During the Irish War of Independence (1920–1) the British government recruited thousands of British ex-servicemen to serve as constables in the Royal Irish Constabulary, while also raising a paramilitary raiding force of ex-officers known as the Auxiliary Division. These police — known as Black and Tans and Auxiliaries — have never been studied closely by historians, despite their scandalous reputation. Who were these men, and what type of men were they? Were they truly jail-birds and down-and-outs, as their enemies claimed? What was it like to serve in the police forces and fight the guerrillas? Why did these British police commit ‘reprisals’ against helpless prisoners and civilians? Do they deserve their terrible reputation? This book will examine the history of these two police forces, and provide answers for these and other questions.
Keywords: Ireland; Britain; Black and Tans; police; Auxiliaries; War of Independence; reprisals; historiography
Chapter. 1207 words.
Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)
Full text: subscription required