#OTD in 1920 – Three Bandon members of the IRA were killed in an ambush set by the Essex Regiment.

Three IRA men were shot dead on this date and the two deserters from the Essex Regiment were shot by the IRA as a result. The IRA believed their three men were killed as a result of the two deserters setting up a ‘sting’ to trap the IRA.

During the height of the war, two members of the Essex Regiment were seen wandering around Bandon, they were eventually captured, claiming to be deserters. While they claimed they were prepared to join the IRA, they claimed they’d rather return to England. Ultimately, they were taken to column headquarters. During an interrogation one of them said that he had a brother in the barracks in Bandon and his brother wanted to desert as well. The idea of getting arms from Bandon barracks was discussed, arrangements were made, and upon arriving at the assembly point, Captain John Galvin, Lieutenant Jim Donohue and Section-Commander Joe Begley were immediately ambushed and executed by the Essex Regiment. After these executions, the two ‘deserters’ were executed.

Tom Barry, says he interviewed the two deserters on 25 Nov 1920 (the Thursday prior to the Kilmichael Ambush). Barry wanted to get into Bandon Barracks in force and remove every gun. He set up the meeting with the Essex Sergeant, said to be one of the deserter’s brother. ‘One of the oldest ruses in war is to send spies, posing as deserters into enemy lines’.

An IRA account suggests that the letter setting up the meeting between Taylor’s brother (serving in the Essex Regiment) and the IRA was delivered to the wrong Taylor, and that the wrong Taylor told his superiors. Delivering the letter would have been treacherous for the messenger, who presumably asked for ‘Taylor’ and was directed to the wrong man.

Photo: Commander of the 3rd West Cork Flying Column; one of the greatest military tacticians ever to grace our shores; master of guerrilla warfare; IRA Chief-of-Staff—Tom Barry. Photo credit: 1916 Easter Revolution in Colour

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