In the early morning hours, General Sir John Grenfell Maxwell finally arrived in Dublin as commander-in-chief of the forces in Ireland. He issued a proclamation:
“The most vigorous measures will be taken by me to stop the loss of life and damage to property which certain misguided persons are causing in their armed resistance to the law. If necessary I shall not hesitate to destroy any buildings within any area occupied by the rebels and I warn all persons within the area specified below, and now surrounded by HM troops, forthwith to leave such area.”
Maxwell’s orders were carried out with chilling efficiency in many cases including the deaths of more than a dozen innocent civilians at the hands of British troops in the North King Street Massacre. British troops had suffered over 40 casualties in this inner city area of Dublin during the previous days. The top Home Office official Sir Edward Troup, told the prime minister, Herbert Asquith: “The root of the mischief was the military order to take no prisoners.”
Oscar Traynor was still leading the garrison at the Metropole Hotel. It was now on fire. They held out for most of the day until they received an order to return to the GPO. At the GPO the first direct hit from a shell came at 3pm, and others soon followed. Eamon Bulfin recalled: “I remember distinctly the post office being hit by shells. We were informed that the floor above us was made of ferroconcrete and that there was absolutely no danger of the floor coming down. “At first the hoses were working perfectly but, after a while, apparently the water was cut off or the mains failed. There was no water at all.”
The situation had become desperate in the GPO, and the wounded James Connolly, now propped on an iron bed, had appointed a 15-year-old boy as a commandant.
That afternoon Pearse ordered the members of Cumann na mBan to leave the GPO, however, three remained: Miss Winifred Carney, Miss Julia Grenan and Elizabeth O’Farrell.
The burning GPO which the rebels have held since Monday 24th April is evacuated at 8pm, after intensive bombardment by British artillery.
Photo: Birth of the Irish Republic, Walter Paget, 1916
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