Krumm’s Riot 1920

The RIC and the Black &Tans

This last while I have been looking at various books concerning the ‘Irish War of Independence’ and have read many curious stories about participants and various incidents in what was a bloody and often cruel conflict. One story particularly caught my interest and concerns the mysterious shooting and murder of a member of the ‘Black and Tan’ auxiliaries to the Royal Irish Constabulary. This incident took place in Galway City during the night of 8th/9th September 1920, and the victim was a constable of the force called Edward Krumm. Perhaps the information gleaned here will help solve what mystery there was about the incident, with contradicting reports and propaganda campaigns created by each side to place the full blame on their opponents.

Edward Krumm was only one of thousands of British ex-servicemen who were sent to Ireland to reinforce the ranks of the ‘Royal Irish Constabulary’ (RIC), which had come under serious pressure in the bloody conflict known as the ‘Irish War of Independence (1920-21). Krumm, aged 26, volunteered for service with the RIC auxiliary force, ‘The Black and Tans’, on 10th August 1920 and was registered as Constable 72372. He was quite a tall man, standing five feet eleven inches tall, and although he came from Middlesex, he did have family in Surrey, and was a confirmed bachelor and active member of the Church of England. When enlisting for the auxiliary force, Edward had given his occupation as an electrical engineer.

Though Krumm, like many ‘Black and Tans’ had seen service in the armed forces he was given very little police training before being sent to Ireland on 18th August 1920 and stationed in the west of County Galway. Being former soldiers, the British Government were interested only in ability to employ their military skills and mentality as ‘Black and Tans’ to subdue the Irish terrorists with a greater terror, and so despised did this force of men become that each member became a walking target for any Irish patriot with a gun. It is not surprising then to learn that only three weeks after arriving in Galway, on the night of 8th September 1920, he was shot by persons unknown in Galway City.[1]

There were many shootings of ‘Black and Tans’ throughout Ireland, but what made this particular incident stand out was that Krumm lost his life under what can only be described as mysterious circumstances. News reports at the time and the testimony of eyewitnesses to the incident confirm that Constable Krumm was gunned down in a shooting confrontation with local volunteers belonging to the ‘Irish Republican Army (IRA). There are some accounts suggesting that the volunteers confronted Krumm with the aim of taking his revolver, and he had opened fire in self-defence. There are other reports that the constable pulled his gun from its holster and ran amok, forcing the volunteers to intervene in order to stop him killing or injuring nearby civilians. In the record there is one witness report that suggested Krumm had intentionally opened fire on civilians, which would cause an incident that would give the ‘Black and Tans’ a pretext for bloody reprisals on the Irish population of the city.[2]

After so many years it is incredibly difficult to attempt to discover the truth, but if the evidence available is believed to be factual then Constable Krumm was murdered in an IRA hold-up to relieve him of his weapon. In this case we must also accept that Krumm did fire his gun in self-defence when he was confronted by the armed IRA volunteers, who prevailed in shooting and killing the Constable. This conclusion is made all the stronger when a military court of inquiry investigated the circumstances of Krumm’s death and agreed with the evidential conclusion. It was also how IRA veterans remembered the events when they were interviewed years later. Their statements corroborated the findings of the military court of inquiry and contradict the story told by the Irish Republican movement at the time. The case of Constable Krumm, therefore, might help throw a different light on ‘police violence’ during the Irish War of Independence and the way such actions were perceived and represented by both sides of the conflict, not only in Ireland, but in Great Britain and Irish America.

In November 1920 an unofficial ‘American Commission on Conditions in Ireland’ (ACCI) was established, at which several Irish and American witnesses gave testimony. One witness, John Joseph Caddan, was a former constable in the RIC and gave testimony concerning events in Galway City and the West. He was a nineteen-year-old Irishman and a son of a sergeant in the RIC. But the shortage of work in Ireland caused him and many Irishmen to leave and seek employment in England. John’s fortunes did not improve, however, and so he joined the RIC in London during February 1920. After receiving his training, he was posted to the western reaches of County Galway in May and stationed in Galway City’s Eglinton Street station alongside almost thirty other policemen, the largest barracks in the district.[3] He testified to the ACCI that while Galway City itself was quiet until the end of August, the rugged countryside to the west of the City was in a constant state of tension. In fact, revolutionary activity had grown to a point that the RIC had abandoned ordinary patrols in the area, concentrating forces in fewer and fewer police stations.

In the first six months of 1920, the ‘Irish Republican Army’ (IRA) had attacked three of these reinforced police barracks and, although none of these were captured, they were all so badly damaged that they had to be abandoned afterward. The IRA volunteers had also set fire to several abandoned police stations at Easter, in commemoration of the 1916 Rebellion. Elsewhere in the County the republicans had established land arbitration courts and volunteers were acting a republican police, all of which brought instability to many in the countryside. The duties of these ‘Republican Police’ included guarding the polling booths during local government elections held at the beginning of June 1920. Sinn Féin romped home to win the elections and the new councils that were formed pledged their allegiance to the republican ‘Dail Eireann’ rather than the British authorities. Furthermore, in Galway City, the first meeting of the new Galway County Council passed a motion rescinding a previous motion condemning the 1916 Rebellion and struck it from the minutes.

At the end of June 1920, County Inspector Rutledge reported to the RIC Inspector General … “Sinn Fein courts have set aside Petty Sessions courts to a great extent. The Irish Volunteers are in control everywhere and the police are set aside. The Police cannot go on patrol except in considerable force and on the slightest opportunity they are held up. It is difficult for them to get provisions and fuel & light in many places. Their condition of life in barracks with light and air shut out by sandbags, shell boxes and steel shutters is very irksome and disagreeable. At night they cannot sleep during the dark hours apprehending an attack at any time. No one speaks to them in a friendly way. No one will give them any information … The old form of police control is practically beaten to the ropes, and it is as well to recognise the situation.”[4]

The tension that had been building up in the County finally exploded into violence on 19th July, when the summer assizes were held in Galway City with the assistance of heavy police and military presence. The IRA in the county had organised a boycott of these legal proceedings and the local people had little choice but to obey, whether they were supporters or not. The boycott proved to be successful since most of the cases listed to be heard were adjourned until the next session because many of the jurors failed to attend. Then, that evening, while driving back from the city to their barracks at Dunmore, the IRA ambushed a Royal Irish Constabulary sergeant and three constables on the road just outside Tuam. In this action two of the constables were killed and although the two survivors were captured by the attackers, they were subsequently released unharmed. But news of the ambush and the police casualties raised the alarm in Galway City, causing police reinforcements to be sent to the scene. They spent several hours searching the countryside without result and, in their anger and frustration, decided to take revenge on the town of Tuam by rioting in the streets, threatening to shoot innocent people as suspects, and setting several buildings on fire. The ‘American Commission’ heard eyewitness testimony that when the police returned to barracks, they bragged about burning public houses and the town hall, as well as making a complete wreck of the town.[5]

Not surprisingly the events in Tuam on 19th July intensified the deep sense of bitterness on both sides of the conflict in Galway. As had happened with the summer assizes, the coroner’s inquest on the two dead constables was adjourned after members of the jury failed to show. The local newspaper reported the response of the police to this adjournment – “Head Constable Bowles, who represented the authorities, said from their action in absenting themselves as jurors it might be accepted that the people of Tuam took it to be the right course to murder the police. We must take it that that is the general feeling in the town. It looks as if they had no more regard for a policeman’s life than a dog’s.” [6] The local newspaper, however, blamed the government for the violence that had erupted in the county, saying – “At the beginning of the present campaign the Irish police were plainly told that so long as they performed ordinary police duties no one would interfere with them, but if they took up arms against those who were fighting for Irish freedom they would have to abide by the consequences. Since then, the government has with callous and reckless indifference to the lives of its Irish police, proceeded with the task of militarising’ the force.

This policy, many believed, was leading the entire country to disaster. The same newspaper declared, “Those who can no longer govern will provoke and wreck,” and predicted, “extremists will resort to physical force and reprisals will follow, until a widespread vendetta of revenge must lay the country waste, and drive men of good will to despair.” The prediction rapidly appeared to be turning into reality in the weeks that followed, which saw more police barracks abandoned and burned. Then, on 21st August, five policemen were ambushed as they cycled from Oranmore to Galway City. One constable was killed by the attackers, while another constable and a sergeant were wounded. A police team left the city that same night to seek out a suspected attacker, Joseph Howley, in Oranmore, but they were unable to find him. In their anger, the police took revenge by setting fire to the family home, and so the violence escalated until at the end of the County Inspector sent in his monthly report and made it clear how the violence was affecting him and his men – “are shunned and hated and rejoicing takes place when they are shot. They have to take the necessaries of life by force. Their wives are miserable, and their children suffer in the schools and nobody cares.

Meanwhile, on 19th August Edward Krumm had been posted to County Galway. One RIC constable who met Constable Krumm recalled that he was one of the ‘Black and Tans’ and “was a motor driver stationed in Dunmore, about ten miles outside of Galway. He was in town about two weeks getting his motor repaired”. But even with such a short encounter the Constable had developed a very low opinion of Krumm, calling him “He was a generally reckless fellow and drank a lot.” On the night of 8th September, however, Krumm went to a nearby hotel to meet a civilian driver whom he had come to know. It was about midnight when the two men decided to go Galway railway station to meet the mail train that was bringing the evening papers from Dublin.

Soon after Krumm and his companion arrived at the station platform a fierce gun battle erupted in which Constable Krumm and an IRA volunteer called John Mulvoy were killed. Although details about the incident are sketchy, there was a report said to have come a Father Griffin that suggested that the young ‘Black and Tan’ (Krumm) was drunk. Moreover, he was described as a chauffeur who had only been in Ireland for two weeks and was surprised that there was not as much violence as he was led to believe. Krumm was on the platform when the newspapers arrived and there was a great rush of people to get them. The big news of the day was the condition of Lord Mayor McSwiney, and the sudden rush and noise appears to have overwhelmed the young constable, causing him to open fire. This version was corroborated by a Roman Catholic priest, Re. Dr. James Cotter, reporting that he was an eyewitness to the events in the station. He said he was talking to an Irish priest when he heard shots being fired and, “then very quickly a Black-and-Tan went out on the platform that leads to the back door of the ‘Railway Hotel’, and when the people were coming to get the papers off the train at midnight, he used his revolver in any way, shooting in any direction. He shot a young fellow named Mulvoy.” The priest stated that a civilian tackled Krumm and tried to disarm him, but the Black and Tan kept firing, wounding a couple of bystanders until, finally, another civilian shot him dead.

To many the report of a young ‘Black and Tan’ losing his nerve and opening fire on civilians in his panic appeared to be quite plausible. There were many instances in which the ‘Black and Tans’ had done stupid and very violent things when they were drunk. On one occasion, in December 1920, six ‘Black and Tans’ from County Longford chose to rob a bank in Strokestown, County Roscommon. The local police, however, caught three of these men drinking in a local public house after the robbery, with the stolen banknotes falling out of their pockets. In his petition to the court for clemency of these bank robbers it is reported that one of the bank robbers admitted that he had been “very drunk” that day, stating, “if I had been sober, this would not have happened.

Another incident occurred in Maryborough, County Laois in January 1921 when two soldiers and two ‘Black and Tans’ went from door to door seeking a billet after spending the evening drinking. A family refused to open the door to them and one of the ‘Black and Tans’, William Wilton, fired his revolver at the front door and killing the man on the other side. Wilton was tried and convicted of manslaughter, but in his petition for clemency he claimed that the shooting had been accidental, saying “The door was not opened, and someone shouted ‘We have no room or something to that effect. I imagining that we were going to be attacked took my revolver from my holster and the shot was accidentally discharged into the street.

Although Wilton’s version of events appear to be doubtful, Constable Krumm may well have imagined a similar attack was to be made on him. An American lady said that she was on the platform, waiting with the crowd, and saw everything that occurred. She stated, “There was a man on the platform to whom I paid little attention and could not give a description of him in a satisfactory way. He wore what I think was a loose cap. He did not appear to me to be a regular soldier, nor did he seem to me to be the customary Black-and-Tan. There was a woman on the platform at the station with three or four children. There was an English officer on the platform, and there were many civilians. I turned my head in this direction (indicating aside), and the man in this peculiar uniform whipped out a revolver. He was standing with another man in ordinary attire. And he slashed the revolver around and began shooting.” Mrs. King further testified that while the Army officer tried to protect the woman and her children, Krumm shot a young man in the leg. It was at this time that Mulvoy stepped up to help the wounded man, but Krumm shot him as well. She further stated, “Then, another boy jumped from the back and caught the soldier in this way (indicating across the body) so that he had only one hand free. And then a harsh shot rang out and this soldier fell to the ground.”[7]

Despite previous testimony from other ‘witnesses’, Mrs King said that Krumm had not opened fire after the crowd rushed forward. “There was perfect peace, and we were all waiting for the papers, and he whipped out the revolver and began to fire.” Furthermore, she poured doubt on the testimony of a priest witness by stating, “I do not think Father Cotter was on the platform, I happened to be there at the time. I think he was in the hotel.” It was obvious that Mrs. King believed that Krumm had opened fire without provocation, with the idea of provoking the people into rebellion.

Meanwhile, back at Eglinton Street Barracks, many of the men were already in bed. Then, one of the constables came rushing into the building shouting the alarm, telling the entire barracks that one of their own had been shot. There were about fifty men in the Barracks, and they all rose from their beds and got dressed, and immediately armed themselves before going on the streets of the city to take revenge. Rampaging through those streets they fired their rifles and attacked the homes of known Irish Volunteers, beating the occupants and setting the houses on fire. One Volunteer that they captured, Seamus Quirke, was taken down to the railways station and shot dead, where Krumm had fallen. The rioting was said to have lasted about ninety minutes with guns firing, women and children screaming, and the flames of burning buildings lighting up the night sky. Mrs. King and other witnesses to events took refuge in the hotel and British officers assured them they would be safe and only those townspeople who deserved to be shot were being shot.

During the riot the police attacked the offices of a republican newspaper, ‘The Galway Express’, and smashed up the printing machinery. In the morning Mrs. King saw the damage that had occurred to the newspaper building and others, with people trying to salvage what they could from the ruins. But despite the damage done to the ‘Galway Express’ by the police it managed to publish a special edition that day, giving a brief account of the deaths of Krumm and Mulvoy in line with the testimony of Mrs. King. The paper reported, “The public are aware that an English member of the R.I.C. foully murdered J. Mulvoy, a citizen of Galway, who had called to the station to secure an evening paper from the midnight mail. Not satisfied, this policeman attempted to murder another peaceful citizen when he himself was killed in self-defence.” The newspaper further reported, “an English officer, who witnessed the occurrence at the Railway Station, offered to give evidence, and said that the policeman was the aggressor and that no course was open to prevent further bloodshed but to shoot him.[8]

Black & Tan Revenge

‘The Galway Express’ and ‘the Irish Bulletin’, the official gazette of the revolutionary shadow government of the Irish Republic, were not the only papers to report these events. The shootout at the railway station, and the violent reprisals that followed, were described in both the local Irish weekly, ‘The Connacht Tribune’ and in national dailies like the Irish Independent and the Freeman’s Journal. These reports, however, included some interesting errors about the identity of the dead police constable, including the suggestion that Krumm had been serving in the Royal Irish Constabulary for a year, and was on detective duty at the railway station that night.

The report in ‘The Freeman’s Journal’ read, “When the train pulled in at the platform the waiting crowd rushed toward the newsboys who were taking out papers, as since the beginning of the hunger-strike of the Lord Mayor of Cork there are not enough papers to meet the demand. It appears that when Krumm saw the people pressing in on the platform he whipped out his automatic pistol.

“It does not appear that he actually fired at this moment, but when the crowd saw his actions they formed into a knot. He then fired two or three shots in the air, and afterwards putting his pistol under his left arm he fired back at Mulvoy, hitting him in the right forehead. The crowd then rushed toward Krumm, who was knocked down, and while on the ground he was, it is alleged, aiming his pistol at the crowd again when a revolver shot was fired, hitting him in the breast.”

The terrible violence in Galway was also reported in the British press and ‘The Times’ even mentioned reports of a civilian being taken out of his house and shot in the street. A very different version of events in Galway appeared in the ‘Manchester Guardian’, liberal newspaper that had been very critical of the Government’s Irish policy and gave extensive coverage of the Galway police reprisal. “The facts of the trouble were briefly these,” their report began. Krumm and Yorke were part of a crowd on the station platform, waiting for some race results, and for news about the Lord Mayor of Cork. Some Irish Volunteers were in the crowd that night as well. “Krumm was in plain clothes,” says the report, “but was known to carry a revolver, and it seems likely that the Volunteers wished to disarm him.” The Volunteers shouted, “hands up” and pointed their guns at Yorke and Krumm. Yorke put up his hands, but the Black and Tan drew his revolver. In the battle that followed, both Constable Krumm and Volunteer Mulvoy were shot through the head and killed.

The British authorities, naturally, favoured such a ‘hold-up’ narrative and the death of a ‘Black and Tan’ was mentioned in a press release from Dublin Castle. “Constable Krumm of the Royal Irish Constabulary, an ex-soldier, who recently joined the force, was shot dead at Galway railway station at midnight on Wednesday,” it said. “Three of the assailants were shot dead by the police, and two more are believed to have been wounded.” Brief as it was, this notice included all the information then available from official sources. The report received by Dublin Castle said only that: “At midnight on 8.9.20. Constable Krumm, R.I.C. was shot dead at Galway Railway Station. Three assailants were shot dead, and one or two believed wounded.” The next day, the Castle was told only that, “number of assailants shot dead should read TWO and not three as stated. Three assailants were wounded.”[9]

A military court of inquiry was convened to investigate the deaths of Constable Krumm and the two Volunteers. Coroner’s inquests had been suspended after the U.K. Parliament passed emergency legislation, the ‘Restoration of Order in Ireland Act, in August, but this court of inquiry was the first to be held since the suspension, and its proceedings were covered fully by the Irish press. It opened on 10th September at Renmore Barracks, Galway and several witnesses were called to give evidence. It was then adjourned after issuing a warrant for Christopher Yorke, the civilian who had accompanied Constable Krumm to the railway station on the night of 8th September 8. The court then re-opened on September 15, took additional evidence from Yorke and other witnesses, and returned its verdict. They gave scant attention to the deaths of Quirke and Mulvoy. But one witness, Eileen Baker, testified that both Krumm and Yorke had been at Bakers Hotel that night, and that Krumm had suggested to Yorke “that they should go to the station to get a paper as Mr. Krumm was interested in Spion Kop which was running in the St. Leger that day and wanted to see the results of the race.” In her opinion, both men were quite sober when they left the hotel and went down to the station at 11:45. Then, at twenty minutes past midnight, Yorke returned to the hotel, and told her that both men had been held up at the station, and that Krumm had been killed.

When Yorke appeared before the court on September 15, he corroborated Baker s account of leaving the hotel in company with Constable Krumm, and the two men went down to the railway station. He testified, “As soon as the papers were taken off the train, the crowd gathered in to get the papers, and Krumm was amongst them. Krumm got three papers and gave me one.” Yorke further testified that as they were leaving the platform, he heard a shot fired, then he was held up at gunpoint by one man and searched by another. “While I was held up,” he continued, “I heard a man shouting “Help,” and I heard Constable Krumm say, “If you do not let me go, I will fire.” It was not Constable Krumm who shouted for help. The man who had searched me then went away. After the cry for help five or six shots rang out. When I looked around, I saw two men lying on the ground.” Yorke was then told to “go on,” and returned to Bakers Hotel.[10]

In its verdict, the court of inquiry found that Krumm had died from bullet wounds, “and that these wounds were wilfully inflicted by some person or persons unknown.” Interestingly, the police pressed the court for a verdict of murder, but the court refused. Even more interestingly, the court refused to pass judgement on what had precipitated the shooting at the railway station that night. “There is no actual proof of what occurred regarding the shooting,” said the president of the court.

In this account there remains one group of witnesses from whom we have heard no testimony, namely those men who had shot Constable Krumm. As we can expect these IRA Volunteers were unwilling to give their side of the story to any newspapers, or to military courts of inquiry. In fact, it was only thirty years later that they were prepared to talk to investigators from the ‘Bureau of Military History’ established by the Irish Government. This collection, which is available to the public, includes two ‘Witness Statements’ by those IRA Volunteers who were present at Galway railway station on the night that Constable Krumm was killed, These Men were Sean Broderick and Mícheál Ó Droighneáin, their statements provide added proof to the belief that the incident was a “hold-up”.

Sean Broderick was not just any ordinary IRA Volunteer, for he was the commanding officer of the 4th Battalion of the IRA’s ‘Galway Brigade’. In his statement of events he included details of how he was arrested, taken back to the railway station, and almost shot to death during the police riot that occurred later that night. “My father’s house was raided,” he said. “I heard them coming, but, as I slept at the top of the house, I had no means of escape. They pulled me down the stairs in my shirt and trousers, without boots, and brought me towards the station, poking me with their rifles and revolvers and accompanied by choice language. I saw several patrols of military on our way and, when we got to the station, I shouted to the British Army officer that as an officer of the I.R.A. I demanded a fair trial. The reply from several of his men was: “You bloody bastard””

Broderick said that the police put him up against a wooden railway door and assembled a firing squad to execute him, and all he could do was to close his eyes and pray. The police fired and Broderick fell, but miraculously, he survived. He stated, “I realised I was not seriously wounded and commenced to moan and kick my legs and then lay still. To my complete amazement, they then cleared off hurriedly without firing any further shots at me.” Furthermore, Broderick described what he had seen and done earlier that night, stating that there were several IRA Volunteers at Galway station that night. He said, “We went up to the railway station to meet Michael Thornton of Connemara, who was coming from Dublin on the 11 p.m. train, as we expected he would have some stuff for our planned attack on Spiddal R.I.C. barracks. We were told by Volunteers that there were a few armed Tans swaggering about after leaving Baker s Hotel in Eyre St., which was a resort for the R.I.C. and Tans. I had already told Captain Sean Turk to meet us at the station with a few armed men. I met him and we decided to hold up the Tans and disarm them. I was just walking into the station when I heard shots. I found one Tan shot and his pals gone.”

This testimony, however, was not conclusive, because Broderick was reminiscing years after the event, and had not seen everything that had happened and. as a result, in his account, Constable Krumm and a civilian motor driver had become “a few armed Tans swaggering about.” In addition, both John Caddan and Mícheál Ó Droighneáin agree that it was another Volunteer who was stood up against the door at the Galway railway station, instead of Sean Broderick. The testimony of the latter is important, because he was, in fact, the ‘Michael Thornton to whom Broderick had referred. Ó Droighneáin was the one arriving at Galway station that night, on the train from Dublin with some revolvers and improvised explosives in a box under his seat, which were to be used in an attack on the constabulary station at Spiddal. According to Ó Droighneáins Witness Statement, a group of “six or eight” Galway Volunteers under the command of Captain Seán Türke met him at the station and loaded the box of munitions onto a wagon. “No sooner had the horse begun to move out of the station,” he said, “than shots rang out around us. We galloped off with our load.”

What happened was this,” Ó Droighneáin said. “A Black and Tan named Krumm [sic], was moving around the station, swinging a heavy revolver, and blowing about it, and making himself a nuisance to everybody. Just at the point that we had our box on the sidecar, Seán Türke jumped on Krumm’s back, and brought him to the ground. Krumm blazed away immediately, and one of his bullets hit Mulvoy, from the effects of which he died during the night. One of our boys had a .32 revolver, and with it he shot Krumm dead. Some say it was Frank Dowd who did it, but I remember Tommy Fahy, the youngest of the lot, saying it was he who fr one more fact. Reprisals, like the Galway police riot that followed the shooting of Constable Krumm, are usually blamed on the ‘Black and Tans’ and Auxiliaries. Edward Krumm, however, was the only ‘Black and Tan’ at Eglinton Street Barracks in the city, and he was dead before the reprisals began. The police who rioted after Krumm was shot dead were all Irishmen, the same as those Irishmen who had rioted in Tuam in the previous July. Moreover, these police were led by a Catholic Irish officer. In his testimony to the ‘American Commission’, John Caddan mentioned a “District Inspector Crewe,” who had taken part in the riot along with his men, and who was promoted “about a week after.” In fact, this police officer’s name was Richard Cruise, who had been appointed the district inspector for Galway in mid- June and became the county inspector in charge of County Galway’s West Riding in mid-October. In his monthly report, the new county inspector noted, with evident sense of satisfaction, that “The chief item of interest in Galway during the month was the reprisal scare and the dread of the gun-men lest the forces of law and order should catch any of them in the act of any of their evil doings.

In addition, the Irish government’s Police Adviser, Major General Henry Hugh Tudor, was in Galway the night that Constable Krumm was killed. As a guest at Bakers Hotel, Major General Tudor was one of the British Army officers who assured Mrs. King that the rioting police were merely “shooting some of the townspeople that deserve shooting.” In his testimony to the ‘American Commission’, John Caddan described how the Police Adviser came to Eglinton Street RIC Barracks on the morning of September 9 and spoke to the assembled police. He told the assembly, “This country is ruled by gunmen, and they must be put down.” He talked about giving home rule to Ireland, and he said home rule could not be given until all gunmen were put down, and he called upon the RIC to put them down. Tudor also asked them what they required in the barracks, and that whatever they wanted he would give them, and that they were also going to get a raise in pay. He said they needed machine guns, and he said they would get them, and also tanks and more men; men who had been in the army during the war and who knew how to shoot to kill, who would the right men in the right place.

By this time, the RIC was already being reinforced with Black and Tans and Auxiliaries. In fact, an entire Auxiliary Company – ‘D Company’ – would soon be stationed in Galway, where it would take the lead in the British counteroffensive against the Republicans in their war for independence. More importantly, there is no record of any policeman being punished for taking part in the Galway police riot and, in fact, far from being punished, District Inspector Cruise was promoted, and promoted again. In November 1920, just a month after he became county inspector for Galway’s West Riding, Cruise became the commissioner for the Connaught No. 2 Division, and as a divisional commissioner, Cruise authorized reprisals, including the burning of homes despite having no legal authority to do so. In Galway, then, it seems the police interpreted General Tudor’s encouraging words and indulgent attitude as carte blanche to crush the insurgency, by due process if possible, but by reprisals if necessary. For the rest of the ‘War of Independence’, County Galway’s West Riding would become notorious as being the most violent district in the province of Connaught.

[1] Constable 72372, RIC General Register, The National Archives of the United Kingdom (henceforward TNA), HO 184/37

[2] David Leeson, “The ‘Scum of London’s Underworld’; British Recruits for the Royal Irish Constabulary, 1920-21,” Contemporary British History 17, no. 1 (2003): 6-7.

[3] RIC Returns by County, 1920-21, TNA, HO 184/61-62. One of the very few Black and Tans to leave behind a memoir of his experiences in Ireland, Douglas Duff, was also stationed at Eglinton Street barracks in Galway. See Douglas Duff, Sword for Hire: The Saga of a Modern Free Companion (London: John Murray, 1934).

[4] RIC County Inspector’s Monthly Report, West Galway, June 1920, TNA: PRO CO 904/112.

[5] Report from “A Dawn of Terror,” Connacht Tribune July 24, 1920, 5, 8.

[6] Report from Morning Post, July 22, 1920, 7

[7] The testimony of Agnes King, in Coyle, Evidence on Conditions in Ireland to the American Commission, 130.

[8] “The Murder of Innocent Men,” Galway Express” , September 8, 1920, quoted in “Murder and Crime in Galway City,” Irish Bulletin , September 14, 1920, 2. After this edition of the Galway Express appeared, the police came back and smashed what remained of the paper’s printing machines.

[9] Summary of Police Reports received on 10: 9: 1920, TNA, CO 904/142.

[10] “Galway Tragedies,” Connacht Tribuney September 18, 1920, 5

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