RIC Constable Arthur W. Thorp (aged 23) from Middlesex (Midleton)
Date of incident: 29 Dec. 1920
Sources: II, 31 Dec. 1920, 1 Jan. 1921; CE, 3 Jan. 1921; RIC County Inspector’s Monthly Report, Cork City and East Riding, Dec. 1920 (CO 904/113, TNA); Weekly Summary of Outrages against the Police, Dec. 1920 (CO 904/148-50, TNA); Joseph Aherne’s WS 1367, 40-42 (BMH); Michael Kearney’s WS 1418, 20 (BMH); Patrick J. Whelan’s WS 1449, 44-47 (BMH); John Kelleher’s WS 1456, 22 (BMH); Patrick J. Higgins’s WS 1467, 3 (BMH); Daniel Cashman’s WS 1523, 7-9 (BMH); Diarmuid O’Leary’s WS 1589, 3-4; ‘The Irish Rebellion in the 6th Division Area’, Irish Sword, 27 (Spring 2010), 141; Abbott (2000), 168-69; irishmedals.org (accessed 28 July 2014).
Note: Members of the Cork No. 1 Brigade (Fourth Battalion) under Diarmuid Hurley attacked a police foot patrol of ten men in the ‘dimly light’ Main Street of Midleton shortly before 10 p.m. on 29 December 1920. Constable Thorp and five other policemen were wounded. Of those wounded, Thorp died from his wounds on 30 December, Dray from his the next day. Thorp had merely twenty-three days of service with the RIC; previously, he had been a soldier and a fitter’s mate.
The IRA also laid an ambush at Ballyrichard, about a mile from Midleton, for the expected reinforcements, and in this encounter they killed Constable Martin Mullen and wounded six other RIC men, one of whom was a sergeant. Total casualties among the police in the two incidents included three dead and ten wounded. Troops had been withdrawn from Midleton about a month earlier (because ‘it seemed so peaceful’) and been replaced by police. See Abbott (2000), 168-69.
Volunteer John Kelleher later graphically described what had happened: ‘[Column O/C Diarmuid] Hurley assigned his men to doorways and laneways on either side of Main Street [in Midleton], extending for about 160 yards, and at about 9 p.m. the enemy patrol appeared as expected. On reaching the corner of Charles Street, fire was opened by Jackeen Ahern [sic] and Jim McCarthy. This was the signal for a general attack by us. I was stationed at the end of the main street and opened fire on the “Tans” nearest to me. Some of the “Tans” fell wounded; others appeared to be killed outright. A few ran up a laneway off Main Street where they met some of our lads who shot them. A “Tan” who left barracks on hearing the firing was shot as he reached Charles Street corner. Practically every member of the enemy patrol was a casualty when the firing ceased. One did escape by rushing into a shop and out the backway. Dead and dying “Tans” lay here and there all over the street. We collected a rifle and revolver from each one, and the local priest, Fr [Denis] Dennehy, gave spiritual attention to the wounded and dying. Sergeant Moloney, a local R.I.C. man, who was with the patrol, was slightly wounded in the leg. His revolver was also taken. Our only casualty was Jim McCarthy of Midleton, who received a bullet wound in the wrist which healed subsequently. The whole affair lasted about twenty minutes, after which we withdrew with the captured arms to Kilmountain.’ See John Kelleher’s WS 1456, 22 (BMH). These IRA actions led to the first ‘official’ reprisals by British forces on 1 January 1921—the burning of seven houses in the town and adjacent district.