Captain Montague Henry William Green

 

Captain Montague Henry William Green (aged 30) of the Royal Army Educational Corps and the 3rd Battalion, Lincolnshire Regiment (near Aherla)

Date of incident: 15 Nov. 1920 (abducted, executed, and disappeared as intelligence operative by IRA)

Sources: CE, 16, 17, 18, 19 Nov. 1920; II, 18, 25 Nov. 1920, 18 Oct. 1921; CWN, 27 Nov. 1920; IT, 22 Aug. 1921; Military Inquests, WO 35/151B/37 (TNA); Michael O’Regan’s WS 1524, 5 (BMH); Michael Murphy’s WS 1547, 29 (BMH); Borgonovo (2006), 123, fn. 16; Borgonovo (2007), 10, 20-25; ‘The Irish Rebellion in the 6th Division Area’, Irish Sword, 27 (Spring 2010), 140; Sheehan (2011), 74-75; irishmedals.org (accessed on 28 July 2014); Commonwealth War Graves Commission; http://www.cairogang.com/soldiers-killed/list-1921.html; http://www.cairogang.com/soldiers-killed/waterfall/green/green.html; http://www.cairogang.com/soldiers-killed/waterfall/waterfall.html (accessed 1 Aug. 2014); Brookwood Memorial, Woking, Surrey. 

 

Note: A few days after the abduction of three British staff officers at Waterfall near Cork city on 15 November 1920, the Irish Independent of 18 November reported: ‘Further accounts of the kidnapping state that the four officers [sic] left Victoria Barracks, Cork, to go to some posts in West Cork. “They were dressed in mufti”, says the Cork correspondent of ‘The Times’, “but their military bearing was unmistakable, and they travelled in a first-class compartment. At Waterfall a number of men, armed with revolvers, quickly entered the compartment and gave the order, ‘Hands up.’ As the officers were unarmed, they had no alternative but to obey. They were then escorted to the platform and kept in the station until the train had moved off and the passengers had left the station. Then the leader of the republicans gave the order, ‘Quick march’, and the officers were marched to the public road with their captors at their side, holding revolvers. It is stated that motor cars were in waiting.”’

 

The Irish Independent reported on 25 November that three officers had been abducted from the train at Waterfall about twelve days previously—Captain Green, Captain Chambers, and Lieutenant Watts. The ‘Anti-Sinn Fein Society’ posted notices in Cork city ‘threatening reprisals for the kidnapping of the officers from the train at Waterfall’. The notices read: ‘If Capt. Green, Capt. Chambers, and Lieut. Watts are not released unharmed within 48 hours, leading members of the I.R.A. will be suitably dealt with. Ignore this at your peril. Vengeance may be slow, but it will be sure.’ The typewritten notices were posted on Tuesday night, 23 November. The IRA executed the three British officers as intelligence agents, although it is unclear if this was the case.

 

A letter dated 26 November 1920, written by Father Dominic O’Connor, chaplain to the hunger-striking Lord Mayor of Cork Terence MacSwiney, and presented at a later military inquest, indicated that the priest had heard that six missing British soldiers had been court-martialed by the IRA, and that one of the six was assumed by the IRA to have been involved in the torture of captured Commandant Tom Hales of the Cork No. 3 Brigade. See Military Inquests, WO 35/151B/37 (TNA). The British believed that Volunteer leader Walter Leo Murphy was mainly responsible for their deaths. Captain Green appeared on the list of ‘missing persons’ published later in the Irish Times. He was listed there as Educational Officer, 6th Division. See IT, 22 Aug. 1921.

 

Testimony given by fellow passenger Lieutenant R. R. Goode at a military inquiry held at Cork on 31 January 1921 corrected some details of earlier accounts of the kidnappings, confirmed others, and added some new information. Only three British officers had been kidnapped. Lieutenant Watts had been traveling in a first-class carriage on the Cork, Bandon, and South Coast Railway, whereas Captains Green and Chambers had been in a third-class carriage (on their way to Bere Island) along with Lieutenant Goode and Captain Reedy (the last two were not abducted). The inquiry sought possible motives for the kidnappings. Captains Green and Chambers had been travelling by rail about a week before their abduction when they had witnessed the murder of two RIC constables—Archibald Turner and James Thomas Woods—on 9 November 1920 at Ballybrack railway station in County Kerry. In addition, more than a year before his abduction (in about October 1919) Captain Chambers had been the cause of the arrest of Father O’Donnell, a chaplain of the Australian Expeditionary Force on a visit to Ireland, for using seditious language in a public speech. Lastly, Tom Hales had notified the IRA that an officer named ‘Lt Green’ had been one of a group of military intelligence officers who tortured him after he was captured in Bandon.  The British military later seized a letter from the IRA chaplain Father Dominic O’Connor in which he reported that an officer recently killed in Cork as one of Tom  Hales’ torturers.  It would therefore appear that the Cork IRA believed that Green was implicated in the Hales case.  However, it was reported at the military inquiry that the Captain Green who had been abducted at Waterfall had ‘had nothing to do with the arrest of Tom Hales’, and that ‘he had taken no part in the rounding up of Sinn Feiners’. No motive could be discovered for the abduction of Lieutenant Watts, ‘whose duties were confined to electric lighting’. The officers heading the military inquiry concluded that Green, Chambers, and Watts had been ‘murdered by rebels’ sometime between 15 and 26 November 1920 for no clear reasons. See Borgonovo (2007).  For a report of the Waterfall kidnapping inquiry, see http://www.cairogang.com/soldiers-killed/list-1921.html (accessed 1 Aug. 2014).

 

The account given years later by former Volunteer Michael O’Regan of the Third (Ovens) Battalion of the Cork No. 1 Brigade provides a different perspective: ‘On 15th November 1920, I got word that four [sic] unarmed British officers were in the area of Ovens. I mobilised “A” Company and proceeded to Ovens, where we found the four soldiers. We arrested them, questioned them, and held them prisoners for about a week in Farran Company area, after which they were shot dead on the instructions of the brigade O/C and were buried in the Aherla Company area.’ See Michael O’Regan’s WS 1524, 5 (BMH). The Recorder of Cork awarded £3,500 in compensation to Green’s widow and another £3,500 to their child in October 1921. See II, 18 Oct. 1921.   

 

Information about these officers came from within Victoria Barracks in Cork. Josephine Marchment Brown was a IRA agent working as a supervisory clerk in the Sixth Division headquarters office, in Victoria Barracks.  In IRA pension documentation she reported that she had informed IRA intelligence on the movements of these three officers.  See MS 31,127, Florence O’Donoghue Papers [NLI].  Pension documentation from another source claims that the officers’ travel information was collected by Cornelius (Con) Conroy, an IRA agent who worked at a high level as a clerk in the barracks.  See Borgonovo (2006), 123, fn. 16; and Borgonovo (2007), 144.


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