The Black & Tans and Auxiliaries

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‘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 country.
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: MidClare Brigade

‘Men of the West’ Sean Keating 1915

‘Men of the South’, Sean Keating, 1920

Distributed weekly to all units of the IRA, delivered hidden in flour sacks, furniture packing cases and many other disguises.

Mixing encouragement with practical advice, it often make up with fighting words for a lack of activity in the field.

Black & Tans Recruiting poster 1920

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 Chorus: Come out ye black and tans, come out and fight me like a man Show us how you won your medals down in Flanders Tell us how the IRA made you run like hell away From the green and lovely lanes of Killashandra Come let us hear you tell how you slandered great Parnell When you thought him well and truly persecuted Where are the sneers and jeers that you loudly let us hear When our leaders of sixteen were executed 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 Chorus Come tell us how you slew them old Arabs two by two Like the Zulu’s that had spears and bows and arrows How bravely you faced one with your sixteen pounder gun And you frightened them poor natives to their morrow Chorus The day is come fast and the times are here at last As each English Shoneen he will run before us And if there be a need, our kids will say ‘God speed’ With a bar or two of Stephen Behan’s Chorus Chorus

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 evident.

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 as the Royal Irish Constabulary are holding this country for the enemy, and whereas said spies and bloodhounds are conspiring with the enemy to bomb and bayonet and otherwise outrage a peaceful, lawabiding, and liberty-loving people; 2. Wherefore do we hereby solemnly proclaim and suppress said spies and traitors and do hereby solemnly warn prospective recruits that they join the R.I.C. at their own peril. All nations are agreed as to the fate of traitors. It has the sanction of God and man. By order of the G.O.C. Irish Republican Army

DROGHEDA BEWARE If in the vicinity a policeman is shot, five of the leading Sinn Feiners will be shot. It is not coercion - - it is an eye for an eye. We are not drink-maddened savages as we have been described in the Dublin rags. We are not out for loot. We are inoffensive to women. We are as humane as other Christians, but we have restrained ourselves too long. Are we to lie down while our comrades are being shot down in cold blood by the corner boys and ragamuffins of Ireland? We say ‘Never’, and all the inquiries will not stop our desire for revenge. Stop the shooting of the police or we will lay low every house that smells of Sinn Fein. 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 the Royal Irish Constabulary.

Black & Tans notice, September 1920

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 names of Pearse and McBride Whose names are illumined in glory With the martyrs who long since have died Forget not the, boys of Kilmichael, who feared not the might of the foe The day that they marched into battle, They laid all the Black and Tans low Chorus So here’s to the boys of Kilmichael, Those brave men so gallant and true Who fought ‘neath the green flag of Erin, To conquer the red, white and blue On the 28th day of November, The Tans left the town of Macroom They were armed in two Crossley tenders, Which led them right to their doom They were on their way to Dunmanway, Who never expected to stall When they met with the boys of the column, Which made a clean sweep of them all Chorus The sun to the west it was sinking, ’Twas the eve of a cold winter’s day When the Tans we were wearily waiting, Rolled into the spot where they lay And over the hill rang the echo, The sound of each rifle and gun The blaze of the lorries gave tidings that the boys from Kilmichael had won Chorus The lorries were ours before twilight And high over Dunmanway town Our banners in triumph were waving, To show that the Tans had gone down We gathered their rifles and bayonets, And then left the glen so obscure And never drew reins till we halted, At the faraway camp of Glenure Chorus

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.

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