Croziers full statement read into Parliamentary Record

I went to Trim barracks to investigate on the 13th. Previously to this I 'phoned up Captain Robinson, private secretary to Tudor, and told him what I proposed doing, and he said 'Right.' I went on Sunday, 13th, to Trim with my Adjutant. I arrived unexpectedly and immediately had all available men fallen in. I addressed them on parade, and told them a report had reached me that a disgraceful episode of looting had taken place on the 9th. That I would hold an inquiry forthwith. I went to the Company Orderly Room and examined every available person separately. During this inquiry the Company Commander, Major Daniel, was present and the 2nd in Command of the Company was also present. My Adjutant took notes and I did the examination. This inquiry lasted 3½ hours. As the evidence came out bit by bit, because there were five witnesses who were good, the Company Commander and 2nd in Command became astounded. A 200-lb. sack of sugar had been stolen. It had been carried off the tender by one man assisted by another and put into the canteen. Some 20 to 30 head of fowls had been taken and had been pooled for a dinner. Some jewellery had been taken, a picture, two rugs, brandy, whisky, grocery stores. Everybody except the five people who gave information stoutly denied that any looting had taken place at all. I came to the conclusion that the Company Commander was not responsible as he was absent on duty with the Divisional Commissioner. I told the Company Commander on the conclusion of my inquiry to call the Company in again, which he did, while I went round and examined certain localities—canteen where sugar is stated to have been placed in full view of members of the Company drinking in the canteen. I also examined the Crossley tenders which had been used, and in the birdcage tender, and on the floor found sugar. Evidence had been given that bag had burst and a trail of sugar was made from tender to canteen. I tested the sugar. The notes I took were available in my orderly room at Headquarters when I left. During my search in the tenders it was reported to me that a man had thrown a kit bag full of groceries over the wall. I said nothing but sent somebody to search the other side of the wall, and under the grass and straw found other groceries in a kit bag with an old shirt on top. The kit bag and contents were retained by the Company Commander as an exhibit. The two rugs were found next morning in a barrack room. My time was getting short and I had to be back in Dublin before dark. The Company was now fallen in as I had ordered. I went over to them and spoke to them all. I stated that it was conclusively proved that disgraceful larceny had taken place by those who were in the Robertstown raid. I stated that they must remember it was a police constable's duty not only to detect, but to prevent crime and to report it, and although the idea of all hanging together was all right from one point of view, from the point of view of the police operating in a distressed country it was all wrong. I said it would be very much better if they made a clean breast of the whole thing, but I regretted I could not promise them anything less than removal from the Force, but that I would place the matter before the authorities in the event of further evidence coming forward. I said I was going to have a cup of tea and in half an hour's time I would be back in the orderly room, where I would receive any further evidence. I went back in half an hour's time but there was no evidence. At the inquiry a chit was put in as an exhibit that the house in question had been left intact by the search party. That chit was signed, I believe, by Mrs. Charles, and was obtained by force. Before leaving Trim I ordered the Company Commander to go straight out to Roberts-tow[...] to apologise to Mrs. Charles in my name for what had been done, and to express my regret that owing to having to be back before dark I could not come myself, but would do so later; to recompense Mrs. Charles forthwith and to report to me that he had done so. I also informed him that in all probability the men concerned would come up to Dublin in the morning and be replaced by others, but I could not decide anything till I had seen General Tudor. I went up to Dublin, reached the Castle about [...].30, had tea with General Tudor, and discussed the whole thing, telling him exactly what I have stated now. I stated to him that I considered everyone who had been on the raid was implicated, and that I was satisfied on this point. I proposed that the ringleaders and one temporary cadet against whom was specific evidence should be tried by Field General Court-Martial and that the remainder should be dispensed with as unsuitable for the Auxiliary Division. On the raid they had arrested Mr. Charles and brought him back in lorry and placed him in the guard room. He identified some of the property as his. The five temporary cadets who gave information identified the ringleaders as being actually in possession of stolen property. For example, one was seen with a rug over his arm. Another man was seen with a bottle of burgundy. There is a statement made by Mrs. Charles saying exactly what had happened. This was given voluntarily to the Company Commander when he went to pay his compensation by my orders. She was paid about £35. All the men implicated arrived at Beggars Bush on the 14th, a.m., and I separated the five ringleaders from the others. They were then all disarmed and the five marched over to a prisoner's cage. Remainder were placed under open arrest and I interviewed them again in the orderly room at Beggars Bush and told them their fate. I had original notes before me. There were a few men whom the Company Commander had been unable to place before me the day before as they were out on another job. The Company Commander had investigated their cases and sent them up with the others. These cases I investigated myself in the presence of my Adjutant. None of the men denied that they had been on the raid. The five ringleaders were not only the seniors except one temporary cadet with the burgundy, but also were actually seen with stolen property. General Tudor had previously agreed to this action being taken. He had agreed that proper course was to dispense with services of the men who had been on the raid and to try the five or six ringleaders against whom was specific evidence that they were actual thieves and not only accessories. Having dispensed with their services I 'phoned to the Castle at noon to say I had done so. At 6.30 on the 14th of February, 1921. Tudor 'phoned to me and said, 'What about those cadets of yours at Trim? Do you think it is all right?' I replied, 'You mean my ex-cadets.' I said; 'That's all right. They are going over to-night. You must trust the men on the spot' (or words to that effect). He replied, 'Oh, all right.' Tudor went over on the steamer that night. He wrote this letter to me on board and addressed it 'Brigadier-General Crozier, c/o Captain Robinson, Dublin Castie.' I found it in my letter rack in the Mess the next evening at dinner time. I think it is important that I should read that letter at this stage. This is the letter that General Tudor wrote: DEAR CROZIER, I think it will be best for you to keep these 30 temporary cadets suspended until I come back. I want to discuss it with the Chief Secretary. He gets all the bother. My main point is that it is an unfortunate time to do anything which looks panicky. I think also these temporary cadets will have a distinct grievance if the platoon commanders and sections leaders are acquitted. Tell these 30 they are suspended pending my return or, if you prefer it, keep them on by not completing their accounts till I come back. Yours Sincerely, H. H. TUDOR. This letter was dated February 14th and the envelope is from the London and North-Western Railway. On the 17th of February General Tudor said that he had talked over certain arrangements with Mr. Cope about the re-adjustment of the division; he indicated to me that the division would be broken up into two, and that I would have one half and someone else the other half, and that these men would be reinstated and put into the other division so that they would not be under me. The other details are set out in the interview which I granted to the 'Daily News' on Friday last and reproduced in that paper on Saturday the 26th. I am not going to trouble the House by reading the whole of that, but there are a few extracts I may have to take from it at a later stage. General Crozier goes on to say: There is not the slightest doubt that when General Tudor returned from London and saw me at the Castle with the 17 Company Commanders, the Adjutant, and General Wood, that the intention he stated was to reinstate these men without further inquiry or trial. The 26 cadets returned not under arrest. General Tudor said at the conference: 'I have promised these men they shall be taken back, and will go back to their own Company.' (Signed) F. P. Crozier. I do not intend to offer any lengthy comment upon this statement of General Crozier, but what I would like to draw from these statements, or what I consider to be the meaning of them, is this: An order was issued and then a counter-order. Now there is disorder. Three, to my mind, incontrovertible facts—and I challenge the Chief Secretary to contradict them—have emerged from this welter of confusion which has arisen over this fearful piece of plundering. The first, and this, I take it, is the most serious of all, is in connection with the matter of discipline. The General who was in command or had superior authority in relation to these Auxiliaries decided, on political grounds, not on a question of discipline, or of military law, or of the rights of the convicted, or of the legality of the proceedings—but for political reasons, as is shown by the correspondence, decided to change his mind, which he did, and to go back on the decision which he had taken all through with General Crozier. The second fact is that a properly constituted trial took place, that proper proceedings were brought against these men, and that they were convicted, the case being conducted as all previous cases had been. The third fact, and it is brought out in this interview, and has been neither contradicted nor proved contrary to the fact, is that it was the intention of General Tudor, when he left London and came to Dublin, as expressed by him in front of General Crozier and 17 company commanders, together with the Second-in-Command and the Adjutant, that these men should be reinstated. That, to my mind, was nothing short of condonation.

I repeat that the political action on the part of General Tudor is by far 1he most serious part of the whole question. Why did General Tudor change his mind? Whom did he see in Dublin? He was phoned at 6.30 in Dublin and told of the action which General Crozier proposed taking with regard to the cadets, and he concurred therein. But by the time he got on to the boat, as is evidenced by this letter, he had changed his mind. I contend the House should know whom General Tudor had met in the meantime, and what made him change his mind before he left Dublin. He said he was going to London as he wanted to consult the Chief Secretary. He did go to London; he did speak to the Chief Secretary, who admitted that on the 15th General Tudor informed him of what had taken place in regard to the cadets. The Chief Secretary has stated that General Tudor did not inform him of General Crozier's resignation. I wonder whether General Tudor and the Chief Secretary were merely conversing about the weather. Had General Tudor no conception of the attitude of mind of General Crozier on this subject, seeing that he had concurred with him on that point in every step he had taken? I challenge the Chief Secretary to deny that this action on the. part of General Tudor was political action, that it was dictated by political exigencies, and was in every sense outside his military duties, either as custodian of the men who had been charged, or as the preserver of discipline within the force.

I come next to the question of the trial. I want to make it clear to the House that proper proceedings were taken. I challenge the Chief Secretary on this question also. These men were brought before their Commanding Officer. None of them denied that they had been in the raid. Specific evidence was brought against five of them by some of their number and immediately it was brought the five ringleaders and one temporary cadet were remanded for trial by Field General Court Martial. What about the remaining 26? They were not remanded because there was no specific evidence against them. But the whole point with regard to them is that they were policemen, that they refused to give any evidence, and refused to report upon these occurrences. Although they were all questioned about them, not one of them would come forward and make a report as to what had taken place. What General Crozier says in his statement is true, namely, that it is the duty of a police constable to report on occurrences like that. They, however, refused to divulge any information, and therefore after that investigation, and because of their refusal to report, with the sanction of General Tudor, their services were dispensed with on the ground that they were unfit for the police force. That was a most proper and customary proceeding according to the Regulations of the Royal Irish Constabulary which, I believe, also obtain in regard to the Auxiliary Force.

By the way, I should like to pay a tribute to the very pertinent question put by the hon. and gallant Member for Stoke (Colonel J. Ward) the other day, when he asked if these men, having been tried once, could be legally retried. It may be said that, in reality, there was not sufficient evidence against these men, and I believe it is being said now, at this late hour, that the real object of recalling them was because General Tudor did not consider that the sentences were severe enough. It is very hard to swallow some things, and I certainly find it hard to swallow that, at this stage of the proceedings, as a reason for General Tudor's action. But supposing that that was the reason given, I would like the House to know exactly where the Government stand in this regard. I do not think that they know themselves; at any rate, we can only find it in the records in the OFFICIAL REPORT. The Prime Minister, in this House on the l5th February—the day of the opening of Parliament—speaking on the Address, when questioned concerning the action that had been taken in regard to cadets in a very similar case in Cork, made the following statement: Seven of them whom all we can say is we suspect of being responsible for acts of indiscipline, although we cannot identify them, have been dismissed. Lieut. - Commander KENWORTHY: Dismissed? The PRIME MINISTER: You cannot do anything; beyond that without evidence against them. Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY: Why dismiss them? The PRIME MINISTER: After all, I believe an officer"— mark his words— is entitled to feel that he has absolute confidence in those in his command. He had no confidence in these seven men for reasons that satisfied him, but for which there was no evidence."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 15th February. 1921, col. 43, Vol. 138.] He is allowed to dismiss them, and the Prime Minister concurred in the dismissal, coming down here and saying, on the Address, that, where there was no evidence, and simply because a commanding officer had no confidence in his men, and suspected them of certain acts, he had a right to dismiss them. The Chief Secretary may say now that these men did not get a fair trial, when undoubtedly there was evidence against them, and when their case was fully and thoroughly investigated by General Crozier, with the concurrence of General Tudor. How can these two actions be reconciled? Either the Chief Secretary's championship of General Tudor, or the Prime Minister's championship of General Crozier, goes by the board. I therefore challenge the right hon. Gentleman again on this question of fact, as to whether, as I state, there was, a proper investigation and a proper form of proceedings. If he says that there was not, then I ask, what case has he for accepting General Crozier's resignation, having regard to what the Prime Minister said on the 15th February last? We now hear that a court of inquiry is to be set up. I wonder would anything have been heard of a court of inquiry if there had not been a question in this House? I would like to know who suggested the court of inquiry and when it was suggested. Was it a military officer who suggested it? Did a General, with knowledge of military discipline and military law, suggest that, after these men had been summarily dismissed—and properly so, according to the code of the Royal Irish Constabulary—they should be brought up again before a court of inquiry? I do not think so, and I have my suspicions that the suggestion came rather from a legal than from a military quarter. The court of inquiry is at present sitting. I say that that court of inquiry is an improper court, that it has no legal standing; and it is only fair to the House that the Chief Secretary should inform us what prompted him, or whoever it was, to set up this court of inquiry, and why he thought it necessary to go behind the considered decision and action, according to proper procedure, of General Crozier in the matter.

I come now to my third point, and that is the condonation by General Tudor. I will not mince words. The intention of General Tudor was expressed by him, as testified by General Crozier, before witnesses—very important and honourable witnesses. If the right hon. Gentleman could only get a statement from any of them that General Tudor had no such intention or made no such statement, we should all be very glad to hear it. I say that this statement of General Tudor—as yet uncontradicted by evidence—that he was prepared to reinstate these men in their former company or corps, was nothing short of condonation by General Tudor, and that that is what led to the honourable and upright and prompt course of action taken by General Crozier in sending in his resignation. In support of that, I would refer to the telegram sent from the Recruiting Officer of the Royal Irish Constabulary in London to General Crozier. It reads as follows: Twenty-six T.C."— that is, temporary cadets— report to Company to-night. Meet, Order of Police Adviser. There is no question there about these men being sent for retrial. There is no question about their being under arrest. As a matter of fact, General Crozier says that they were not under arrest. I say that that telegram, and the facts as stated by General Crozier, are a sufficient indictment, which has got to be replied to by the Chief Secretary and General Tudor, for condonation of this offence. If the Chief Secretary does not answer those three questions to-night—if he cannot deny that in a matter of discipline General Tudor acted on political grounds, if he does not deny that a proper trial took place and that General Tudor was guilty of condonation—I say that then there is only one course open to the right hon. Gentleman and to General Tudor, as honourable men who occupy very important and honourable positions in this country, the one a member of His Majesty's Army and the other one of His Majesty's Ministers, and that is to resign the positions which they now occupy. I say that they are called upon to resign but it is a matter for themselves and their conscience. From the point of view of Ireland, however, and from the point of view of this country, this irregular force should be immediately disbanded. It has proved to be nothing but a failure and a disaster from the point of view from which the right hon. Gentleman inaugurated it. It was to bring about and maintain law and order in Ireland, but since it has been inaugurated things in Ireland have gone from bad to worse. I have persistently demanded in this House that, if you will have martial law in Ireland—I am not now discussing your policy in regard to martial law—you should have proper martial law; you should have martial Jaw applied by responsible military officers, responsible to the proper heads of their districts, and responsible, through the proper medium, to this House and to this country. I think this state of irregularity and the position that it has brought our country and this country to in the eyes of the world is due largely to this method of dealing with the question. I therefore desire to place these facts before the House, and if the right hon. Gentleman or the Prime Minister will not deal in the manner I have suggested with them, at any rate I do not think I am making an extravagant demand—I do not think I have been extravagant in the statement of my case—when I say there should be appointed immediately a full commission of inquiry into the whole system of the administration of the Forces of the Crown in Ireland.