One-Sided War

D. M. Leeson

in The Black and Tans

Published in print August 2011 | ISBN: 9780199598991
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191730597 | DOI:
One-Sided War

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This chapter describes what it was like for police to fight in the Irish War of Independence, using their own testimony, obtained from the records of military courts of inquiry. It analyses the various types of engagements in which police fought — assassinations, ambushes, barracks battles, and encounter battles — and shows how, from the police perspective, the War of Independence was often frustratingly one-sided. Battles between guerrillas and police often ended in defeat for the police, who then were faced with a choice of fighting to the death, running away, or surrendering. Those who surrendered to the guerrillas were sometimes treated well, but sometimes killed. The chapter concludes with some reflections on the Kilmichael ambush controversy: although nationalist historians have largely succeeded in discrediting Peter Hart's revisionist account, they have not succeeded in confirming the traditional version of events.

Keywords: guerrilla warfare; assassinations; ambushes; surrender; prisoners; Kilmichael; Peter Hart

Chapter.  12236 words. 

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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