Chapter 13 . Black and Tans. The Upper Hand




  1. Tall Northern Irish sergeant. Ian  North. Yorks.—————————————-


2. Short Londoner soldier – blond sergeant aged 40. George Short. Anti Irish anti everyone—————————


3. Davies. Benedict’s. Benjamin  David. Scotland. Not sectarian. Rangers fan—————————


4. Watkins. John Watkins. Wales—————————————


5. Tavi Moise. Octavian Moses. Southampton. Anti Catholic——————


6. swimming pool guy from school. Alexander   Brokenshire. Liverpool. ————————————


7. Major Neil.  Edward MacNeil. Geordie. Half Irish Catholic but raised Prod. ————————————–


8. Col Olley. Oliver Sergeant.  Berks.—————————————————


9. Mike Cunningham.   Mark Cunningham. Newcastle.————————————–


10. Relu Marichenano.  Richard  March. Lancs. Catholic————————————-


11. Richard chemistry pilot. Older officer. Richard Dixon. Suffolk.——————————


12.  Louis Limtay. Born 1890. protagonist.—————————————————-


13. Williams Bulkeley. William Bulkeley.


14.    Blairmore teacher. Blair Teacher                  anti Catholic. Scots.——————————



  1. N Lupton. Mayo. Nick Lumley. spy————————–


2.  Anthony FitzPatrick. Midlands. Tony FitzGerald.


3. Rick Forshaw. Wee North. Prod. Rick Forshaw. 


4. Shaheen’s husband. Dubliner.  Sean Groom.  transferred—————


5. O’Kelly. invalided out ———————————-


6. Murphy. retired.————————————————


7. Bill Moore. sergeant (W C C)


8. Seamus Bolger (Spanish teacher) shot dead——————————-


9. Donal   MacDonald  (Alec Scott) wounded———————————





  1. Jim London. (JIM LSJ) ex soldier wants to be hangman. socialist. ———–


2. Vinny Conlan (Vinny Cochrane) actor. brainy. inquisitive. ———-


3. Gerry  Nagle (G Nagle) insurance company salesman. conman.


4. William Hendricks. (Wesley Hendricks) builder. cousin killed in Easter Rising. ——–


5. Peter Lynne (Pearse Lynne) teacher——– Arrested.


6. Jonathan Wynn (Jonathon Roberts) painter and decorator. granny died in famine. hates blacks. ———————


7. Pascal Harrington (Causkey)  labourer. arrested after riot.


8. Alex East (Alex Asgari) labourer. Pal murdered by UPA. ————


9. Damian Walsh (D W) farmer————————–


10. Roger Tooth (Roger Tooth) travelling salesman robber


11. Robert Johnson  (J Roberts univ) chemist. Shot dead in grenade attack. 


12. Laurence Dale. (aMpleforth ex soldier teacher) ex soldier. shot dead in grenade attack.


13. Sean Tussock (Zhangir T) coal importer’s son


14.  Niall Tussock (Nurzhan) coal importer’s son


15. Henry Tussock (uncle Hal) coal importer


16. Gabriel Tussock (coal importer)


17. Charles Williams (Will Charles) solicitor’s clerk. Irish lang enthusiast——- arrested


18. Benedict Thompson (B Thompson) solicitor’s clerk. GAA——-


19. Kenneth Adams. ( A K ) farmer. religious reactionary——-


20. Michael English (Magnus) labourer. tags along. feeble. becomes informer


21. Seamus Simons (Simon I F ) barman————————-


22. Henry Brannock ( Henry W B) labourer.




A few hours after the Gorovaugh attack the IRA had withdrawn to a mamelon five miles further east.

”That was a good day’s work” said London ”First success for a little while” he looked very pleased with himself. “Tis we who have the upper hand now”

”Makes up for losing Dale and Johnson” said Conlan.

”It does. We killed at least two of the bastards” said London ” Must have wounded five more.” he said with an agreeable laugh.

”Thank God we had those boys as scouts by Spillane’s.” said Conlan. “That is how we dropped those miserable peelers”

”Spillane did not want to be around to have to guide them at gunpoint so he took off. Had to leave his daughter behind. Anyway they are back now. The RIC were in the house – turned it upside down looking for things that is what the little girl” said London.

”Well it is the famous victory. Five of us beat of nine of them.” said Conlan.

”Nine of them? It was 20” said London

”Shows what being in cover does for us. We could stay hidden and they were exposed. Damn stupid of them to attack across open ground in broad daylight” said Conlan. He wondered who fired the mortal bullets but chose not to ask. He knew that London would stake his claim to having done so.

”Well that Bulkelely fellow is an upper class twit. Only got his commission because he went to a posh school. Used to attacking ravelins in the Great War. He had not adjusted to guerrilla war. The Brits are always like this. Could not adapt to the American Revolution or the Boer War.” said London.

”they did win the Boer War in the end” said Conlan.

”Ah they did but only because they had Irish on their side. We are super fighters” said London.

”They Boers had an Irish Brigade too” said Conlan. He suspected that it was a fiction that Irishmen were always the determinative factor in any war. Were that so then why did Irish risings never prosper?

”Ah I know but not so many. MacBride – martyr of the Easter Rising. Courageous men but too few. So many men joined the British Army just for the Queen’s shilling” said London.

Conlan thought it wise not to remind London that he too had once taken the Queen’s shilling.

”We lost a good man in Dale. Trained by His Majesty’s officers.” said Conlan.

”He taught us gunnery all right. That is why we saw off them police.” said London.

”You know a pal of mine was in  a theatre in Limerick the other week – you know what a comedians are calling this English in the RIC now?” said Conlan.

”No what they calling them?” said London

”The Black and Tans” said Conlan.

”Like the dogs?” said London.

”That’s it. Like the pack of hounds. The Scarteen hunt” said Conlan chuckling.

”That’s a good one” said London laughing ”dirty, sniffing, low down , blood thirsty. stupid all right.”

”Reminds me of Gilbert and Sullivan  ‘a commonplace type with a stick and a pipe and a half bred black and tan’ ” Conlan sang

”Half bred all right. ” said London ”One of them is a quadroon you know – a quarter nigger. How dare the English bring a black into Ireland. Dirty slave race.” said London./

”Come on blacks are as good as us.” said Conlan.

”They are not we are white men. We deserve independence. The blacks are still living in trees.” said London

”That is not true. Blacks can be as intelligent as us – they are moral too. No man should be abused for his colour.” said Conlan.

”You daft or something? Blacks are dumb animals. Savages!” said London.

”That is like what the English say about us.” said Conlan.

”Well it is a lie about is. We are more civilised than the English pigs. We could write before they could. We taught them to write. The Romans enslaved the ENglish. We enslaved the English – St Patrick was our slave. We are masters and the English are filth.” said London. “They are monsters. The lowest of the low.”

Conlan chose to change the subject. ”I think we are very low on ammunition.”

”Well we were low on it even before the Black and Tans attacked. Maybe 20 rounds a man. Now down to 10 rounds a man. That is why only five of us were here. When you went to town for provisions I sent a couple of fellows off to the next brigade to ask for ammunition, SHould be back tomorrow. Besides I thought it best not to have too many men here. We do not have the food. Best not to attract attention by having too many men here. ” said London.

”Right” said Conlan.

”We get more ammunition and we need to take back the initiative. We have been on the back foot. So many men killed captured and wounded” said London. ”people are losing faith in us. They think the Black and Tans might win.”

”At least we are fighting. Know what Pearse said at court martial? We have not lost. Not to fight would be to lose. We are keeping the flame alive.” said Conlan.

”Flame that is an idea. Burn down a few houses. SHow we are active. We are taking action against people. How the hell did the RIC know where we were? They must have been tipped off. Who is the rat? I will smell him out.” said London.

”Our man in the RIC is not being much use. Who is it?” asked Conlan.

”I cannot tell you that. Top secret” said London.

Conlan thought he should not press London on the matter or he would be suspected of being a spy himself.

The other five IRA men in the camp cooked around the fire.

”This is the way it should be” said London ”Only a few volunteers in the camp. Not too much coming and going. The part timers stay at home and get on with their jobs. We only summon them when we have an attack on” said London.

”The thing is the RIC seem to know who we are and where the houses are. The RIC knew about you and me as volunteers for the last two years. I thought they did not know the others.” said Conlan

”The RIC cannot raid the other villages. We have our boy scouts on the hills – see them coming. Warn our men off.” said London confidently.

“We have perfected guerrilla tactics we learnt from the Boers” said Conlan.

“That is right. I am a general in a guerrilla army like” said London sucking mucus from his nose down into his throat. “Me uncle was in the English Army in the South African War. He got a lion skin rug like. He came home ill from the war. Died of heart failure a month later. The English would not give his widow a pension for him being killed in the war. Said he died after the war. English are thieves. ”

Conlan marvelled at how every unpopular governmental action could always be put down to the ghoulish nature of the English character.

============================= ===


Fr Downy was asked to come and perform extreme unction on March. He refused contemptuously, ”I do not perform the blessed sacraments for a devil” he spat.

”Father Downy” said Moore ”March was a Catholic too.”

”He was not. Anyone who wears that uniform is a disciple of Satan.” said Fr Downy.

”Father” said Moore ” I am a Catholic too you know. It is no sin to be in the police. The Bishop of Cork has condemned the IRA not us.”

”Get out of my sight” said Downy. “The deeds of the English would sicken all the demons in hell. yOU go back to your Freemason friends in the police barracks.”

When Fr Meagher heard about the contretemps he did not bother reprimanding Downy for refusing to do his duty. Instead Meagher walked as fast as his podgy legs would carry him. He knocked at the station door.

Bulkelely had had his wounds dressed and was back in uniform functioning almost as normal.

”Fr Meagher” he said pleasantly surprised to see the parish priest ”welcome”

”Thank you Head Constable Bulkeley” said Meagher moving to shake his hand. ”I apologise on behalf of Fr Downy  he has very strongly held views.” He looked embarrassed.

”So Fr Downy apologises?” asked Bulkeley/

”No sir he does not but it is my duty in behalf of the Catholic Church to apologise. We do not take sides in conflicts but his grace the bishop had denounced the IRA ex cathedra. I shall of course perform the last rites on your colleague. There might be a flicker of life there?” said Meagher.

”He has been dead for two hours” said Bulkeley look across at the corpse on the table ”A coffin has been ordered.”

”Very well I shall offer him extreme unction all the same” said Meagher and then pattered in Latin. It provided a little consolation to Bulkeley but the exculpating air of the words was eviden even to the uneducated.

The priest was about to go when Bulkeley pressed a stipend into his hand. ”A crown father”

”Well thank you sir. This is not a wealthy parish and that will do a lot of good.” said Meagher.

Bulkelely smiled warmly. This was one of the few examples of decency he had seen in Clountreem. He did not judge the people for ostracising him. They were in fear of their lives if they spoke to him.

Bulkelely then summoned Limtay and went into his room.

”Where’s Lumley?” asked Bulkelely.

”He has gone with North and FitzGerald to fetch the coffin.” said Limtay.

”Ah good. Well I did not want him around in case he could hear through the door. You noticed how nervous he looked as we approached the IRA position?” said Bulkeley.

”Yes I did.” said Louis.

”I thought it could be battle nerves” said Bulkeley ” he is not a soldier. Never been in combat. There was that one time when the IRA fired on him and the other fellow or to be more precise they shot at the other policeman and took great care to avoid hitting Lumley. As soon as the other fellow came close to Lumley the ceased firing. I brought Lumley along. I thought if they IRA saw him they would not shoot for fear of hitting their own man. But they shot. Of course from 400 yards they could not tell who was who.”

”I could not put my finger on it but Lumley’s reaction to March’s death was not right. He said the right things but his face did not support his words. Going through the motions.” said Limtay.

”He may wear our uniform but mentally he was on the other side.” said Bulkeley.

”But why be so nervous of the engagement at Gorovaugh? He could be slow, run for it in the confusion or whatever. Even shoot himself in the foot and pretend the IRA did it.” said Louis.

”Maybe because the IRA might accuse him of leading us to them.” said Bulkeley.

”You think he knew about their new hideaway?” asked Limtay.

”Not sure. Can they communicate with him? How? Maybe he is not a spy.” said Bulkeley.

”I reckon he is a spy. The sooner we are rid of him the better” said Limtay.

”People will say we got rid of him because he is a Catholic. March just died for us and he is a Catholic.” said Bulkeley. ”It will seem like a witch hunt.. We sack Lumley then who? Moore? He is sound as a bell. A King’s man same as myself.”

”This is war and we cannot take chances. If we could prove that Lumley was a double agent then he would be executed. I am not saying kill him just sack him.” said Louis.

”then he would join the IRA” said Bulkeley.

”That would be less dangerous than him being a spy inside our organisation” said Limtay.

”If he is not in the IRA now he would be if we dismiss him. Then he would take all his knowledge to them” said Bulkeley.

”But maybe he is doing that now. Shall we get Short to beat the truth out of him?” said Louis.

”He could say anything to stop being hit.” said Bulkeley.

”But he might say things we can then verify.” said Limtay

”I have another way. Feed him false information and see if it gets back to the IRA and they act on it.” said Bulkeley.

”Great idea” Limtay brightened.

”I realised I did something stupid. I mentioned that one of those mothers told us about Gorovaugh. I think that he was in earshot when I said that.” said Bulkeley.

”Oh my God” said Limtay ” they might get killed.”

”He does not know which one said it” said Bulkeley.

”The IRA might kill both just to be sure.” said Louis.

”No surely the IRA would not kill the mother of an IRA man who just got killed? That would enrage the public. No one would believe that such a woman would talk to us – tell us anything useful.” said Bulkeley.

”We should warn them to get out of town.” said Limtay.

”No you will not. That would alert Lumley that we suspect him.” said Bulkeley.

”We have to save these women” said Louis.

”We do not. Our mission is to defeat the IRA.” said Bulkeley.

”Our mission is to protect the public and that means beating the IRA” said Limtay. His adamant wish to warn the women was plain on his face.

”Limtay – you will not warn anyone. That is a direct order.” Bulkeley said sternly.

”Yes, sir” said Limtay. The disobedience on his face was unmissable. He sensed that Bulkeley would indulge no more sensibility. Bulkeley had no more compassion for an IRA informer than he had for an IRA man who was his Deadly enemy. This was like a big game shoot to Bulkeley. Louis wished he could confide his misgivings to someone but he knew it would be unwise to trust anyone. For Louis human life was not just Something indicental.




Bulkeley had gathered the men. March’s body was taken off by an army truck that passed through the village once a week with provisions and ammunition. March’s body would be sent back to his family for burial.

Bulkelely addressed his men in the courtyard.

”Men we have suffered a loss. We had inflicted more losses. We shall make the IRA pay for this. There is no use in waiting for them to come to us. We are going to go on the offensive. We have the addresses. We are going to raid some suspects’ houses. Patrol form up!” said Bulkeley. His authoritative tone showed his style of command was wroght in the trenches.

Moore read the names of those 9 men selected for the patrol. The others remained behind to guard the station. Before they set out Limtay handed Bulkeley a note and said ”Sir, I found this in the dead letter drop this morning.”

Bulkeley unfolded it and it read ”We just got  a lot more bullets. The IRA in Limrick got them by beating the polis in a fite.”

Bulkeley looked at Limtay. ”You went to clear the drop on your own?”

”Yes sir just after dawn.” said Louis

”A very risky move. Do not do that again.” said Bulkeley.

“Sir” Louis affirmed.

The RIC marched in anti ambush formation – 10 yards apart on the road to Ahabeg.

On the tall , steep rounded hill to the east of the dirt road some teenage boys sat idling. As soon as they saw the RIC 100 yards below they ran off up the hill blowing whistles.

”Those wee bastards are IRA. Why can’t we shoot them?” shouted Teacher.

”We do not know that for sure” said Limtay

”Come on we know.” said Teacher. Limtay knew he was right.

”We cannot shoot boys” said Limtay.

”We boys they may be but they warn the IRA we are coming. Then the IRA shoot us like they shot March. March was a papist so that is no loss” said Teacher ” Could be your turn or my turn now.” he said acrimoniously.

Louis thoughts on the way touched chiefly on his daughters. Was he being a decent father to them? The prevalence of Spanish flu had declined but should they move somewhere more remote to be safe? On his face he wore an introspective expression.

There was a deep groove near the road. Louis wondered that the IRA did not hide in their to launch and ambush.

The RIC arrived at Ahabeg after only an hour’s march. They were tired though energised. They searched houses. They noticed that most young men had made themselves scarce. Men more solid and sedate ambled by unconcerned. One old man with a walking stick wore a black suit liberally covered in dust. The RIC gauged fairly accurately who was likely to be involved in the IRA.

As they came back they passed the abruptly rising hill again. The crest was covered in trees. Then shots rang out. The men ducked down.

”Into cover men” shouted Bulkeley. They headed for the ditch and hid behind trees and bushes as best they could. Shot after shot rang out from the summit of the hill 200 yards away.

They really have got a lot of ammunition – thought Limtay. There seemed to be only one gunman. He was well hidden in dense foliage. He had fired at least 10 shots before the RIC began to reply. They could but fire at the trees – he was quite invisible. A shot missed Louis by a hair’s breadth.  Oh to be in the ivied walls of the RIC depot in Dublin now.

It must have been the sniper’s 20th shot when Cunningham was hit on the right side of the chest – just above the heart. He shouted in shock and stumbled. Then he rallied. He dropped his rifle steadied himself with his left hand on a tree trunk. ”Sir, I am hit”

”I can see that” said Bulkeley. He did not appear to find the situation strenuous. Nothing compared to the Somme.

”Go up there and get him” said Bulkeley – he ordered men forward. ”David and Moses. You are the fastest – go up there and kill him”

”Sir” they chimed and dashed forward. They had taken the order with placidity.

The sniper was proving more accurate. Bark was flying off trees as his shots came closer. They were still none the wiser as to his exact position. Most of the men down on the road had hidden themselves well but the sniper was well out of the light.

Moses and David scrambled up the moist grassy bank. Then Moses cried out in agony. He fell to the ground and clutched his knee.

”Shot through the knee” he shrieked. David went to his aid

”Bring him down” said Bulkeley ”keeping firing men”

Louis wondered whETHER Moses too was going to Eternal repose. It soon became evident that the wound was not life threatening. Through all the noise and stress Louis find it hard to maintain his composure.  To lose his heqd could be an indiscretion. He kept down as much as he could. He only fired occasionally for appearances sake. He tried to take his mind of it all/. Ah there was a thrush flying by unperturbed by the gunfire and gunsmoke.

They kept up their fire. But that was the last shot from the sniper. He must have reasoned he had done enough damage. Bulkeley sent up another two men. By the time they reached the summit of the hill they found nothing but 30 spent cartridges. The gunman had vanished. Running down hill is much faster than running uphill and he had a minute’s head start. The woods on the far side made him able to disappear.

Men carried their wounded back. They stopped at a farm and pressed a cart into service despite the protestations of the farmer.




Bulkeley held a meeting with Moore and Limtay when he knew that Lumely was in the stables.

”This is not working. The IRA lookouts tip them off when we are coming. Even when we move by cart they have enough time to evacuate the houses where we know they hide. I propose it is time to raid at night” said Bulkeley.

”Very dangerous sir. The IRA rules the night.” said Moore fervently.

”So they think. The bastards will be out there. They will not post look outs. A night raid is the last thing they will expect. Take the fight to the enemy. They will also be lax as they think the dominate the night” said Bulkeley.

”It is a hell of a risk” said Limtay.

”But worth taking. A calculated risk. We are not winning by being cautious. Got to try a demarche.” said Bulkeley.

”Sir our advantage include gunnery. We have more ammunition and more marksmanship training. At night we cannot see so these advantages are negated.” said Limtay.

”Does not matter. We surround their house and shoot from point blank” said Bulkeley.

”Sir we could shoot our own by accident in the dark” said Moore

”So could the IRA. We might catch them asleep and unarmed. Capture the whole rotten lot.” said Bulkeley like a school boy.

”Sir it might be good once. Coup de main. AFter that it would be expected.” said Limtay

”Perhaps do it only once. It would still mean they need to post sentries at night after that. Tires them out. wastes their resources and exhausts them. Very demoralising. We shall break their will to fight” said Bulkeley.

”So we just need to know where they are before we raid them” said Louis.

”Exactly. You tell me and we shall do the rest” said Bulkeley.

Next day Limtay went to clear the dead letter drop. It was a small local patrol with only five men. Limtay came back with a note. ”Jim London shot ye. He is now hiding in Ahabeg at 27 Main Street – the Condon’s house”

Cunningham was walking wounded and could man the barracks. On the other hand Moses would never walk again. He was sent to a hospital in Cork and thence to England and retirement.

The passed the day in searching houses in Clountreem. A parlourmaid from a nearby aristocrats house was found to possess a copy of An T Oglac: the IRA’s house journal. This was a publication likely to cause disaffection to His Majesty. The decision was taken not to take her into custody. These were mostly houses that they had little reason to suspect. Bulkeley was insistent that his men were as courteous as possible



That afternoon the Catholics of the garrison went to midweek mass. They walked in with their boots spit polished with revolers at the holster but no rifles. Four Protestant RIC men took up position outside the church lest the IRA take advantage of the Catholic faith of the RIC to kill them.

Fr Downy was saying mass. He looked daggers at them but did not order them to leave. When it came to the homily Downy pulled no punches. As he stood up in the pulpit his demeanour was sour.

”Lately strangers have come into the parish. We have been invaded from over the sea. There is a war in Ireland. Ireland is fighting against a race of devils. Satan’s spawn will soon be kicked out of Ireland as surely as St Patrick drove the serpents from our isle. Satan’s might can not long endure against Ireland’s army. It is a mortal sin to serve the cause of wickedness. No Catholic can serve the cause of King George in good conscience. What Catholic would fight for a Protestant potentate against his own religion? King George’s grandmother tried to starve us to death. The English are cheats and exploiters. They have robbed Ireland but Ireland shall soon enjoy her own again. The Romans could not conquer us and neither can the British.” said Fr Downy.

Outside Teacher stood guard. Two men were at the door. The others periodically patrolled around the rear of the church to see no IRA were creeping up.

”I do  not hold with the Church of Rome being allowed in Scotland” said Teacher in his broad Scots accent ”or England. Well in Ireland I can hardly object because there are more Papists here than Protestants. We are here to protect the Protestants from Rome.” He stiffened as he worked himself into a fury.

North stood yards away.  ”I do not agree. Catholics have the same rights as us. They are just as good.”

”They are not. Slaves to the Pope. The Pope is directing the IRA. They are followers of the devil. Cowardly pigs. Pope sends them money for their guns. The Pope is the whore of Babylon. Says so in the Book of Revelation. I love my Bible. Catholicism is counterfeit Christianity. Yes, the Catholic Church is jezebel – all bright and colourful. But do not be tempted by the fashionable satanism of Rome. ” said Teacher. His face grew more rubicund.

”Come on that is nonsense. Where the hell you get that from?” said North contemptuously.

”It is a well known fact. I heard it from some mates. Anyway, I read some pamphlet from the Protestant Truth Society. The Romanists are counterfeit Christians. I believe in the Bible not some bachelor priests in Italy.  Half of them sodomites.” said Teacher with inelegant haughtiness. “John Knox bestowed on us a glorious heritage. The minister in my Church said it. Have no truck with these Papishes. The Pope is the whore of Babylon. It is in the Book of Revelation. A well known fact”

”It is not a well known fact. You are talking twaddle. Look at Moore he reads his Bible. I saw Catholic padres in the war with the Bible.” said North. North was not a Bible man but the phrase Whore of Babylon was fleetingly familiar to him.

”Ah but they use it for a false purpose. ANyway their church is all in Latin so the people cannot understand it. It is the Catholic Church that caused the IRA. ” said Teacher.

”Their service is Latin but they read the Bible in English or any language. A mate of man in the war was Catholic. He had a Bible in English” said North.

”The popeheads killed a lot of our people. Many martyrs.” said Teacher.

”I know and that was wrong. We killed a lot of Catholics too in the Reformation.”  said North.

”Well we did it for the truth. They do it for lies. There is no comparison. You should read Foxe’s Book of Martyrs. A true Briton is a Protestant. I am loyal to the king because he is Protestant. Keep the Protestant settlement of the country. I read about it. The Catholic bishops lived in luxury – starved the people. These stupid Papists here sending money to Rome so the pope can live in a palace. Then he is having his way with the nuns. They bear his bastards and the baby is strangled.” said Teacher.

”Come on Teacher” said North in irritation ”That is poppycock. I never heard of a pregnant nun or saw one? How do you know? You are just making it up. Britons can be Catholics, Protestants or Jews. Look are Moore or the English Catholics on our side. They are just as loyal as you and me.”

”I would not be so sure. How can a man fight against his own faith? I would not fight against Protestants. When the UVF was formed to fight Rome Rule I was all for it. No Popery.  We must rid ourselves of the Pope and the Jesuits. It is a plot. Foul bastards trying to take away our faith and steal our land.” said Teacher.

”Teacher – let’s agree to disagree. You better not say this in the barracks. Our Catholic comrades will be offended. They fight the IRA. You seen them firing at the IRA. They aim as true as we do. We need the Catholics on our side. If we go around mistreating the Roman Catholics they will help the IRA.” said North.

”They already do” said Teacher tersely.

North did not like Teacher’s dark reply.

”Not all of them” said North. ”The IRA has robbed and killed a lot of Catholics. That may drive people into our arms. Ok some people will be pro IRA. Some are neutral and a few are for the Crown. We need more people neutral and more people for the Crown. ”

”Pigs will sooner fly” said Teacher looking away. Ostensibly that was it but they both sensed this argument was not over.

North was staggered that Teacher had been immersed in such anti Catholic hatred. North had been to Scotland and known some Scotsmen. A fez had made some anti Catholic remarks but Nothing on this scale. Very few Englishmen had ever said Something anti Catholic in North’s hearing.



Bulkeley told the men after supper that they would be going on a night exercise. It was 11 pm before they set out. He made sure to put Lumley on the raiding party. When Lumley was informed that he was to raid he looked distraught. Bulkeley had them oïl their guns.

They men marched quickly and as quietly as possible to Ahabeg. There were no lookouts – not that they saw. No whistling and no firing. The men marched in anti ambush 10 yard gaps. Bulkeley had chosen not to commandeer carts as they would make noise and alert people. The man from whom a vehicle was commandeered could tell a neighbour to ride like hell the long way around to Ahabeg to tip off the IRA that the RIC was about to raid.

They got to 27 Main Street in Ahabeg. Bulkeley had made a profound study of the dossier on the family that lived there.

All the lights were out. The 10 RIC men were as catlike as they could be but still some sound was made. Limtay noticed a few curtains being pulled back and candles ignited.

Bulkeley had 4 men go around the alleyway at the rear of 27. He had taken a sledge hammer with him which he handed to Sergeant. There would be no asking them to open the door.

Sergeant gave the lock on almighty wallop and in the men burst. Bulkeley was first and Short was close behind.

Limtay insisted that Lumley go in ahead of him.

Bulkeley and his men went into the front room where a man was lying on the sofa and another on the floor. The one on the sofe rolled off>.

”Hands up!” shouted Bulkeley. In the moonlight he saw a rifle on the floor and a revolver on the table. The two men slowly raised their hands as they huddled on the floor..

In came Sergeant. He found a candle and used a match to light it.

The two faces stared blankly up at Bulkeley.

”What is your name?” he shouted.

”Er… John… er… McElhenny” said the man. Having a revolver aimed at him seemed to severely discourage his memory.

”You don’t seem too sure?” asked Bulkeley.

”No, I am John McElhenny.” said the suspect.

Bulkeley was sure this was a falsehood. ”And you?” he turned to the other one.

”I am Seamus.”

”Seamus who?” asked Bulkeley sceptically.

”Ah just Seamus”

”Your surname man? Who the hell are you?” said Bulkeley.

”Seamus Carpenter.”

”A likely story. Roll over the pair of you. Hands behind your back Do not think of going for those guns. Nothing I would like better than to shoot you bastards dead. Sergeant – handcuff these men.” said Bulkeley. He scrutinised them.

”Sir”’ Sergeant acknowledged.

In a minute they were handcuffed and lain face down on the street.

The raid continued upstairs.

In the three bedrooms. They would the man of the house and his wife. Their four daughters and three sons were in other rooms. They were brought down to the front room while the house was searched from stem to stern. No more weapons were located.

Bulkeley arrested the owner of the house Mr Condon. They were marched along the street. The RIC banged on the door of the butcher and of the greengrocer. Their carts were commandeered. The RIC loaded up the prisoners and set off – the long way around in case the IRA had set up an ambush on the way they had come.

McElhenny was separated from ”Seamus” who was made to run – tied by a rope to the cart. Condon was on a different cart.

”Now McElhenny” said Short with a radiant smile ”Better not waste time matey cock. Know your name is not McElhenny. The Irishmen here say no one by that name lives in this county and you got the local accent. So where the fuck you from sunshine? What is your name boy? See that sledgehammer? I want to use that on your toes. Smash em one by one – them your shins, then your knees.. You will never dance again. I want to smash your finger too. Want to play the piano? I always wanted to be a dentist see but I ain’t got no fucking diploma. I can still pull teeth though.”

McElhenny shivered and trembled. He was still wearing only pyjamas.

”Walsh” he said. ”Damian Walsh” he said.

”Sure it is not Jim London? You are Jim London aren’t you?” said Short with goblin face.

”No my name is Walsh.” said the man.

”Fucking liar. You are London innit?”

Short kept accusing Walsh of lying about his name and the man repeatedly insisted that he was Walsh. ”Why the fuck I believe you when you lied to me first time?” said Short.

Eventually Walsh was made to run and Seamus was brought on the cart. He would not answer any questions at all.

They got back to the barracks. As they walked in Teacher was bragging ”I used to play the flute in an Orange band. I have a lot of pals in the Orange Order. I never had the money to join Good bunch of lads. You should join yoursel jimmy” he said to Brokenshire.

Bulkeley went to bed and left the interrogation to Limtay and Short.

Bulkeley started on Walsh. He broke Walsh’s toes with the hammer. Walsh was shrieking until he confessed to being Jim London.  Short had an appetite for violence that was more than healthy. The beating did not make Walsh more prone to conversation. Moore came in and said ”Leave it over Short. You are making a fucking racket. We cannot sleep up there. By the way he is not London. I know London’s face. ARrested him two years ago. I do not know who this fellow is but he definitely is not London.”

Short realised he had beaten the man into a false confession. He handed him over to Limtay. Until that point he had always assumed a thorough thrashing made a man more malleable.

Walsh was soon blabbing to Limtay. ”Yes, I am in the IRA. I do not know where London is but he was in the house yesterday. No I did not shoot your men from the hill yesterday. Yes, we got a lot of ammo from Limerick. ”

Seamus saw what had been meeted out to Walsh. He was shaking and said ”Name rank and number. Alexander East, volunteer, I have no number.”

”Tell me more. Where the fucking guns”, screamed Short furiously, the veins in his neck bulging.

East refused to speak.  It was blatant that Short was chomping at the bit. He wanted to beat the man to a pulp. Bulkeley came in and would not permit Short to hit the man. East wisely refused to say another word.

East was handed to Limtay. No matter what blandishments Limtay tried this man would not utter a phoneme.

Walsh wrote a confession. He and East were put into a cell together.

Mr Condon was interrogated.

”Ah they made me take them in at gunpoint” Condon stammered.

”Bullshit ” said Short.

”The Police says you is a Shinner.” Short spat. It was telling that he did not consider himself to be in the police.

”That is true but I do not support the IRA.” said Condon.

”IRA is Shinners same fucking difference” said Short.

”No they are not.” said Condon.

”Cut the bullshit old man no where the fuck is Jim London?” said Short

”I believe he has gone to Kerry.” said Condon

”That is convenient? Sure it is Kerry.?” asked Short

”I think so.” said Condon.

”Kerry or Derry or some ruddy place. Whereabouts in Kerry?”’ said Short.

”Probably Rathmore it is not far. Linking up with that unit.” said Condon.

Short had managed to go without hitting the man or even threatening too. His irate style carried the day. Short went off for a charming repast prepared by Teacher.

Limtay was then called in. His softly softly approach worked wonders. He said how the other chap’s actions were reprehensible. His courtliness bowled Condon over.

”Ok I will spill the beans just let me out of here. London has gone to Castleisland. Meant to join in an attack there. Then he said we are getting more IRA recruits in from Cork City next week because we lost some men. That is all I know. I just picked up bits of conversation at dinner.” said Condon.

Limtay was satisfied. The man was convincing and what he said was logical. It also chimed with what they already knew. Basic good manners has got him a long way.

Next time Louis checked the dead letter drop the note said ‘‘Jim London has gone to Kerry. To Listowel”

Louis brought it back and showed Bulkeley. ”I think we can trust our source.”

”Well he has told us the truth in the past. No reason to doubt him now.” said Bulkeley.

”He slightly contradicts what we have heard – therein lies the proof of his reliability. This is not rehearsed. Slight discrepancies are reassuring. What do they all agree on? London has gone to Kerry. Minor disagreement about which town. He might be visiting more than one. Not quite sure which one himself so he may have mentioned different ones or changed plans/” said Louis with gladness.

”Trouble is how the hell do we tip off Kerry RIC that this brigand is in their area? We have no way of communicating. Cannot trust Royal Mail. The postmen and postmistresses have been suborned by the IRA – half of them. The army lorry comes through once a week with provisions, ammo and mails.” said Bulkeley.

”Nothing we can do so. By the time the message gets there he will have moved on. It is not worth sending a cartload of us to Macroom to tell them. They could raid Kerry themselves but it would be like looking for a needle in a haystack. Different towns mentioned.” said Louis.

”Oh hang it all! We shall just have to not bother” said Bulkeley in frustration.



About Calers

Born Belfast 1971. I read history at Edinburgh. I did a Master's at UCL. I have semi-libertarian right wing opinions. I am married with a daughter and a son. I am allergic to cats. I am the falling hope of the not so stern and somewhat bending Tories. I am a legal beagle rather than and eagle. Big up the Commonwealth of Nations.

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