Ian Rycroft

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Charles Ian Rycroft[1] was a British Army officer and businessman.

Army Career

A brief bio for Rycroft on an unofficial Royal Engineers reunion site states:

Ian Rycroft: Joined 64(95 party/55 Sqn).Survey Eng course at Chatham.12 RSME briefly and PRBS Brecon(again Briefly).Then RMA Sandhurst 2 years(Ypres 41).Then 2 Div Engrs-Greven-16 Sqn-Gib ,Maidstone,Ulster,then HQ 39 Bde Ops Ulster,then Arabic Course Beaconsfield,then; muhandis89@aol.com [2]

Rycroft appears to have posted on a number of web forums using a handle, Muhandis89, which matches his email address. One such post includes a 1996 profile of him from Truck Magazine, which includes the following details:

At 16, Ian Rycroft was a runner for J Walter Thompson, the advertising agency, and then a private in the Army Catering Corps. At 17 he was in the sappers, getting shot at in Aden; then by 'a series of accidents' he rose to captain, commanding a front line unit against the South Yemenis in Oman. He left the Army at 28.[3]

After attending the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst, Rycroft was made a 2nd lieutenant in the Royal Engineers as of 2 August 1968. his army number was 485823.[4]

He was promoted to lieutenant as of 2 February 1970.[5]

He was promoted to captain on 2 August 1974.[6]

Rycroft retired receiving a gratuity on 28 October 1974.[7]


According to author Martin Dillon, Rycroft served in the British Army Training Team in Oman at a time when it became part of an army-wide search for Ulster-born soldiers. Dillon quotes Rycroft as stating:

Quite a number of guys who served in Ulster in the early '70s were in Oman before and after their tours. There was quite a trawl around British regiments for Ulstermen.[8]

According to the Sunday Times, Rycroft "served with the Royal Engineers in Oman during the Dhofar war of the late 1960s".[9]

Rycroft left the following comment on the Britain's Small Wars website, on a thread about British soldiers in the Vietnam War:

While serving in the Dhofar War,with the Firqat,I served with a guy called Ray Kane,who was a 'contract'British Officer.he had served,also on contract in Vietnam,as an FOO with the US Artillery.Another friend,having done the Aussie 'resistance to interrogation course',staged back to Uk via Singapore.While there,he bumped into an RAR officer-Donald Healey-who had taught us both.Col Healey invited him,for a few days to come to his Regimental HQ in Vietnam,to 'look around'.For about a week,he was a guest of the RAR and accompanied them on some sweeps.They were next to a Korean Regiment.However,this visit was certainly unofficial![10]

Rycroft is listed by the Sultan's Armed Forces Association as MR "I RYCROFT WKhM(G)".[11] This would appear to signify that he received the Sultan's Distinguished Service Medal for gallantry.[12]

Rycroft served in Northern Oman and Dhofar with "Major Alan Howard, RM Retd and late of DR in the early 70’s", who spoke at his memorial service.[13]

Northern Ireland

Author Martin Dillon described Rycroft as "an officer familiar with the workings of the MRF." In his book The Trigger Men, Dillon states that Rycroft told him that some of the activities of the MRF's "Whiterock OP" were "hilarious in retrospect".[14]

An individual posting as "Muhandis89" made the following claim about Rycroft on the TrucknetUK forum in 2008:

.Apparently one of his soldiers was killed on duty in Ulster,many years ago,and because of the nature of the work that both did,his name had not appeared anywhere.The MOD did not want to put his name on a special memorial.Ian spoke to some high powered journos at the Sunday Times,and now MoD seem to have changed their mind! Strange!! He always knew when/where to apply pressure.[15]

A "Muhandis89" posting on the British Army Rumour Service website claimed to have known the MRF member Sapper Edward "Ted" Stuart, and to have been contacted about him by the Northern Ireland Victims Commissioner.[16]

Business career

EC Transport

The Times reported in 1987 that Rycroft owned the firm EC Transport (Wimborne) Limited, stating:

Some of EC Transport's most lucrative business is carrying explosives for the Ministry of Defence. All its staff, including Mr Broomfield, have been vetted by the security services.[17]

Zeebrugge Disaster

The Times reported that Rycroft owned a lorry carrying hazardous materials that was aboard the Herald of Free Enterprise when it capsized off Zeebrugge:

The suspect chemicals, including cyanide, are aboard a lorry owned by Mr Ian Rycroft, a former Army explosives officer, whose Dorset-based transport firm regularly carries explosives and radio-active and other hazardous materials.
Mr Rycroft and his firm, EC Transport (Wimborne) Limited, were fined a total of pounds 1,600 at Bournemouth Crown Court last July for carrying hazardous explosives listed as less dangerous than they really were, and for exposing people to unnecessary risks.
Mr Rycroft said last night that he had warned Townsend Thoresen, owners of the ferry, that his lorry contained hazardous goods. 'I was very surprised that the shipping company put our lorry on the Herald of Free Enterprise. I expected it to travel on a freight-only ferry later the same evening. '
He said: 'The shipper supplied the documentation, which was extremely comprehensive. The shipper is a government organization in west Europe. ' However he refused to name the organization or give any details of the chemicals being carried by his lorry.[18]

Arms to Iraq

The Scott Inquiry heard evidence that E.C. Transport carried out shipments to Iraq for British companies, Allivane International and Ordnance Technologies. Rycroft was never charged and his co-director Paul Grecian had a conviction quashed in the Court of Appeal. According to the Sunday Times, it was rumoured that the two men were part of an MI6 intelligence-gathering operation in Iraq.[19]

In December 1992, Home Secretary Kenneth Clarke revoked E.C. Transport's license to ship military equipment in Britain. Rycroft told the Daily Mail at the time that the decision could cost 17 jobs at the firm:

'My firm was never charged with anything,' he said, 'yet as far as Mr Clarke is concerned, we are guilty until proved innocent.' [20]

Prince Harry plot allegations

In February 2003, Rycroft was accused of plotting to obtain DNA from Prince Harry to compare with that of James Hewitt. The Times reported that MI5 and the police had launched an operation to find Rycroft after a tipoff to Prince Charles's private secretary, Michael Peat:

despite a security alert royal bodyguards apparently failed to spot a former soldier stalking Harry, who is a pupil at Eton, on outings through the streets of Windsor.
The man picked up a tissue the prince had dropped and took it to his boss, Ian Rycroft, a former army officer linked to the arms-to-Iraq scandal of the late 1980s.
Rycroft, 56, who claims to have been a colonel in the Royal Engineers, has been a businessman, newspaper tipster and private detective.
He said he had already obtained Hewitt’s DNA from a hotel bedsheet last November. He had sent it and the tissue to a laboratory in Latvia for testing.
Even though the results were negative, Rycroft hoped to sell them to the highest bidder.
He admitted last week he was the man secretly discussing the plot with journalists from The People, a tabloid newspaper that had no intention of running the story. The People published the pictures two weeks ago but used Rycroft’s assumed name, Ian Matthews Bell.[21]

The paper cited un-named sources close to Rycroft as saying he owed money, with one stating ""He is desperate, that is why he is doing this."[22]


A memorial service was due to be held for Ian Rycroft in September 2011.[23]


External Resources


  1. London Gazette issue 44699, page 11326, 18 October 1968.
  2. Contacts P-R, R.E. United, accessed 14 August 2011.
  3. Jack Semple, Interview with Ian Rycroft -a man of many parts,not all spare!!, Truck Magazine, January 1996. Posted at E.C.Transport, Trucknetuk, 19 Februar 2008, accessed 15 August 2011.
  4. London Gazette issue 44699, page 11326, 18 October 1968.
  5. London Gazette issue 45031, page 1356, 30 January 1970.
  6. London Gazette, issue 46398, page 10998, 11 November 1974.
  7. London Gazette, issue 46455, page 211, 7 January 1975.
  8. Martin Dillon, The Trigger Men, Mainstream Publishing, 2003,. p.72.
  9. Adam Nathan, Man behind plot to steal Harry’s hair, Sunday Times, 23 February 2003.
  10. Did British Forces serve in Vietnam? - Page 5, Britain's Small Wars, accessed 14 August 2011.
  11. Members in the UK, Sultan's Armed Forces Association], 12 November 2010, accessed 15 August 2011.
  12. Oman, The Royal Ark, accessed 15 August 2011.
  13. Ian Rycroft WKhM(G) MID, oman.org.uk, accessed 9 September 2011.
  14. Martin Dillon, The Trigger Men, Mainstream Publishing, 2003,. pp.65-66.
  15. E.C.Transport, TrucknetUK, 10 October 2008, accessed 15 August 2011.
  16. Royal Engineers Roll of Honour, British Army Rumour Service, 5 July 2008, accessed 15 August 2011.
  17. Rodney Cowton, Tony Dawe and Ruth Gledhill, Disaster ferry carried banned chemical cargo, The Times, 15 April 1987.
  18. Rodney Cowton, Tony Dawe and Ruth Gledhill, Disaster ferry carried banned chemical cargo, The Times, 15 April 1987.
  19. Adam Nathan, Man behind plot to steal Harry’s hair, Sunday Times, 23 February 2003.
  20. Hugh Muir, FURY OVER CLARKE BAN ON ARMS SHIPPING FIRM, Mail on Sunday, 20 December 1992.
  21. Adam Nathan, Man behind plot to steal Harry’s hair, Sunday Times, 23 February 2003.
  22. Adam Nathan, Man behind plot to steal Harry’s hair, Sunday Times, 23 February 2003.
  23. Charles Ian Rycroft, Bournemouth Echo, 13 August 2011.