Lieutenant Bernard Loftus Brown


Lieutenant Bernard Loftus Brown, M.C. (aged 24), of the 26th Heavy Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery (Laharankeal, Rusheen, near Coachford)

Date of incident: 29 Oct. 1920 (abducted, executed, and disappeared as intelligence operative by IRA)

Sources: II, 15 Nov. 1920; IT, 22 Aug. 1921; Military Inquests, WO 35/151B/37 (TNA); Charles Browne’s WS 873, 31-32 (BMH); Edward Neville’s WS 1665, 5 (BMH); Interview with Charlie Brown, Ernie O’Malley Notebooks, P17b/112 (UCDA); Borgonovo (2007), 21-22; Sheehan (2011), 74; (accessed 28 July 2014); Commonwealth War Graves Commission;;; (accessed 1 Aug. 2014).


Note: ‘Two artillery officers who left Fermoy on a motor cycle a fortnight ago for a trip to Killarney have not been heard of since’, according to the Dublin correspondent of the Evening News. See II, 15 Nov. 1920. Lieut. B. L. Brown and Lieut. D. A. Rutherford appeared on the list of ‘missing persons’ published in the Irish Times of 22 August 1921. The official account indicted that they had been ‘kidnapped whilst motor cycling from Fermoy to Killarney’ between 20 October and 1 November 1920. ‘The only subsequent information received was the discovery of this officer’s [Brown’s] motor cycle on the premises of a civilian, who was court-martialled but acquitted.’ See IT, 22 Aug. 1921.


Both artillerymen had been intelligence operatives. In late November 1921 the British War Office indicated that government ministers had ‘decided to accept the statement [reportedly made by Sinn Féin through Arthur O’Brien] that these officers [Brown, Rutherford, and three others] had been “executed” and to inform the next-of-kin that they had been “put to death by Sinn Fein”’. See (accessed 13 Jan. 2014). The mysterious disappearances of Lieutenants Brown and Rutherford were more fully resolved in June 1953 in the BMH witness statement of Charlie Browne, adjutant of the Macroom Battalion of the Cork No. 1 Brigade: ‘In November 1920 two enemy intelligence officers—Lieutenants Rutherford and Browne [sic]—were captured at Fargus by members of Coachford Company. They were dressed in civilian clothes, were armed, and were travelling in a motor-cycle with sidecar attachment. There were transferred to “E” Company for interrogation and brigade H.Q. were notified. They were subsequently shot as enemy spies and were buried at Laharn, Rusheen.’ See Charles Browne’s WS 873, 31-32 (BMH).   

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