HL Deb 22 November 1920 vol 42 cc414-20

My Lords, before the House adjourns I beg to ask His Majesty's Government—perhaps the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack may be able to answer—whether they are in a position to give any further particulars about the deplorable series of crimes in Ireland, report, of which we saw in the newspapers this morning. So far as I could gather from what appeared in the Press, no official account had been received at the time the newspapers went to press, and I think it is possible that His Majesty's Government may by now be in receipt of souse further information.

There is one point upon which I should particularly desire to be informed if possible—namely, as to the number of criminals who were concerned in these outrages. One saw reports that in Some Cases as number of men, estimated at as many as twenty, came to a house and perpetrated a murder. Whet her cite murders were effected in turn by the same gang of men, or by different gangs, is not clear from the accounts, but the general impression conveyed by the reports is that a very large number of persons must have been engaged in the commission of these crimes. That of course, is an important point, because it has hitherto been assumed that the actual number of persons concerned in the different assassinations has not been very large, as was the case forty years ago when it was believed that the whole gang of those who called themselves Invincibles did not exceed something like forty persons. If the noble and learned Lord can give us any information on that point, we shall be exceedingly glad to be informed.


My Lords, I will give your Lordships all the information which is in the possession of the Government. These appalling trans- actions, as the noble Marquess well describes them, have resulted in fourteen deaths and in injuries to six persons, including one of the assassins. Five persons were captured, with arms in their possession, upon one or other of the premises involved. The detailed circumstances so far as they are at present known were as follows, the cases being distinguished under letters—

Case A. 119, Lower Baggot-street. One murder. Captain Baggalley, court martial officer, was shot dead. When the police arrived every occupant of the house had left, and no witness was available to describe the circumstances. Captain Baggalley had lost a leg in the war, and was a barrister by profession. He had been employed as prosecutor on Courts-Martial. Nothing, of course, is known as to the number who took part.

Case B. 28, Erlsfort-terrace. One murder. The leader of the murderers rang a bell and asked the maid for Colonel Fitzpatrick. She disclosed the whereabouts of the bedroom of Captain Fitzgerald. The leader then called in about twenty men who were placed in positions in the hall. He then entered Captain Fitzgerald's room. The maid heard his shouts, and the assassin's voice say "Come on." Four shots were fired into the body in rapid succession. The police found Captain Fitzgerald in bed in a pool of blood. His forehead was shattered with bullets, and another had gone through the heart and one wrist, which he had held up to ward off the shot. All fired point blank.

Case C. 22, Lower Mount-street. One murder. The maid opened the door, twenty men rushed in, and demanded to know the bedrooms of Mr. Mahon and Mr. Peel. Mr. Mahon's room was pointed out. They entered, and five shots were fired immediately at a few inches range. Mr. Mahon was killed. At the same time others attempted to enter Mr. Peel's room. The door was locked. Seventeen shots were fired through the panels. Mr. Peel escaped uninjured. Meanwhile another servant, hearing the shots, shouted from an upper window to a party of officers of the Auxiliary Division who had left Beggars Bush Barracks to catch an early train southward for duty. These officers at once attacked the house, after despatching two of their number, Temporary Cadets Morris and Garniss, to their depôt for reinforcements. They chased the assassins through the house and captured one whom their fire had wounded, and three others, all of whom were armed. Reinforcements on arrival were asked the whereabouts of Morris and Garniss, but replied that they knew nothing, and that the cadets had never arrived at the depôt. The reinforcements had arrived, of course, after hearing the firing. Search was made, and the bodies of Cadets Morris and Garniss were found by a Red Cross nurse lying in a neighbouring garden. They had apparently been intercepted by the murderers' pickets, taken to the back of the house, placed against the wall, and murdered. Both these officers had seen considerable service in the recent war in France.

Case D. At Briama, 117, Forehampton-road, murder of one officer and two civilians. Just before nine a party of between twelve and twenty armed men knocked at the door and it was opened by a boy of ten years, the son of Mr. Smith, the householder. They rushed into the house and dragged Mr. Smith and Captain McLean (who were in bed with their wives) into a front spare bedroom. Mr. Caldow, the brother of Mrs. McLean, was thrust in beside them, and all three were shot in cold blood. Captain McLean and Mr. Smith were dead before an ambulance could arrive. Mr. Caldow is seriously wounded. Mr. Thomas Henry Smith, already described as the landlord, was a man of about forty-five years of age and leaves a wife and three children. Captain McLean, who served with the Rifle Brigade during the war along with his brother-in-law, Mr. John Caldow, a native of Prestwich, Scotland, had come to Ireland with a view of securing employment in the police. Captain McLean leaves a wife and child. Both Mrs. Smith and Mrs. McLean were in the house when their husbands were murdered. It is said that the assassins dragged their victims to an empty room to murder them, as Captain McLean, when overpowered, implored them not to murder him under his wife's eyes. On completing their dastardly work the murderers rushed out of the house and disappeared.

Case E. 92, Lower Baggot-street, one murder. A party of raiders numbering a dozen were let in by Mrs. Slack, the tenant of the house, and asked for Captain Newbury. Captain Newbury was a Court-Martial officer who lived there with his wife. Seeing the crowd the landlady rushed upstairs in terror and saw nothing of what happened afterwards. The men knocked at Captain Newbury's door; Mrs. Newbury opened it, and seeing a crowd of men armed with revolvers slammed the door in their faces and locked it. The men burst the door open, but the Newburys escaped to an inner room. Captain Newbury and wife together tried to hold the door against them and almost succeeded in shutting it when the men fired through the door wounding Captain Newbury, who though losing blood nevertheless got to the window, flung it open, and was half-way out when the murderers burst into the room. Mrs. Newbury flung herself in their way, but they pushed her aside and fired seven shots into her husband's body. The police found the body Calf in and half out, covered with a blanket which Mrs. Newbury, though in a prostrate condition, had placed over it It is reported that her resolution and her subsequent grief strongly affected the party of police who made the discovery. It is worthy of notice that the murderers in this case, as in two or three others, made diligent search for papers, hoping, perhaps, to find and abstract documents or evidence on which the military law officers were supposed to be working at the time.

Case F. 28, Upper Pembroke-street. Two officers murdered ark four wounded. The residence of Mrs. Gray was raided at 9 o'clock this morning by about twenty men, some of whom came on bicycles. The house consists of several flats. The raiders, who were armed and undisguised, held up a maid on the stairs, and Mrs. Gray, the proprietress, who was leaving her room, was simultaneously detained. The house appeared to be familiar to them, as they broke up into parties, and went with evident knowledge to various parts of the house. From ten to twelve shots were heard, and, following these, the assassins decamped. Mrs. Gray and her maid visited the rooms immediately and found that Major Dowling, of the Grenadier Guards, had been shot dead at his bedroom door. Captain Price, of the Royal Engineers, was found dead in the next room door. Captain Kenlyside, of the Lancashire Fusiliers, whose wife most gallantly struggled with the murderers and thereby frustrated their purpose, was wounded in the arm. Colonel Woodcock was fired at as he came downstairs. He appeared to have taken unawares the raiders who were in the hall. Be called out to Colonel Montgomery who was coming out of his room and was wounded in the body. Turning towards his room to secure a weapon Colonel Woodcock was also wounded. Colonel Woodcock and Colonel Montgomery both belong to the Lancashire Fusiliers. A sixth officer, Mr. Murray, of the Royal Scots, was also wounded as he descended the stairs. A lady resident in the house went from room to room seeking help and in every room found only dead, dying, or wounded men.

Case G. 38, Upper Mount-street. Two murders This house was entered at 9.10 a.m. by twenty armed, unmasked men who were let in by a servant, Catherine Farrell, who unwillingly and under constraint pointed out the rooms occupied by Lieutenant Aimes, of the Grenadier Guards, and Lieutenant Bennett, of the R.A.S.C., Motor Transport. The maid rushed upstairs and warned an officer who was sleeping on the upper floor, and another male lodger, that murder was being done downstairs. A fusilade of shots was heard. When they came down-stairs they found two bodies in a pool of blood in Aimes's bedroom. Bennett had evidently been dragged from the bedroom in his bedclothes into his brother officer's room where both were shot together, their bodies lying side by side.

Case H. Gresham Hotel, Sackvillestreet. Two murders. Here a party of fifteen to twenty men entered the open door of the hotel, held up the boots and the head-porter with revolvers and forced the latter, Hugh Callaghan, to lead them to rooms occupied by Ex-Captain Patrick McCormack, formerly a captain in the Army Veterinary Corps, and Lieutenant L. E. Wilde. The party, one of whom carried a huge hammer, knocked first at Room 14 occupied by Mr. Wilde. He opened the door and asked, "What do you want?" By way of answer three shots were fired into his chest simultaneously. The party then moved to Room 24, which they entered and found Mr. McCormack sitting in bed reading the paper. Without any communication five shots were fired into his body and head as he sat there. The bed was saturated, and the body, especially the head, was horribly disfigured.

My Lords, that melancholy list summarises the murders to which the noble Marquess has directed attention. He invited me to give any information which was available as to the numbers of those who took part in the various raids. In all cases which I have enumerated where the numbers are precisely known they have, I think, been given. In other cases an estimate has been attempted. It will be observed that the time at which these various outrages took place renders it necessary in the main to resist the conclusion that a limited number of murderers went from house to house. The number must be assumed to be very considerable. It is probable that your Lordships will think that these matters deserve and indeed require discussion in a manner more formal than would be possible on a Motion for the adjournment. I would only add at this stage that, as far as one can judge —it is merely a reassurance as to later events—everything is normal in Dublin to-day. Outward trains are not running, and all motor cars are severely restricted. There have been no fresh disturbances since the events which appeared in the Press to-day.


My Lords, I merely desire to thank the noble and learned Lord for the full information which he has been able to give us—all the more terrible and impressive from being couched in mere official language, and not in any way added to by terms of a picturesque sort such as might appear in accounts in the public Press. I fear, from what the noble and learned Lord has said, that there can be no doubt that the answer to the specific question that I put is that an appallingly large number of persons must have been engaged in these outrages, and, of course, the implication from that is a very serious one, on which it is not necessary to dwell at this moment.

House adjourned at a quarter before six o'clock.