Catholic loyalists burnt out – woman killed for informing – reinforcement for IRA from Dublin – mention of Orange marches – Auxies arrive – bloodhounds – truck –
Mark ‘Marcus’ Woodcock Workman. (J M S Woodcock) 30s. Chester.
Anthony Bland. 20. ( British Army officer Astana) Southern England. rangy. dull
David Cooper. (Rev D Cooper) no middle name 30s. Yorks.
Davey Dew. 30s. (David Dew). Northants.
Thomas Westcott. (T R Forshaw’s dad). 40s Devon.
Jock Mackay. 20s (v tall Scotsman with moustache from Baku).
Mick Black (M McCormick) Dublin. 30s
Stephen Malley (Sasha Ishmail) 18. socialist
Lorcan Malley (greasy face OULC chair) 19. socialist. dad in ICA.
- 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. Arrested ————
9. Damian Walsh (D W) farmer. arrested ————————–
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.
London evacuated the camp after Thompson was killed. He worried that the RIC would have heard the explosion. Workman might yet come to harry them.
The next night London gathered his men around him
”Volunteers – you have seen this Workman is a tough but to crack. Not a lazy aristocrat like that Bulkeley. Workman has his men raiding every day. He has burnt our safe houses. So we will pay them back in the same coin. Burn loyalist houses.” said London
A cheer went up.
”That is right boys” said London ”so now we will burn out Rooney’s – you know over by Horse Field”
”What they do?” asked Brannock.
”Remember when the war broke out. Not this war – the German war – they flew the Union Jack over their house” said London
”Ah but they took it down after the Easter Rising. A lot of people were pro English back then” said Brannock.
”Well they are still loyalists. We have to hit someone. Them Black and Tans are burning down IRA houses so we are going to get those rats who support the Crown. That will learn them!” said London.
”Yes and their son was in the Royal Munster Fusiliers” said Simons. ”Got killed in the war.”
”That proves it” said London.
The IRA battalion moved out. They arrived at Rooney’s after midnight. As the opened the gate to his farmstead a heifer lowed in the field hardby.
London used the butt of his revolver to bang on the door. Being an officer he no longer carried a handgun. ”Open this door – Rooney come out. We have the house surrounded. Come out”
Stooped old Mr Rooney came out and said not a word. Mr Rooney shuffled uneasily as he had fibrositis in his legs. The white whiskered wizen old man knew better than to plead.
”Get your wife and children out. We are burning the place down” said London maliciously. ”You have one minute”
Rooney was not given any time to get any valuables out. They house was then torched.
”Why the hell did you fly the British Flag?” snarled London fuming.
”I thought if our boy fought in the war we would get Home Rule” said little Mr Rooney meekly his cheeks bedewed with tears at the mention of his Fallen son.
”Damn fool” said London
”They passed Home Rule just after the war began. Home Rule is to come next year – Lloyd George said it again the other day” said Rooney.
”Yerra shurrup” said London ”Who would believe Lloyd George? That Welsh Wizard – even more of a liar than the English. Welsh are even fouler than the Sassanach. Perfidious Albion. What use is Home Rule? We will break the connection with England. A republic – that is what we want and to hell with the king. Rooney you have got 24 hours to get out of Ireland. Get the boat to England. If we ever catch you here you will be shot. Your land now belongs to the IRA. ”
London led his men off from this latest famous victory.
AT THE BARRACKS
Workman was in his room filing some reports with his customary fastidiousness. He summoned Limtay in.
”Limtay, you may have heard another family was burnt out by the IRA last night.” said Workman with exaggerated indifference to the actual suffering. “Blaze was reported over at Horsefield;”
”Yes sir I did,” said Limtay trying to keep pathos out of his voice. It would not do to display emotion when Workman tried to emphaise his lack of emotion.
”How do we smoke out this rat London?” said Workman. “From Bulkeley’s reports you are the man to rely on;”
”Difficult to say sir. We are raiding all their safe houses. They do not really have any safe houses since you came. We raid so many houses and farm buildings. We comb the woods every other day we have them on the run.” said Louis.
”Yes, I am trying to catch them but also to prevent them concentrating. The IRA only attack at a 2 to 1 advantage at least. People say it is damn cowardly but it is not. Quite sensible really. If I were an IRA big noise I would do likewise; So they need at least 10 men to attack a patrol. If 10 men gather in the woods that might be noticed by people around with the noise especially if there is a campfire. IRA are paranoid that people are tipping us off. You said you have not heard from your source in the IRA in weeks” said Workman
”Correct sir. No idea what happened. Did he get exposed and shot? Probably not because they tend to dump the body on the roadside with a sign around the victim’s neck – spies and informers beware. They set up an ambush around the corpse in case we fetch it. Did our source just get scared and flee? More likely. IRA might have transferred him out of the county.” said Limtay
”You have another chappy an ex soldier who wanted to inform” said Workman; The use of the social marker ‘chappy’ fell falsely from Workman’s proletarian lips.
”Yes sir but he proved useless. I was putting a shilling a day in the biscuit tin – that was our dead drop. Not a sausage from him. The disabled ex soldier is still around. He took the money and never gave any information. So we have stopped putting money in. He did not want to risk it. What can we do to him? He conned us. Could be he had no information to give. Better than feeding us disinformation. We discussed paying him more but no. He would never have much cash on him. If we did that then it would arouse suspicion if he had new found wealth” said Limtay.
”This London character. I know he is a brute. Kills a lot of people in cold blood. 9 /10 people the IRA have killed here are Irish. Most of the people they shoot they shoot whilst unarmed. They are not much danger to us. They prefer to attack unarmed people. We have killed no one besides the IRA. We are only here to protect people from the IRA. Before the IRA starting shooting Irish policemen there were no English policemen in Ireland. Why is it the public are against us?” said Workman.
”Not all are against. A few are for us but they are frightened out of their wits. They have seen what happens to those even suspected of helping us. In fact no one helps us. Some people are neutral but yes half the town are against us. Why? Anglophobia, anti Protestantism and then there is the desire for the republic. Even if we were the best police force in the world some people would still be against us. People do not like paying rent and taxes and the police had to enforce that. The police had to smash illegal whiskey stills. That made the police unpopular. We have stopped hunting for whiskey stills because we were so busy battling the IRA. Why else do they dislike us? They remember the Famine and blame us. The Crown Forces were not always good in Ireland. I have been reading up about the 1798 rebellion. Hundreds of men were tortured suspected rebels were killed without trial. Even this year our conduct had not been perfect;” said Limtay
”Well yes that is disgraceful all those half hangings and the pitch cap but that is a very long time ago. Nothing we can do about that now. It is not my fault what happened over 100 years ago!” said Workman. ”Makes me think about London. I read his file – James Ricci London. How did they come up with a middle name like Ricci?”
”It is Pope Leo XIII’s surname” said Limtay;
”Ah I see – pious Catholic family. Limtay: you are a walking encyclopedia of useless information! Jim London – I will give him this. He is brave. Yes, he kils the unarmed but he is unafraid of death himself. That does not make him good. Often goes together – courage and cruelty. A psychopath – seems to me. Does not value human life – even his own life. ” said Workman.
The IRA surrounded Mrs Browne’s small white washed cottage late at night.
”Come out Mrs Browne” growled London. He hammered on the door with the butt of his revolver.
Mrs Browne was a slender 30 year old with dark blonde hair. She shivered in terror. She shared a bed with 5 of her 10 children.
”Come on out and face the music. We want to talk to you”, said London.
”Mammy don’t go out mammy” said her 5 year old son plaintively.
”Come out now Widow Browne or we will burn the house down with your brats inside it” said London raspingly.
”Don’t go! don’t’ go!” the children wailed.
”I have to. I will be back in a minute” said Mrs Browne trying to repress her terror.
Mrs Brown put on a dressing gown and slippers. She undid the latch of her two room cottage and stepped outside.
London grabbed her arm ”Come now” he said gruffly. She screamed. Her children heard her cry. Her 10 year old daughter ran out after her/
”Don’t hurt my mammy. I will box your ears you coward” said the girl.
”Get back in there you little bitch or I will shoot you” said London raspingly as he brandished his revolver
The girl shrank back.
Brannock tied the woman’s hands behind her back with a rough rope. They led her off.
As they walked up the hill London could see by the starlight that Mrs Browne was petrified.
”Let’s start the questioning now” said London ”You have been informing haven’t you?”
”No, I haven’t” she said immediately. Mrs Browne was perplexed that the IRA came to her house. She was a Catholic and too poor to be worth robbing.
”You are a spy aren’t you?” said London
”No I am not” she said with force – looking into his eyes. Mrs Browne thought she would not be killed. If they were going to shoot her they would do it immediately. But her utter terror was evident. This affored London the most exquisite sensation of power.
”You were seen talking to an English policeman and laughing with them. Flirting with a Saxon.” said London
”I was stopped at a road block. I chatted to them. One fella spoke to me and cracked a joke” said Mrs Browne.
”You are a whore. Flirting with a Saxonhead. You must be selling them secrets.” said London
”I am not selling them secrets. Look how poor I am! I have not had a bean from the English;” said Mrs Browne
”Your husband was a soldier in the South Irish Horse. You got money from the king. You are a spy” said London
”I am not a spy. I get a war widow’s pension/ I have 10 children to feed.” she said pleadingly.
”Soldiers’ wives are spies. Your husband was fucking whores in France. Came back with syphilis and gave it to you” said London
”He did not!” said Mrs Browne her indignation made her forget her fear for a second.
They had reached a bog.
Brannock said avidly ”commandant we beat her till she confesses?”
”Ah no – no bother. Let’s not waste time” said London. He then turned to the woman ”Kneel”
The woman knelt. ”Why?”
”Let’s rape her first. No waste her” said Brannock with brazen lust.
Mrs Browne wondered what the ‘first’ was about. London said gratingly ” we will not do that. And then get syphilis from this soldier’s mot.”
London then pronounced sentence. ”Mrs Browne – you have been found guilty of espionage by a republican court. Sentenced to death.”
”What? I am not guilty. I never told anything to the police. I do not know anything about the IRA! I just smiled at a policeman. I am a young widow. Sometimes it is nice when a man notices you” she said in blind panic. She was quavering and almost lost control of her bowels. To think all she had never known was about to come to an end.
London got his revolver out.
”Ah no. Please. I have ten children! For God’s sake take pity on me. I am innocent! Just give me exile. Rape me then!” she pleaded and wept. “Just don’t kill me I beg and beseech ye for the love of God!” she squealed in the sheerest terror.
London was remorseless and put his revolver to her forehead and pulled the trigger.
Mrs Browne’s body went slack and then fell to one side. A cool gratification glimmered on London’s face as he put his revolver back into his holster.
”We take her to the road for the sign – spies and informers beware?” said Brannock.
”Ah no. Scarier to disappear her rather than let people know she is dead. We do not want to be seen to be killed too many women. Do not make her Edith Cavell. The ENglish were smart not to execute Countess Markievicz. Just dump this woman in the bog” said London. London was also aware that labelling her a spy was barely withing the bounds of Truth. She had spoken to a policeman a few words more than strictly necessary. If they did not label her body as one executed by the IRA then it was plausibly deniable that they had killed her. If public opinion was very unfavourable they could always pin it on the Tans. It would be a false flag operation.
Mrs Browne was buried in the bog. No one was any the wiser as to her fate. The IRA’s name had never been written higher than by that act of unmatched heroism.
THE DUBLIN BRIGADE
London requested reinforcements from GHQ. They arrived down from Dublin.
The IRA were camping out near an old shed deep in the woods. Jim London had posted his sentinels. He also had several unarmed scouts out. The boys who were posted as lookouts were not so numerous as to attract attention. Commandant London had learnt from other IRA officers that sending out too many scouts was counterproductive as they made noise. The more scouts one sent the greater chance that one would be captured. He did not want these teenage boys leading the police straight to his hideout. One scout was a scout. But two scouts together would chat and be Worth half a scout. Three scouts together would be gassing so much and making so much noise that they were worse than no scouts at all. Scouts were strictly instructed to stay far apart and not to talk to each other on pain of a thrashing.
The IRA were munching around their campfire. A few had pitched tents. Many IRA men were part time. They stayed at home for the most part. They were only called out for actual attacks. Those who stayed at home seldom carried guns and were mostly there for logistical support; Those in the flying column were full time IRA men because they were wanted by the RIC. But Workman was raiding so much that some of the part timers had been forced to go on the run and become full timers. Others moved temporarily to districts where the IRA was more dominant and the police were more callow.
The volunteers munched their sEQUEStrated beef. These may be Prod cattle but they tasted just as scrumptious Just then one of the boy scouts approached leading three men who were dressed in the cheap grey and dun shabby clothes of the working class complete with large soft caps and thick black unfashionable boots.
“You remember there was an English couple living near Slieve Dhu when we were Young ?” said Adams; “The Bridges. That couple said God never blessed them with children and any child who came to them would be given a penny.”
“Ah do not believe that the English are tight fisted bastards. Meaner than the Jew. Money grubbers” said London.
“Mr Bridges gave me money himself” said Adams.
“You are remembering wrong. The English are all anti Irish. The English would never give us anything but a bullet in the head.” said London.
“YOU Are right” Adams quickly back tracked “I must be misremembering.”
“I remember when Mickey O’Mahony used to scrump their orchard>.” SAID London ” Then one time he was in their strawberry bed and scoffing strawberries and strawberry juice was streaming from his mouth. Mr Bridges comes along and the Brit says ‘May I ask what you are doing Young fellow?’ ” London affected a patrician accent for that. “Says Mickey ‘Sir I was just admiring your strawberries;’ ”
they all burst into raucous chortles;
”God save all here” said a young scout,”Commandant” said a 15 year old red haired scout.
London look up – faintly surprised. He put his hand to the revolver – not recognising the three unarmed men being led by the scout.
”These are the volunteers from Dublin” said the boy in a high pitched Cork City sing song voice.
”Ah – the fellas from Dublin” Jim brightened ”We have been expecting you” He did not rise to greet them. “We like the jackeens;”
”Sit down lads” said Jim London still chewing ”Brannock will give you some food like; Ye Dubs are very welcome in Cork.”
”Thanks commandant” said one. ”Me name is Mick Black” he moved over and shook hands. Black was in his 30s. He was 5’8” and had dark brown hair carefully brushed and geled down to his skull. He was clean shaven and had small brown eyes deep in his skull. He was pallid and slim – his poor man’s clothes were as dapper as they could be. He had a sharp chin and narrow nose.
”Hi commandant ” said the next one ”My name is Stephen Malley”. He was swarthy and about 18. He was slim and stood only 5’4” – his thick black hair was curly and he spoke in a deep monotone. He had a long face and a large chin.
”Hello there commandant London” said the next youth ”My name is Lorcan Malley. I am Stephen’s brother – a year older. Lorcan was also slender and stood 5’6” but looked shorter because he walked with a pigeon toed stoop. Lorcan had a very greasy face and red skin. He wore glasses with a thin frame and had an intellectual air about him. His thin mid brown hair was already receding and was brushed into a centre parting.
”Well good to see ye lads” said London/
The new recruits dug in. ”Always glad to have fresh blood” said London ”We had some trouble with the Black and Tans around here. They got a new boss and he drives them awful hard. DO not know how them Black and Tans stick it like. But we lost a few arrested and killed. We needed reinforcements from quieter parts of the country to beat these bastards down here”
”Dublin is not a quiet part of the country” said Black ”We are the most active. We are whipping the Brits up there. I was sent away by the Dublin Brigade because there is a price on my head. 1000 pounds!” He did not conceal his delight at this boast.
London noticed that figure did not quite ring true as Black said it
”I am glad you have lashed the Black and Tans up there. War will soon be over then” London was surprisingly conciliatory. ”Until then we need yet to smash these bastards here. Dublin is a fine place. A friend of mine was up there in the Lockout. 1913. Them Dublin Metropolitan Police are savages”
”Yes they are” said Stephen Malley ”our father was out on strike like. William Martin Murphy treated the working man awful. Me father had to fight the police. To think that William Martin Murphy called himself a nationalist. He would not allow a trades union. That millionaire Murphy controlled DUblin transport. Our father was in the Irish Citizens’ Army. That is why we are in the IRA. Irish Citizens’ Army joined the IRA. We are here to fight for socialism”
”Well all aboard lads” said London. He noticed some of his men groaning when Stephen Malley mentioned socialism
Lorcan had already got a book on Marxism out and was reading it.
”Good news fellas. The local priest well the younger man is on our side. ” said London ” So he is our official chaplain. The battalion chaplain Fr Downy will be here tomorrow to say mass and bless our guns. We likes to take confessions before we go into action.”
”No thank you” said Lorcan looking up from his copy of Das Kapital ”I will not be needing any spiritual sustenance thank you” he said smugly.
”Why not? Are you a Prod?” asked London scowling in suspicion.
”No I am not. We are Malleys. Our grandparents come from Mayo – we are Catholic but would it matter if we were Protestants?” asked Lorcan. The question was not rhetorical but he thought it wiser not to wait for a response. ”I do not like the Catholic Church or any other.”
”Why not?” said London in horror.
”Our father was on strike in 1913. We were close to starving. Some English trades unionists said they would take us in – my brother and I and our sisters. They would feed us for the few months the strike lasted But the parish priest put paid to that. He told my parents it would be a mortal sin. The English socialists might infect us with Protestantism. The English family swore they would not bring us to a Protestant church – let us go to the Catholic church in the town. Then some Sinn Fein fellas said not to let us go to England because we might lose our nationality. Better to starve in Ireland? I think not. We had to beg on the streets for food. My sister died of cholera at that time. Not just because of hunger all right but she was so weak. We did not eat at all some days. Why? Because of the church. Why did the archbishop not give us some crumbs from his table? The Church has long been the bedfellow of the state. The Church was an insurgent force when it was persecuted. Not it is the persecuor. The Church sanctifies the reactionary cause. Catholic, Protestant or Orthodox the Church is a weapon of the establishment. She is against the disinherited classes.” said Lorcan acidly.
London was glad that Adams was not there. Such a passionate Catholic might have shot Lorcan for heresy.
“ARE YOu saying the Church is on the side of tHE British?”
“Basically yes I am. You can see yourself the letters from the bishops read out in Church>. The cardinals are princes of the Church and they live like it. They live in palaces and they are shameless enough to call their houses palaces. Where is the humility? How many starving children could be saved for the cost of their vestements? I have Nothing against true Catholicism. There are of course some good and gallant priests. Men of the people who live close to the working class; So many clergy are opportunists. We need a Church of the poor; Catholicism could be a revolutionary force but for the moment it has been hijacked by West Brits;”
London could not argue with this trenchant and lucid analysis. He was also impressed by how fearlessly this boy had put his case. Even the devout men in the unit could not quibble with the Truth of what the man said/
”Ah well let’s sing some rebel songs now” said London eager to change the subject.
After the meal Jim showed the men a tent. ”This will be the billet of the Dublin contingent”
”Very nice” said Mick Black and in they crept. Stephen Malley minor was soon saying ”I don’t like this culchie kip too much. Dopey farmers all of them”
Lorcan Malley said ”Yes, petit bourgeois reactionaries. Trouble with these farmers. It was very cunning of the English to allow the peasants to compulsorily purchase their farms. Now they feel they have a stake in capitalism. They do not want socialism. See when we mentioned it they almost vomited. Owning a tiny farm has sapped their revolutionary vigour. People say that the Wyndhal Land Act was a concession to nationalism but it was not. It was the sneakiest trick of the English ruling class; By mitigating the suffering of the peasant they robbed us of our revolutionary hatred for the possessing classes. We must all hate the class enemy if we have any morals at all.”
Black said ”Lorcan what they hell does all that mean about stake in capitalism? This is the IRA. We are not in some university.”
”It means that these fellas own a bit of land. So they want to be able to keep their private property. They want to boot out the English all right but apart from that change nothing. They are reactionaries. After we beat the English we need to hang on to our rifles. There will be a second civil war – against the rural reactionaries.” said Lorcan.
”Reactionary?” said Black ”why you saying words you know I do not understand. You read too many books.”
”We need a real revolution like the Bolsheviks are having in Russia with Lenin” said Lorcan.
Black intervened ”The Bolsheviks? I thought you were a socialist? A fair deal for the working man, like. The Bolsheviks are all about killing priests like.”
”Only Orthodox priests” said Stephen Malley.
”Ah that is not so bad then” said Black. ”What is Orthodox? Is that like Orthodox Jews? Is Orthodox a religion?”
”No” said Lorcan ”The type of Christianity in Russia is Orthodox Christianity. We need a Bolshevik Revolution in Ireland. They had a soviet in Limerick last year. A noble experiment. Only lasted a month.”
”What the hell is a Bolshevik?” asked Black ”Are you fellas socialist?”
”More than that” said Lorcan ”I am a communist. Total transformation of society. Take away all private property. Break the dominance of the capitalist class and the priests.”
”But priests are on our side” said Black ”Don’t you be bad mouthing the church”
”You are a craw thumper” said Lorcan ”I noticed you say your rosary at the angelus. I would not stop you. The church is a reactionary force. See how the Bishop of Cork denounced us. But when we win the church will fall into line. They did so in Russia. I am more than a socialist – a communist. It is about community. Everything must be owned in common. All for the common weal. No more exploitation by the boss class.”
”This is not about any class of Irishman against any other. We are all against England” said Black
”I wish that were true” said Lorcan Malley ”But look at it – half the people are pro English. Not just the loyalists. What is left of the Home Rule Party is crypto unionist. Big business does not want a republic. Half the IRA are capitalists. We need a real revolution. Nothing short of that. The priests are reactionaries – always serving the rich. No more superstition or the poor being bilked by the church”
”Lorcan – I have heard enough of you talking down the church.. Shut your gob now. You sound like a Prod”
”The Protestant churches are even worse. Actively pro ENglish. I have links to English socialists who see problems just the same way I do” said Lorcan
”Why are you so against the Catholic Church – you are a Catholic aren’t you?” said Black
”I was brought up that way. But I am an atheist. I am worried about a religious reaction after we beat the English/ Sometimes I wonder if we might not be better off staying linked to England and teaming up with socialists over there. Is this national campaign a distraction from the class struggle?” said Lorcan
”I shut your hole” said Black angrily.
Stephen was a little jaded with all this sermonising and point scoring from the two book worms.
Lorcan realised he had over reached himself and fell silent. They uneasily fell asleep.
London shared a tent some distance away with Brannock
Brannock said ”I do not like them jackeens. Why do we need these Dublin bastards? Send us some men from Cork.”
”None to be had from Cork. And as for Kerry – I would not have a Kerrymen here. No foreigners” said London
”I do not want to be ruled by Dubliners after freedom. At least we know where we are with the English. DUbliners are worse. Half English, half Protestant – used to be Danish. Dubs are hardly Irish at all” said Brannock ”none of them speak a word of Irish up there.”
”Why do we call ’em jackeens?”, said London
”Because when the queen or the king used to visit Dublin the Dubs were all out on the streets waving their little Union Jacks to greet the royal family. The Dubliners behaved like real Englishmen. It was a fucking disgrace like. Every time. When Victoria came, King Edward and George V. Bastards. Dubs are traitors to Ireland. Like little Jack Tars” said Brannock. “The Dubs are not real Irish even the Catholic Dubliners. They have been Under English rule for hundreds of years longer than the rest of Ireland; Maybe when we get freedom let us leave Dublin to the British. Them Brits can have it. It is infected with Englishness. Let s not have Holy Ireland contaminated with the English vice;”
THE MARCHING SEASON
The Royal Irish Constabulary were in their barracks – those who were not out on patrol that is. The men were polishing their boots furiously. Furious with energy and also with being subjected to a daily boot inspection. Why was Workman so petty? They were not in a recruit depot. They were all seasoned soldiers perfectly capable of looking after their kit.
”Why does Workman make us do this?” said Cooper.
”I know such a matron” said David. ”It is his way of trying to show us he is boss.”
”If he were a real officer he would not be making us do this” said Cooper.
”Bulkeley never did this” said Forshaw, ”and before the IRA started up we did not do this either. I wish I was home for the marching season.”
”The marching season? What the hell’s that?” asked Cooper
”You are new to Ireland. You do not know. Some of the Protestant organisations parade around – remembering past victories. Promising to be loyal to the king. It is a wonderful time. Celebrations. In the North where I am from. Not down here.” said Forshaw.
”Why not down here?” asked Cooper
”This is Catholic country. Not many Orange lodges in these parts” Forshaw chuckled.
”You an Orangemen then?” asked David.
”No I am not but some of my family is.” said Forshaw.
”Yes, I saw a lot of Orange marches in Scotland. Don’t know what to think of them. I knew a lot of Orangemen. Some of them good men for sure. But a few of them were always saying how they hated Roman Catholics. There was a Presbyterian minister in our town used to encourage people to join Orange Order. A friendly society – pay in and they help you with money if you are out of work. The Orange Order will get you a job. It was very respectable – based around the church. I never joined though. I did not like these guys always saying Catholics pray to funny things.” said David.
”Feeling will be running high in the North” said Forshaw ” on the streets there will be a battle royal. It is bad enough at home. I had a letter from my sister. Catholics and Protestant shooting each other every day. Even worse than down here. All the IRA’s fault. None of this was happening before 1916.”
”Me boots are ready. Bright as a button” said Cooper. ”I am ready for Workman to see ’em”
Just then Workman came in to the room. ”Attention men!”
They all stood up.
That evening the RIC had had their meal. Workman called in those who were not on sentry duty. When Workman was about there was not a sniff of alcohol about the barracks.
”Men, I have had some good news for you. You may have seen the article in Hue and Cry”
”What is Hue and Cry sir?” said Cooper raising his hand.
”Cooper – it is the police newspaper. You are supposed to know that. ANyway – another police force is starting in Ireland. Auxiliaries they are called. Super tough they are too.” said Workman smiling ”All men who were in the war and then were promoted from the ranks.”
”Like you” someone coughed.
There was hesitancy in Workman’s expression. He left it too long to quell the dissent and pretended not to hear. Workman carried on ”Anyway chaps – the Auxiliaries are here to fight the IRA. Their role is as their name suggests – auxiliary – to help”
The men could not hide their disdain for his schoolmasterly manner.
Workman misread their mood and carried on his smug and patronising lecture. ”So the Auxiliaries will help us. We are here – those of us from the mainland – to fill the gaps in the RIC. The Auxiliaries are going to be in independent units. We shall liaise with them;”
The men chuckled at Workman’s studied use of this verb. Workman felt self conscious.
“Liaise;> It is a technical term. Company strength here in Cork and other afflicted counties. They are doing to thrash the IRA like nothing else. We have been doing a good job of running the IRA ragged. I know I have worked you hard lads but that is what it takes. We are fighting. Call it a war or call it a police action – call it what you like but we are fighting. By Jove we will have whipped the IRA within six months! ” Workman stopped and beamed as though expecting his men to cheer. His smile fell.
”Good news, sir” said Sergeant with dumb insolence. Workman lacked the emotional intelligence to notice the dig.
”Yes it is rather. Some of these chaps will be stationed only 12 miles from here. Jolly good show it will be too” Workman was laying on the social markers too thickly.
Louis felt conflicted about Workman. There was no doubting his sincerity or his commitment. He had a zeal about him that was lacking in Bulkeley. Bulkeley’s manner had been languid and he was a damaged man from the trenches. His drinking and private loquacity had let him down>. Workman was a pedant and his lack of self assurance meant that his men sneered at him. It was hard to say who was better. Workman sensed that his men did not respect him and this ate away at him.
A few days later two army lorries passed through the town. The army only ever sent out lorries in pairs at that stage – to deter ambush. Two lorries meant at least 20 soldiers. The army estimated that the IRA would only ambush them if they had 40 men and it was rare for the IRA to gather 40 men in one place. To assemble 40 men meant a lot of rations and a lot of movement. There was a chance that these men would be spotted or informers would hear credible rumours. The larger RIC stations even had wirelesses to communicate reported concentrations of IRA;
The soldiers jumped out of their lorries – bayonet fixed. They took up positions around the centre of the town to dissuade anyone who might think of attacking. It was a charade. The one time the IRA would never attack was the 10 minutes a week when the Crown Forces had the most men. It was also a chance for the soldiers to stretch their legs after a bone chattering ride over the unpaved roads.
The RIC came out and took their stores in.
The army officer saluted Workman.
”Good afternoon head constable Workman”
”Good afternoon lieutenant” said Workman. ”Lieutentant – and what is your name?”
”Habgood” he said ”Lieutenant Habgood”
Workman heard barking. He peered at one of the lorries as his men carried in crates of food, a sack of mail and even a few newspapers.
”Barking?” asked Workman
”Oh yes Head Constable Workman” said Habgood ”Almost forgot to say. We have got what you requested some time ago. A bloodhound.”
”A bloodhound? Jolly good!” said Workman, ”He will soon sniff out those stinking IRA rotters”
”Yes, she will. It is a bitch” said Habgood.
A soldier then came out of a lorry carrying a bloodhound on a lead.
”Lovely girl” said Workman patting her and rubbing the canine’s mane ”I did ask for three though” he took the dog’s lead.
”Yes I know sir” said Habgood ” but unfortunately there are so many requests for hounds. So this was all the could spare.”
”Still infinitely more than zero” Workman said with forced braying laughter.
”Right sir I think that is everything delivered” said Habgood
”Yes that is right.” said Workman
”Best be off then. We have a few more deliveries to make. It is not so hairy now because daylight lasts so long in July. Winter was a bit more worrying. Had to drive home in the dark. Never sure if the IRA would give us a warm reception!” said Habgood wryly.
”What would be warm about their reception?” Workman was nonplussed.
”Never mind” said Habgood saluting.
Workman returned the young officer’s salute. Habgood rushed to the cab. His men piled into their trucks and the engines chugged into life. They then gurned the engine and sped off. Workman closed his eyes and gathered himself. He was to return to the gauntlet of dumb insolence.
Workman led the dog into the barracks. ”What a mascot” he proudly presented the female dog to his men.
”What’s her name?” asked Limtay.
”Good question” said Workman. He looked on her collar ”Bella” he proudly announced.
”Italian for beautiful” said Limtay.
”Know it all” said Short.
”I propose to put this bitch to work for us straightaway. She shall seek out the IRA for us. Might as well start using her before the IRA know we have her and work out ways to avoid us. Right men – the afternoon patrol starts now. We shall flush out Fisherton Woods from the west and I shall have three men ride around to the east to catch any IRA who run out that way” said Workman.
A foot patrol of 7 set out with the dog. The horseman came with them. After a few miles the horseman broke off and cantered the long way around. Workman had timed it so that the horseman would arrive at their starting point at the same time as the men on foot started going through Fisherton Woods from the west. It was a beaters at the shoot principle. The IRA had a general tendency to congregate anywhere sylvan so Fisherton Woods was not a bad place to start to seek out the rebels.
They entered the dark coniferous woods and the bloodhound started baying. The RIC were encouraged and jogged through – eager to engage the enemy.
The RIC found their quarry – two dark shapes on the floor. The people got up and ran. One of them was a woman. Neither appeared to be armed.
”Stop in the name of the law!” shouted Workman ”Stop or I fire!” said Workman. He noticed that the couple had no shoes on.
The couple stood stock still and raised their hands. They were still 100 yards from the RIC. They RIC raced over the uneven ground and around the moss covered trees. They ran past the spot where the man and woman had been lying on the forest floor. Their shoes were there and so was a purse and spectacles on a blanket.
Workman got closer – his revolver aimed at them. ”Well well what have we here? IRA?”
”No, sir we were … courting” said a man with strawberry blond hair and very pale skin. He looked down in embarrassment. This man was in his mid 20s.
The woman was in her late teens. She had light brown hair down to her shoulders, was slender and had rosy cheeks. She sheltered under her straight hair and looked around shiftily. Her face was so egregiously ugly that she was what the cat would not drag in.
Workman noticed they both had buttons undone. ”What a courting couple in the woods?” said Workman ”A likely story. What is your game? What you been up to? Search him”
Limtay patted down the man. ”Found nothing on him sir.”
”How do I know you are not in Cumman na mBann?” said Workman to the woman
”I am not sir. The RIC knows everyone who is in it.” said the woman.
”What is your name miss?” asked Workman
”Grainne O’Leary sir” she said shivering shyly
”And you – what is yours man?” Workman said to the male.
”Laurence O’Sullivan” said the man breathing deeply.
”A courting couple hey? Hmmm” said Workman. ”If I suspect any different I can have you sent to Maryborough Prison”
Limtay whispered into his ear ”Sir, I think they are telling the truth”
Workman let them go. They left semi stupified at having had guns trained on them.
A week later three army lorries arrived in town.
Lieut Habgood stepped out and saluted Workman
”How is it going Head Constable Workman?” asked Habgood.
”Quite well Lieutenant” said Workman ”In fact too well. Very quiet. The IRA have clearly heard we have a bloodhound so they appear to have left the district for a while. But that means they must be planning something big. I put myself in their position. What would I do if I were their commander? Not sit around to be arrested one by one. They will gather and then strike. So I keep them on the run – off balance. They can never rest. ”
”Quite right too. Keep the initiative” said Habgood. ”They IRA are less active now. They strike at night and then disappear by dawn. With the long summer evenings they have less time to run away and hide”
”By the way why three trucks then?” asked Workman
”Ah yes I almost forgot to say. One of those is for you.” said Habgood.
”For us? Smashing! Right – let’s have it. Drive it into the courtyard. I shall have the man open up the gates. That will give us a lot more mobility. I can drive all around the district. Be there so fast. We can raid suspected IRA hangouts. The rats will not have time to run for it before we get there. We will move faster than their lookouts.” said Workman. He was eager to prove his dash and gallantry.