Black and Tans. Chapter 18. Parade.

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BLACK AND TANS. Chapter 18. Parade.

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RIC FROM GREAT BRITAIN

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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13. Williams Bulkeley. William Bulkeley. shot dead. 

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

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LOCAL R  I C

  1. N Lupton. Mayo. Nick Lumley. spy.. wounded in chest————————–

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2.  Anthony FitzPatrick. Midlands. Tony FitzGerald. wounded in hand

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

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

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

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6. Murphy. retired.————————————————

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7. Bill Moore. sergeant (W C C)

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

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

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IRA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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9. Damian Walsh (D W) farmer.  arrested ————————–

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10. Roger Tooth (Roger Tooth) travelling salesman robber

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

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

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

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

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15. Henry Tussock (uncle Hal) coal importer

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16. Gabriel Tussock (coal importer)

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

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

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

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

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

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22. Henry Brannock ( Henry W B) labourer.

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break in to Prod church – attack on church parade – reinforcements – new commander – RIC intercept love letters.

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BREAK IN

One night London led his battalion to the Protestant church in Clountreem. It was a decent looking bare grey stone edifice dating to the mid 18th century. The campanile resembled a watchtower and contained elements of Norman architecture. London knew their planned operation would be extensively covered in the press. He was publicity hungry so he was eager to carry out this audacious Attack.

”We will show these Prods we can strike anywhere anytime” said London.

”Too true” said Adams eagerly.

With a sledge hammer they smashed open the door. They lit candles to light their way. The battalion daubed graffiti on the walls ”Spies and informers beware” and ”Orangemen get out.”

Nagle went to the vestry. He found communion wine and shared it with his comrades. ”Let’s drink to victory!”

Adams turned to London ”Hey Jim let’s burn the place down”

”We will not do that” said London ”that’s a step too far.”

”The UVF in the North are killing our people. As Catholics it is our duty to retaliate.” said Adams.

”No we are not burning the church” London shook his head though with a certain lack of conviction.

”I am only talking about burning the church not about killing people. That is mild compared to what them Orangies do to our people up Belfast way. They burn down houses too like” said Adams plaintively. He remembered that London had once said en passant that he would like to torch a Prod temple.

”Ah no then they would help the RIC too much.” said London.

”They would not help the Black and Tans if we do that” said Adams ”They are spying for them now. If we torch the church then the Prods down here will get the hell out. Back to England where the belong” said Adams with relish

”I do not think so. Now that is the end of it. Besides we are too close to the station. Might bring the police out if they see a fire” said London pondering it seriously.

”Even better ambush them” said Adams

”No we are not doing it and that is the end of it. All right men – let’s go” said London.

Rev Playfair and his congregation were distressed to see the graffiti and the vandalism. They did their best to repair it. It led to another family departing the country.

Adams had been pleased that at least London had no principled objection to burning down the pagan house of worship. That night he prayed feverishly on his rosaries for God to absolve him of his dereliction of duty in not committing arson against the Protestant Church despite London’s orders.

That night London told them tales in an entertaining vein. He regaled them with tales of his time in the British Army about how he had outfoxed the Protestant officers.

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REINFORCEMENTS

The IRA met at a remote hillside farm.

London said ”Volunteers – I am very happy to introduce to you our reinforcements like. Meet the Tussocks”

Men stepped forward.

”Here we have the Tussocks” said London

”Sean Tussock, Niall Tussock, Hal Tussock and Gabriel Tussock” said London proudly.

Conlan looked them up and down and was none too impressed.

Sean Tussock was a youth of 19 and skinny as a rake. He had black messy hair – and a high hairline. It was as though he was going prematurely bald. Sean’s hair was a little sallow. He had a pointy nose and a pouty, ironic expression.  A large mole dominated his left cheek – just below the cheekbone.  Sean stood 5’1”. Sean slobbered and looked disctinctly cowardly. What was this scarcrow going to add to the unit?

Then came Niall Tussock – he was 17 and Sean’s younger brother. Niall as an endomorph with high cheekbones. He had a dead eyed expression and came across as indolent and conceited.  Niall was 6’1” and probably would grow more. Conlan perceived a cowardly sadist in Niall and took an instant dislike to him. Conlan regarded him even more cynically than Sean Tussock who at least seemed to have a modicum of intelligence about him.

Hal Tussock was 5’7” and slender. He had dense black hair carefully brushed over his forehead. His teeth were too big and he seemed to be an excitable but conformist type. He was weedy and raffish. At 30 Hal was the uncle of the two boys Niall and Sean. There was an unmistakeable cynical immaturity to Hal.

Gabriel Tussock was a man mountain – he was 6’3” and obese. He had a handsome fat surrounded by a halo of shining fat. He wore expensive clothes and had an enormous belly. He spoke with a slow and very deep voice that lacked expression. Gabriel’s toneless voice spoke of a bottomless stupidity. His jet black hair was carefully brushed and was in a pudding bowl style. Conlan noticed a gold watch on his wrist. Gabriel clearly resented his handmade Italian shoes being spattered in mud. He was dim witted  egregiously selfish as evidenced by his gross feeding.

They all sat down to a meal.

”Men we have a big operation tomorrow. A robbery. Gabriel Tussock will not be able to join us for the attack but the other men will” said London

Gabriel Tussock was wolfing down food and grabbing it from others’ plates.

”What could be more important than an attack?” said Conlan in irritation.

”I have important work to do for the cause in Queenstown” said Gabriel.

”This attack is important” said Conlan.

”Robbery isn’t it?” said Nagle doubtfully.

”Yes robbery of course” said London. He knew that Nagle was only there because of the prospect of theft. London knew that robbery was not the public taste. A gallant Attack on the RIC might be just the ticket if they wished to win people over.

”I am importing arms for the cause if you must know” said Gabriel.

“Oh Good. Thank you Gabriel” said London jauntily “We had some success lately. Killed the RIC commander; A jolly good fellow called Bulkeley” London had put on a pukka accent to call his foe a jolly good fellow.

“Yes I heard.I am a hero too; I would have killed ten RIC men myself excpect I have been too busy with arms imports; Far more important.”

“Ah yes vital work” said London. He happened to know that to date Gabriel had not smuggled in so much as a pea shooter. “I heard you are a weight lifting enthusiast;”

“ah yes that is right” said Gabriel ” I am president of the local weight lifters association”

” Ah great and you weightlift yourself,?” London asked striving not to sound sceptical.

“Ah no not much. Too busy gun running”  said Gabriel looking distinctly embarrassed. London wondered why Gabriel Tussock was head of the weightlifters when he never weightlifted himself? Did he crave an aura of machismo because he was a coward and a slob? Or was it homoerotic?

After dinner Gabriel was given a horse. He had difficulty mounting it. He rode to the nearby town of Enniskeane. He left the horse at a sympathiser’s house and took the train home. By all accounts Gabriel Tussock was very rich. If his sons survived the conflict they had a large patrimony coming their way.

Later Conlan and Thompson went off into the woods to chat.

”I don’t like that fucker Gabriel” said Thompson ”I know all about them. My cousin was in the RIC in Queenstown. Tussock is a coal importer. He steals coal from the shipments – sells it on on his own account. Does some customs evasion. Now that is good because it prevents money going to the Crown” said Thompson ”but he is out for himself”

”I think I heard of them. Gabriel’s father was in the RIC wasn’t he?” said Conlan.

”He was – a bent copper. Taking bribes from gangsters. Beating innocent men into false confessions so they took the rap for crimes the gangsters committed” said Thompson.

”Why is Gabriel not in the RIC?” asked Conlan.

”He tried failed the exams. He is a stupid fucker. Can hardly write. A real brute. A gangster but never does the fighting himself. Gets his goons to do it. But a real holy Joe. Hears mass every day – thinks he is a good man. They have a protection racket in Queenstown. But they are useful to the IRA” said Thompson

”they do not believe in the cause. They are just on our side because they think we will win” said Conlan

”You are right. They do not believe in it. Do not disbelieve in it. We need their help. There is a plan to smuggle guns in from Italy. There is a new Catholic movement there – fascisti. They got a lot of guns left over from the Great War” said Thompson.

”How about that Hal fella?” said Conlan.

”I heard about him too – a wife beater and an alcoholic. He is a gangster with his brother Gabriel. He also takes morphine. They got money. They hire thugs as their enforcers. Stealing from the poor.” said Thompson.

”Do we really need these people?” said Conlan.

“That Gabriel Tussock he has lots of people working for him in construction. He pays them on Friday night in the pub he owns. Then he suggests they have  drink. Some of the poor fellas are egged on. Start drinking. Spend half their pay packets right there in his pub” said Thompson.

“He is not the only boss who does that; taking advantage of alcoholics. He is the worst sort of capitalist exploiter<; There is one good thing about him being on our side. He does not believe in our cause. He is on our side because he knows we are going to win;” said Conlan.

Next morning they rose before dawn. The Tussocks were very slow getting out of it. Sean and his brother boasted about their wealth. There was much grousing about having to camp out. They lamented the meagre rations and asked if they could stay in a hotel.

London went to Nagle first and took his gun off him as Nagle dozed.

”Nagle get up now”’ said London

”What you take me gun for?” said Nagle.

”So you do not run away. If you run away you will be shot as a deserter” said London

”What? I never.” said Nagle.

”Shut it Nagle. I know you are a robber. Now I give you the chance to redeem yourself. You only get your gun back when combat begins” said London

London had brought Conlan with him ”Now watch this man”

London then went to Tooth. London lifted Tooth’s revolver from the pile of clothes and put  it in his belt

”Tooth – you are under arrest” said London

”What for?” said Tooth looking perturbed

”Armed robbery – not IRA authorised ones” said London.

Tooth looked sullen but did not deny it. London then turned to Thompson ”guard this man. Tooth is coming with us. I told you it was a robbery so you would turn up. It is an attack. You get your gun back when the battle begins and not before. If you try to run you will be shot dead for desertion in face of the enemy”

They were preparing to move out when it transpired that the Tussocks had snuck back into their tent for more shut eye.

London had to kick the Tussocks to get up

”How dare you do that I come from a high status family” said Sean

”Ah shut up cry baby. What is wrong with you – you a girl or something?” said London

”How dare you call me that” said Sean crying

”You are supposed to be soldiers – you get up when ordered” said London

”My dad’s men will beat you” said Niall

”They can try. I am not afraid. You are here to fight. Now get up you stupid cunts” said London

The Tussocks were shocked but obeyed. These men had never been spoken to like that before.

They marched over open country. The Tussocks lagged behind. Only after chivvying and threats did they pick up the pace.

A close watch was kept on Tooth and Nagle. They were made to carry stores so they could not flee to easily. They complained bitterly. Nagle had trouble breathing and he perspired liberally. Tooth was irrespresible. It was evident from his face that he was looking for a chance to escape.

The Tussock brothers looked bewildered at having to do some real duties. Their rapacious father had made sure these two idlers wanted for Nothing. On the way they succumbed to their irresistible itch for vulgar display. They showed off their gold watches. Nagle was dying to purloin them. Conlan was glad to see these arrogant boys humbled by being kicked into marching by London when they lagged behind.

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CHURCH PARADE.

One day the Catholics in the RIC marched to the church. It was midweek mass. The RIC tended not to hear mass on Sunday they were busy with other things.

Lumley, FitzGerald, Moore and MacDonald marched to the church. They were accompanied by only Limtay and Moses.

Louis was surprised to see some badly dressed teenage boys ride by on good horses. The boys eyed them eagerly. He recognised a few faces.

”Never seen that fella on a horse before” said Moore ”family must have come into a bit of money.”

Not many people were on the street. Mid week mass tended to be sparsely attended but this week it seemed to be very few people indeed hearing mass. Just some ancient widows with senile hairs around their mouths.

As the six drew up at the gates of the church they heard shots ring out. The men crouched down.

”Its coming from over there” said Louis pointing to a line of trees a hundred yards away. They saw some teenage boys on horses riding over  the field – the long way around towards the trees.

”I’m hit” said Moses clutching his thigh. ”Not too bad” he said. He pulled out a bandage an attempted to staunch the blood.

The men opened fire at the treeline.  From the back of the clump of trees 100 yards away they saw some men run away. It was the Tussocks running for their lives as soon as firing broke out. The Tussocks took the horses off the scouts at gunpoint. They scouts had been ordered not to hand over the horses until London ordered retreat. But the Tussocks threatened to shoot the boy scouts – they clearly meant it. The Tussocks did not fire at the RIC but were willing to shoot their own.

Nagle and Tooth had been given their revolvers back. They fired as best they could but handguns were ineffectual at that range.

”They got me too” said Lumley – he had been struck in the left side of the chest a little above the heart.

”Dash behind the wall” said Moore. ”I will keep up covering fire you fellas make it to the wall” said Moore. He fired rapidly

Limtay and FitzGerald picked up Moses and carried him a few yards to the gate and into the church yard. They were about to take cover behind the wall when FitzGerald cried out. He dropped Moses. Limtay felt real fear; It was odd. The last couple of times he had been Under fire he had not been scared until afterwards but not he realised the gravity of the situation.

Moses managed to crawl to safety. FitzGerald fell down and crawled on. Limtay saw that FitzGerald had been shot in the kidney.

Moses’ tourniquet was complete. He put his head over the wall and fired back at the IRA.

Moore then too Lumley over his shoulder and in a fireman’s lift carried him to safety behind the wall.

MacDonald carried on firing to keep the IRA’s head down. The IRA had fired two dozen shots so far. His proficiency with his rifle was such that the IRA fire slackened as they ducked for cover.

Moses was fighting valiantly. ”I will get these bastards back” he said. Limtay saw the Moses’ face was a little pale. Blood was still seeping out of his thigh.

”We got to get you out of here” said Limtay with quaver in his voice.

”No you don’t” said Moses. Just then a bullet hit Moses in the forehead and he fell dead. A gargling in his throat proclaimed that death was no illusion.

 

Limtay was horrified – he saw the moment it happened.

The others carried on firing.

”Preserve your ammunition boys. Only aimed shots now” said Moore.

”I can hardly see anything” said Limtay ”just a few shapes – they keep well down and well back”

”I don’t think we got a single one” said Moore.

FitzGerald was firing. Then a bullet his his left hand. He shouted in shock and pulled back.

IRA fire slackened the stopped. A minute later they saw the IRA on horseback ride out of the rear of the woods and away to the east.

”That’s it ” said Moore ”those were stolen horses. The IRA had their scouts on horses. The boys rode the horses over to the IRA and gave the horses to the IRA so they could escape.”

”We go and arrest the Fianna Eireann” said Limtay

”We do not we have two wounded men we get back to barracks and medical help right now” said Moore

They left the dead man for the moment. They carried the wounded.

Limtay later spoke to Moore in a private room

”Lumley got shot bad did you see?” said Limtay

”Of course” said Moore

”Maybe he is not an IRA spy then?” said Limtay

”The IRA cannot tell who is who from 100 yards. Plus they may say this is a sacrifice that has to be made. Perhaps he is no bloody good as a spy” said Moore

”True. Now we have only ten men – only 7 effectives. If the IRA attack we may be finished.” said Louis

”I know we were supposed to get reinforcements last week. Need to get the message out urgently” said Moore looking scared for the first time. ”There will not be an army lorry coming through for six days. Going to another town to pass on the message is too dangerous.”

”You are right” said Limtay. ”Tell you what why don’t I go to Macroom and tell them – come back with reinforcements” he heard himself say.

”What now? At night?” said Moore

”That is right. I will walk there. No one would expect it” said Limtay

”Don’t do it you will be killed.” said Moore.

”Nobody will expect it. Ten miles cross country. I will not use the roads. Just give me a revolver and plenty of ammunition. It will take me four hours.” said Louis. He was asking himself what the hell he was volunteering for;

”Ah Jesus – well. Maybe it is our best chance.” said Moore

”Our only hope” said Louis.

Limtay dressed in mufti. He tried to look like a poor farmer. At two o clock in the morning they were confident the town was asleep. They opened the door as quietly as possible. He stole into the cool night and out of town. Louis silently climbed over the wooden fence. He walked on the dewy fields and into the dark woods. Louis felt a profound degree of sobriety. Ever sense was honed as he knew his life depended on hearing more keenly than ever and seeing by moonlight. Louis could no quite believe what he was doing? WHy the hell was he walking across the Irish countryside on his own in the dead of night? If he bumped into the IRA he was done for.  He would not be able to shoot his way through a dozen of them. There is no way he could shoot his way out. If there was any night the IRA would storm the barracks it would be tonight. So by volunteering for this perilous mission he was saving himself ; he smiled at the thought.

There was a little ambient light to guide him. He climbed over fences and gates as quietly as possible. He sought to avoid ruminants at their browsing. He gave farmhouses a wide berth lest guard dogs raise the alarm. In these hours of solitude his mind rover over his life. This might be his last night. He cast his mind over all the choices he had made. It struck him that he had taken the wrong turn at every single crossroads. Or had he? Louis was thankful to have survived the war. What a fool he was to come to Ireland. WHy had he volunteered for such a perilous mission? Let some other bugger do it. Or just wait for the morrow and have a cart load of men go. He thought of Emma. Had it been right to marry her? She had been pregnant. Decent thing to do. What not think of himself and abandon her? Other boys did that. Should he divorce her? It would be a disgrace. But he was not happy with her. WHy waste his youth on her. But what he wouldn’t give to be safe home with the bitch now rather than taking his life in his hands in the wildest part of Ireland. Should the IRA get their paws on him what would they do to him? He trembled in terror. Put that thought out of your head. Not going to happen. Not helping to reflect on the very worst that could befall him. If it came to a gunfight please God he would be killed quick.

Four hours later he arrived in Macroom. He realised the greatest peril might be in front of him. As he approached the castle he knew that the RIC might take him for an IRA man and shoot on sight. He waited till daysrping and then approached them slowly with his hands up.

”You walked form Clountreem to here in the night – alone?” the policeman was flabbergasted

”I did” said Louis.

” Strewth! You deserve a bloody medal mate!” said the Cockney RIC man.

It had never been so blissful to see uniformed men. Safety.

 

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MORE MEN

That day in the forenoon Limtay came back in an RIC lorry. Another RIC lorry accompanied it to deter ambushes. Louis was grinning ear to ear. he had saved his comrades. This was a day he could recollect in years to come. Even his wife would congratulate him and she was not usually his appreciatrice.

Limtay arrived back at Clountreem the barracks with three new men as reinforcements.

A short man of about 30 was the new officer: Head Constable Workman. He was slender and athletic; the physique of a jogger. Workman  was clean shaven and had small dark eyes and a faintly red complexion. Workman’s short and trim hair was light grey.

Head Constable Workman strode into the barracks with an exaggerated attempt at authority. He drew himself up to his full height of 5’6”.

”Come to attention men” said Workman ”I am your new officer”; Workman clearly thought discipline was the most delightful thing in himself.

The men had been lounging around cadging cigarettes off each other.

”Come to attention” Workman was compelled to repeat himself. There was something about his effort to command them that rang hollow. He somehow did not exude the body language and self-possession of an experience officer. The men smelt fear.

Workman was obliged to call them to attention a third time this time he was exasperated ”Come to attention men. Put those blood cigarettes out. Smoking is disgusting.” He was losing his dignity.  His criticism of their smoking played badly. At last all the men who could stand were at attention. Two more constables who were reinforcements joined the lineup.

Louis perceived Workman’s upper class accent was not the genuine article. He strove to pronounce long vowels but sometimes a Cheshire accent intruded. Workman did not come across as the egomaniac that Arly officers usually were not did he have the social cachet that the normally had.

”I am Head Constable Workman” said he, ”You have been underperforming. Your old commander got shot and you did nothing to save him. You got bested by the IRA. I am here to make things ship shape. You have been slacking off. I do not suffer fools gladly. You know where you stand with me. I never prepare speeches. This is it. So when I give an order it will be obeyed immediately or else…”

The harangue bombed. There was muttering in the ranks. Workman then introduced the two new constables. Louis perceived that Workman was an unusual combination; a boring person who was not a good listener.

”Bland” said one of them. He was a rangy 6’1” and in his late 20s. He had mid brown hair and a pallid complexion. His personality was as glum as his name. He had brown expressionless eyes. Bland spoke with a southern English accent that was difficult to place. He was monosyllabic so it was difficult to locate his county.

”Cooper” said another in a Yorkshire accent.  He was in his early 30s and had a fleshy, round, pale face with milk jug ears.  He has was bald and his small amount of dark brown hair at the rear of his head was cut very short. Cooper had blubbery lips and a slight lisp. He had blue eyes and an animated manner. Louis noticed a cross not a crucifix around Cooper’s neck. The Tobacco stains on his fingers indicated that he could not go without a cigarette for an interval of over five minutes.

Moses’ body had already been recovered and was borne away on the lorry. Lumley was taken away for medical treatment.

Workman then insisted in kit inspection. He had them clean the barracks from stem to stern and oil their weapons. He extolled the virtues of polished boots. All the men polished their boots daily but were not obsessive about it . This was not a recruit depot. His pathological fixation with tidiness said mcuh about Workman’s persona. The men found this need to clean the barracks from stem to stern very tedious.

Louis was very offended by Workman saying they had not protected Bulkeley. Bulkeley had been shot miles away on leave. They had no opportunity to do anything. He had been on his own. It was not for men to prevent an officer taking leave. Perhaps Workman had not been advised of the true circumstances of Bulkeley’s demise.

Workman lambasted any man he caught smoking while working. This new head constable was also tea total – in contrast to Bulkeley who even had a drop on duty. Smoking was so trivial ; it did not do any harm. Had Workman not more pressing matters to concern himself with such as besting the IRA?

Louis took an instant dislike to this new commander. He sensed that Workman’s ego was brittle. Workman gave Louis his file and told him to put it in the filing cabinet.

It was then that Louis found out about Workman’s background. Documents were signed Marcus Workman. But the man’s real name was Mark Woodcock Workman.  wHY had he hadded a syllable to his name? The classical Mark perhaps seemed posher than plain Mark. He was 30 and from Chester and had been an accounts clerk – son of a male nurse. Fascinatingly he had joined the army as an enlisted man. Field promotion to officer. The upper class accent was an affectation and kept slipping. Then Louis noticed that Workman had only ever served in the Royal Army Pay Corps. No combat experience? What was this desk soldier doing in command? No wonder Workman felt unsure of himself.

Louis knew that a pukka accent did not a decent officer make. But it was hard not to have some snobbery ingrained into him. He was accustomed to officers being from the gentry. This man was cut from the same cloth as the rest of them.

They need more reinforcements. FitzGerald was wounded in the hand.

In the evening Workman continued to give his men a tongue lashing.

”Men when I arrived this place looked like a pig sty. It was a disgrace. You should be disgusted with yourselves you monstrous lot.” They all bristled at his impertinence.

Workman continued ” It is a new regime. None of this laxity that you had under Bulkeley” They disliked hearing their fallen commander disparaged ”From now on we will search every house. We are going to search every house in Clountreem tomorrow” said the head constable.”Any questions?”

Moore put his hand up.

”Yes constable” Workman had not bothered to notice that Moore was a sergeant

”With respect sir we built a good relationship with the local community. Some are on our side and give us tip offs. Most are neutral. That is the best that can be hoped for in this part of the country at present. If we go around like a bull in a china shop searching every house it will cause and awful lot of resentment. It will help the IRA not us. We know who the suspects are” said Moore

There was a sensation of approval all around the room. They were fed up with wORKman wasting time on trivial matters.

”Man – these are your orders. You have been lazy!” he said brusquely. ”So you will do as you are told” he said as if scolding children. ”Waken your ideas up man. If you do not do your job properly the IRA will have us as stiff corpses. I am married with three children and I am going to make it out of Ireland alive. We are police now. We suspect everyone. There are houses that you do not think are safe houses for the Republican Army. But nevertheless the animals may have bulldozed the householders into secreting weapons there. We must ascertain if they are harbouring rebels or not. We shall search eat house from stem to stern!”

Louis realised there was a certain logic to Workman’s case. The local RIC thought they knew the area. It took an outsider to shake them out of their complacency. Bulkeley had gone against Moore’s expert advice at the beginning and it had yielded dividends. Moreover, Workman was right. People who were not IRA supporters might be sheltering IRA men under threat of death or concealing weapons in the house.

The others relished Workman coming a cropper. WOULD HE be killed by the enemy like Bulkeley?

What to make of Workman? He was overpromoted. Louis felt a bit sorry for him being in a post he could not cope with. Workman pined for acceptance as an officer so he contrived to sound like one. He was pretending to be something that he was not. But if he did not put on the plummy tones no one would take him seriously especially his brother officers. Wasn’t the whole problem this class system?

In the dormitories they all moaned about Workman. They repined for the days before him.

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

HOUSE SEARCHES.

Workman had them up before peep of day. He made them do press ups and sit ups in the barracks. They moaned bitterly.

Then it was out to search house. Workman started at the far end of the town. They did it in no particular order. He was deliberately random. Workman;s idea was to make people think he was searching houses according to some plan or tip off. In fact he was not. He then withdrew his men to barracks for a tea break People assumed the search was over. Half an hour later it was out again to search more houses.  Workman believed that people would then say that the search was over. It was safe to relax. Wanted men might come out of hiding or arms would not be hidden.

The RIC searching house became a familiar sight again. They had not done so for a few weeks before Workman arrived.

Workman even had them go back and search some houses they had been through earlier. Workman’s reason for this was that the IRA might say lightning does not strike twice. Once a house had been searched and found innocent the IRA might reason that it was perfectly safe to put a man on the run there or a weapon.

All these searches drew a blank. Workman was certainly active. He pushed himself hard and drove the men hard to. He expected 12 hour days from them.

On the roads he searched every male from an infant to a shuffling old geriatric. Workman was sure that an IRA man lurked in every Irish household.

Moore commented in the dormitory ”That Workman is only a half sir.”

”Not a real gent for sure” said Short.

Limtay chose not to tell them what he had discovered of Workman;s background. He did not wish to further undermine their faith in Workman. Plus if it got back to Workman that Louis had been spreading disobliging information about him then this would not help Louis’ relationship with the new head constable. Workman was the new boss and that was the way it was going to stay for a while. Better make the best of a bad situation. Perhaps this man would not turn out to be as dreadful as he first appeared. Everyone makes a few mistakes at the beginning.

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

INTERCEPTION

A few days later the RIC were manning a roadblock. A teenage boy came through carrying a satchel looking very nervous.

”What is up with you sunshine?” said Workman gleefully. “wHAT is your game?”

”Yerra nothing  sir”

”Nothing sir?” Workman repeated mockingly, ”Search this boy” he said turning to Short. The policeman searched the satchel – there were books and stationery. The books were flicked through – all innocent. Short gave the boy a pat down. ”Hey what’s this?” said Short. ”He has got a letter in his shirt.”

”A letter? Only a letter? I thought you were going to say gun” said Workman.

The boy looked very frightened. Short put his hand into the boy’s shirt and took out the envelope.

”Why you carrying an envelope in your shirt?” asked Short.

”Yes, what’s your game?” asked Workman.

”Nothing sir I am going to home to me mammy. Can I go now sir?” said the boy

”What is you name lad?” said Workman leaning in.

”Riordain, Sir. Aodh Riordain”

”That is Prisoner Riordain now” said Workman ” You are nicked; You had better be telling me the truth lad or you can expect a hiding. I give you a chance to change your mind. What is your name?”

Louis thought that Workman had let himself down with his proletarian slang. His affected upper class accent was slipping.

”Riordain” he said immediately. Workman perceived that the boy was not deceiving him.

”Why you carrying an envelope in your shirt?” asked Workman.

”No reason sir” said the boy

”Don’t give me that tosh. Why not carry it in your bag if it is innocent?” asked Workman.

”Sir tis nothing”

”You play me for a fool. Open the letter” said Workman.

Short could hardly read and handed it to Workman. Workman scanned it;

‘Dear Ricard

How I miss you and your sweet caresses. I am forever thinking of you. You are so clever and tender. My darling, I long for you. I have learnt so much from you. I shall be safe. Soon I will warm your beg and feel your chubby, hairy, naked body by mine. You have taught me to be Greek. 

Yours with passionate love,

Benedict.

PS.  One Kiss. 

Workman looked up at the boy, stunned. The boy’s mouth was open and he quailed.

”Do you realise what filth is in this letter?” asked Workman with a malaise plain on his face

”No, sir I do not. Not read it.” said Riordain

Workman turned to Moore and said ”Moore read this letter – see if you recognise the handwriting. Rather disgusting I know but read it. ”

”Sir” said Moore

Workman turned back to the boy. ”Riordain I daresay you have not read it otherwise you would have been sick. This is debauchery. Sheer unnatural vice. The sort of thing the Frogs might tolerate. Who wrote this revolting epistle?”

”I don’t know sir” said O’Riordain.  Workman saw the dishonesty on the teenager’s face. O’Riordain touched his mouth

”It is Ricard. Who the hell is this Ricard?” said wORKman

”No idea sir.” O’Riordain rubbed his fingers across his lips.

”You must now you bloody idiot. You have the brain the size of a pea. You are delivering it. You must know who it came from?” said Workman

”I cannot tell you that sir.” said O’Riordain.

”Come on tell me do I have to use strong measures?”

Moore was on the roadblock he heard all that was going on. A realisation gradually crossed his mind as to who this Ricard might. He could hardly believe it. But there was the proof in black and white. Suddenly it all made sense.

 

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

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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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