Archive for March 19th, 2012

March 19,

Crossbarry Ambush. The Corporal Killings

March 19: TODAY in Irish History (by IrishmanSpeaks) Twitter Icon

1921: Crossbarry Ambush. A force of 100 IRA members under the leadership of Tom Barry are involved in a major skirmish with up to 1,000 British troops at Crossbarry, Co. Cork. English intelligence had determined that Barry’s West Cork Brigade was based near Crossbarry and planned a major encirclement and assault. Poor planning and timing ensured the 1,000 plus British forces got separated before attacking Barry’s men.  Barry was a brilliant guerrilla fighter and strategist who directed an attack against an initial force of approximately 140 men, before he ordered his men to break out.

Reports as to casualties differ. The IRA claim over 30 thirty British killed while official British figures were 10 killed and 6 IRA men killed.  The actual numbers were probably half that on both sides in what was likely the largest single military engagement in the Irish War of Independence. (The IRA knew major battles with British troops would be a disaster for them and rarely got involved in full frontal action.)  While the casualties may not seem that large, Crossbarry was a major morale victory for the IRA who had “defeated” a British force of over 1,000. Prime Minister Lloyd George stated that the Crossbarry and Kilmichael ambushes convinced him of the need for a truce and a treaty with the Irish rebels.

A detailed account of the battle can be found at The Irish War.

1921: On the same bloody day, the IRA ambush a convoy of RIC and Black and Tans near Dungarvan. Two men die on each side and the IRA subsequently execute the captured RIC sergeant Michael Hickey as a “police spy.” Hickey’s major crime may have been that he recognized the attackers as this poignant article suggests.

1988: In an event seen across the world, two English soldiers in civilian uniform are killed by the IRA after they inadvertently drive into the funeral path of IRA member Caoimhín Mac Brádaigh in Belfast. Tensions were running extremely high as a result of the killings three days previously at the funeral in Milltown Cemetery of IRA members killed by SAS troops in Gibraltar.

The IRA funeral was being covered by a large news presence when the soldiers (Corporals  David Robert Howes and Derek Tony Wood apparently took a wrong turning. Through a combination of events, the funeral procession thought it was under another loyalist attack, the soldiers panicked drawing their weapons and were then surrounded by an angry mob who at that stage did not realize the two in the car were British soldiers. The two men were beaten severely and then executed by the IRA.

The following video shows events of that day and also how some of the killers were apprehended. WARNING. Some of the images are disturbing.

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This history is written by Irish author, business keynote speaker and award winning humoristIrishmanSpeaks – Conor Cunneen. If you spot any inaccuracies or wish to make a comment, please don’t hesitate to contact us via the comment button.

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