Private William George King (aged 22) of the 2nd Battalion, Hampshire Regiment (Youghal)
Date of incident: 5 Nov. 1920
Sources: Sunday Independent, 7 Nov. 1920; II, 8, 10 Nov. 1920; FJ, 8 Nov. 1920; CE, 8, 9, 10 Nov. 1920; RIC County Inspector’s Monthly Report, Cork City and East Riding, Nov. 1920 (CO 904/113, TNA); Military Reports, WO 35/89 (TNA); ‘The Irish Rebellion in the 6th Division Area’, Irish Sword, 27 (Spring 2010), 139; irishmedals.org (accessed 28 July 2014); Commonwealth War Graves Commission; http://www.cairogang.com/soldiers-killed/list-1921.html; http://www.cairogang.com/soldiers-killed/king/king.html (accessed 1 Aug. 2014).
Note: Though an official report spoke of an attack on the barracks at Youghal on Friday, 5 November 1920, ‘the people of the town deny there was any attack on the police barracks by civilians, but assert that indiscriminate firing took place after a row between civilians and uniformed men. The wounded man says he was attacked by men in uniform.’ One soldier (Private William King) was killed. See II, 8 Nov. 1920.
The Cork Examiner reported that after a row with civilians, ‘a party of twenty or thirty [troops], fully armed, left the barracks for the town, where they started firing indiscriminately with rifles and revolvers and the letting-off of hand-grenades, [with] Verey lights and bombs adding to the pandemonium’. One soldier ‘was killed, and more than probably by the wild firing of a comrade’. It was while ‘on their way back to the barracks’ that ‘the military seriously wounded a poor man named Casey, the father of four young children, one an infant’. What started the row between soldiers and civilians, according to one account, was the soldiers’ smashing of the windows of the barber W. Bransfield. ‘This was resented by some civilians and a row ensued, [with] the soldiers being hunted up the Main Street.’ See CE, 8 Nov. 1920.
The military issued a report denying that Private King had been killed by the errant bullet of one of his own comrades. The report claimed that King had been ‘killed by a revolver bullet fired at close range from the yard of a house from which fire was opened on the troops’. Private King was supposedly the first soldier to enter the yard from which the fire had been directed. See CE, 9 Nov. 1920. At the inquest other soldiers asserted that while troops were in Bransfield’s barber shop (where an armed man was reported to be), fire had been opened on the troops from shops on the other side of the street. Private King had allegedly been shot as he was breaking through Bransfield’s shop into the back yard. Another soldier testified that he had seen Private King felled in the shop by a revolver shot fired by a civilian who ‘disappeared out the back way’. See CE, 10 Nov. 1920. King was interred in St Mary’s churchyard at Liss in East Hampshire.