Second Lieutenant Frederick Clarence Sharman (aged 29) of the 24th Division Ammunition Column, Royal Field Artillery (Slippery Rock near Ballyvourney)
Date of incident: 18 Aug. 1920
Sources: CE, 19, 21 Aug. 1920; FJ, 21 Aug. 1920; CCE, 21 Aug. 1921; Anglo-Celt, 21 Aug. 1920; CWN, 28 Aug. 1920; Michael O’Sullivan’s WS 793, 10-11 (BMH); Patrick O’Sullivan’s WS 878, 13-14 (BMH); Patrick O’Sullivan’s WS 794, 8-9 (BMH); Daniel Harrington’s WS 1532, 10-11 (BMH); Patrick J. Lynch’s WS 1543, 10 (BMH); Timothy Dinneen’s WS 1585, 7 (BMH); Timothy Buckley’s WS 1641, 13 (BMH); ‘The Irish Rebellion in the 6th Division Area’, Irish Sword, 27 (Spring 2010), 138; Ó Suílleabhaín (1965), 81-87; Ó hÉalaithe (2014), 122-23, 353; 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/sharman/sharman.html (accessed 1 Aug. 2014); http://www.tameside.gov.uk/museumsgalleries/mom/objectfocus/razor (17 Sept. 2015).
Note: The Kilnamartyra Company of the Cork No. 2 Brigade, led by Patrick O’Sullivan, together with the Ballyvourney Company, laid an ambush for a military bicycle patrol on 18 August 1920 at Slippery Rock or Knockanure on the road from Clondrohid. When the members of the patrol ignored a call to surrender and tried to speed past the ambushers, the IRA men opened fire, killing Lieutenant Sharman and wounding four of his comrades. The Volunteers collected ‘all the arms, equipment, and bicycles’ before departing for tea at the house of John Harrington at Coolavokig. See Ó Suílleabhaín, 81-87, quote on 87). Micheal Ó Suílleabhaín and his brother Pat (company commandant) lived in the village of Kilnamartyra with their father.
But the Ballyvourney Company also played a crucial role. Patrick O’Sullivan, captain of the Ballyvourney Company, left a vivid account of the ambush: ‘I was in charge of the Ballyvourney Company for the purpose of disarming a cycle patrol of military when it would pass through the village of Ballymakeera, but when we took up positions along the street, some women observed us and became hysterical. We retired from the village and decided to ambush the patrol on its way back to Ballyvourney. . . . As they had to swing around a bend, I guessed they would be rather bunched together. And so they were. There were 11 soldiers and an officer in front. As they cycled along just under me, I stood up and called out to them to surrender. They looked up and then called to one another to keep on and not mind the so-and-sos. I called again to them to surrender, but they kept on, and just as they got into the place where I wanted them, I called on my men to fire. Fire was opened immediately and five fell off their bikes, the officer shot dead and the four others wounded. The other soldiers dropped to the ground and opened fire on us, firing up towards the rocks but without effect. A couple more were wounded, and when only three were left, we left our positions and closed in on them. They then surrendered.’ One soldier was allowed to return to Ballyvourney for medical help, but he did more: ‘Actually, the soldier we let go back to Ballyvourney brought out 20 [soldiers] with fixed bayonets, and I felt if we had attacked them, then with the captured rifles we could have accounted for them and got still more arms. But perhaps we were too humane. Anyway, we got one revolver and eleven rifles and ammunition for all and the bicycles too.’ See Patrick O’Sullivan’s WS 794, 8-9 (BMH).
The official British account of this ambush listed one officer killed and four soldiers of other ranks wounded. At the military inquest into the death of Lieutenant Sharman, Private Hitchin of the Manchester Regiment declared that their military party had been attacked ‘by the hill tribes’. See Ó hÉalaithe (2014), 353. Mrs Lydia Sharman, the victim’s widow, and her daughter were awarded £2,000 in compensation in June 1921.