmore Hill.[3] Like his two brothers, Ross McWhirter was educated at Marlborough College
Marlborough College
and Trinity College, Oxford. Between 1943 and 1946, Ross served as a sub-lieutenant with the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve
Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve
on board a minesweeper in the Mediterranean.[4] Career[edit] Ross and Norris both became sports journalists in 1950. In 1951, they published Get to Your Marks, and earlier that year they had founded an agency to provide facts and figures to Fleet Street, setting out, in Norris McWhirter's words "to supply facts and figures to newspapers, yearbooks, encyclopaedias and advertisers". While building up their accounts, they both worked as sports journalists. One of the athletes they knew and covered was runner Christopher Chataway, an employee at Guinness
who recommended them to Hugh Beaver. After an interview in 1954 in which the Guinness directors enjoyed testing the twins' knowledge of records and unusual facts, the brothers agreed to start work on the book that would become The Guinness
Book of Records. In August 1955, the first slim green volume – 198 pages long – was at the bookstalls, and in four more months it was the UK's number one non-fiction best-seller.[5] Both brothers were regulars on the BBC
show Record Breakers. They were noted for their encyclopedic memories, enabling them to provide detailed answers to questions from the audience about entries in The Guinness
Book of Records. Norris continued on the programme after Ross's death.[6] In 1958, long after the legend of William Webb Ellis
William Webb Ellis
as the originator of rugby had become engrained in rugby culture, Ross managed to rediscover his grave in le cimetière du vieux château at Menton
in Alpes Maritimes
Alpes Maritimes
(it has since been renovated by the French Rugby Federation). Political activity[edit] In the early 1960s, he was a Conservative Party activist and sought, unsuccessfully, the seat of Edmonton in the 1964 general election. Following his killing, his brother and others founded the National Association for Freedom (later The Freedom Association). Views on Ireland[edit] McWhirter advocated various restrictions on the freedom of the Irish community in Britain such as branding, making it compulsory for all of them to register with the local police and to provide signed photographs of themselves when renting flats or booking into hotels and hostels.[7] In addition, McWhirter offered a £50,000 reward for information leading to a conviction for several recent high-profile bombings in England that were publicly claimed by the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA). In doing so, McWhirter recognised that he could then be a target himself.[7] This was considered a "bounty" by the IRA Army Council, a view that led directly to the events that followed. Though the idea wasn't originally his, but that of John Gouriet.[8] Assassination[edit] On 27 November 1975 at 6.45 p.m., McWhirter was shot and killed by two IRA volunteers, Harry Duggan and Hugh Doherty, both of whom were members of what became known as the Balcombe Street Gang,[9] the group for whose capture McWhirter had offered the reward. He was shot at close range in the head and chest outside his home in Village Road, Bush Hill Park. The weapon used was a .357 Magnum
.357 Magnum
revolver.[10] He was taken to Chase Farm Hospital, but died soon after being admitted. His killers were captured and charged with his and nine other murders.[9] They were sentenced to life imprisonment but freed in 1999 under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.[11] Selected bibliography[edit] Sports and general encyclopædia

Get To Your Marks (1951, with Norris McWhirter) The Guinness
Book of Records (1955–1975, with Norris McWhirter) Ross: The Story of a Shared Life (Norris McWhirter) ISBN 0-902782-23-1 Ross Was Right – The McWhirter File
(Covenant Pub., 29 Sep 2014) ISBN 978-085205-118-4


^ "1975: TV presenter Ross McWhirter shot dead". BBC
News. 27 November 1975. Retrieved 10 April 2010.  ^ Bernstein, Adam (21 April 2004). " Norris McWhirter
Norris McWhirter
Dies; 'Guinness Book' Co-Founder". The Washington Post. Retrieved 16 December 2008.  ^ Ayrshire Notes – Norris McWhirter
Norris McWhirter
Ref used to confirm only that "Aberfoyle" is house name in Winchmore Hill, rather than town name in Scotland or Ireland ^ Norris McWhirter
Norris McWhirter
– A Short Biography ^ Lusher, Adam (20 November 2004). "Crunch time in my attempt at Guinness World Records
Guinness World Records
glory". London: The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 18 May 2009.  ^ "Record Breakers' McWhirter dies". BBC. 20 April 2004. Retrieved 16 December 2008.  ^ a b The Road To Balcombe Street: The IRA Reign of Terror in London by Steven Moysey (ISBN 978-0-7890-2913-3), pages 116 to 117 ^ https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obituaries/politics-obituaries/8000573/John-Gouriet.html ^ a b "1975: TV presenter Ross McWhirter shot dead". BBC
News. 27 November 1975.  ^ McHardy, Anne, McWhirter's killer is known bomber, The Guardian, 3 December 1975 ^ "1975: Balcombe Street siege
Balcombe Street siege
ends". BBC
On This Day. BBC
News. Retrieved 12 February 2018. 

External links[edit]

The McWhirter Foundation The McWhirter Foundation TV presenter Ross McWhirter shot dead @ BBC
News, On This Day, 27 November 1975.

v t e

Provisional Irish Republican Army


Anti-Treaty IRA Sinn Féin Republican News An Phoblacht The Green Book The Troubles
The Troubles
(Timeline) Haughey arms crisis Officials-Provisionals split Provisional IRA campaign Arms importation Disappeared Mountjoy Prison helicopter escape Blanket protest Dirty protest HM Prison Maze Anti H-Block 1981 Irish hunger strike Maze Prison escape Armalite and ballot box strategy Smithwick Tribunal Northern Ireland peace process North American arrests Barrack buster Good Friday Agreement


IRA Army Council Internal Security Unit Active Service Unit (ASU) Provisional IRA Belfast Brigade Provisional IRA Derry Brigade Provisional IRA South Armagh Brigade Provisional IRA East Tyrone Brigade Provisional IRA Balcombe Street Gang ASU


Insurgency, 1969–1977

Battle of St Matthew's 1970 RUC booby-trap bombing Scottish soldiers' killings Balmoral showroom bombing Abercorn bombing Donegall St bombing Battle at Springmartin Bloody Friday Claudy bombing Coleraine bombings M62 coach bombing Guildford pub bombings Brook's Club bomb attack British Airways bombing attempt Birmingham pub bombings Bayardo Bar attack Caterham Arms pub bombing London
Hilton bombing Green Park tube station bombing Scott's Oyster Bar bombing Walton's Restaurant bombing Drummuckavall ambush Balcombe Street siege Kingsmill massacre

Long War, 1977–1988

1978 Lisnamuck shoot-out Jonesboro Gazelle downing La Mon restaurant bombing 1978 Crossmaglen Ambush Warrenpoint ambush Dunmurry train explosion Lough Foyle attacks Chelsea Barracks bombing Hyde Park and Regent's Park bombings Harrods bombing Woolwich barracks Brighton hotel bombing Ballygawley land mine attack Newry mortar attack Ballygawley attack The Birches attack JHQ Rheindahlen bombing (Germany)

Peace Process, 1988–1998

Corporals killings Lisburn van bombing 1988 Netherlands Attacks Inglis Barracks Ballygawley bus bombing Jonesborough ambush Deal barracks bombing Derryard attack Derrygorry Gazelle downing RFA Fort Victoria bombing Proxy bombings Downing St mortar attack Mullacreevie ambush Glenanne barracks bombing Teebane bombing Cloghoge attack 1992 Manchester bombing South Armagh sniper campaign Warrington bomb attacks Cullaville occupation Bishopsgate bombing Battle of Newry Road Shankill Road bombing Crossmaglen Lynx downing Drumcree conflict Docklands bombing 1996 Manchester bombing Osnabrück mortar attack Thiepval barracks bombing Coalisland attack July 1997 riots

Chiefs of Staff

Seán Mac Stíofáin (1969–72) Joe Cahill (1972–73) Seamus Twomey (1973) Éamonn O'Doherty (1973–74) Seamus Twomey (1974–77) Gerry Adams
Gerry Adams
(1977–78) Martin Mc Guinness
(1978–82) Ivor Bell (1982–83) Kevin McKenna (1983–97) Thomas "Slab" Murphy (1997–2005)

Personalities (Volunteers)

Billy McKee Gerry Kelly Dolours Price Marian Price Roy Walsh John Joe McGirl Ruairí Ó Brádaigh Dáithí Ó Conaill George Harrison Billy Reid Michael Gaughan Pat Doherty Hugh Doherty Séanna Breathnach Proinsias MacAirt John Kelly Rose Dugdale John Francis Green Peter Cleary Kevin Coen Frank Stagg Kieran Nugent Francis Hughes Brendan Hughes Tommy McKearney Raymond McCartney Gerry McGeough Gerard Casey Thomas McMahon Eamon Collins Gerard Tuite Patrick Magee Bobby Sands Raymond McCreesh Joe McDonnell Martin Hurson Kieran Doherty Thomas McElwee Michael McKevitt Alex Maskey Fra McCann Owen Carron Paul Butler Dessie Ellis Angelo Fusco Breandán Mac Cionnaith Rita O'Hare Martin Meehan Arthur Morgan Danny Morrison Antoine Mac Giolla Bhrighde Kieran Fleming William Fleming Bernard Fox Paddy Quinn Laurence McKeown Pat McGeown Matt Devlin Pat Sheehan Siobhán O'Hanlon Jackie McMullan Patrick Joseph Kelly Larry Marley Jim Lynagh Pádraig McKearney Brendan McFarlane Charles Breslin Sean O'Callaghan Séamus McElwaine Gabriel Cleary Daniel McCann Seán Savage Mairéad Farrell Martin McCaughey Dessie Grew Fergal Caraher Patricia Black Malachy Carey Martin McGartland Joseph MacManus Paul Magee Pearse Jordan Thomas Begley Martin Doherty Ed O'Brien Diarmuid O'Neill Carál Ní Chuilín Ian Milne Conor Murphy Martina Anderson Jennifer McCann Liam Campbell Colin Duffy

Espionage & Supergrasses

Denis Donaldson Freddie Scappaticci (allegedly "Stakeknife") Martin McGartland Raymond Gilmour Kevin Fulton Joseph Fenton Eamon Collins


Cumann na mBan Fianna Éireann South Armagh Republican Action Force Direct Action Against Drugs NORAID Provisional Clan na Gael Friends of Sinn Féin Cairde na hÉireann Troops Out Movement


Continuity Irish Republican Army Real Irish Republican Army

Prominent killings

Michael Willetts Jean McConville Columba McVeigh Billy Fox Martin McBirney Steven Tibble Ross McWhirter Sammy Smyth Christopher Ewart-Biggs Jeffery Stanford Agate Robert Nairac Richard Sykes Gerard Evans Lord Mountbatten Baroness Brabourne Norman Stronge James Stronge Robert Bradford Lenny Murphy Kenneth Salvesen Anthony Berry Maurice Gibson Robert Seymour Heidi Hazell Joseph Fenton Nick Spanos Stephen Melrose Ian Gow Donald Kaberry Thomas Oliver Sammy Ward Tim Parry Jonathan Ball Ray Smallwoods Joe Bratty Raymond Elder Martin Cahill Jerry McCabe Andrew Kearney Eamon Collins Matthew Burns Robert McCartney (allegedly) James Curran Joseph Rafferty (allegedly) Paul Quinn

Authority control

WorldCat Identities VIAF: 39497903 LCCN: n50007912 ISNI: 0000 0000 8118 506X GND: 1062548663 SUDOC: 077610024 BNF: cb12622266v (d