Agnew & Mitchell are abducted

There are various slants on what may have happpened to these two men who dissappeared around 6 Nov 1920 from the ADRIC barracks at Macroom Castle. But I find it odd that not more was done by the British Government to recover the bodies during the truce or indeed afterwards. I feel that one has to put their death in the context of two shootings by the Auxiliaries of Irish men and Christopher Lucey (on 10 Nov 1920).

James Lehane shot by Auxiliaries 16 Oct 1920

Sunday Independent, Sunday 17 October 1920, page 5. Shot in Cold Blood. Uniformed Men Cause Sensation in Co. Cork. Our Macroom correspondent wired yesterday: A man of the labouring class named James Lehane was taken from a shop in the village of Ballymakeera last night about 9.00 o’clock by a party of uniformed men and shot dead against a fence some distance from his house. The deceased was a most inoffensive man who never took part in politics of any kind. No reason is given for the shooting which has excited considerable indignation in the district. Twohig's version places Lehane's killing in the context of a major raid on the village of Ballymakeera by the Auxiliaries where practically every house and business in the village is raided. Twohig gives details of who were in various houses and pubs and of the attempts by various IRA men in the village to evade capture (Twohig 1994, pgs 136-141). On the evening of the raid, Twohig says that Lehane "happened to be in a house in the village - his own home was in the East End - when an Auxie walked in. When questioned he gave his name as James Lehane. … He was ordered out of the house and directed down the by-road where, about fifty yards from the village cross, the Auxie emptied his revolver into him. Other Auxies ran to the spot but immediately the usual whistle blew for 'All Aboard' and they made for the lorries at the double. The death of Lehane is put by Hart at 17th October and Twohig says it was the 20th October. O'Suilleabhain says 1 Nov and Ryan say 1 Nov and also names the killer as Gutherie who later died at Kilmichael.

Gleeson in "Bloody Sunday" has a chapter of an account by an Auxiliary (W Munro, RGA, ADRIC 312). Munro who joined ADRIC on 20 Aug 1920 (2 days after Mitchell and Agnew, but they did their 6 weeks training together and joined C Coy in Macroom). He says whilst training at the Curragh and I asume that he must be referring to Mitchell as the Intelligence Officer.

"We also attended one race meeting at which our only ex-Scotland Yard member lost his lot on the three card trick. An incident that he never lived down until he disappeared three months later whilst out trying for information. ....Apparently an intelligence officer was necessary to get information about the doings of the other side. There was some difficultly about this as none of us had any experience of this type of work, but we had in our ranks one who professed to have served with the CID in London and he was elected. Some of us rather doubted his claim to the CID as he was the man who had lost his lot on the three card trick at the Curragh Races.......One evening our IO went out on an expedition and never returned. We were not unduly perturbed for the first day as he had taken to going further afield for his information, but after three days we had to conclude that we had seen the last of him and that he was now lying at the bottom of a bog. We never really got to know what his fate was.Another IO was appointed, but before a week had elapsed he also disappeared. Now we began to be uneasy and to think that perhaps our luck was running out. Our next IO was sent from HQ in Dublin and was a man of experience who managed to remain alive, but got very little information"

T/Cadet Munro noted "We inflicted our first casualty. It was during a raid on some cottages up towards the Kerry border that we apparently surprised a meeting of some sort. It was just some young fellows who took fright on seeing us and ran for it. But they were some little way off before we spotted them and they were called on to halt. They kept going and a few shots were fired after them. They were really out of effective revolver range, but by chance one was hit and fell. On reaching him we found him to be badly wounded, so taking him in to one of the cottages, we did what we could for him and sent one car to get a doctor and a priest. Who arrived in time to do whot they had to do before the man died. This incident depressed us, specially as it was an unnecessary and stupid death, and had so to speak, opened the war, which we had not wanted. The man who had fired the fatal shot received several warnings that he was marked and would soon get what was coming to him. So far as I know he is still alive"

Mitchell and Agnew disappear 6 Nov 1920

Cafferata states

The two chaps left the Castle one Friday for a weekend in Cork by car and that was the last we saw of them. They were wearing Mufti and both were carrying guns. On the following Tuesday the village showed signs that they knew something. Few men were about and thw women were furtive and mostly kept indoors. A couple of days later a rumour got round that they had been held up on the Cork road by a crowd of IRA , kidnapped and held prisoner. A week went past and patrols scoured the countryside but no trace was found until quite by accident one of the patrols found the car on the edge of a bog up an old farm track. The car was burnt out. ....The CO said he was taking all possible steps to obtain information as to the fate of the two missing cadets. He kept his word, and by some amazing way got in communication with the local IRA commander and finally got to the truth. The two cadets had been executed, shot. We never found the bodies, to this day they lie buried in the bog somewhere between Macroom and Cork.

'The Burning of Cork' by Gerry White & Brendan O'Shea published in 2006, has on 6 November, two Auxilary intelligence officers based in Macroom were abducted. Cadets Bertram Agnew and Lional R. Mitchell were in Johnson and Perrott's motor garage at Emmet Place when they were captured. They were subsequently taken to a secret location, interrogated, and shot dead.

Charlie Browne, an IRA man, in the "Story of the 7th" says "two enemy intelligence officers attired in civilian clothes were captured at Fargus by our Coachfield Company. They were armed with revolvers and also carried cameras. They were transferred to "E" Rusheen Company area for interrogation, and were subsequently executed a enemy spies." and his Witness Statement 873 also says that they were executed at Rusheen.

"The Year of the Disappearances" says "they were snatched shortly after they left the Imperial Hotel in Cork"

This newspaper report says that Mitchell and Agnew were abducted together

Christopher Lucey shot 10 Nov 1920

Christopher Lucey was shot dead by British forces at Tureen Dubh Ballingeary Nov 10, 1920 as shown in a report in the Times

And an IRA report on activities by the Ballingeary Brigade compiled by Donal Cronin, Bawnatoumple from his uncle, John Cronins account of that period. . This account says:- We now received information that secret service men were to visit the area and a guard was mounted at the Pass of Keimaneigh for almost a month. One suspect was captured and held prisoner for a few days. However he proved innocent. He was a British Magistrate named Brady who was touring Ireland on a motor-bike. He was well treated and was released unharmed. The company had now acquired a motor-bike which proved invaluable for delivering dispatches and conveying officers to meetings etc.

On Wednesday, 10 November 1920, Black and Tans again raided Ballingeary. Twenty two year old Christopher Lucey (Section Commander, B. Company, 1st Battalion, Cork City) and late of Pembroke Street, had been on the run in the area all Summer and Autumn. He slept in a "béilic" south of the road, at Túirín Dubh but had his meals in Twomey's of Túirín Dubh. He spotted the approaching lorries and ran to the Twomey house to warn his companions. They had already left and when he ran from the rear of the house, he failed to follow the pre-arranged and often proved escape route. He came under heavy fire and was shot while crossing open ground near Carrig. He was unarmed. When the Tans returned to Macroom they entered the Market Bar and began to celebrate. They were toasting one man in particular and he described in detail how he had taken aim and fired the fatal shot. The barman, an ex R.I.C. man named Vaughan was able to identify him and he informed the Macroom volunteers. All companies were notified about this man and some time later he was again identified by volunteers in Cork City, when he signed his name to a docket, while ordering military stores. When he returned to collect his order he was taken prisoner and executed.

T/Cadet Cafferata in his account points the finger at a Cadet called Chichester [note Mitchell and Agnew disappeared on 6 Nov 1921, and Lucey was shot on 10th Nov 1921]

..nothing had been seen of him for about half an hour when he was seen going through the back door into the yard. At that moment two shots were heard outside - quite definitely pistol shots. For a few seconds everyone froze stiff, waiting for a further outbreak, but none came. Four of us went out into the road to investigate. About 20 yards up the road we found the missing cadet. He was standing over a figure which lay very still in the middle of the road. As we crowded round and asked what had happened, we saw that the Cadet had his .45 Colt in his hand. He said "I was searching the bastard and he made a break for it - I called on him to halt and he went on running so I shot him" We examined the figure on the road. He was dead alright- very dead. Somebody opened his coat and shirt, and said "something wrong here. He has two bullet holes, both in his chest. Have a look for yourselves" Sure enough the entrance holes were in his chest and not in his back. There was a pause, an uncomfortable one Then someone said "What is your explanation, Chicester? Why did you do this?" Chicester was truculant. He replaced the two empty shells in his Colt and said "What's all the bloody fuss about? He's a bloody Shinner isn't he? He is for one of those two poor buggers of ours that they murdered the other day. I will get another one before I am finished. We took Chichester's rifle and pistol from him

Cafferata goes on to say that the rest of the platoon wanted to carry out their own unofficial trial of Chichester, but someone (later Gutherie owned up) told the platoon commander, and Chichester was removed to Dublin Castle "Chichester was discharged from the force and sent back to England but the IRA tracked him down to London where he had got a job as a bus conductor and quietly bumped him off"

 

 

ADRIC men killed in Ireland