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The Black & Tans and Auxiliaries


‘Ireland in Schools’ Sutton Pilot Scheme
A state of war exists and murder and
violence against the English are not crimes
until the alien invaders have left the
An t-Óglach (IRA newspaper), 31 January 1919

Dan Breen was one of the men behind the Soloheadbeg ambush
in Co. Tipperary, 21 January 1919, in which
two Irish constables of the RIC were killed.
It marked the start of the Anglo-Irish war.
IRA: Tipperary Flying Column
IRA: Mayo Flying Column
These men ‘defied six hundred British troops at Tourmakeady’ according to An t-Óglach.
They lost one man and six shotguns in this famous battle.
IRA: Mid-
‘Men of
the West’
‘Men of the South’, Sean Keating, 1920
Distributed weekly to all units Mixing encouragement
of the IRA, delivered hidden with practical advice, it
in flour sacks, furniture often make up with
packing cases and many fighting words for a lack
other disguises. of activity in the field.
Black & Tans
Recruiting poster
Come out ye Black and Tans
Stephen Behan

I was born on a Dublin street, where the loyal drums do beat
And the loving English feet would walk all over us
And each and every night when me Da’ would come home tight
He’d invite the neighbours outside with this Chorus
Come tell us how you slew them old Arabs two by two
Chorus: Like the Zulu’s that had spears and bows and arrows
Come out ye black and tans, come out and fight me like a man How bravely you faced one with your sixteen pounder gun
Show us how you won your medals down in Flanders And you frightened them poor natives to their morrow
Tell us how the IRA made you run like hell away
From the green and lovely lanes of Killashandra Chorus

Come let us hear you tell how you slandered great Parnell The day is come fast and the times are here at last
When you thought him well and truly persecuted As each English Shoneen he will run before us
Where are the sneers and jeers that you loudly let us hear And if there be a need, our kids will say ‘God speed’
When our leaders of sixteen were executed With a bar or two of Stephen Behan’s Chorus

Chorus Chorus

Allen, Larkin and O’Brien, you loudly called them swine
Robert Emmett who you hung and drew and quartered
High upon the scaffold high, you murdered Henry Joy
And our Croppy Boys in Wexford you did slaughter

First Black & Tans
being inspected by
an RIC officer at
Beggars Bush
barracks, Dublin,
25 March 1920

The mixture of police
and army uniforms
that occasioned their
name is not yet
Soldiers with Black & Tans, posing for a press photograph.
The two men in dark uniforms are Black & Tans, reinforcements for an RIC barracks.
Sir Hamar Greenwood, the Irish Chief Secretary, inspects the RIC.
The third constable from the right, still in khaki, is a Black & Tan, as is the man on his right, with the incomplete uniform.
Black & Tans at Union Quay, Cork
Auxiliaries being inspected by Sir Hamar Greenwood, the Irish Chief Secretary
Auxiliaries on patrol
Auxiliaries conducting a search at gunpoint.
Crown forces in Dublin.
An unarmed constable of the Dublin Metropolitan Police stands between two Auxiliaries.
A soldier and a plain clothes man greeting a Black & Tan complete the picture.
1. Whereas the spies and traitors known DROGHEDA BEWARE
as the Royal Irish Constabulary are If in the vicinity a policeman is shot, five of the
holding this country for the enemy, leading Sinn Feiners will be shot.
and whereas said spies and It is not coercion - - it is an eye for an eye.
bloodhounds are conspiring with the We are not drink-maddened savages as we
enemy to bomb and bayonet and have been described in the Dublin rags. We are
otherwise outrage a peaceful, law- not out for loot.
abiding, and liberty-loving people; We are inoffensive to women. We are as
humane as other Christians, but we have
2. Wherefore do we hereby solemnly restrained ourselves too long.
proclaim and suppress said spies and Are we to lie down while our comrades are
traitors and do hereby solemnly warn being shot down in cold blood by the corner boys
prospective recruits that they join the and ragamuffins of Ireland?
R.I.C. at their own peril. All nations We say ‘Never’, and all the inquiries will not stop
are agreed as to the fate of traitors. It our desire for revenge.
has the sanction of God and man. Stop the shooting of the police or we will lay low
By order of the G.O.C. every house that smells of Sinn Fein.
Irish Republican Army Remember Balbriggan.

(By Order)
Black and Tans
Irish Republican Army Order, 30 March 1920, five
days after the arrival of the first English recruits to
Black & Tans notice, September 1920
the Royal Irish Constabulary.
Templemore, Tipperary.
This town was set on fire as a reprisal by both the Black & Tans, August 1920, after the assassination of a District Inspector, and
the military, October 1920, after an ambush. On the latter occasion the Black & Tans restrained the troops were publicly thanked
by the local council, whose offices they had burned two months earlier.
IRA attack
Upper Church Street, Dublin 20
September 1920.

Volunteers of the Dublin Brigade of
the IRA attacked an unarmed military
ration party outside a bakery, killing one
soldier and mortally wounding
two others.

One of the assailants, Kevin Barry, an
eighteen-year-old medical student, was
arrested and the crowd immediately
converged on the scene. Kevin Barry was
later tried and hanged.
‘The sack of Balbriggan’ by the Black & Tans, 20 September 1920.
It took place after the IRA attack on the military ration party in Dublin. Most of the damage was confined to one street.
Death in Talbot Street, Dublin, 14 October 1920.
Top left: Lt Price, British intelligence officer, opens fire on Sean Treacey, one of the men behind Soloheadbeg.
Top right: A second later, he himself lay dead, shot by Treacy;
Bottom: In the ensuing hail of gunfire Treacy himself was killed along with another intelligence officer, Christian.
RIC barracks, Trim, Co. Meath, destroyed by the IRA, 30 September 1920.
In a typical operation, the Meath Brigade rushed the barracks early on a Sunday morning when the majority
of the garrison was at mass. They surprised and overpowered the eight men left in the building,
wounding a sergeant severely. Having collected the arms and ammunition, they set the building on fire.
Kilmichael Ambush, 28 November 1920.
Memorial to the three volunteers who died in the ambush of an Auxiliary convoy by the West Cork Flying Column,
led by Tom Barry, seen bottom right heading the survivors at the site in 1968.
The Boys of Kilmichael
While we honour in song and story, The sun to the west it was sinking,
The names of Pearse and McBride ’Twas the eve of a cold winter’s day
Whose names are illumined in glory When the Tans we were wearily waiting,
With the martyrs who long since have died Rolled into the spot where they lay
Forget not the, boys of Kilmichael, And over the hill rang the echo,
who feared not the might of the foe The sound of each rifle and gun
The day that they marched into battle, The blaze of the lorries gave tidings that the boys
They laid all the Black and Tans low from Kilmichael had won

Chorus Chorus
So here’s to the boys of Kilmichael,
Those brave men so gallant and true The lorries were ours before twilight
Who fought ‘neath the green flag of Erin, And high over Dunmanway town
To conquer the red, white and blue Our banners in triumph were waving,
To show that the Tans had gone down
On the 28th day of November, We gathered their rifles and bayonets,
The Tans left the town of Macroom And then left the glen so obscure
They were armed in two Crossley tenders, And never drew reins till we halted,
Which led them right to their doom At the faraway camp of Glenure
They were on their way to Dunmanway,
Who never expected to stall Chorus
When they met with the boys of the column,
Which made a clean sweep of them all

British administration under siege, winter 1920.
Barricade and barbed wire entanglements made Dublin Castle almost a beleaguered fortress.
Officials were unable to stir abroad without an armed escort.
The ‘Cairo Gang’, so called because of their Middle Eastern
experience, some of them were among the 12 British intelligence
officers assassinated by Michael Collins’s ‘squad’ on the morning
of 21 November 1921.
The numbers refer to the names on the back, where Nos 1, 2 and
3 are marked as being Irish.

Neil Jordan’s depiction in the film Michael Collins of British
armoured cars bursting through the main gate of Croke Park
and firing their machine guns on the crowd
was criticised as pure invention.
In fact, armoured cars were involved but outside the ground
and, according to the official enquiry the one at the St James’s
Avenue exit fired fifty rounds.
‘Bloody Sunday’, 21 November 1920.
Five hundred arrests were made within forty-eight hours of the murders of ‘Bloody Sunday’. Here an
Auxiliary cadet has picked up a couple of suspects in the Ministry of Labour offices in the Rotunda,
Dublin, and marches them through the streets at pistol point.
The burning of Cork, 11 December 1920.
On Auxiliary testified five days later: ‘I am at present in bed recovering from a severe chill contracted on Saturday night last
during the burning and looting of Cork in all of which I perforce took a reluctant part. We did it all right.’
One witness reported on the destruction of a jeweller’s shop: ‘The loot of Hilser’s continued throughout the night at different period by police or Black & Tans. About 1.30
a.m. a party of them broke every bit of glass in Hilser’s and with the aid of flash-lamps which they used nsider I could see them looting the entire shop. The party
consisted of men in civilian attire, Black and Tans or RIC and two solderis. They had large kitbags which they filled with loot.’
‘Behind the wire’.
Nearly 5,000 republican were incarcerated in internment camps by the early summer of 1921.
‘Conditions were not severe. Many were glad to be out of the struggle’.
Auxiliaries mixing with crowds after the Truce, 11 July 1921.
They are carrying nothing more lethal than a camera.
The end of the affair?
The Irish Free State Army takes over Dublin Castle. A Free State officer makes arrangements with a British officer, while some of the
first recruits for the Free State Army wait and look round them with a wild surmise.