Jump to content
The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

VC winners in Black and Tans


auchonvillerssomme
 Share

Recommended Posts

I have been researching a man who served as an officer during WW1 who subsequently joined the Royal Irish Constabulary Auxiliary Division as a cadet and was killed in an ambush in 1921.

My question is; I have been told that 2 VC winners joined the Black and Tans, can anyone tell me who they were?

Mick

Link to comment
Share on other sites

They were James Leach (2nd Btn, Manchester Regiment) and George Onions (1st Btn, Devonshire Regiment).

Here's a song about the Black & Tans:-

I was born on a Dublin street where the Royal drums did beat

And the loving English feet they walked all over us

And each and every night when me da' would come home tight

He'd invite the neighbors outside with this chorus

Chorus

Come out you black and tans, come out and fight me like a man

Show your wife how you won medals down in Flanders

Tell her how the IRA made you run like hell away

From the green and lovely lanes of Killashandra

Come let me hear you tell how you slammed the great Parnell

When you fought them well and truly persecuted

Where are the smears and jeers that you bravely let us hear

When our heros of sixteen were executed

Come tell us how you slew those brave arabs two by two

Like the Zulus they had spears and bows and arrows

How you bravely slew each one with your sixteen pounder gun

And you frightened them poor natives to their marrow

The day is coming fast and the time is here at last

When each yoeman will be cast aside before us

And if there be a need sure my kids will sing God speed

With a verse of two of Steven Beehan's chorus

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Great song that-nicely forgetting their own countryman who they hunted down and murdered, and sixteen and fifteen year old soldiers who they murdered collecting bread, and those who couldnt return home after the worst war in history. Sorry but I am not of the opinion that IRA songs should be put on this site, I also feel that my surname will give me credence to comment. No personal attack intended. I also note the convenient non-inclusion of Scots and Welsh in the song!!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

As all 3 were officers, they would have been with the RIC auxiliaries and not the Black & Tans. The Auxiliaries wore a blue uniform and were nearly all ex army officers.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks Graeme,

The posting of the song wasn't an attempt to glorify its content or those it represents. It certainly wouldn't be my politics considering my grandfather was in the British Army in 1921. The 1919-21 campaign was a fairly brutal affair with a fair amount of blatant murder, but I think, in most Irish people's minds, the term IRA used in the context of pre 1921 is very different to that of after 1921. Like most such propaganda songs, the truth is never that important.

It is merely posted as information relevant to the topic and I don't think worth going down the route of debating this issue in the context of this posting. As for the exclusion of the Welsh and Scots, most such 'rebel' songs tend to forget that there were plenty of Irish too on the 'other' side in the RIC, auxiliaries and army.

Mark

Link to comment
Share on other sites

As all 3 were officers, they would have been with the RIC auxiliaries and not the Black & Tans. The Auxiliaries wore a blue uniform and were nearly all ex army officers.

Thanks Squirell I knew my man was RIC auxilliary but was told the other 2 were Black and Tans. (admittedly when i started this research a while back I thought they were the same)

Interestingly 2 others killed in the same ambush were decorated.

Anyway thats answered my question thanks everyone.

Mick

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks Squirell I knew my man was RIC auxilliary but was told the other 2 were Black and Tans. (admittedly when i started this research a while back I thought they were the same)

Interestingly 2 others killed in the same ambush were decorated.

Anyway thats answered my question thanks everyone.

Mick

Might also be worth your while contacting Officer Commanding Military Archives, Cathal Brugha Bks, Rathmines, Dublin 6. Telephone 00-353-1-8046457 which holds a collection put together in the 1940s of reminisences of surviving IRA members of that period. May have some reference to the particular ambush you're interested in though you have to keep in mind that there will be a pretty obvious bias inherent. Furthermore I believe there's an ongoing project by the Trinity College (Dublin) History Department to put together as comprehensive a listing as possible of all those from whatever side killed in Ireland in the revolutionary period. Not sure how far that has progressed however but worth looking out for as many British Army regiments have quite poor or incomplete records of their losses/casualties in Ireland at that time.

Sirroy

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The song is about the Old IRA as distinct from the present day PIRA and I would say there were some emotional songs coming from both sides.Maybe it was the propaganda of the day.Things are never black and white here in Ireland as proven by my wifes family and my family who between us can count Old IRA,PRO Treaty Forces,BRitish Army WW1,Bitish ArmyWW2,and our most recent relative who served in NI in the 70s/80s and was wounded there.We are poud of all of them.

Regards,

Murrough.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Just discovered the song was written by Dominic Behan 1926-1989 a well known songwriter ,playwright and republician.Born in Dublin,lived in Glasgow, and worked for the BBC for a time.He was also a brother of writer Brendan Behan.His uncle Peadar Kearney wrote the present day Irish national anthem.

Regards.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thats a fair point Mark and one well made. I too did not intend to imply all Irishmen were killers. I've been on the receiving end of sectarian violence myself and was pretty upset that the land of my family could behave like that.

One of my mates I went to school with, a Finnegan, had a grandad in the Black and Tans and his gt uncle in the IRA. His grandad was shot by his own brother, terrible terrible terrible.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Might also be worth your while contacting Officer Commanding Military Archives, Cathal Brugha Bks, Rathmines, Dublin 6. Telephone 00-353-1-8046457 which holds a collection put together in the 1940s of reminisences of surviving IRA members of that period. May have some reference to the particular ambush you're interested in though you have to keep in mind that there will be a pretty obvious bias inherent. Furthermore I believe there's an ongoing project by the Trinity College (Dublin) History Department to put together as comprehensive a listing as possible of all those from whatever side killed in Ireland in the revolutionary period. Not sure how far that has progressed however but worth looking out for as many British Army regiments have quite poor or incomplete records of their losses/casualties in Ireland at that time.

Sirroy

Hi Sirroy

I have an account of the action.

The Longford Column of the IRA, under Sean MacEoin, ambushed two lorries with 17 Auxiliaries on board at Clonfin (between Granard and Ballinalee) who after a prolonged engagement are forced to surrender. Four Auxiliaries are killed (DI Francis Craven, Cadet George Bush, Cadet Harold Clayton and Cadet John Houghton) and eight wounded. After the Auxiliaries surrendered, MacEoin allowed the wounded to get medical treatment. Among the IRA men who took part were Mick Mulligan who suggested Clonfin as the ambush site (O’Farrell (1997), pg 71

Any naval researchers may be interested in looking up Francis Craven, he had an interesting war.

Harold Clayton had the DCM.

Mick

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...