Civilian George Walker

 

Civilian George Walker (aged about 34) of 27 Cottrell’s Row, Queenstown (Queenstown/Cobh)

Date of incident: 28 Aug. 1920

Sources: CE, 30, 31 Aug., 6 Sept. 1920; II, 30, 31 Aug. 1920; FJ, 31 Aug. 1920; Nenagh Guardian, 4 Sept. 1920; Nenagh News, 4 Sept. 1920; Connacht Tribune, 4 Sept. 1920; Strabane Chronicle, 4 Sept. 1920; Ulster Herald, 4 Sept. 1920; Inquest Book, no. 2, 1897-1929 (TNA); Sheehan (2011), 43, 220.

 

Note: Walker was shot and fatally wounded at Cobh by a military patrol of the Cameron Highlanders on the night of 28 August 1920. An ex-soldier (with twenty-one years’ service) who had fought in the South African war at a very young age, Walker was employed on the War Office launch ‘Alice’. Wounded twice in the Great War, Walker ‘was almost crippled and had to carry a stick to assist him in walking. He was called upon to put up his hands by a patrol of the Cameron Highlanders, and failing to obey promptly enough, he was fired at.’ He died the next day from bullet and bayonet wounds at the Cobh Military Hospital ‘after receiving the Last Sacraments’. A native of Liverpool, he left a wife and six children (aged one to eleven). See II, 30 Aug. 1920.

 

At the subsequent coroner’s inquest his wife Julia Walker explained that after she had heard shooting outside her house on Saturday night, 28 August, and had ‘heard the soldiers coming along’, she had awakened her husband and sent him to fetch one of their boys, ‘who was at his grandmother’s a short distance away’. Julia Walker had intended to go herself, but before leaving, her husband had ‘said he would “Hands up” if the military halted him, because he, having been in the army, knew their ways, [and] that she would not know what to do’. She thus thought now that ‘he must have been taken unawares’. When her husband was shot, he was only a short distance away from her—at the end of the steps to their house or building. Though she could not see or hear the soldiers from where she stood, she did hear her husband moan after two shots were fired at him. George Walker was mortally wounded shortly before 11 p.m. on Saturday night and died at 3:40 a.m. Sunday morning from bullet wounds in the stomach and hip. See CE, 31 Aug. 1920.

 

The jurors at the coroner’s inquest ‘found that [the] deceased died from shock from wounds inflicted by a patrol of Cameron Highlanders who, it was declared, had the night before “wrecked the town”. They added that there was no evidence of provocation and commended the widow and family of [the] deceased to the consideration of the military authorities. The jury complained of the absence of military at the inquest.’ See FJ, 31 Aug. 1920. Part of the context for the death of George Walker was the killing of Private Charles Edward Hall by the IRA on 27 August, which had in turn prompted a military riot by the Cameron Highlanders in Cobh on the night of 27-28 August—a riot bitterly noted by the coroner’s jury in the case of Walker’s death. See Ulster Herald, 4 Sept. 1920.

 


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