Private Albert Edward Nunn (aged about 19) of the Machine Gun Corps, Infantry (near Drominagh and Cloonbannin)
Date of incident: 14 Aug. 1920
Sources: CE, 16, 17 Aug. 1920; FJ, 17 Aug. 1920; CWN, 21 Aug. 1920; Nenagh Guardian, 21 Aug. 1920; RIC County Inspector’s Monthly Report, Cork West Riding, Aug. 1920 (CO 904/112, TNA); WS 744 of Jeremiah Murphy et al., 6-7 (BMH); Cornelius Meaney’s WS 787, 11-12 (BMH); Moylan (2004), 56; irishmedals.org (accessed 28 July 2014); Commonwealth War Graves Commission;
Note: Nunn was killed on 14 August 1920 when he and other soldiers were attacked by Volunteers while guarding a military aeroplane that had been forced to land near Drominagh and Cloonbannin. Nunn was attached to a machine-gun section of the army. Another soldier was wounded in the same incident, though just slightly. See CE, 17 Aug. 1920. The military aeroplane was forced by apparent engine trouble to land suddenly near Cloonbannin on Friday, 13 August; its two occupants suffered no serious injuries. A military detachment of fifteen to twenty soldiers from Kanturk was assigned to guard the plane, which carried various kinds of military equipment. Early on Saturday morning, 14 August, from thirty to forty Volunteers from the Kanturk and Millstreet battalions surrounded and attacked this detachment. According to one account, ‘the fight was a hot one, and there was continuous and incessant exchange of shots for nearly two hours. One soldier was shot dead and another severely wounded, whilst it is believed a number of others received pellet wounds.’ See CE, 16 Aug. 1920. Private Nunn was buried in St John’s Churchyard at Newbold, a village north of Chesterfield in Derbyshire.
Former Volunteer Jeremiah Murphy and two of his Kanturk comrades, however, gave a different account in their combined BMH witness statement: ‘On our arrival [at Drominagh] it was noticed that the guard, less a sentry on duty, had made a fire and were sitting around it with their rifles stacked near them. Our intention was to fire a volley into them and then rush the position and which ruse would in all probability have proved successful. Unfortunately, however, an incident occurred which upset all our plans, for before we were actually in position, one of our men, Con Cunningham, who had a Mauser rifle with one round loaded, in the excitement of the moment fired at the sentry, shooting him dead. This unexpected happening upset our proposed plan completely, and when the shot was fired, the other members of the guard hurriedly grasped their rifles and commenced a rapid volley of fire into the hedges where the majority of us were located only thirty or forty yards away. Those Volunteers in position returned the fire, and an exchange of shots continued for about fifteen minutes and eventually our party withdrew. . . . The result of this action was a big disappointment to us, for not alone would we have struck a big blow at the enemy’s morale, but even more important, we would have augmented our limited supply of arms by about twenty rifles and ammunition, plus whatever weapons were carried on the plane. . . . Neither did we get any second chance to retrieve ourselves, for the plane was removed by lorries the following morning.’ See WS 744 of Jeremiah Murphy et al., 6-7 (BMH)