Ambushes of the War of Independence

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SOLDIERS OF DESTINY KEVIN BARRY

Postby Na Fianna Éireann on Fri Jun 06, 2008 6:55 pm

Kevin Barry song.....

In Mountjoy Jail one Monday morning,
High upon the gallows tree,
Kevin Barry gave his young life
For the cause of liberty.
Just a lad of eighteen summers,
Yet no one can deny,
As he walked to death that morning
He proudly held his head on high.

Just before he faced the hangman,
In his dreary prison cell,
British soldiers tortured Barry
Just because he would not tell
The names of his brave comrades,
And other things they wished to know,
'Turn informer or we'll kill you!'
Kevin Barry answered 'No!'

Calmly standing to attention,
As he bade his last farewell
To his broken-hearted mother,
Whose sad grief no one can tell,
For the cause he proudly cherished
This sad parting had to be;
Then to death walked, softly smiling,
That old Ireland might be free.

Another martyr for old Ireland,
Another murder for the crown,
Whose brutal laws may kill the Irish,
But can't keep their spirit down.
Lads like Barry are no cowards,
From the foe they will not fly;
Lads like Barry will free Ireland,
For her sake they'll live and die.
Na Fianna Éireann Fíor inár gCroíthe Neart inár Láimhe Comhsheasmhacht inár dTeanga.
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Re: Ambushes of the War of Independence

Postby euryalus on Wed Sep 17, 2008 5:22 pm

I have recently been working on the subject of ambushes in Ireland, circa 1919-1923, and wondered if the following contribution would be of any interest.

THE AMBUSH AT OOLA

On 26th June 1920, a high-ranking British officer, Brigadier General Lucas, was captured by the IRA while he was fishing at Castletownroche, near the garrison town of Fermoy, but on 31st July The Times reported that the General had managed to remove the bars from the window of his room and effect an Escape. Rain fell in torrents throughout the night and General Lucas had great difficulty in making his way through the fields and hedges but, after further adventures, the intrepid escaper found his way to the safety of Pallas Green RIC Barracks. It was decided that he would be taken to Pallas, from where he could be given a lift on ‘the military mail motor from Limerick to Limerick Junction’. Thus, on 30th July 1920, wearing ‘civilian clothes and a soft hat’, he boarded a Crossley tender manned by members of the 1st Battalion Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry - the soldiers in the lorry being greatly surprised when they learned who he was.

The lorry continued its journey but, at a point about half a mile on the Tipperary side of Oola close by a farm gate, its progress was arrested by a barricade of carts, ladders and a fallen tree. As the vehicle pulled up, a volley was fired by about fifty IRA men who had been waiting in ambush. The soldiers immediately returned fire and, during the fighting, which continued for about half an hour, two soldiers were shot dead, and three more wounded, one of them seriously. While the fight was in progress a second military lorry appeared, followed by six armed RIC men from Oola. The ambushing party hastily retreated, and the dead and wounded were taken away in lorries, while the military parties proceeded to Tipperary.

It was, at first, thought that the ambush had been staged with the aim of recapturing General Lucas, but contemporary press reports reveal that there was a ‘strong rumour in Tipperary that the attackers were not aware that General Lucas was in the military lorry, and that the purpose of the attack was to secure the military mails’.

It is interesting to note that John Lynch, a local man from Cappamore in County Limerick, had witnessed the entire incident, and on 31st July 1920 The Times printed the following graphic account of the ambush at Oola:

‘AN EYE WITNESS’S STORY - I was coming to Tipperary this morning with a cartload of timber in company with my brother Tom. It was about half past nine, and we were about a quarter of a mile on the Tipperary side of Oola, when we heard shots in front of us. We proceeded on our way and a short distance farther on the wife of a farmer named David O’Donnell, ran out in a very excited state on to the road and, putting up her hands, shouted to us not to go any farther, for there was a raid on near Hewitt’s Gate. We proceeded on our way, however, and about 30 yards further on a policeman met us, putting up his hands and warning us to stop. We then left the horse and cart in the middle of the road and went in behind the hedge on the roadside. Looking through the hedge, we saw a motor-lorry some little distance down the road. About a dozen soldiers had got down from the lorry, and were replying with their rifles to shots which came from both sides of the road. Two soldiers lay motionless in the middle of the road, apparently dead. From behind a shed with a corrugated iron roof a heavy and continuous fusillade was directed on the soldiers. I could not say how many men were in the attacking party, but there appeared to be a good number.

When the fight had been in progress about 20 minutes or half an hour, a second motor lorry full of soldiers coming from Limerick raced up to the spot. Following them rushed five or six policemen, rifles in hand. The attackers then dispersed firing as they ran, end the military firing after them. When the fight was over the two dead soldiers, and two or three others, who appeared to be wounded, were placed in the lorry and the two lorries sent on to Tipperary’.

The OBLI regimental Chronicle subsequently reported that the two men killed in the Oola ambush had been 42797 Lance-Corporal G.B.Parker and 27862 Private Daniel Verey Bayliss of the 1st Battalion, while the injured included privates Snelling, Cornwall and Steer. In an obituary notice, The Chronicle recorded that ‘Lance-Corporal Parker was the son of Mr and Mrs Parker of 24 Park Street, High Wycombe in Buckinghamshire; he was only twenty years old at the time of his death, and had eighteen months service, having served with the 43rd in North Russia. Private Bayliss, who was the son of Mrs Bayliss of 7 George Street, St Clements, Oxford, had enlisted in the 43rd Band as a boy at the end of 1916, and was just eighteen when he was killed’.
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Re: Ambushes of the War of Independence

Postby bannerman on Mon Oct 20, 2008 1:26 am

Hello Shergar

Im just curious to know if you researched this information yourself or got it from another source. For example there seem to be a few mistakes in the account of the Crossbarry ambush.

The Bureau of military history statement made by I.R.A. Volunteer Flor Begly (the Piper of Crossbarry) who fought in the ambush states that no more than 500 British Forces were involved in the roundup, not 1200 as Tom Barry,s book and the account you posted say.

Peter Monaghan listed as being from Kilbrittan in Cork was in fact from Scotland! He was a member of the Royal Engineers in the British Army who was appauled at whay he saw when he was stationed in Ireland and defected to join the I.R.A. and was killed at Crossbarry, Some sources suggest that although his first name was Peter, the surname Monaghan was an alias. He is buried in the republican plot in Bandon. "Monaghan" was not the only serving British soldier to defect and join the I.R.A. in the 1916-1923 period. Ever hear of Reginald Hathaway executed in Kerry during the civil war?

With regards to British Casulties - republican accounts tend to overestimate and British accounts tend to underestimate. Basically name the bodies!!! Only when you can put a name and rank on each body cane you be fairly certain that that person was killed on that day. Below are a list of some British personnell definately killed at Crossbarry there may well have been more.

Private Baker (Driver R.A.S.C.) attached to 1st Battn. Essex Regt. killed at Crossbarry 19th March 1921
Private Cawley 1st Battn. Essex Regiment killed at Crossbarry 19th March 1921
Private Crafer 1st Battn. Essex Regiment killed at Crossbarry 19th March 1921
Private Gray (R.A.S.C.) 1st Battn. Essex Regt. killed at Crossbarry 19th March 1921
Captain Hotblack 1st Battn. Essex Regt. killed at Crossbarry 19th March 1921
Private Martin (Driver R.A.S.C.) attached to 1st Battn. Essex Regt. killed at Crossbarry 19th March 1921
Private Steward 1st Battn. Essex Regiment killed at Crossbarry 19th March 1921
Acting Sergeant Watts 1st Battn. Essex Regiment killed at Crossbarry 19th March 1921
Private Wilkins 1st Battn. Essex Regiment killed at Crossbarry 19th March 1921

Also Im pretty much certain that only possible member of the R.I.C./ Tans who was killed in the Crossbarry Ambush was Temporary Constable Arthur Frederick Kenward [Black and Tan from Surrey] Kenward was killed in the roundup afterwards and not in the initial fight itself which was between the I.R.A. and British Army only (No R.I.C.)

While its great to see other individuals like yourself taking an interest in the period, i think its also really important to do your own research and not rely on others, I met you recently at kinsale and I have to say seeing you interact with the public doing German WW2 showed that you really knew your stuff for that period. kudos! This is not a criticisim of you personally, im just giving you the advice to beware of your sources - as you know yourself from Belfast people have long memories and this type of stuff can be very emotive even years afterwards - so we have a duty to get it right if we are going to present it to the public as re-enactors.

Slan agus Beannacht
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"Is doigh linn gur mor iad na daoine mora mar atamuid fein ar ar nglunaibh. - Eirimis!!!"
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Re: Ambushes of the War of Independence

Postby bannerman on Mon Oct 20, 2008 1:54 am

Hello Stanley,
Me again! Did the Entripid escaper jump or was he pushed. It may just be propoganda on our behalf but most accounts hear agree that Lucas was simply too mice a fellow to shoot so we let him go. Most of the below account of his life in captivity and "escape comes from Michael Brennans book "The War in Clare" Brennan was in charge of Lucas at the time!

The I.R.A. initially hoped to exchange General Lucas with the British Government in return for the release of Robert Barton, a member of the I.R.A. who the British planned to execute. However the British Government dismissed the idea claiming that Robert Barton was a far more important figure to the I.R.A. than General Lucas was to the British Army. General Lucas talked freely with his I.R.A. captors about the military situation in Ireland and confessed to Thomas Malone that if he were an Irishman he would have joined the I.R.A. Maintaining an armed guard over the General was costly in terms of the I.R.A.’s time and manpower so the West Limerick Brigade decided to do what the North Cork Brigade had done before them, and pass the General on to someone else namely Micheal Brennan and the East Clare Brigade.
Michael Brennan experienced the same inconvenience of looking after General Lucas: "Early in July, Sean Finn and some of his men crossed the Shannon near Bunratty and handed over Lucas to me for ‘safe keeping’. This was a frightful imposition, but they promised me it was only for a few days, so I couldn’t refuse. We kept Lucas for some weeks in Cratloe at Ernest Corbett’s, in Clonmoney at Brennan's at Tullyrarriga, at Hasting’s and in Doonass at Hartigan’s. His presence completely immobilised us, as we daren’t do anything that would involve raiding by the British. In addition he was an expensive luxury as he drank a bottle of whiskey every day which I hated like hell to pay for. I was very sorry for him and more so for his young wife in England, who was very ill partly after a baby, but mostly, I imagine from shock. Through Jack Coughlan, who worked in Limerick Post Office, I arranged a system whereby Lucas wrote to his wife and got a letter from her every day. I put him on his honour that he would make no use of this facility to harm us or to escape and I gave him his letters unopened. He could understand being able to send letters, but receiving them impressed him very much with the machine we appeared to control. He was keen on exercise and he spent most of his day saving hay, while he played bridge every night until 2 a.m. Getting some signs of activity, we moved suddenly to Doonass and we only escaped being caught in a general ‘round up’ by a few hours. They had no knowledge of Lucas being in the district, but that wouldn’t have made any difference if we were caught. I kept appealing to G.H.Q. to get rid of our prisoner but all I got was nest that East Limerick would take him over soon. In Doonass the same routine held and the hold-up of the brigade continued. Hartigan’s house was on the bank of the Shannon and the local men offered to take Lucas ‘stroke hauling’ for salmon some night if he wished. This was apparently poaching and his straight-laced English mentality was at first horrified at this suggestion. He raised it with me again, however, and he seemed keenly interested but uneasy at the possibility at being caught poaching. I gave him positive assurances against this and eventually he decided to risk it. Late that night we got into a boat and Sean Caroll of Castleconnell and some of his men pulled us out into the middle of the rapids. Both banks of the river were of course strongly guarded. The boat was held in the strong current for about two hours while Lucas cast for salmon, but without result. Every now and then he expressed anxiety as to the possibility of the river bailiffs discovering us, but Caroll reassured him. When we got back Lucas said he could understand our feeling of security from police interference as he presumed we had taken the necessary precautions, but he would like to know how Sean was so certain that we were safe from interference from the bailiffs. I didn’t know, but I promised to find out the next day. I got the information and passed it on to Lucas. Sean was the Head Bailiff. This seemed to be the most astonishing bit of information Lucas had ever got.” "We had realised by now of course, that nobody wanted Lucas, as his presence held up all activities. We also knew that G.H.Q. and the Dáil Government were very embarrassed by him. Threats had been made publicly that he would be held against other prisoners and obviously we couldn’t play this game indefinitely against the British. When a Dublin visitor commented: ‘Why the hell doesn’t he escape’, I saw the solution of the difficulty. We spent three days in Caherconlish and then moved to a vacant house near Herbertstown, Bruff. We took Lucas for long walks across country and I noted with satisfaction that he studied the topography carefully from every hilltop. Up to this we had always left a man outside his bedroom window at night and when his room was on the ground floor we withdrew this man. At first nothing happened, he may have suspected a trap, but when we got up the second morning our prisoner was gone.”
Some elements of the British press were eager to publish stories of the Generals torture by the I.R.A. but when they questioned General Lucas he simply replied ‘I was treated as a gentleman by gentlemen.’

All the same though - good work Stanley keep it up

Slan
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"Is doigh linn gur mor iad na daoine mora mar atamuid fein ar ar nglunaibh. - Eirimis!!!"
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Re: Ambushes of the War of Independence

Postby euryalus on Mon Oct 20, 2008 2:48 pm

Hello Padraic,

My own brief contribution was concerned mainly with the Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry casualties, and General Lucas merely had a peripheral role. I don't know much about him, but I am not surprised that he appears to have, in effect, made friends with his captors. Three officers had originally been ambushed during the fishing trip, but as one had been wounded the IRA men agreed that one of the un-injured officers should be allowed to take him back to Fermoy. This hardly demonstrates any "murderous intent" on the part of the volunteers, although having said that I suspect that there was little ill-feeling on either side during the summer of 1920, and contemporary newspapers such as The Times clearly state that General Lucas was well-treated.

It seems to me that what I have described as "ill-feeling" increased as the campaign gained momentum, the ambushes in 1921 being more violent than those of 1920, while the events of the civil war marked a further escalation of violence. I also suspect that, as a regular soldier and a mere Englishman, General Lucas would have been regarded by his captors as a fairly innocuous character. An Irish officer (that is to say an Irish officer in the British Army such as Colonel Smyth or Captain Bowen-Colthurst) would have presented more of a threat, while a captured Black & Tan would obviously have evoked much stronger feelings.
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Re: Ambushes of the War of Independence

Postby euryalus on Mon Oct 20, 2008 5:22 pm

I have just found this letter to The Times which was written by General Lucas while he was being held as a prisoner. Although it could be argued that the letter was written under duress, General Lucas confirmed that he had been well-treated after he had been released - on one occasion he was even allowed to play a game of tennis!
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Re: Ambushes of the War of Independence

Postby Heritage on Fri Aug 07, 2009 10:05 am

The Battle of Tourmakeady
This book examines the ambush of 3 May 1921 in Tourmakeady, Co. Mayo and the ensuing action on the Partry Mountains overlooking Tourmakeady. The fact that an ambush on a RIC/Black and Tan resupply patrol took place is without a doubt. The fact that four policemen/Tans were killed and that two were injured is also not in dispute. Where the story begins to fall apart is what happened on the Partry Mountain. The IRA commander, Comdt. Tom Maguire (1892-1993) claims that he was surrounded by 600 British troops and that after a daylong fight he managed to bring his Column to safety inflicting up to fifty casualties and suffering one killed and two wounded (including himself). Bear in mimd that his action report came in the wake of the Crossbarry report. Bear in mind also that his mission was successful. His mission was to kill or destroy a RIC/Tan patrol that was supplying Derrypark police barracks and to cause the closure of the barracks. Derrypark barracks was closed on 5 May.

A British acting Company Commander, Lt Ibberson from ‘C’ �pany, 2nd Battalion, the Border Regiment claims that Maguire’s a�unt is way off the mark, that no more than twenty troops were involved and that he personally shot all three IRA casualties! A controversy, raged in the Sunday Press in the mid ‘fifti� generated by a series of articles on the War of Independence ambushes by Ernie O’Malley.� Ibberson (now Major Ibberson MBE) clashed with Comdt General Tom Maguire as to which version of the ambush was closer to the truth!

I have examined all the available evidence and publlished an account of the actions based on the material available. If you would like to purchase a copy please contact me.
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Re: Ambushes of the War of Independence

Postby bannerman on Fri Aug 07, 2009 10:37 am

Hello Captain Buckley,
Welcome to the forum. Ive read your book and found it very interesting. Anyone interested in the War of Independence and its contraversies should definately get hold of a copy and have a read of it. I dont think that anyone familiar with the subject matter of the War of Independence will be hugely surprised to know that some Republican leaders certainly exagurated their fighting prowess and accounts of what actually happened in ambushes. However this phenomenon was not limited to I.R.A. veterans - Quite a number of British accounts of barracks attacks and ambushes by the I.R.A. are just as economical with the truth! For example recently I had a read of the regimental history of the Hampshire Regiment and their role in Cork during the War of Independence. At one stage when talking about searching civilians, it commented that they never knew who was friend or foe. To highlight this point, they claimed that they had found a 15 year old girl wandering the roads with a Lewis machine gun and two revolvers on her person!!! Now anyone familiar with the period will know that a Lewis gun is very large and weighs about 28lbs - so are we talking Cumann Na M-Bann or Cumann na Monsters?

How many times have we seen British accounts of ambushes that claim up to '200 Sinn Fein Gunmen' were involved? Whats also very interesting is the amount of information conviently left out of British Histories - Quite often Ireland is not mentioned at all or only has fleeting references to the "Troubles"

I think you hit the nail on the head with the comment " which version of the ambush was closer to the truth" - They say the first casulty of war is the truth. We should bear this in mind when writing and reading about the period.

Padraig Og O Ruairc
http://www.warofindependence.net/

"Is doigh linn gur mor iad na daoine mora mar atamuid fein ar ar nglunaibh. - Eirimis!!!"
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Re: Ambushes of the War of Independence

Postby Heritage on Fri Aug 07, 2009 3:57 pm

Hello Padraig Óg,

Thank you. I agree with you 100%. The propaganda war during the War of Independence was as intense as it was on the ground. The propaganda machine that the Crown operated through the 'Weekly Summary' and everywhere else was on permanent overdrive and it lost no opportunity in generating gross misepresentation. Tourmakeady was a typical example of this. They (Crown propaganda) claimed 8 enemy hit by MG fire, 150 IRA in the field, 12 rebels killed and as far as I remember a spy who forewarned the British Army enabling them to account for most of the rebels etc. All this was untrue and a classic example of statements issued by the propaganda machine.
And of course, in the case of Feeney 'shot while attempting to escape'. Feeny was the 75th person shot while trying to escape in the period. Interestingly I know someone who actually met the Tan who shot him decades later and the incident haunted him.
As you will have seen I gave a balanced assessment of what happened on both sides while attempting to tease out
what exactly happened.

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Re: Ambushes of the War of Independence

Postby divehurler on Wed Jan 26, 2011 11:16 pm

hi shergar

im delighted i came across your post about ambushes during the war of independance

im very interested as to where you got your facts regarding the sheemore ambush, as my grandfather took part, his name was Mattie Boylan, (you have boyle),
he is mentioned on the memorial at sheemore, along with a man named o reilly,(missing from your post), this can be seen on
www.irishwarmemorials.ie
i have his medal and a letter from "the south leitrim brigades vetern commitee" dated in the 1960's.
he died in 62 and was given a full military funeral n mainham cemetry in kildare,
very little is known about him other then what is available in the cencus of 1901 and 1911 so any lead you an give me would be of great significance to me, given that i am currently researching him
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