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Stanley_C_Jenkins

The Cork Arsonist

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Dez

Stanley

It is important to keep in mind that most of the property damage in Cork was to Republican owned property, also buildings used by Republicans, even the City hall had a Republican Mayor and Corporation. The damage suffered in arson attacks, usually at night during curfew hours, started weeks before "K" Company arrived in Cork. The following article appeared in the New York Times, dated, Cork, Nov. 30, 1920 ( Associated Press ) under the heading .......

'Cork Panicstricken by Constant Fires'.

The odour of charred or smouldering wood pervades Cork, and Patrick Street the principal thoroughfare, is unsightly with the bulging debris of fire wrecked houses. Since Friday, the sky nightly has been lighted by the glare of incendiary fires which have destroyed a dozen large business buildings, causing losses estimated at 1,500,000 pounds. Early to-day a second unsuccessful attempt was made to burn the City Hall, which recently was badly damaged by a bomb explosion and fire. No less than five Sinn Fein Clubs have been destroyed. The present series of conflagrations followed warnings that reprisals would take place unless three army officers kidnapped recently from a train at Waterfall, were returned unharmed. A report that has not been confirmed, is to the effect that the bodies of all three officers were found in a field near Waterfall. The Fire Brigade, when responding to an alarm on Sunday night, was fired on by parties of masked uniformed men. Consequently the Firemen fear to venture forth, and when the Thomas Ashe Sinn Fein Club was set on fire to-day, they refused to to leave their quarters until the protection of two lorries loaded with soldiers was afforded them. The fires have usually been started with incendiary bombs and petrol, in buildings, the owner or occupants of which are believed to be Sinn Feiners. Not infrequently the fires have spread to adjoining property. Explosions and fusillades from rifles and revolvers almost invariably furnish a terrifying overture and accompaniment to the conflagration. As a result of these fearful nightly ordeals, Cork has become a City of nerves. Business is almost at a standstill and many persons are afraid to venture abroad, even in daylight. Large numbers of the townsfolk have left Cork for less troubled districts. The article continues ...........

All this occurred before the first member of "K" Company set foot in Cork.

Dez

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corisande

Dez,

Can you say when K Company was founded, and when it was disbanded.

Were there any courts martial over the disbanding, any news stories, or was it just quietly disbanded.

From what I have read elsewhere, once it was disbanded, the members were distributed to other companies.

I am curious to know if K company, in army terms bore the army's feeling for being responsible. On the surface it looks like that.

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Ken Devitt

Interesting to read the minutes of a cabinet meeting of 14th. Feb. 1921 when General Tudor in reply to questioning from the Prime Minister was adamant that members of K Company under the command of Col. Latimer were responsible for the burnings as well as a bank robbery.

Sir. Hamar greenwood called for Latimer to be suspended as he was still in charge of K company.

Is it likely or plausible that General Tudor was lying to the cabinet?

Regards,

Ken

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Dez

corisande

"K" Company was founded in Dublin on 22nd November 1920. The first section arrived in Cork on 2nd December 1920, and the assembly of the Company was completed on 8th December 1920, making the Company fully operational. As the Company was assembled from platoons drawn from three other Companies, they were also fully trained when assembled.

It would appear that the Company was dismantled without ceremony by transferring members out to other Companies during the month of March 1921. The only demotion that seems to have occurred, was that Lt.Col. Latimer the C.O. was reduced from 1st D.I. to 2nd D.I. and was transferred to "Q" Company in Dublin as Second in Command.

Gen. Crozier stated ... "that nobody had ever been punished for Cork - as nobody was allowed to see the evidence, officially" ... ( Ireland for Ever, p131 )

Dez

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Dez

Ken

Gen.Crozier stated that ... " I received a telegram in code from Downing Street 'ordering' me to suspend a Company Commander on account of the burning of Cork ( which had happened two months previously ) which enabled Mr Lloyd George to get up in the House during the Cork Debate to say a Company Commander had been suspended and several individuals had been punished for their share in the destruction. Nothing much happened to the Company Commander after the fuss had blown over" .... he further stated "as I only tumbled to the frame - up after reading the debate in the newspaper, I could do nothing" ........ ( Ireland for Ever, p131 )

Dez

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Stanley_C_Jenkins

I have, on previous occasions, looked at the circumstances surrounding "The Great Fire of Cork" in connection with possible damage to the infrastructure of the Cork, Blackrock & Passage Railway and the Cork, Bandon & South Coast Railway. I had not, hitherto, given much thought to the wider picture – having assumed (perhaps naively) that the outrage was perpetrated by renegade members of 'K' company, ADRIC. However, if the chief source for this assertion was an IRA commander, should we not be at least a little suspicious?

As far as I can see, none of this makes sense. Why should members of the RIC have wished to have harmed Loyalist and "establishment" companies such as Lyons or Burtons? That was surely the role of the IRA?

The only answer that I can think concerns the weak, gutless nature of the (Liberal) government of the day. If it had transpired that members of the ADRIC had indeed committed the atrocity they could, indeed should, have been charged with a range of crimes including arson, sabotage and treason – for which they could have faced the death penalty. However, with a Liberal government this was never going to happen. They were simply too weak for their own good.

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Ken Devitt

Hi Des,

Its evident from the records that the Prime Minister was seeking answers on the matter that might arise in parliament.

However, I'm still curious as to why he would have been misled by his senior commanders on the ground.

If K Company were not in Cork at the time then why on earth put the blame on them?

Only asking a question!

Ken

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corisande
If K Company were not in Cork at the time then why on earth put the blame on them?

Time line puts K Coy in Cork the night that Cork was burnt

1920 Nov 22. "K" Company was founded in Dublin

1920. Nov 29 Schulze Joined ADRIC

1920 Dec 2.The first section K Coy arrived in Cork

1920 Dec 8 The assembly of the Company was completed making the Company fully operational

1920 Dec 12 The Burning of Cork

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Dez

Ken

If you flip back to the post intended for Stanley, and check the dates you will find that between 27th and 30th of November 1920, extensive damage by bomb and fire to the centre of Cork had already been carried out before "K" Company arrived. The fires "K" Company got blamed for starting, occurred in the same central area as before, but two weeks later on the night of 11/12 December. It seems unusual that the arson attacks carried out in the same area of Cork on the night of 11/12 December 1920, should be considered in isolation and not as a continuation of the attacks two weeks previously. There was no difference as to method (bomb and petrol ) in the way the attacks were carried out, even one of the main targets was the same on both occasions, namely the City Hall, which was completely destroyed in the attack on 11/12th Dec. ( this was the third attempt to destroy the building ). the only thing that changed in this two week time period was that "K" Company had been inserted into Cork.

Dez

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corisande

And in todays Irish Times, Mr Herlihy contines to puh his book.

http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/ireland/2010/1214/1224285490544.html

Mr Herlihy, who is writing a history of the Auxiliaries and the Black and Tans, has also found a letter from Brig Maj Bernard Montgomery confirming the involvement of K Company.

“In one letter written to his father, Montgomery, later Field Marshall Montgomery, said Cork was burnt by K Company of the Auxiliaries,” said Mr Herlihy.

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Ken Devitt

From the cabinet meeting of 29th. Dec. 1920 at which generals Macready, Boyd, Tudor and Strickland were present.

"The discussion then passed to the Report of the Enquiry into the Cork burnings and it was stated that the Report would find that these burnings were carried out partly by the Auxiliary Police. As regards the firing of the Town Hall, there is circumstantial evidence against four men of the Royal Irish Constabulary.

The Chief Secretary said that he had read the whole Report and not only a telegraphic version, and must say that General Strickland had made a judicial commentary on the facts. Putting the case at its worst, members of the "K" Company of the Auxiliary Corps had set fire to three different shops as a reprisal."

General Tudor did not contradict the findings of General Strickland but was somewhat indignant of the findings.

Could the R.I.C lads have been responsible for the earlier fires considering the similarity?

Regards,

Ken

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David_Underdown

For anyone not aware, the full cabinet minutes for 29 December 1920 can be downloaded free from http://nationalarchives.gov.uk/documentsonline/details-result.asp?Edoc_Id=7968278 - see also the Cabinet Papers section of the TNA website http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/cabinetpapers/

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Stanley_C_Jenkins

From the cabinet meeting of 29th. Dec. 1920 at which generals Macready, Boyd, Tudor and Strickland were present.

"The discussion then passed to the Report of the Enquiry into the Cork burnings and it was stated that the Report would find that these burnings were carried out partly by the Auxiliary Police. As regards the firing of the Town Hall, there is circumstantial evidence against four men of the Royal Irish Constabulary.

The Chief Secretary said that he had read the whole Report and not only a telegraphic version, and must say that General Strickland had made a judicial commentary on the facts. Putting the case at its worst, members of the "K" Company of the Auxiliary Corps had set fire to three different shops as a reprisal."

General Tudor did not contradict the findings of General Strickland but was somewhat indignant of the findings.

Could the R.I.C lads have been responsible for the earlier fires considering the similarity?

Regards,

Ken

If, then, the Auxiliaries had burned down a handful of carefully-targeted "rebel" premises, and the lads of the RIC had burned down a few more, could the resulting fires have spread, out of control, to adjoining Protestant/loyalist buildings? - it seems highly likely. And to what extent was damage caused by members of the criminal under-class, who are said to have joined in with the work of destruction?

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Ken Devitt

Ken

Gen.Crozier stated that ... " I received a telegram in code from Downing Street 'ordering' me to suspend a Company Commander on account of the burning of Cork ( which had happened two months previously ) which enabled Mr Lloyd George to get up in the House during the Cork Debate to say a Company Commander had been suspended and several individuals had been punished for their share in the destruction. Nothing much happened to the Company Commander after the fuss had blown over" .... he further stated "as I only tumbled to the frame - up after reading the debate in the newspaper, I could do nothing" ........ ( Ireland for Ever, p131 )

Dez

Dez,

Have a look at the minutes of the cabinet meeting for the 14th. Feb. 1921

If it was a "frame-up" then the entire cabinet and military were involved.

Regards,

Ken

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Dez

Brigade Major Bernard Montgomery is an unusual source to use in support of the contention that "K" Company were the culprits on 11/12 Dec.1920. After attending the Army Staff College at Camberley, Bernard Montgomery was appointed Brigade Major of the 17th Infantry Brigade stationed in Cork, in January 1921. Therefore he would have had to rely on someone else's assessment for for the events that took place on the night of 11/12 Dec.1920.

In a letter written to Col. Arthur Percival of the Essex Regt. in 1923, he wrote ... Personally, my whole attention was given to defeating the rebels, but it never bothered me a bit how many houses were burnt. I think I regarded all civilians as shinners and I never had any dealings with any of them.

Often described as an Ulsterman, although there was a substantial house owned by the extended Montgomery family located in Movilla, Co. Donegal, Bernard Montgomery was born in London and grew up in Tasmania.

Dez

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Ken Devitt

No doubt he did Dez.

But did you read the minutes?

Kind regards,

Ken

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Dez

Ken,

Sorry I can't find that Cabinet Meeting where Gen. Tudor was replying to questions from the P.M., do you have a reference for it ? I did find the conclusions of the meeting, but not the meeting itself.

Dez

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michaeldr

This is by way of background information as B. L. Montgomery's name has been mentioned a couple of times above.

The Montgomery family were already living in Ireland by 1700. Their house at New Park, Moville, Donegal, was completed in 1773 by Samuel Montgomery. His son, Rev Samuel Law Montgomery and his grandson, Sir Robert Montgomery, both made improvements to New Park. It was at New Park that BLM's parents spent their honeymoon and the house passed into their hands on the death of BLM's grandfather, Sir Robert. As has already been pointed out, BLM's father's work for the Church took him to the antipodes and eventually back to London, however the family seat remained at New Park and that is to where the family retreated whenever able to do so.

Politics may not have been very important to the Bishop, he was however a signatory to the Ulster Covenant and was on a couple of occasions persuaded to be complicit in arms smuggling in a very small way. Interestingly, New Park was visited by the IRA in 1922 when they too were collecting arms. Only Lady Montgomery (BLM's mother) was at home at that time. No modern weapons were to be found, however the IRA took some antique arms picked-up long ago by Sir Robert, and some bedding. They provided Lady Montgomery with a receipt for what they took and, hospitably, she also gave them tea.

On another thread here

mention has already been made of Lt-Col Hugh F Montgomery CMG, DSO, RMLI. who died (10 Dec 1920) of wounds received from the IRA in Dublin, where he was GSO1 with the Irish Command: the colonel was BLM's first-cousin.

[details from 'A Field Marshal in the Family' by the late Lt-Col Brian Montgomery MBE. First published 1973 and recently reprinted by Pen & Sword, ISBN 978 1 84884 425 4]

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corisande

I came across this old thread while doing some more research on Schulze.

Having read the whole of the intercepted letters in White and O'Shea's book, my feeling is that that they are genuine letters that have been transcribed and beefed up with a bit of spin. The 2 captured letters do not exist any more, and the transcriptions appeared in "Who Burnt Cork City" published by the Irish Labour Party and TUC in 1921.

For example Schulze wrote on16th Dec 1920 in the transcription

Ireland has to pay substantially for every RIC casualty. A mere flesh wound is paid and so on up to £5000 to a man's widow. The widow of a young fellow shot in a raid in which I took part in Dublin received the latter amount.

I have concern about his statements on compensation. Schulze only joined ADRIC on 29 Nov 1920, so the only death he could have witnessed was of HA Balls on 5 Dec 1920 and no compensation could possibly have been awarded by 16 Dec when this letter was written.(least I cannot find it)

But other bits of his letters are undoubtedly true. Schultze did serve in Cameroons, and never served in France. His sister was called Dorothy and was a concert violinist

Bottom line is that without the originals it is difficult to be sure one way or the other.. But nowhere in the letters could you draw the conclusion that Schulze was the "man who burnt Cork"

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Airshipped

Letters to family and friends often include elements of bravado. Often simplification too. These are letters: it's not like typing a sentence on a keyboard and deleting it or inserting an additional sentence for context - the written word often didn't adequately convey what the writer had intended to articulate.

I'd imagine that whatever element of involvement Schulze intended to claim on his own behalf or that of his company, it was likely to be a far more complex set of circumstances, involving some officially sanctioned "reprisals" that had other unintended and unanticipated consequences (e.g. fires spreading etc).

Too many IRA witness statements put far too great a store in intercepted servicemen's correspondence as proving guilt or otherwise in various military/paramilitary activities.

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