Unidentified British soldier

 

Unidentified British soldier of the First Battalion of the Machine Gun Corps (near Charleville)

Date of incident: 23 May 1921 (captured, executed, and disappeared as suspected intelligence operative by IRA)

Sources: CE, 26 May 1921; FJ, 26 May 1921; II, 28 May 1921; CWN, 4 June 1921; Michael Geary and Richard Smith’s WS 754, 25 (BMH); O’Connell (1991), 21; D’Arcy (2008), 50-51; Commonwealth War Graves Commission; http://www.cairogang.com/soldiers-killed/list-1921.html; http://www.cairogang.com/soldiers-killed/deserters/charleville/charlville-deserters.html (accessed 8 Aug. 2014).

 

Note: Two members of the Machine Gun Corps stationed at the RIC barracks in Charleville either deserted or posed as deserters and suffered the fate of alleged intelligence operatives at the hands of the IRA. They went missing on 23 May 1921 according to their local commanding officer and never returned. See CWN, 4 June 1921. They were secretly buried two miles away, where their bodies remained undiscovered until the early 1950s, when a local Garda sergeant alerted the Office of Public Works and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission after a local farmer reported that the two bodies had been found accidentally. They were subsequently reburied in the grounds of the Charleville Holy Cross Cemetery Extension with a headstone, though the soldiers remained unidentified. See D’Arcy (2008), 50-51.

 

It appears likely that these military victims were the ‘two British soldiers in uniform’ whom the former Volunteer leaders Michael Geary and Richard Smith recalled as having been ‘captured on the Newmarket road just outside Charleville’ with ‘a map of the district in their possession’. ‘At their trial’, claimed Geary and Smith, the two soldiers ‘admitted they were on intelligence duties’ and were executed, probably in early June 1921. ‘Their one request was, if they were to be shot, to have the job done quickly.’ Geary was captain of the Charleville Company, while Smith was assistant adjutant of the Third Battalion of the Cork No. 4 Brigade. See Michael Geary and Richard Smith’s WS 754, 25 (BMH).

 


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