Alexander Lewis wrote a letter to his mother soon after the Kilmichael Ambush

Dec 17 1920. Macroom Castle , Macroom Co Cork

My Dear Mother

In answer to your just received, as you say, things are still pretty lively over here, but I have now reached that stage that I don't care a hang what happens, things that a month ago would have shocked me, have ceased to affect me in the same manner. I can now kill a Sinn Feiner in quite a casual, conscientious way, to you it may seem a horrid thing to say, but if you had seen a quarter of what I has seen, you would quite understand

In your last letter but one, you say how horrible it must have been for me to have seen our fellows brought in from the ambush, it was I who had to go out and bring them in, we were the relief party. On the Sunday afternoon, old Craig (sic) with whom I had been dining the previous evening at the Victoria Hotel, where I am now sitting writing this letter, took out two cars for a patrol that afternoon. I was fitting a new petrol tank on to my bus, my old one having been punctured, otherwise I should have been on that fatal patrol. I had been on that same road three times with Craig the same week, so Gutherie who was also driving the car, took his instead, they should have been back at seven o'clock at the latest, they did not arrive that night, so the next morning the C.O. came up to me and asked me to get my car out , saying that we had better go and try and find out what had happened to them, we both thought that they perhaps had had a breakdown, we set off and had covered about 10 miles when travelling along the Kilmichael road I suddenly noticed a Crossley tender absolutely burnt out , and lying in the ditch on the left hand side of the road, & a few yards further on I saw a dead body which happened to be poor old Barnes lying on its back in a pool of blood, about 100 yards down the road was the other Crossley, also burnt out, also on the left hand ditch, and around which were all the other dead bodies, at that every one of us went raving mad, I took two petrol cans, went to the nearest farmhouse, out of which all the occupants had fled, emptied the contents all over the place, down the stairs, over the bedding etc, and put a light to the lot, it went up with a roar and that was the finish of that, and the others did likewise to another farmhouse & haystack close by.

When we had cooled down a bit we proceeded to pick up the bodies and put them in the tender, then commenced an awful return home, I had my car filled with mutilated corpses while the others walked in front, I have never driven a more gruesome load before and never wish to again, on arriving back at the castle we deposited our awful burden and went to the nearest undertakers to order 16 coffins, which we called for about two hours later, the rest needs no explanations, do you wonder that I am longing to be back again in Fishponds, if only for a fortnight, as a matter of a fact I nearly succeeded in getting home for Christmas but as so many of our people are resigning, quite a number have sent in their resignations since the ambush, I have had to forfeit it, but in all probability I may be home quite shortly about two or three weeks after Christmas.

I have ordered a turkey and a couple of ducks to be sent home to you for Christmas, I do not know what the postal arrangements over here but if you get them alright I hope you will enjoy them, I shall also send home a couple of pounds of butter, I understand that it is very scarce in England, by the way I bought a manicure set quite recently so do not bother about getting anything, I shall appreciate your good wishes quite a much as a present

I was quite looking forward to being home for Christmas, but never mind I shall enjoy it just as well afterwards of course, it is being appreciated as more of a nerve steadier more than anything else, otherwise I shouldn't have been home for ages

I heard from Lionel yesterday, he appears to be still getting on alright, I wrote him yesterday also, I haven't heard from for quite a long time now, although now I come to think about it, I believe I owe her a letter

Give my love to all at home, and remember to to Mrs Heavies, Mrs Tayton, Mr & Mrs Hewlett also family

Ever yours very affect. son

Alex