British Lieutenant Henry Marion Genochio

 

British Lieutenant Henry Marion Genochio (about 24) of 6 Woodfield Avenue, Streatham, South London (Lee Road, Cork city)

Date of incident: 15 Feb. 1922

Sources: Death Certificate (Cork Urban District, Union of Cork), 17 Feb. 1922; CE, 18, 21 Feb. 1922; FJ, 21 Feb. 1922; II, 18 Feb. 1922; The Times (London), 21, 23 Feb. 1922, 15 Feb. 1933; CWN , 25 Feb. 1922; Sligo Champion, 25 Feb. 1922; British Soldiers Missing, A/0909 (Military Archives); Keane (2017), 283, 415; https://www.cairogang.com/other-people/british/castle-intelligence/genochio/genochio.html (accessed 24 Feb. 2018).

 

Note: In one of the neglected, stranger, and more important episodes of the Truce period, Lieutenant Henry Marion Genochio, a British soldier stationed at Cork Military Barracks, was shot twice and mortally wounded on 17 February 1922 in Cork city. His body was found on the Lee Road, not far (about 200 yards) from the main gate of the Cork Lunatic Asylum, on that date. He was almost certainly an intelligence officer. After having tea with a fellow officer, Genochio left Victoria Barracks on Wednesday, 15 February, at about 5 p.m. ‘for a walk’. He was dressed in civilian clothes and carried only a revolver and an identity badge. He was never seen again alive by any of his military comrades. At about 9 or 10 p. m. that evening he was stopped, searched, and arrested by two members of the Irish Republican Police (IRP) on Patrick Street in Cork. He was brought for detention to the Cork Lunatic Asylum/Mental Hospital, part of which the IRP were then using as a prison. Genochio’s failure to return to barracks was reported to the commanding officer of the Royal Engineers (Sixth Division) at about 10:30 a.m. on 16 February, but no search was mounted. By the time that official inquiries were made to the local Provisional Government authorities, the message came back that Genochio had been shot and killed at about 11 a.m. on the morning of 17 February on the Lee Road in Cork, between the asylum gates and the city waterworks. See https://www.cairogang.com/other-people/british/castle-intelligence/genochio/genochio.html (accessed 24 Feb. 2018).

 

It appears that Genochio made an attempt to escape from his captors. In a subsequent letter from the Provisional Government of the Free State to the British government, the IRA version of this aspect of the episode was presented: ‘On the morning of the 17th February, when being escorted across the grounds [of the mental hospital] after breakfast, he [Genochio] pounced on one of his guard of two men, knocked him down, and ran for the main gate of the asylum, which he gained. He was pursued by his guard, who, seeing that he was escaping from them, fired with fatal results. It appears that the body was removed by members of the R.I.C. to the morgue and was taken possession of the same evening by the British military, who had it removed to Victoria Barracks, whence it is believed it was conveyed to England for interment.’ See https://www.cairogang.com/other-people/british/castle-intelligence/genochio/genochio.html (accessed 24 Feb. 2018).

 

The IRP made arrangements to hold an inquest into the circumstances of the death of Lieutenant Genochio of the Royal Engineers, who had been shot dead on Friday, 17 February 1922, on the Lee Road. The inquest was scheduled to be held on Monday, 20 February, at the Cork city morgue, ‘but the military authorities refused to remove the remains to the morgue, and consequently no inquest was held.’ See CE, 21 Feb. 1922. 

 

People living in the neighbourhood of the Cork Lunatic Asylum reported having seen a man, ‘at first thought to be an escaping lunatic’, being pursued by two armed men, who soon took aim at and killed the would-be escapee Genochio. Bullets fired by his pursuing guards penetrated Genochio’s head and heart, according to one report. See II, 18 Feb. 1922. The IRP initially maintained that Genochio had been arrested for having participated in robberies or a robbery—an accusation that prompted deep offence in Britain. But this pretense was eventually abandoned, and Free State President W. T. Cosgrave himself officially apologised for the offensive accusation on 31 March 1924. See https://www.cairogang.com/other-people/british/castle-intelligence/genochio/genochio.html (accessed 24 Feb. 2018).

 

A military inquiry held soon after his death reached the conclusion that Lieutenant Genochio had been shot ‘because he had been very active in rounding up rebels’ during the War of Independence. There was at least one incident of British military repression in which Genochio had played a leading part. On 26 December 1920 British forces had carried out a highly successful raid at Cahirguillamore near Croom in County Limerick. In this nocturnal raid five IRA men had reportedly been killed and hundreds of suspected republicans had been taken prisoner. According to notes of the military inquiry, British forces had captured 138 prisoners at Cahirguillamore, and many or most of them had been ‘released shortly before Lieut. Genochio’s assassination’. See https://www.cairogang.com/other-people/british/castle-intelligence/genochio/genochio.html (accessed 24 Feb. 2018).

 

Henry Marion Genochio was born on 25 April 1897 at Wandsworth. He attended King Edward VII Grammar School at Kings Lynn and Strand School in Brixton. He graduated from the Military Academy at Sandhurst in 1917 and belatedly saw action towards the end of the Great War in the summer and fall of 1918—first in France and then on the Rhine. In 1920 and the earliest part of 1921, Genochio had served with British forces in County Limerick before moving to a new post at Victoria Barracks in Cork city. He died on 17 February 1922 at the Cork County Asylum about an hour after having been motally wounded. See Death Certificate (Cork Urban District, Union of Cork), 17 Feb. 1922. He was interred at Streatham Cemetery (Tooting) in South London with full military honours on 23 February 1922. See The Times, 23 Feb. 1922; https://www.cairogang.com/other-people/british/castle-intelligence/genochio/genochio.html (accessed 24 Feb. 2018).

 

The victim’s father Henry Genochio was a leading British civil servant. He held the post of Deputy Chief Inspector of His Majesty’s Customs and Excise. He retired from the service as Senior Deputy Chief Inspector in 1926. It was said that the later years of his life ‘were passed under the shadow cast by the loss of his son, Lieutenant Henry Marion Genochio, R.E., who was murdered in Ireland in 1922. . . . Questions were asked in the House [of Commons] and full inquiries and full justice were promised, but the circumstances of the young officer’s capture and murder remained a mystery.’ See The Times, 15 Feb. 1933 (death notice).

 

 


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