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 Richard Adam SYKES


 Arthur Clifton SYKES


 Lorna Evelyn STANIER


 William A SYKES




 Philip Richard SYKES 

 Andrew Francis SYKES

 Rachel SYKES

Relationship to Mark:

 Second cousin twice removed

Date and place of birth:

 9th May 1920


"Captain Sykes has been commanding 32 Guards Brigade Signal Troop since landing in Normandy in June 1944.

He has consistently organised and maintained the Brigade communications at a very high standard. In active operation he has visited his detachments with battalions daily without any regard of enemy action and his personal example has been an inspiration to all ranks in his troop.

By his cheerfulness and tact he has always induced a spirit of co-operation with other fmns and units with which the Brigade has been working and laid the foundations for good signalling."

Awarded Croix de Guerre with Vermillion Star

11th October 1945

London Gazette - The Military Cross: Captain (temporary) Richard Adam Sykes, 186347, Rotal Corps of Signals (Warminster, Wilts)

14th February 1950

London Gazette - Foreign Office, 9th February, 1950. The KING has been graciously pleased to appoint the under mentioned gentlemen to be Officers of His Majesty's Foreign Service in the Grades respectively indicated, with effect from the dates specified after their names:— Eighth grade Richard Adam Sykes, Esquire (8th May 1948)

Date and place of marriage:

 4th quarter 1953 - Salisbury, Wiltshire

11th September 1964

London Gazette - Foreign Office - The QUEEN has been graciously pleased to appoint, with effect from the dates respectively indicated: Richard Adam Sykes, Esquire, MC, to be Her Majesty's ConsuI-General for Continental Greece, Thessaly, Epirus, the Peloponnese, the Island of Euboea, the Ionian Islands, Crete and all the islands in the Aegean Sea with the exception of ...

12th June 1965

London Gazette - To be Members of the Third Class, or Companions, of the said Most Distinguished

Order : Richard Adam SYKES, Esq., MC, Counsellor, Her Majesty's Embassy, Athens.

4th April 1970

London Gazette - Foreign and Commonwealth Office - 1st April 1970, The QUEEN has been graciously pleased to appoint Richard Adam Sykes, Esquire, CMG, MC, to be Her Majesty's Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary at Havana with effect from the 10th March 1970.

Date and place of death:

 22nd March 1979











BBC News: 22nd March 1979

British ambassador assassinated in Holland

British ambassador in Holland Sir Richard Sykes has been shot dead outside his Dutch home.

Two gunmen opened fire on Sir Richard and his Dutch footman as they left his residence at The Hague to make the short five minute car journey to the embassy.

At about 0900 local time the 58-year-old and 19-year-old footman, Karel Straub, were both shot in the head.

The father-of-three is reported to have fallen into his car and been driven off at speed by his chauffeur Jack Wilson.

Mr Straub fell to the pavement and was repeatedly shot again.

Both men were taken to hospital but died on arrival within minutes of each other.

Eyewitnesses said the gunmen were wearing dark suits and coats, aged between 35 and 40, and escaped down a quiet alleyway.

Alyson Bailes, secretary to the former Trade Secretary Edmund Dell, is on a special visit to Holland and is understood to have been with Sir Richard during the attack.

But initial reports suggest she is unharmed.

A spokesman for the embassy said: "We have no idea who perpetrated this horrible act, or for what motive."

Police in the Netherlands and in Britain have not ruled out IRA involvement, but other groups under suspicion include Palestinians and Iraqis.

Detectives are also considering the possibility Dutch "hit-men" could be involved.

The embassy and the police said no threats had been made against the ambassador, and there had been no sign of IRA activity in Holland during recent months.

Sir Richard was an acknowledged expert on security affairs and had been a diplomat in Cuba, Peking and Washington.

He was responsible for an internal report on the safety of British diplomats following the killing in 1977 of the British ambassador to Eire, Christopher Ewart-Biggs.

Sir Richard took up his job in June 1977 after a two year posting as a Foreign and Commonwealth Office deputy under-secretary in London.








 House of Lords Debate: 22nd March 1979

§ 3.57 p.m.


My Lords, I will, with permission, repeat a Statement now being made in the other place on the assassination of Sir Richard Sykes. The Statement reads as follows:

"Honourable Members will have been deeply shocked to hear this morning of the death of our Ambassador to the Netherlands, Sir Richard Sykes, and a member of his domestic staff, Mr. Karel Straub, a Dutch citizen. Sir Richard Sykes was shot while leaving his residence shortly after 9 o'clock this morning and four bullets were fired at the car at short range. According to an eye witness, the shots were fired by two men who have not yet been traced and no organisation has yet claimed responsibility for the incident. We are in close contact with the Dutch Government and with other European Governments.

"I know the entire House will be appalled by this premeditated act of violence and will join with me in expressing our sincere condolences to Lady Sykes and her family and to the family of Mr. Straub.

Sir Richard was an outstanding representative and his death is a great loss to this country, of which he was a distinguished servant; to the Diplomatic Service, of which he was a greatly liked and respected member; 1283 and, above all, to his wife and family, to whom we will all wish to extend our deepest sympathy".


My Lords, in common probably with a number of your Lordships, I had known Sir Richard Sykes for a number of years, and it was a very great shock to hear the news this morning. He was not just a distinguished member of the Foreign Service, though he was certainly that; he was, too, a distinguished soldier during the war, but he was also one of the nicest and best friends anybody could have. I join with the noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts, in sending our sympathy to Lady Sykes and her family, and of course to the family of Mr. Straub.


My Lords, once again we must condemn an apparently senseless assassination and mourn the death of a brilliant and devoted public servant, to whose widow and family all our sympathy must naturally go out. What can be done to prevent possible future such outrages will, I have no doubt, be done; and while all necessary precautions will of course be taken, I am afraid that no security can be absolute. The sad fact is that a really fanatical and determined murderer will very often be able to kill, so our long-term hope, I suggest, can only be that the present wave of mad terrorism will subside when it becomes clear that no objective of the terrorist is in practice achieved by useless individual acts of violence.


My Lords, the House will unanimously join the two noble Lords and myself in the expressions of sympathy which have already been extended. In particular I endorse what the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, said about the enormity of the problem of achieving absolute security. The situation in this respect is being improved in the light of experience and following innovation, but we must all be most careful as to the possibilities of senseless acts of violence being perpetrated in the future by organisations and individuals over which and whom it is impossible to have total supervision and to exert total prevention.

1284 I was particularly moved by what the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, had to say about Sir Richard himself; I agree with the noble Lord. In peace as in war Sir Richard served this country with distinction and courage, and his death was in the line of duty, as one might expect. I, too, can claim friendship with Richard Sykes, and I know that what noble Lord, Lord Carrington, said about him is certainly true. He was a man who combined integrity and intellect to a remarkable degree.

26th March 1979

From the Glasgow Herald

Last farewell to murdered envoy


A private funeral service was held today for Britain’s ambassador to Holland, Sir Richard Sykes, shot outside his residence in the centre of The Hague on Thursday.


The murdered envoy’s son Phillip, 24, read the lesson at the service, attended by about 50 people in the Anglican church of St John and St Philip. Also present were Sir Richard’s widow, Lady Ann Sykes and their other two children Andrew and Rachel.


The British Government were represented by Michael Palliser, head of the diplomatic service, and Mr Ewen Fergusson, Under-Secretary of State at the Foreign Office.


Afterwards the ambassador’s body was taken for cremation to Ockenburgh on the outskirts of The Hague. His ashes will be taken back to England later.


Hague police said today they still did not know who was responsible for the killing of Sir Richard, 58, and his 19 year-old footman, Karel Straub. The IRA has said it was involved in the attack. Mr Straub will be buried here tomorrow.


Among the wreaths was one from Holland’s Queen Juliana and her husband Prince Bernhard.


Dutch Prime Minister Andreas Van Agt is expected to attend an official memorial service for Sir Richard in The Hague on Wednesday.


Meanwhile Belgian police claimed they had identified one Irish terrorist alleged to have killed by mistake a Belgian banker last week in Brussels.


They blamed Dutch and Irish police for lack of cooperation before and after the shooting in which Andre Michaux, a 47 year old Belgian National Bank executive died.


Police said today they had traced an Irish terrorist who arrived in Holland hours before the murder.



St Michael's Church, Wilsford - memorial erected to Richard Adam Sykes

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