Private Thomas Wise or Wyse

 

Private Thomas Wise or Wyse (aged 30) of the Royal Army Service Corps (Patrick’s Street and Conkley’s Lane, Cork city)

Date of incident: 28 Feb. 1921

Sources: CE, 1, 2, 3 March 1921; CC, 1, 18 March 1921; Nenagh Guardian, 5 March 1921; II, 30 March 1921; Peter Kearney’s WS 444, 12-13 (BMH); Charles O’Connell’s WS 566, 3 (BMH); Denis Dwyer’s WS 713, 10 (BMH); Denis Collins’s WS 827, 18-20 (BMH); Michael Murphy’s WS 1547, 37-38 (BMH); Seán Healy’s WS 1479, 60 (BMH); Jerome Coughlan’s WS 1568, 11 (BMH); Michael J. Crowley’s WS 1603, 17 (BMH); Edward Horgan’s WS 1644, 11 (BMH); Stephen Foley’s WS 1669, 9-10 (BMH); William Barry’s WS 1708, 10 (BMH); ‘The Irish Rebellion in the 6th Division Area’, Irish Sword, 27 (Spring 2010), 87, 143; Borgonovo (2007), 88; Commonwealth War Graves Commission; http://www.cairogang.com/soldiers-killed/list-1921.html; http://www.cairogang.com/soldiers-killed/cork-street-feb-21/Cork-streets.html http://www.cairogang.com/soldiers-killed/cork-street-feb-21/wyse/wyse.html (accessed 8 Aug. 2014); http://www.tameside.gov.uk/museumsgalleries/mom/objectfocus/razor (17 Sept. 2015).

 

Note: The execution of the five Dripsey-ambush prisoners earlier in the day on 28 February 1921 led to vicious retaliation by the IRA: ‘That evening, IRA gunmen attacked off-duty British soldiers throughout the city. They killed six unarmed soldiers and wounded ten more, including a number walking with local girls in the city’s by-lanes.’ See Borgonovo (2007), 88. ‘An off-duty soldier, Private Wise was talking to a young woman when two men approached him and shot him at close range. One report says Wise was a native of Cork and was back on holiday. The report says he was shot in the middle of Patrick St and died in Conkley’s Lane, near the ruins of Cash’s Dept. Store (now Brown Thomas).’ See  http://www.cairogang.com/soldiers-killed/list-1921.html (accessed 8 Aug. 2014). According to a newspaper report, Wyse died later in the Mercy Hospital in Cork. See Nenagh Guardian, 5 March 1921.

 

City Volunteer leader Michael Murphy recalled these reprisals: ‘Following the execution of the six Dripsey Volunteer prisoners, orders were issued by Brigade H.Q. that on a ceratin night every British soldier, sailor, policeman, or Black and Tan found out of barracks was to be shot at sight. On 1st March 1921 [in fact, on 28 February] this order was carried out in the Cork 1st and 2nd Battalion areas. We of the 2nd Battalion combined with our comrades in the 1st Battalion in attacking every uniformed member of the British forces to be met with. Many encounters took place here and there in the city. My recollection is that at least seven soldiers were killed and a number of other[s] wounded. We suffered no casualties. About 50 men took part in the attacks that night, revolvers being used in all cases.’ See Michael Murphy’s WS 1547, 37-38 (BMH). Another prominent Cork city Volunteer put the death toll among British soldiers in Cork that night at twelve. See Seán Healy’s WS 1479, 60 (BMH).

 

The shootings of all these British soldiers endangered the lives of IRA prisoners held in Cork Military Detention Barracks, as former jailed Volunteer Denis Collins vividly remembered: ‘The following night [after the execution of five captured Dripsey-ambush Volunteers] there were six soldiers shot in the city as a reprisal. All members of the garrison out on pass rushed for the safety of the barracks, and when they got in, they staged a demonstration against us. They tried to storm the wire and get in and attack us, but the provost-corporal in charge of the cage stood up to them, threatened them with his revolver, and when they didn’t desist, he turned out the guard with fixed bayonets and posted them round the cage. He told the mob of Tommies who were thirsting for our blood that he would not hesitate to use his revolver if they persisted in their attempt to get in at us. He said in addition that the guard would use their bayonets if necessary. The threatening crowd withdrew, and having gathered up all the loose stones they could find around the [barracks] square, they assailed our huts, into which we were locked of course, with showers of these missiles for an hour. They gradually dispersed, and we were left in comparative peace.’ A sign that hung over the gate of the cage read, ‘This is a cage for rebels and murderers.’ See Denis Collins’s WS 827, 18-19, 21 (BMH).


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