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  1. #1
    JohnD66 JohnD66 is offline

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    The attack on Dundalk August 1922

    Article here on the anti-Treaty IRA attack on Dundalk August 1922.


    Today in Irish History, August 14, 1922, The anti-Treaty IRA attack on Dundalk | The Irish Story

    Frank Aiken, in an unusually effective anti-Treaty attack (from a military point of view), assaulted and took Dundalk barracks, liberating around 300 prisoners and temporarily taking over the town.

    The article also shows how the outbreak of the civil war in the border area was, even more than elsewhere, incredibly confused, with two IRA Divisions, respectively 4th Northern (under Frank Aiken) and 5th Northern (under Dan Hogan) coming to blows. But even more confusingly, Aiken had tried to stay neutral until Hogan (closely allied to Michael Collins via Eoin O'Duffy) occupied his barracks at Dundalk and took him prisoner. Aiken subsequently escaped and ten days later launched this attack on the town.

    The other point touched on is that before the outbreak of 'The Civil War' both Divisions were engaged in another kind of Civil War with the Ulster Special Constabulary over the border. Which begs the question, to which we will never know the answer, of what would have happened along the border if the southern civil war had not broken out.
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  2. #2
    ger12 ger12 is offline
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    My grandfather was there that night. I suspect he may have been at Altnaveigh too.
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  3. #3
    magnum44 magnum44 is offline

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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnD66 View Post
    Article here on the anti-Treaty IRA attack on Dundalk August 1922.


    Today in Irish History, August 14, 1922, The anti-Treaty IRA attack on Dundalk | The Irish Story

    Frank Aiken, in an unusually effective anti-Treaty attack (from a military point of view), assaulted and took Dundalk barracks, liberating around 300 prisoners and temporarily taking over the town.

    The article also shows how the outbreak of the civil war in the border area was, even more than elsewhere, incredibly confused, with two IRA Divisions, respectively 4th Northern (under Frank Aiken) and 5th Northern (under Dan Hogan) coming to blows. But even more confusingly, Aiken had tried to stay neutral until Hogan (closely allied to Michael Collins via Eoin O'Duffy) occupied his barracks at Dundalk and took him prisoner. Aiken subsequently escaped and ten days later launched this attack on the town.

    The other point touched on is that before the outbreak of 'The Civil War' both Divisions were engaged in another kind of Civil War with the Ulster Special Constabulary over the border. Which begs the question, to which we will never know the answer, of what would have happened along the border if the southern civil war had not broken out.
    Prior to the Civil War Aiken and Hogan and their men were still very much military amateurs. Few if any IRA had even rudimentary military training or knowledge of conventional fighting because most had refused to fight in World War I.

    Conversely most men in the RUC and British Army in the 6 counties had World War I experience would have been able to cross the border to overwhelm the 26 counties if asked to do so.

    The IRA became experts at ambushes and assassinations but actually holding territory and defending it was a different kettle of fish.

    They were strong in rhetoric but when it came to actually shooting their fellow countrymen they balked at it and between July and August 1922 the conventional phase of the war was essentially over as a more ruthless and better organized Free State took control of the majority of the country.

    The Civil War began when Collins was given an ultimatum by the British government - fight the Republicans or the British units who did not leave Ireland until December 1922 would do it for him.

    By the summer of 1923 the National Army was as many as 50,000 strong including many men who were British Army veterans who had swapped their brown khaki for green wool.

    The IRA had been effective in ambushing and assassinating Free State troops but it had no ability to capture and hold ground all the while public sentiment was against them, supplies of arms and ammo and food were not forthcoming and thousands were captured and imprisoned.
    Last edited by magnum44; 19th August 2013 at 06:17 PM.
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  4. #4
    RasherHash RasherHash is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by magnum44 View Post
    Prior to the Civil War Aiken and Hogan and their men were still very much military amateurs. Few if any IRA had even rudimentary military training or knowledge of conventional fighting because most had refused to fight in World War I.

    Conversely most men in the RUC and British Army in the 6 counties had World War I experience would have been able to cross the border to overwhelm the 26 counties if asked to do so.

    The IRA became experts at ambushes and assassinations but actually holding territory and defending it was a different kettle of fish.

    They were strong in rhetoric but when it came to actually shooting their fellow countrymen they balked at it and between July and August 1922 the conventional phase of the war was essentially over as a more ruthless and better organized Free State took control of the majority of the country.

    The Civil War began when Collins was given an ultimatum by the British government - fight the Republicans or the British units who did not leave Ireland until December 1922 would do it for him.

    By the summer of 1923 the National Army was as many as 50,000 strong including many men who were British Army veterans who had swapped their brown khaki for green wool.

    The IRA had been effective in ambushing and assassinating Free State troops but it had no ability to capture and hold ground all the while public sentiment was against them, supplies of arms and ammo and food were not forthcoming and thousands were captured and imprisoned.
    Many republicans like Tom Barry had fought in ww1, many also joined to get training and weapons.

    Many ex-BA trained the IRA.
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  5. #5
    magnum44 magnum44 is offline

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    Quote Originally Posted by RasherHash View Post
    Many republicans like Tom Barry had fought in ww1, many also joined to get training and weapons.

    Many ex-BA trained the IRA.
    Tom Barry and other World War I veterans were very much the exception.

    The lack of military know how and experience in the IRA is reflected by the fact that Tom Barry, who was a mere sergeant in the Royal Field Artillery, became OC of the 3rd (West) Cork Brigade in his early twenties.
    The IRA were practically begging him to help them out.

    At any one time during the Irish War of Independence the IRA had only about 3,000 armed men active and they were armed with literally a handful of .303 or shotgun cartridges apiece and Barry could only operate because he kept his men on the move in the Cork mountains and did not venture into the Midlands where IRA activity was of little consequence to the British Army and Black and Tans.
    Outside of Cork and a few other areas where columns were active the IRA campaign consisted of close range assassinations with revolvers.
    The British Army and Black and Tans did not leave Ireland until late 1922 and had not been militarily defeated.
    Not a single RIC or British barracks was ever burned or stormed unless it was already empty.
    Collins admitted that the IRA was mere weeks from collapse when the British made the offer of a Truce in 1921.

    After the IRA defeat in Dublin the National Army armed with armored cars and artillery, machine guns and ample supplies of rifles and .303 ammunition captured all the major towns in Ireland with relative ease.

    The writing was on the wall for the Anti-Treaty IRA before the first shot was even fired.

    Still the Free State Army was little more than a mob for much of the Civil War.

    Just a better armed mob.

    There was no prospect of the Free State being able to invade and conquer the North with such a rabble and sustain an occupation against a hostile population who opposed an Irish Republic.
    Last edited by magnum44; 19th August 2013 at 06:48 PM.
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  6. #6
    JohnD66 JohnD66 is offline

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    Quote Originally Posted by magnum44 View Post
    Tom Barry and other World War I veterans were very much the exception.

    The lack of military know how and experience in the IRA is reflected by the fact that Tom Barry, who was a mere sergeant in the Royal Field Artillery, became OC of the 3rd (West) Cork Brigade in his early twenties.
    The IRA were practically begging him to help them out.

    At any one time during the Irish War of Independence the IRA had only about 3,000 armed men active and they were armed with literally a handful of .303 or shotgun cartridges apiece and Barry could only operate because he kept his men on the move in the Cork mountains and did not venture into the Midlands where IRA activity was of little consequence to the British Army and Black and Tans.
    Outside of Cork and a few other areas where columns were active the IRA campaign consisted of close range assassinations with revolvers.
    The British Army and Black and Tans did not leave Ireland until late 1922 and had not been militarily defeated.
    Not a single RIC or British barracks was ever burned or stormed unless it was already empty.
    Collins admitted that the IRA was mere weeks from collapse when the British made the offer of a Truce in 1921.

    After the IRA defeat in Dublin the National Army armed with armored cars and artillery, machine guns and ample supplies of rifles and .303 ammunition captured all the major towns in Ireland with relative ease.

    The writing was on the wall for the Anti-Treaty IRA before the first shot was even fired.

    Still the Free State Army was little more than a mob for much of the Civil War.

    Just a better armed mob.

    There was no prospect of the Free State being able to invade and conquer the North with such a rabble and sustain an occupation against a hostile population who opposed an Irish Republic
    .
    Yes I think you're probably right about that. On both points.

    But the idea that the Specials were a crack force is mistaken. They were equally as bungling and undisciplined as their enemies across the border. On a number of occasions in 1921 and 1922 Specials in Fermanagh basically went on drunken rampages in County Monaghan and were repelled not by the IRA but by the RIC. At Pettigo and Belleek in Donegal/Fermanagh the IRA fought off the USC and it was the British Army who drove them out of those towns.

    As I said, we'll simply never know what would have happened had the IRA guerrilla campaign over the border in 1922 continued beyond June 1922. Probably it was doomed to failure anyway given the collapse of the northern IRA in Belfast and elsewhere after mass arrests in early June 1922. But conceivably sustained guerrilla warfare in border areas would have seen parts of them de facto secede to the southern state. Conceivably also, the British would have declared the Treaty void and re-invaded. Almost certainly it would have provoked more Altnaveighs on both sides.
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  7. #7
    wombat wombat is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by magnum44 View Post
    Tom Barry and other World War I veterans were very much the exception.

    The lack of military know how and experience in the IRA is reflected by the fact that Tom Barry, who was a mere sergeant in the Royal Field Artillery, became OC of the 3rd (West) Cork Brigade in his early twenties.
    That's interesting, for some reason, I thought he had been a major in WWI.
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  8. #8
    thegregster thegregster is offline

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    Quote Originally Posted by wombat View Post
    That's interesting, for some reason, I thought he had been a major in WWI.
    He was only 17 when he joined in 1915 and 21 when the war was over. It was quite impressive to make sergeant so young and so quickly.
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  9. #9
    commonman commonman is offline
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    Can anyone give me the name of a good book that cover that time in Irish history.
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  10. #10
    magnum44 magnum44 is offline

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    Quote Originally Posted by commonman View Post
    Can anyone give me the name of a good book that cover that time in Irish history.
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