RIC Constable George H.S. Duckham

 

RIC Constable George H.S. Duckham (aged 21) from London (Carriganeigh Cross near Clondrohid)

Date of incident: 22 June 1921 (abducted and executed by IRA as suspected intelligence operative and disappeared by local people)

Sources: CE, 24 June 1921, 4, 8 July 1921; CC, 4 July 1921; CWN, 16 July 1921; Weekly Summary of Outrages against the Police (CO 904/148-50, TNA); British Forces Missing (Military Archives, A/0909); JUS/H/257/13 (NAI); Charles Browne’s WS 873, 50 (BMH); Timothy Buckley’s WS 1641, 18-19 (BMH); Daniel Corkery’s WS 1719, 25 (BMH); Abbott (2000), 312; Ó hÉalaithe (2014), 192-93.

 

Note: Duckham was serving as a constable in the districts of Macroom and Millstreet when he was kidnapped by the IRA on 22 June 1921 while travelling in civilian clothes near Clondrohid Cross. See CE, 4 July 1921. According to Abbott, Constable Duckham was reported missing at Bandon on 22 June 1921 after he had returned to Ireland from wedding leave in England. ‘His father later received a number of documents which had been in the possession of his son when he had been kidnapped, along with a letter from Macroom which stated that the constable had been tried and executed by the IRA on the day after he had been kidnapped.’ See Abbott (2000), 312. Constable Duckham appeared on the list of ‘missing persons’ published in the Irish Times of 22 August 1921. The date of his kidnapping was given there as 23 June 1921.

 

Duckham appears to have been the alleged intelligence operative mentioned as captured and executed by members of the Clondrohid Company in June 1921. Local Volunteer captain Timothy Buckley ‘got a report from Macroom that a Black and Tan—a member of Millstreet garrison—was to travel by horse and side-car [from Macroom] back to his base next morning. As I could not withdraw from the position we held near the town [i.e., Macroom], I got four or five members of the company (Clondrohid) to hold him up. They were armed with shotguns, and when the Tan came along, they held him up and took him prisoner. As he had a bad record, he was shot that night. Amongst the men who captured this Tan were: Jim Twohig, Lackaduv, who was in charge; John Riordan, [and] Jerh. Dineen; Tim Murphy and Paddy Carroll acted as scouts. When this prisoner was searched, a list of the names of the members of the Millstreet Battalion Column, who were to be shot at sight, was found on him. He is buried in Clashmaguire Bog.’ See Timothy Buckely’s WS 1641, 18-19 (BMH). Constable Duckham had joined the RIC in late September 1920; he had previously been a milkman.

 

Former Volunteer Jamie Moynihan essentially confirmed this account in his memoirs: ‘This Constable Duckham was considered to be an unscrupulous character in the Millstreet area, and the local Volunteers had attempted to capture him on several occasions, without success. Eventually, three local Volunteers from the Carriganima-Clondrohid Company captured him at Carriganeigh Cross, north of Clondrohid, on 8 [sic] June 1921. One of these Volunteers was Paddy O’Shea of Knockraheen, Carriganima. When Duckham was captured, he had two valuable items on him: the first was Major [Seafield] Grant’s walking stick and the second was a paper found in his pocket containing a list of Volunteers in the Millstreet area who were to be shot on sight. This list probably sealed his fate. A week later he was found shot dead at a spot in the “High Field” at Carriganima, close to the location where Art O’Laoire was also shot dead in 1773.’ See Ó hÉalaithe (2014), 192-93.

 

It was apparently Duckham to whom Macroom Volunteer leader Daniel Corkery referred when he recalled years later: ‘A lone Black and Tan was shot by some members of the local company on the Macroom-Millstreet road about the end of June 1921, and his arms were taken. His body was left on the roadside in the neighbourhood of Carriganima in the hope that his colleagues would come to collect it while I lay in ambush with the battalion column close by. The body was, however, removed by some local people and buried.’ See Daniel Corkery’s WS 1719, 25 (BMH). Duckham’s body had not been discovered by April 1926; at that point his name still appeared among those for whom investigations by both the Department of Defence and the Civic Guards to locate places of burial had proven fruitless. See Letter to G. C. Whiskard (Dominions Office), April 1926 (JUS/H/257/13, NAI).

 


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