Anglo-Irish War

RP578

LE
Book Reviewer
#1
Am doing a little digging on the activities of the Oxf & Bucks LI and stumbled across a number of casualties in the Irish war of Independence. Got me wondering if the British ever issue a medal for the 1919-21 War? I can't find any reference to one even though about 261 Regular troops were killed there.
 
#2
no medal issued by the British AFAIK.

261 sounds a bit high. Does that include Tans and Auxilliaries?

Not all those who died were a result of action :

Pte Alfred G Stonell, 9700, Ox and Bucks killed in barracks by a colleague August 1920. Rifle went off by accident. Supposed to have served 12years and came out of WW1 with 1915 Star, Victory Medal and British War Medal.

a few who did die as a result of action :
Pte Bayliss Ox and Bucks was killed in the convoy carrying Gen Lucas after his escape/release. Also killed in this was Pte Baker, RASC.

Pte Stackman Ox and Bucks killed when a grounded RAF plane he was guarding was attacked. Pte Robins wounded in the attack and died of those wounds.


Other Ox and Bucks listed on the Memorial Service list of officers, NCOs and men of Irish Command 1920-22

Lt Warren
Pte Morgan
L/Cpl Parker
Pte Walker
Pte Williams


I'll have a look thru my books/notes and see if I can find any references to Ox and Bucks.
 
#4
the reason I ask for clarification re the number is that the Memorial Service held for the Officers, NCOs and Men of Irish Command 21st Nov 1922 lists 162 killed pre Truce, 16 killed post Truce and 2 as "Missing, Fate Unknown". Of the 162, 2 are Auxilliaries.
 

RP578

LE
Book Reviewer
#5
no medal issued by the British AFAIK.

261 sounds a bit high. Does that include Tans and Auxilliaries?

Not all those who died were a result of action :

Pte Alfred G Stonell, 9700, Ox and Bucks killed in barracks by a colleague August 1920. Rifle went off by accident. Supposed to have served 12years and came out of WW1 with 1915 Star, Victory Medal and British War Medal.

a few who did die as a result of action :
Pte Bayliss Ox and Bucks was killed in the convoy carrying Gen Lucas after his escape/release. Also killed in this was Pte Baker, RASC.

Pte Stackman Ox and Bucks killed when a grounded RAF plane he was guarding was attacked. Pte Robins wounded in the attack and died of those wounds.


Other Ox and Bucks listed on the Memorial Service list of officers, NCOs and men of Irish Command 1920-22

Lt Warren
Pte Morgan
L/Cpl Parker
Pte Walker
Pte Williams


I'll have a look thru my books/notes and see if I can find any references to Ox and Bucks.
Johnny,

I got the figure from Wiki (I know, I know ...) which is in itself contradictory:

The total number killed in the guerrilla war of 1919-21 between Republicans and British forces in what became the Irish Free State came to over 1,400. Of these, 363 were police personnel, 261 were from the regular British Army, about 550 were IRA volunteers (including 24 official executions), and about 200 were civilians. Some other sources give higher figures.
On 21 November 1921 the British army held a memorial service for its dead, of all ranks, of which it counted 162 up to the 1921 Truce and 18 killed afterwards.
As for the Oxf & Bucks dead, I managed to source the following names, (also a Bucks Battalion lad, a mobilised Territorial?), including the ones you've listed, with some information on the manner of their deaths. The three lads executed as spies by the IRA in Limerick show how some things never change:
On the 30th of July 1920 two soldiers were killed in an ambush on the Tipperary side of Oola. The soldiers were travelling in a Crossley Tender which also carried the recently escaped from IRA custody General Lucas. It was thought that the ambush was set up to either recapture General Lucas or kill him but recent research has proved that the ambush was set up to capture the Military Mail which was also in the Crossley Tender at the time.

Bayliss Daniel Verey 27862 Private1st Bn. Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry1830/07/1920
Son of William Verey Bayliss and Minnie Bayliss, of 8, Randolph St., Cowley Rd., Oxford.

Parker G B 47297 Lance Corporal 1st Bn. Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry2030/07/1920
Son of Owen and Daisy Parker, of 24, Park St., High Wycombe.


Clare 07/09/1919

Spackman AW 5373641 Private 15th Bn. Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry - 18/11/1920
On 18th November 1920, after an aeroplane had made a forced landing near Punches Quarry at Cratloe in County Clare, the Oxon & Bucks were asked to protect the machine during the night, and a platoon from "C" Company, 1st Battalion was, accordingly, sent out under 2nd Lieutenant M.H.Last. When the party reached Cratloe they set up camp near the aircraft and built themselves a large fire, unaware that a party of IRA men had decided to raid the site to see if they could capture the aeroplane's machine gun. (It seems that, according to the IRA, there were no sentries). The attackers, led by Joe Clancy of the East Clare brigade, opened fire on the soldiers from an elevated position at about 17.30 hrs, 5373641 Private Alfred Spackman being killed, while 5373574 Private Maurice Robins was severely wounded. Private Spackman, who had enlisted in the Regiment in April 1920, was the son of Mrs Spackman of Twyford in Berkshire. (Information Stanley Jenkins, Great War Forum.)


Limerick 22/02/1921

The following three soldiers were found shot dead near the town land of Derrynaw Limerick. A note found around the neck of one of the soldiers with the words Spies tried by Court-Martial and found guilty, all others beware.

Walker W S5374675 Private 1st Battalion Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry - 22/02/1921

Williams David John 5373002 Private 1st Bn. Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry - 22/02/1921

Mullett Thomas Leonard 5374617 Private "B" Coy. Bucks Bn. Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry3122/02/1921
Served as H. Morgan. Son of Edward Mullett, of 11, Mile End Rd., Colchester.


Clare 12/06/1921

Hudson M5393689 Lance Corporal Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry - 12/06/1921
Died as a result of wounds received when ambushed in County Clare.


Clare 28/06/1921

Warren Richard Crawford - Lieutenant 1st Bn. Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry 28/06/1921
Died as a result of wounds received when ambushed in County Clare. Winner of the Military Cross and Bar, he was the Son of the late Col. Percy Bliss Warren.
 
#6
thanks for the extra information.

I put Stackman in my post as it's how it's spelt on the Memorial Service record but Spackman appears to be the correct spelling. L/Cpl Hudson is not listed.

Of the books I have "The War of Independence in Limerick 1912-1921" by Thomas Toomey appears to have the most references to Ox and Bucks. "British Voices from the Irish War of Independence 1918-1921" has 1 scant mention. "A View from Above" by Donal MacCarron has mention of a couple of planes having to land and subsequently being attacked but doesn't mention unit details. One book I can't lay my hands on at the moment is "Fighting for Dublin" and I think there is a reference to Ox and Bucks. Will check once it resurfaces.

I think you've found Brendan Lee's IrishMedals website. Padraig Og O Ruairc has some information re the soldiers shot as spies on his website War Of Independence.
 
#7
Noticed elsewhere


Were executed British soldiers deserters or spies?
Written by Padraig Óg Ó Ruairc

NINETY years ago, on February 22, 1921, the bodies of three British soldiers, Privates Williams, Walker and Morgan, were discovered by a farmer at Poolagoond, near the Clare/Galway border.

The Strand Barracks in Limerick as it appears today.The War of Independence was raging and the three soldiers had been executed by the IRA’s East Clare Brigade. They had been shot in the head. One of them had a label hung around his neck, which read “Spies. Tried by court-martial and found guilty. All others beware.” [1]
According to the British, the trio were deserters from the British army who were “murdered by rebels” [2]. The IRA claimed that the three were spies posing as deserters. So what really happened? Were the three men fed up of life in the British army and trying to go home? Or were they spies on a mission to gather information about the IRA?
Desertion had been a serious problem for the British army in the First World War. Of the 346 British soldiers sentenced to death between 1914 and 1920, 266 were executed for desertion. In the early phase of the War of Independence, there was relative little danger for British soldiers who decided to desert. Ireland was considered a domestic posting by the British army - a policing action, not a war. So if caught, deserters were more likely to be imprisoned rather than executed. For the IRA, genuine British army deserters were a potential source of weapons, ammunition and intelligence information. They were very unlikely to be killed by the IRA in late 1919 and early 1920.
Later in the war, a small number of British soldiers not only deserted but actually defected and joined the IRA. These included: Charlie Chidlie, an English soldier stationed in Offaly; Peter Monoghan, a Scottish soldier who joined the IRA’s 3rd West Cork Brigade and was killed fighting against the British army at Crossbarry and Reginald Hathaway, a Londoner who deserted from the East Lancashire Regiment in Kerry and fought as an IRA volunteer in the Civil War until he was captured and executed by the Free State Army in 1923.
Desertion became a far more dangerous and complicated affair for British soldiers as the war progressed. The waters were muddied when the British army began using soldiers posing as deserters to gather military intelligence about the IRA. Frequently, British soldiers on intelligence missions who were captured by the IRA and executed were claimed by the British army to have deserted some time previously.
In May 1921, two British soldiers who had been captured by the IRA near Charleville in Cork, executed and secretly buried, had deserted to join a travelling circus, according to the British army. [9]
So were the three soldiers executed by the IRA at Lough Attorick actual deserters or were they spies posing as deserters? The three men included Private Harry Morgan, a 31-year-old former groom, from Colchester. He was unmarried and had served in the First World War. Private William Walker, a 24-year-old farmer from Bicester, was married with one daughter and had served in the First World War. Private David John Williams, a 33-year-old ex-collier from Lydney, was married and had 14 years service in the British army. Private Williams was wounded twice in the First World War but was also a chronic deserter. He was absent for several periods, one as long as five months in 1915, apparently due to the birth and illness of his daughter. His son was born in May 1920, which might possibly have acted as an incentive for him to desert.
All three were members of the Oxford and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, a British army regiment stationed at the Strand Barracks, Limerick. According to the regiment’s chronicle: “They had been missing from Strand Barracks since February 13 and nothing more was heard of them until their dead bodies were found by a farmer at Woodford” [10]. This account does not explain why the men had gone ‘missing’. The RIC report on their deaths recorded that “These soldiers were supposed to have been deserters …” [11]
The three men’s movements and activities, between the time they left the Strand Barracks in Limerick and their reappearance wandering the countryside north of Tulla, near the Clare/Galway border, remains a mystery. Local accounts of the incident surviving today claim the three visited houses in the area demanding food from the occupants. Their presence was quickly brought to the attention of the IRA.
IRA veteran, Sean Moroney stated that the three were held for some time before being court-martialled and executed. “About this time three men, (they were English and of the officer class) who claimed they were deserters from the British army, were arrested by volunteers in my battalion area. During the trial it was proved that they had tried to, and did in fact, keep in contact with their own forces. The result was that they were found guilty of being spies and sentenced to death. The sentence was duly carried out.” [12] Unfortunately Moroney did not specify what the proof that convicted the three men was.
After the soldiers’ bodies were discovered 48 hours later, the British army carried out reprisals by burning houses and firing on civilians, killing a man named Grogan. The soldiers’ bodies were brought into Limerick and subsequently sent to England for burial.
Significantly, neither of the men’s obituaries in the Oxford regiment’s chronicle, nor Lieutenant Jarvis’s account, comments on the reason for the men’s disappearance or make the claim that they had deserted. The Oxford and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry’s Regimental Chronicle simply states that they were “missing”.
The explanation that Morgan, Walker, and Williams were deserters does not seem to fit the facts. The ultimate aim of British army deserters was to return to their homes in Britain. The British authorities were always vigilant for deserters and lists of soldiers absent without leave were circulated to all police stations. However, provided they kept their heads down, a successful deserter would be able to disappear back into society.
If these three soldiers were trying to return to their homes in England there is no logical reason why they would have been travelling northwards, cross-country, on foot through the hills of North-East Clare. The easiest route for British soldiers stationed in Limerick to return to England would have been for them to have walked the 10-minute journey across the city to Limerick train station, boarded a train for Dublin and from there taken the mail boat to Holyhead. Posing as soldiers on leave, if their luck held out, they could have been back in Britain within 48 hours.
An alternative route would have been for the men to have walked the few hundred yards to the Limerick docks and boarded a ship bound for Britain as stowaways. Although this method would have taken the men longer to return home, there was little risk they would have been caught. Why, if these direct routes to Britain were available, would the men set off on foot through the area of operations of the IRA’s East Clare Brigade, which had killed 14 members of the British Forces and one suspected spy, in the previous six months?
The question also arises how these three soldiers managed to make a 40-mile journey on foot from Limerick across to the Flagmount/Lough Attorick area without being confronted and captured by either a British army, RIC or IRA patrol? It seems more plausible that the men must have travelled by motor transport.
The most likely explanation is that rather than deserting from the Strand Barracks in Limerick, the men travelled using British army transport to the Oxford regiments barracks at Tulla from where they made the nine-mile journey to the Flagmount area.
British military records show that the three soldiers were paid until February 22, 1921, the day their bodies were discovered.
The British army did not pay wages to soldiers who had been missing for over eight days and who were presumed to have deserted. This suggests that Morgan, Walker, and Williams were still serving members of the British army employed on active duty when they were captured and executed.
So how likely was it that these three soldiers would have been sent into the hills of North-East Clare, one of the most active areas in terms of IRA operations in the whole country, on an intelligence-gathering mission? The intelligence officer in charge of the Oxford regiment was Lieutenant John Basil Jarvis.
Jarvis seems to have been a somewhat eccentric character. His intelligence dossier [14] is prefaced with sea shanty that would not be out of place in the book Treasure Island [15] and bizarrely he lists himself as being a suspected member of the IRA in it.
John Regan, an RIC District Inspector in Limerick, remembered British officers travelling the countryside in civilian clothes on intelligence missions.
“Secret Service agents recalls to mind an army officer in Limerick... He took it into his head to disguise himself as an IRA man and go off into the hills in another county. He could not be dissuaded from going. Finally he started off bringing with him two carrier pigeons and we bade him farewell not expecting to see him again alive. We were wrong. After a couple of days one of the pigeons returned with the important message, ‘Still going strong. Have eaten the other’. Strange to say, he did return alive.” [17] This appears to be a reference to Jarvis.
Regan makes it clear that British army officers stationed in Limerick undertook incredibly dangerous and foolhardy intelligence missions. It would appear that Jarvis thought up a similar scheme to spy on the IRA in East Clare and enlisted Walker, Morgan and Williams to carry it out. All the evidence available strongly suggests that Privates Morgan, Walker and Williams were engaged on an intelligence-gathering mission for the British army in the Flagmount Lough/Attorick area when they were captured and executed by the IRA 90 years ago.

Pádraig Óg Ó Ruairc is a PhD student at the University of Limerick. He is the author of Blood On The Banner - The Republican Struggle in Clare and The Battle For Limerick City both published by Mercier Press, Cork. He administrates the website War Of Independence
1. The Saturday Record, February 26 1921
2. The 52nd In Ireland, Regimental Chronicle 1921. Oxford and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry Soldiers Oxfordshire Trust Archive
9. Remembering the War Dead. Fergus D’Arcy Page 50
10. The 52nd In Ireland Obituaries, Regimental Chronicle 1921.
Oxford and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry Soldiers Oxfordshire Trust Archive
11. RIC County Inspectors report Clare February 1921 Colonial Office papers C/O 903 904
12. Sean Moroney Bureau of Military History Witness Statement 1462
14. Jarvis’s intelligence notebook/dossier is currently kept by The Soldiers Of Oxfordshire Trust Archive at Bicester. Reference No. 3/7/A/1
16. Jarvis’s intelligence notebook/dossier is currently kept by The Soldiers Of Oxfordshire Trust Archive at Bicester. Reference No. 3/7/A/1
17. The Memoirs Of John M. Regan A Catholic Officer In The RIC and RUC 1909 48.
Were executed British soldiers deserters or spies?
 

RP578

LE
Book Reviewer
#9
Thanks for the responses. I was completely unaware of the deserter angle, absolutely fascinating stuff.
 
#11
If anyone is still following this thread, it may be worth mentioning that the full text of "The Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry in Ireland 1919-23" was first published in Bugle & Sabre Vol.3 (2009). Back numbers are available from the Friends of the Oxf & Bucks LI, c/o Edward Brooks Barracks, Cholswell Road, Shippon, Abingdon OX16 3HW.
 
#12
no medal issued by the British AFAIK.

261 sounds a bit high. Does that include Tans and Auxilliaries?

Not all those who died were a result of action :

Pte Alfred G Stonell, 9700, Ox and Bucks killed in barracks by a colleague August 1920. Rifle went off by accident. Supposed to have served 12years and came out of WW1 with 1915 Star, Victory Medal and British War Medal.

a few who did die as a result of action :
Pte Bayliss Ox and Bucks was killed in the convoy carrying Gen Lucas after his escape/release. Also killed in this was Pte Baker, RASC.

Pte Stackman Ox and Bucks killed when a grounded RAF plane he was guarding was attacked. Pte Robins wounded in the attack and died of those wounds.


Other Ox and Bucks listed on the Memorial Service list of officers, NCOs and men of Irish Command 1920-22

Lt Warren
Pte Morgan
L/Cpl Parker
Pte Walker
Pte Williams


I'll have a look thru my books/notes and see if I can find any references to Ox and Bucks.
The Ox and Bucks had a Humblingly impressive record on the night of the 5th/6th of June 1944 too. Thank Heavens.
 

RP578

LE
Book Reviewer
#13
If anyone is still following this thread, it may be worth mentioning that the full text of "The Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry in Ireland 1919-23" was first published in Bugle & Sabre Vol.3 (2009). Back numbers are available from the Friends of the Oxf & Bucks LI, c/o Edward Brooks Barracks, Cholswell Road, Shippon, Abingdon OX16 3HW.
Euryalus, do you have a point of contact for the Friends of the Oxf & Bucks LI?
 

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