Irish War of Independence centenary

13 June 1920

18904 Pte Edward Stratton, 17th Lancers, was killed by an accidental discharge while drawing equipment for duty in Ballincollig Barracks, Co. Cork. Stratton was aged 18 and from London. He is interred in Ballincollig Military Cemetery so I once risked life and limb climbing the perimeter wall to photograph his headstone. And thanks to the magic of Gmail I still have the photo.

Stratton_ECJ1.JPG


In Galway, two men of the 6th Dragoon Guards were shot by a sentry when they failed to answer his challenge.

D/36279 Pte Herbert Thompson died immediately. He had served in the Middle East from 1915 and had served in the East Yorks, the Yorks and Lancs and the Yorkshire Regt at various times. He was aged 23 and is interred in Bohermore Cemetery in Galway.

D/36579 Pte James Cairns died the next day and is also buried in Bohermore Cemetery.

With the help of an RIC man named Buckley, Michael Brennan and a number of men of the East Clare Brigade stole into Newmarket-on-Fergus RIC barracks and captured the RIC men inside. They tied up the policemen abd made off with six rifles, six revolvers, ammunition and intelligence reports.
 
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14 June 1920

In Roscommon an IRA arms raid on the home of Edward Connor goes awry when Connor defended his home and shot one of the raiders who was dangerously wounded and was carried away on a stolen handcart by the retreating Volunteers.

Local elections have changed representation of several historically unionist councils. Robert Benson, Chair of Rathmines Council resigned after Sinn Féin won 8 seats.

In Lismore, Co. Waterford Gouldings' Bar was occupied by British troops who wanted the building as a barracks. John Goulding and his family were simply turfed out on the street.

1st Battalion, Cheshire Regiment departed Colchester for deployment in Ireland. They deposited their colours in the Town Hall where they were received by the Mayor. The battalion will be headquartered in Wicklow Jail.


The Munitions strike of Irish railway men continued. The Freeman's Journal published a photograph of the striking workers in Dublin who are continuing to refuse to handle munitions or drive trains with British troops aboard.
 
15 June 1920


RIC District Inspector Percival Lea-Wilson was shot and killed near his home in Gorey, Co Wexford. Lea-Wilson was walking back home after paying a visit to the RIC barracks in Gorey, dressed in his civilian clothes, when he was shot. He had stopped at the railway station to buy a newspaper and met Constable Alexander O’Donnell who accompanied him on part of his walk home. O’Donnell and Lea-Wilson parted company at the railway bridge on Ballycanew Road. Further up the road there were a number of men standing around a parked car with its bonnet up.

Lea-Wilson was reading his paper while strolling along the road. As he drew near the men by the car, they pulled out revolvers and opened fire. Although wounded twice, Lea-Wilson made a dash for safety but the assassins ran after him and brought him down in a hail of bullets. The coroner’s report stated that Lea-Wilson was hit 7 times.

Later that evening Michael Collins was in the Wicklow Hotel in Dublin city when word reached him from Wexford of the shooting dead of Percival Lea-Wilson. Collins greeted the news with glee and mentioned to one of his comrades: ” Well we finally got him!” Two of Lea-Wilson’s killers, Liam Tobin and Frank Thornton, had been sent from Dublin for the job. The others were local men- Joe McMahon, Michael McGrath, Jack Whelan and Michael Sinnott. The popular belief is that Lea-Wilson was targeted because after the surrender of the 1916 rebels he had abused Tom Clarke as they were held prisoner in the grounds of the Rotunda Hospital. Tobin, and Collins himself, were witnesses to this event.

Lea-Wilson was buried in Putney Vale cemetery in West London. His grave is marked by a plaque which mentions his assassination in Gorey in 1920, a death which had its roots in the Easter Rising 4 years previously.

"Well we finally got him" | Michael Collins' hit on Captain Lea Wilson

Lea-Wilson appears to have had a bad war. He was commissioned in the Royal Irish Regiment in 1914 and was wounded in 1915. He was invalided out of the later in the war and rejoined the RIC. He had a reputation as a heavy drinker after the war. Pre-war he married a woman, Marie Ryan, whom he had met in Charleville. Marie and Percival seem to have been deeply in love and she had a tough time getting over his death. She never remarried but in 1924 she enrolled in Trinity College as a medical student. She graduated in 1928 at the age of 41 and then lived and practiced in Dublin as a paediatrician for the rest of her life, dying in 1971 at the age of 84. After her husband's death Marie turned to the church for comfort and she was helped by a Jesuit priest, Father Finlay of the Leeson Street Jesuit Community. About 1930 she gave Father Finlay a painting she had bought in Edinburgh, a copy of Caravaggio's The Taking of Christ. The Jesuits hung it in the Leeson Street dining room where it stayed for the next 60 years.

In 1990 Sergio Benedetti a curator and conservator at the National Gallery of Ireland was asked to look at the paintings that had accumulated at Leeson Street. He identified the painting as Caravaggio’s original. It was commissioned by Ciriaco Mattei in 1602. In the early 1800s the Matteis sold it to William Hamilton Nisbet, an obscure British politician who displayed it in his Edinburgh home until Marie Lea-Wilson bought it in 1921.
 
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15 June 1920


RIC District Inspector Percival Lea-Wilson was shot and killed near his home in Gorey, Co Wexford. Lea-Wilson was walking back home after paying a visit to the RIC barracks in Gorey, dressed in his civilian clothes, when he was shot. He had stopped at the railway station to buy a newspaper and met Constable Alexander O’Donnell who accompanied him on part of his walk home. O’Donnell and Lea-Wilson parted company at the railway bridge on Ballycanew Road. Further up the road there were a number of men standing around a parked car with its bonnet up.

Lea-Wilson was reading his paper while strolling along the road. As he drew near the men by the car, they pulled out revolvers and opened fire. Although wounded twice, Lea-Wilson made a dash for safety but the assassins ran after him and brought him down in a hail of bullets. The coroner’s report stated that Lea-Wilson was hit 7 times.

Later that evening Michael Collins was in the Wicklow Hotel in Dublin city when word reached him from Wexford of the shooting dead of Percival Lea-Wilson. Collins greeted the news with glee and mentioned to one of his comrades: ” Well we finally got him!” Two of Lea-Wilson’s killers, Liam Tobin and Frank Thornton, had been sent from Dublin for the job. The others were local men- Joe McMahon, Michael McGrath, Jack Whelan and Michael Sinnott. The popular belief is that Lea-Wilson was targeted because after the surrender of the 1916 rebels he had abused Tom Clarke as they were held prisoner in the grounds of the Rotunda Hospital. Tobin, and Collins himself, were witnesses to this event.

Lea-Wilson was buried in Putney Vale cemetery in West London. His grave is marked by a plaque which mentions his assassination in Gorey in 1920, a death which had its roots in the Easter Rising 4 years previously.

"Well we finally got him" | Michael Collins' hit on Captain Lea Wilson

Lea-Wilson appears to have had a bad war. He was commissioned in the Royal Irish Regiment in 1914 and was wounded in 1915. He was invalided out of the later in the war and rejoined the RIC. He had a reputation as a heavy drinker after the war. Pre-war he married a woman, Marie Ryan, whom he had met in Charleville. Marie and Percival seem to have been deeply in love and she had a tough time getting over his death. She never remarried but in 1924 she enrolled in Trinity College as a medical student. She graduated in 1928 at the age of 41 and then lived and practiced in Dublin as a paediatrician for the rest of her life, dying in 1971 at the age of 84. After her husband's death Marie turned to the church for comfort and she was helped by a Jesuit priest, Father Finlay of the Leeson Street Jesuit Community. About 1920 she gave Father Finlay a painting she had bought in Edinburgh, a copy of Caravaggio's The Taking of Christ. The Jesuits hung it in the Leeson Street dining room where it stayed for the next 60 years.

In 1990 Sergio Benedetti a curator and conservator at the National Gallery of Ireland was asked to look at the paintings that had accumulated at Leeson Street. He identified the painting as Caravaggio’s original. It was commissioned by Ciriaco Mattei in 1602. In the early 1800s the Matteis sold it to William Hamilton Nisbet, an obscure British politician who displayed it in his Edinburgh home until Marie Lea-Wilson bought it in 1921.
I think the Collins revenge story is historical revisionism or poetic licence. How would he know about or recognise an unknown Captain in the British Army in 1916 when there were thousands of them in Dublin at the time.
 
I think the Collins revenge story is historical revisionism or poetic licence. How would he know about or recognise an unknown Captain in the British Army in 1916 when there were thousands of them in Dublin at the time.
According to the account in this book Lea Wilson was a bit of a nasty type when dealing with prisoners.

Link:


However, another member of The Squad, Paddy O'Daly, reckoned Lea-Wilson was shot purely because of the rank and position he held in the area around Gorey. He also claimed Collin's was not one for revenge, but ordered hits on legitimate targets;

"I believe he was shot because of the position he held at the time, and for no other reason. I am satisfied from my long experience with the Squad that no man was shot merely for revenge and that any execution sanctioned by Michael Collins was perfectly justified" (O'Daly on the Lea-Wilson assassination)



What is interesting is that Gorey had been a relatively quiet area and the Squad had been dispatched there to assassinate Lea-Wilson so this may lend some weight to the revenge theory.
 
Was Lea Wilson present at Galipoli/ salonika front or did he serve on the western front?

His cruelty to prisoners can't be excused, it happened though regardless of his active war time service. A person can change for the good or the bad. Is it possible up to that point quiet area meant he was sent away to help improve his personality. It is hard to say, the story of the painting is fascinating though.
 
Was Lea Wilson present at Galipoli/ salonika front or did he serve on the western front?

His cruelty to prisoners can't be excused, it happened though regardless of his active war time service. A person can change for the good or the bad. Is it possible up to that point quiet area meant he was sent away to help improve his personality. It is hard to say, the story of the painting is fascinating though.
According to this link he suffered from shell shock, which was a result of service in France:

 
I think the Collins revenge story is historical revisionism or poetic licence. How would he know about or recognise an unknown Captain in the British Army in 1916 when there were thousands of them in Dublin at the time.
I tend to agree with you, I'm simply relating what I research. Collins was, in my opinion, a mission-driven pragmatist. He would not waste men or bullets on a simple revenge shooting unless the killing advanced the mission.
 
According to the account in this book Lea Wilson was a bit of a nasty type when dealing with prisoners.
Comparisons with Bowen-Colthurst spring to mind.

He also claimed Collin's was not one for revenge, but ordered hits on legitimate targets;
Any RIC man was a legitimate target of course. And if it was just another RIC DI they didn't have to travel outside Co. Dublin to find one. But I agree that Collins would not have been interested in an eye for an eye alone.

What is interesting is that Gorey had been a relatively quiet area and the Squad had been dispatched there to assassinate Lea-Wilson so this may lend some weight to the revenge theory.
Gorey being a quiet area may well have been enough reason. You will have noticed that the Dublin hard men turn up in quiet areas to give the locals a kick in the arrse. Both Tobin and Thornton were very senior men to send on a simple hit- Tobin was Deputy Director of Intelligence and Thornton 3rd Director of Intelligence, so essentially Collins second and fourth in command. Losing Tobin would have put a serious dent in the war effort. Technically they weren't members of the Squad as such although they worked closely with them.
 
Gorey being a quiet area may well have been enough reason. You will have noticed that the Dublin hard men turn up in quiet areas to give the locals a kick in the arrse. Both Tobin and Thornton were very senior men to send on a simple hit- Tobin was Deputy Director of Intelligence and Thornton 3rd Director of Intelligence, so essentially Collins second and fourth in command. Losing Tobin would have put a serious dent in the war effort. Technically they weren't members of the Squad as such although they worked closely with them.
This seems a fair interpretation to me.
 
15 June 1920
Other events of June 15 1920;

During a riot in Belmullet, Co. Mayo Constable Pierce Doogue was killed when he was struck on the head by a rock thrown from the crowd. Head Constable Thomas Rahill was severely injured, also on the head, and Constables Norris and Hanlon suffered minor injuries.

Daniel Fitzpatrick, a labourer from Blackpool, Cork was knocked down and killed by a military lorry in Leitrim Street.

John Condon, a train driver from Waterford, refused to drive a train to Kilkenny as there were armed troops aboard. After a delay, the soldiers returned to their barracks and left their rifles behind before travelling.

Things are kicking off again in Derry. The Freeman's Journal reported that a group of Catholics returning from religious service were set upon by a Loyalist mob, leaving one seriously injured.
 
16 June 1920

The IRA attacked the RIC barracks in Cookstown, Co. Tyrone with the assistance of an RIC man who left a door unlocked for them to enter. Despite beingtaken by surprise, the RIC men open fire and Volunteer Patrick Loughran was shot dead.

In Mallow, Co. Cork IRA Volunteers break into the train station and burned military property that had been held up in the station due to the ongoing munitions strike. The munitions had been bound for Dublin, but no train driver would handle them

In Fethard (I’m assuming the one in Tipperary) Captain Paul Lindsay, was stopped by masked men as he was bringing cattle to Fethard Fair, Lindsay owned a lot of land in the area, including an evicted farm. The RIC responded to the incident but were disarmed by the same IRA group.
 
17 June 1920

The funeral of 13 year old Michael Walsh took place in Cappoquin, Co. Waterford. Walsh was knocked down and killed by a military wagon a few days previously.

Patrick Grace, a farmer from Co. Kilkenny, was passing the RIC Barracks in Carrick on Suir, Co. Tipperary when he was grazed on the chin by a shot fired from the barracks. The shot however killed Grace’s donkey. The RIC said it was accidental.

In Belmullet, Co. Mayo Peter McDonagh was arrested for the murder of RIC Constable Pierce Doogue .

1st Battalion, Cheshire Regiment arrived in Dublin. They marched through the streets of the city to their barracks behind a band.

Thunder and lightning storms erupted all along the west coast. In Donegal, John Boyle, a local farmer, and his dog were killed by a bolt of lightning.
 
18 June 1920

Off Baltimore, Co. Cork the Andrew attacks a fishing vessel named Erin's Hope, mistaking it for a raiding IRA vessel. Ironically Erin's Hope was shelled by a U-Boat off Waterford in 1916. No doubt Erin's hope was that they’d all fúck off and stop shooting at her.

In Derry Unionist gangs invaded the Catholic area of the Waterside and began to fire indiscriminately at civilians and destroyed property, forcing terrified families from their homes. The violence erupted following a small scuffle between youths the previous night. Despite sustained gunfire only two people sustained gunshot wounds. Edward Mullen was shot in the arm and 6 year old Bridget Mulrine was shot in the hip.

The Hermitage House in Castleconnell was burned to the ground. Built in the 1790s, it was home to the Lords Massey for nearly a hundred years.Burning the houses of the Gentry will become a feature of the war.

A train driver in Queenstown refused to drive a train when 9 RIC Officers board en route to Cork. The Officers left the train and walked back to the RIC barracks for advice. When they returned to the station they found that the train has left without them

In Downing Street a deputation of Irish Railwaymen, accompanied by their British counterparts met with Prime Minster David Lloyd George to discuss the current munitions strike. The M threatened to close Irish railways completely unless the strike ends.

A question in the Commons indicates that Sinn Féin Courts have effectively replaced the Crown judicial system in Ireland. In the last 2 weeks there have been 41 Sinn Féin courts in 24 different counties, convicting 84 prisoners.

Armed and masked men cut the hair off two local women for “entertaining” two military officers in Castletownroche, Co. Cork. The gang then stole the Officers’ motorcycles and burnt them along with the womens’ hair.

Over in the States the strained relationship between Eamonn De Valera and John Devoy completely breaks down when Devoy, writing in Gaelic American, criticised De Valera for spending $50,000 of subscription money on the Chicago Republican convention.

Severe thunderstorms continued to affect Ireland. Edward Fagan, an elderly farmer from Mullingar, was killed by a bolt of lightning. In Dungannon, Co. Tyrone, James Holmes suffered a similar fate.

Thomas Brett shot in the arrse by Lt. Gillespie in Tipperary two weeks back, died of gangrene of the rectum in the Mater Hospital in Dublin. Wrecked him? It feckin’ killed him.
 
19 June 1920
A night of bloodshed and chaos began in Derry at about 8pm when rioting broke out in several parts of the city. Within a short space of time Loyalists began shooting from the Derry Walls and other locations into the Long Tower district. At around 11pm, Nationalists began to return fire, at which stage the Army moved in to stop the violence. Five men - Edward Price, James McVeigh, Thomas McLaughlin, Thomas Farren, and James Doherty, were shot dead. At least 18 other people were seriously wounded and over a hundred others treated for minor injuries.



The RIC Divisional Commissioner for Munster, Colonel Gerald Smyth, made a speech to RIC men in Listowel in which he gave a carte blanche for reprisals against civilians. Fourteen of the RIC men present, led by Constable Jeremiah Mee, resigned. This event became known as The Listowel mutiny.

Listowel Police Mutiny

 
20 June 1920

The IRA attacked Farran RIC Barracks in Co. Cork. An attempt was made to break through to the building from an adjoining property, but this appears to have been unsuccessful. After an exchange of gunfire, the IRA retreated. Verey lights sent up by the RIC were spotted in Ballincollig military barracks.

The Sunday Express reported that Brigadier General Reginald Dyer was to be exonerated by an Army Council for any wrongdoing in connection with the shooting dead of up to 1,000 innocent people in the Indian city of Amritsar last year.

In Donaghhenry, Co. Tyrone, the Protestant Church was broken into and vandalised. Witnesses said that up to ten men cycled up to the building and entered in the dead of night.

The annual pilgrimage to the grave of Theobald Wolfe Tone in Bodenstown, Co. Kildare was led by Countess Constance Markievicz, who laid a wreath at the grave. Hundreds of Volunteers, Cumann na mBan, na Fianna, and Clan-na-Gael girl scouts camped out in the area the night before. An RAF plane dropped flares over the camp during the night for harassment value.
 
21 June 1920

Constable James Brett was killed in an ambush at Clonee Wood near Bantry, Co. Cork. Brett was part of a bicycle patrol of five policemen who had been serving jurors’ summonses in Durrus and were returning to their barracks in Bantry. At 7.15 pm, they were ambushed at Cloonee Wood, about 3 or 4 miles from Bantry by at least six Volunteers from the town led by battalion vice-commandant Maurice Donegan. The IRA party also included Dan Lehane, Pat Lehane, Seán Lehane, and Tom Ward. Sergeant Driscoll was injured, though he survived.

Brett was aged 52 and from Co. Waterford with 30 years service in the RIC. He left a widow and four children. No inquest was held into his death as only three jurors answered the summons. The local undertakers would not bury him, nor did local people attend the funeral.

An IRA attack on Drumcollogher Courthouse in Co. Limerick went badly awry. Four men armed with homemade bombs and tins of petrol entered the building. A premature explosion started a blaze with the four inside. Vol Patrick Buckley died in the building while Lt. David Brennan and Vols Billy Danagher and Seán O’Farrell got out. Brennan and Danagher subsequently died of their injuries.

The 7.30am Dublin train pulled into Cloughjordan, Co. Tipperary where 20 armed men board. The train driver refused to move off until the soldiers leave the train. When he was ordered to proceed, the driver walked off and the train was left sitting on the platform. My grandfather was a child living in Cloughjordan at the time. I wonder did he or one of his parents witness this incident.
 
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Derry - 21 June 1920
Anarchy continues in Derry. John Gallagher and J. Dobbyn died from gunshot wounds received two days ago. Joseph McGlinchey, one of the city's most prominent Volunteers, was returning from a wake and was shot dead near Bishop's Street from direction of Fountain St.

Howard McKay, son of Marshall McKay, Governor of Derry's Apprentice Boys, was seized by the IRA who demanded to know where the Unionists were storing their arms. He was tied with ropes and shot dead. McKay was an ex-soldier who had served in France during the War. This is presumably he;


The impartiality of Crown Forces was being questioned. The Derry Journal accused British soldiers of standing idly by while unionist gunmen had a free hand. It was believed that up to 50 Loyalist gunmen were well known to police, but no attempts were being made to interfere with them. The IRA were increasingly mobilising to defend nationalist areas, with sandbag barricades erected in Bridge Street.

Most of the above information from @131Weeks
 
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