Private Charles Edward Hall (aged 19) of the 1155th Military Transport Company, Royal Army Service Corps (Churchtown North, Whiterock, near Midleton)
Date of incident: 27 Aug. 1920
Sources: CE, 28, 30 Aug., 21 Oct. 1920; CC, 28 Aug., 13 Sept. 1920; IT, 28 Aug. 1920; II, 30 Aug. 1920; CWN, 4 Sept. 1920; Irish Bulletin, 3:32 (14 Oct. 1920); RIC County Inspector’s Monthly Report, Cork City and East Riding, Aug. 1920 (CO 904/112, TNA); Inquest Book no. 2, 1897-1929 (TNA); Joseph Aherne’s WS 1367, 25-28 (BMH); Michael Kearney’s WS 1418, 17-18 (BMH); Patrick J. Whelan’s WS 1449, 32-36 (BMH); John Kelleher’s WS 1456, 17-19 (BMH); Daniel Cashman’s WS 1523, 1-4 (BMH); ‘The Irish Rebellion in the 6th Division Area’, Irish Sword, 27 (Spring 2010), 138; Rebel Cork’s FS, 179-97; Sheehan (2011), 25; Commonwealth War Graves Commission;
Note: A small party of men from the Fourth Battalion of the Cork No. 1 Brigade, led in this instance by Vice-Commandant Joseph Aherne, attacked a lorry full of Cameron Highlanders on the Castlemartyr-Midleton road on 27 August 1920. They did not succeed in stopping the lorry because the Volunteers just missed in bringing down a tree in time to block the road. But they did succeed in mortally wounding Private Hall, the driver of the lorry, and in badly injuring both Lieutenant Ian Elspie Begg (wounded once in the right kidney and once in the back) and Private Wintern without taking any casualties themselves. See Rebel Cork’s FS, 186-87. Lieutenant Begg later claimed as much as £10,000 in compensation for his wounds in the ambush; he had been sitting beside Private Hall. See CE, 21 Oct. 1920.
Hall was killed in the first burst of fire from the Volunteers. ‘I remember’, said Volunteer John Kelleher (a participant), ‘that Phil Hyde, lately demobbed from the British army, was specially selected to shoot the driver of the lorry as Phil was reported to be a crack shot.’ See John Kelleher’s WS 1456, 18 (BMH). Private Hall was buried at Wirksworth Cemetery in Derbyshire, where his memorial gravestone gives his date of death as 28 August 1920, even though he seems to have died on 27 August.
The killing of Private Hall prompted a military riot in Queenstown/Cobh on the night of 27-28 August: ‘The soldiers [of the Cameron Highlanders] entered the town armed with rifles and heavy pieces of metal and commenced to wreck the business houses in the principal streets. About 100 plate glass windows were smashed, and looting took place, much valuable property being lost. Some private houses were also attacked, and the residents were kept in a state of terror until daybreak. . . .’ The shops of Unionists and even the Royal Soldiers’ Home ‘did not escape’ [Press Association account]. See II, 30 Aug. 1920.
Volunteer leader Joseph Aherne later recalled that the success of this ambush at Whiterock prompted ‘the influx of new Volunteers in the town [of Midleton] to the number of seventy-five. They proved their worth afterwards, as they did Trojan work for the battalion and the district as a whole.’ See Joseph Aherne’s WS 1367, 28 (BMH). Five of the IRA participants in the Whiterock ambush were later to die in the Clonmult disaster of 20 February 1921. See Rebel Cork’s FS, 186-87.