1920 Nov 12. "Ten lorries of Tans and R.I.C. traveled from Tralee on the main road to Castleisland. When they reached Ballydwyer Creamery they stopped their lorries at both sides of the Creamery. Some members of the Ballymacelligott A.S.U. happened to be near the Creamery at the time and made a dash for escape. Fire was opened on them immediately by Tans and R.I.C. Two men were shot dead and two wounded, while others escaped.
The IRA summoned a doctor from Tralee to treat the wounded. As he was treating them, a convoy of Auxiliaries approached from Castleisland. From the journalist's descriptions, the ADRIC convoy consisted of 4 vehicles, the 3 Auxiliaries plus the Auxiliary Officer in charge in the first tender and 3 Auxiliaries in the last tenders. A shot, fired to warn of the approach of the Auxiliaries, sparked a brief firefight. “We had only six rifles in action, but two of our party, armed with rifles, who had left the creamery yard five minutes earlier, came to our aid and opened fire from a little hill on the Auxiliaries at 300 yards range.” I am not sure which ADRIC Company this is, it is before H Coy were based at Tralee. This group appear to have come from Tralee and returned to Castleisland for the night, before going to Dublin Castle. Given that they were escorting a group of journalists I think this is probably CE Vickers section, he also is known to have been involved in the staging of the fake Vico Road battle a week or so later, which was designed to portray this ambush in Kerry
Press reports give the composition of the press men group as Mr G Jones, one of Sir Hamar Greenwood's personal secretaries, HBC Pollard the Irish Police's Press Officer, 1 journalist (Clifford Hutchinson of Yorkshire Post) and "a number of Press Photographers". The latter appear to have included a number of American photographers, and 2 film cameramen
Fearing they were driving into a trap, the officer in charge of the Auxiliaries ordered his men to turn their lorries, and the convoy headed back to Castleisland. The Auxiliaries had been escorting journalists and a movie camera crew. There were 4 tenders, with the first and last being Auxiliaries. They had filmed an Armistice Day parade in Dungarvan the previous day and were heading for Tralee, possibly to show that life there was back to normal in the aftermath of the recent siege of the town.
John McMahon, Patrick Herlihy (sub manager of the creamery) and 3 were badly wounded died from ADRIC shooting. I cannot get a GRO death for Herlihy, but certainly 2 men died.
“Knowing of the existence of a band of between 200 and 300 members of the Republican Army in this vicinity, we kept a keen look-out, as we travelled,” wrote Clifford Hutchingson of the Yorkshire Post. On seeing men rushing for the shelter of ditches as the cars approached, the Auxiliaries stopped and opened fire.
“Only one sentry, myself and two cinema operators remained on the roadway,” Hutchingson said. They rigged up their movie camera, “and coolly began taking pictures at no small danger”, according to Hutchingson. “The bullets were whizzing around. Three rifle shots ripped past me, as I was getting out of the car, and two more before I had got to the side of the road.”
The cameramen claimed this was the first live terrorist ambush ever filmed. Instead of the dozen or so men, Hutchingson estimated the attacking party was about 70 strong. “The engagement was the fiercest and probably the largest scale of any fight between Crown forces and the Volunteers,” Dublin Castle announced in a press release.
The British later described the confrontation as the Battle of Tralee. Pathé Gazette showed a supposed film of the engagement, but it was doctored with faked scenes staged on Vico Road on the outskirts of Dublin. The film was quickly exposed as a fake because of a distinctive lamppost in the background.
One of the press reports below calls one of the Auxiliaries "Law", but no Law in ADRIC
WS 1143 Says "On the 11th November a party of Black and Tans along with British military arrived at Ballydwyer Creamery. The Tans fired indiscriminately on the people and suppliers attending at the Creamery. One Creamery worker was shot dead and another wounded. One supplier was shot dead, and Jack McEllistrim, a member of the Volunteers, was wounded. Jack McEllistrim was removed to St. Catherine's Hospital, Tralee, that night by members of Cumann na mBan under the supervision of Lena Brosnan. The other wounded man could not be removed except by ambulance as he was wounded in the stomach. Mrs. Byrne., Mrs. Walsh, Bridle Carmody, Nurse Dowling and myself, all members of Cumann na mBan, attended the wounded man in turns during the night. At the first crack of dawn I cycled into Tralee for a doctor. I located Doctor Coffey at about 8 a.m. He willingly consented: to come out to the wounded man.
WS882 says On the 12th November, 1920, ten lorries of Tans and R.I.C. traveled from Tralee on the main road to Castleisland. When they reached Ballydwyer Creamery they stopped their lorries at both sides of the Creamery. Some members of the Ballymacelligott A.S.U. happened to be near the Creamery at the time and made a dash for escape. Fire was opened on them immediately by Tans and R.I.C. Two men were shot dead and two wounded, while others escaped. The two men shot were John McMahon and Paddy Herlihy; the wounded were Jack McEllistrim and Tim Walsh. At the time of the shooting I was about one mile from the Creamery with an A.S.U. of twelve men, fully armed. We heard the shooting and saw the lorries depart. We immediately got to the Creamery to assist the wounded, placing a guard at the Tralee side of the Creamery. After being a short time in the Creamery yard we were surprised by three lorries of Auxiliaries which sailed in on us from Castleisland direction. This section was not a raiding party but was, I believe, making a tour of the country. when they saw our men take cover the lorries stopped immediately and shooting started. We had only six rifles in action but two of our party, armed with rifles, who had left the Creamery yard five minutes earlier, came to our aid and opened fire from a little hill on the Auxiliaries at 300 yards range. At the same time a lorry coming from the Tralee direction, seeing the ambush, pulled up immediately about 300 yards from the lorries which had been occupied by the Auxiliaries. The Officer in charge of the British forces, believing that they had been surrounded, rushed to his car, ordered his men to turn the lorries and they drove back into Castleisland. Our riflemen kept on firing at them as they retreated. The above engagement was described by the British later as the Battle of Ballymacelligott and showed some films of it. The fact is that one of their group did actually attempt to take a film of the ambush while it was in progress