2nd July - Fourth Letter to Poppy
Secret diary: Fri. Cross Shannon near Dunratty. Farm House, no latrines. Old lady daughters, No latrine
Official diary (2nd July): I crossed the Shannon in the evening in a boat from MAIDEN ROCK and proceeded to a small farm near BALLYMORRIS HOUSE which is inhabited by an old lady and her two daughters. One of the daughters was married. There was no sign of any sons. I stayed here on the following day.
Location: Moved from Balliston House to Hogan’s Cratloe -Taken to Ringmoylan near Pallskenry then across Shannon, escort Finn, Malone, Ned Enright & Tom Wallace of Pallaskenry, Wallace & Enright’s cousins, the Hogan’s of Moyhill, lived in Cratloe area. Stayed here 2 nights. (Atlas of the Irish Revolution, Ed.Crowley, O Drisceoil, Murphy, Borgonovo p417)
My darling Pip,
Did you get up to town all right yesterday, and what is the home like? Haven’t had any letters yet but some should come out today. I see there is a lot of nonsense in the papers, including an interview with Father and Peggy; but they didn’t get very much out of them. Hope you are not worrying yourself as there is no reason for it. Fortunately no newspaper reporters can come worrying you. Have no idea when I shall get out, the sooner the better, it would be nice if I could be with you when it takes place. Expect you have had crowds of letters from all sorts of people, poor old thing, shouldn’t worry about trying to answer them for the present, I can do that for you afterwards.
We have had filthy weather here for the last four or five days, pouring with rain most of the time. You are keeping on writing aren’t you, as I should get the letters even though they may take a bit of time on the way. Am quite comfortable, spend most of my time eating and sleeping, and am shown every consideration. Have got some books to read, so manage to pass the time all right. I can’t tell you more about myself but I’m all right.
Third and fourth letters sent to Mrs C.H. Tindall Lucas, No1 Cleveland Gardens, Hyde Park London W.2. These were kept together in an envelope postmarked Dublin Jul 3 10pm 1920.
From this letter, one can gather that Poppy had been sent down to London several days before she had planned to go. Poppy was expecting to go there on the 1st July but she was already there by the 30th June when Baby Bill had made his rushed entrance into the world. One can assume that her ‘due date’ was a week or two later.
The newspapers that CHTL had read containing the ‘nonsense’ and the interview with CHTL’s father and sister Peggy (Margaret) were probably similar to this cutting kept amongst his papers:
AEROPLANES SEARCH FOR THE KIDNAPPED GENERAL.
NO NEWS OF THE SINN FEIN “PRISONER OF WAR.”
FERMOY RIOT AFTER THE COUP.
There is no news of the whereabouts of Brigadier General Lucas, he was kidnapped by masked Sinn Feiners at 11 o'clock on Saturday night.
A special a special message from Cork to the “Daily Chronicle“ says:-
When news of the capture of the general reached Fermoy the alarm was sounded at the barracks and camp, and all soldiers turned out of bed.
Artillery men mounted their horses, and numerous parties of troops in motor lorries motorcars scouted the country from miles around all night.
Throughout Sunday and all day yesterday the hunt was continued.
Yesterday aeroplanes joined in the search, but always in vain.
The general has completely vanished.
As a sequel to the kidnapping, numbers of shops in Fermoy have been wrecked, and thousands of pounds’ damage done by the incensed soldiers.
CAPTURED GENERAL TO BE ACCORDED “THE RESPECT DUE TO HIS RANK.”
From the “Daily Chronicle” Special Correspondent.
No clue is yet forthcoming as to the whereabouts of the kidnapped General, although an extremely thorough and systematic search of the district is been conducted by the military.
An anonymous letter, I learn has reached the authorities in Cork stating that the cause of the arrest is that in the seizure of mails recently correspondence was discovered addressed to him in connection with Sinn Fein matters.
The letter adds that the general will be kept in safe confinement, and will be accorded the care and respect due to his rank while he's a prisoner of war.
MRS. LUCAS ILL. BREAKDOWN FOLLOWS TIDINGS OF HUSBANDS CAPTURE.
From Our Special Correspondent.
It is certainly the most extraordinary thing that has ever happened to my brother in his military career Miss Margret Lucas, sister of the kidnapped general, said to me today, when I interviewed her at the Hall, Welwyn.
Until about a month ago General Lucas’s home was at Hitchin, but he recently bought a property at Welwyn, where several members of his family are now living.
Mrs Lucas, the general’s young wife, is indisposed. The news has greatly distressed her.
“The first intimation came to us from the War Office on Sunday night”, said Mr Lucas, the General’s father.
“We received a wire stating that my son has been taken prisoner by this Sinn Feiners, but that he was to be treated with consideration, and with the respect due to his rank.
“We have had no message of any kind today.
“My son has been in Ireland about a year. Apparently there is no need for us to be alarmed, but naturally we are anxious about him.”
The news of the generals capture has been received with indignation in Hitchin, where the Lucas family is very well known and respected.
The story of the dramatic capture has not yet been told to Mrs Farmer, the General’s aged grandmother, to whom he is devoted.
COMMONS STATEMENT ON THE KIDNAPPING.
The Prime Minister informed Major Barnes in the House of Commons yesterday, that martial law had not been proclaimed in any part of Ireland, but should it be necessary to adopt such a course, he had no doubt that the duties falling on them would be carried out by the officers responsible.
So Henry Craik asked for information about the kidnapping by Sinn Fein of a brigadier general. (Laughter.)
Sir A.Williamson, in reply, repeated the details contained in the mornings newspapers, and said the kidnapping was carried out by 12 armed and masked men in motorcars.
CHTL’s sister, Peggy (Margaret), was very tough; a former front-line military nurse. She’s have handled the reporters and most importantly shielded Poppy. The reason that Poppy was ‘indisposed’ was that she’d been sent to London to the nursing home. She didn’t know about her husband’s capture until the 30th June. However the report in the newspaper must have worried CHTL who didn’t know about the change in plans. Other newspapers reported that it was just Colonel Danford who tried to escape, one saying that Danford had tried ‘to run away’. Something that must have irritated CHTL, who’d also just risked his life attempting to regain his freedom.
Blissfully unaware of anything unusual about Balliston House, a servant boy employed there began his mornings work with the chorus from the popular parody of the day: “Can Anybody Tell Me Where Did General Lucas Go?”, sung to the well known air of the Blarney Roses. The singer would certainly have been astonished to know that listening to him inside a window overlooking the yard in which he was singing was General Lucas himself. CHTL was greatly amused by the lad’s song and had amongst his papers two versions of this ditty.
T’was over in Rathcormac. Near the town of old Fermoy,
They captured General Lucas and away with him did fly,
They said, you’ll have to come with us, or else sure down you go,
For that’s the way we treat your kind,
Where the Blarney Roses grow.
Can anybody tell me where did General Lucas go?
He may be down in Mitchelstown or over in Marlow,
He’s somewhere in the Emerald Isle, but this they want to know,
If anyone can tell them where did General Lucas go.
It was on a Sunday morning when a fishing he did go
But when he had his fishing done he was caught by whom you know.
They said you are our prisoner, and this you’ve got to know
For doing McCreedy’s dirty work where the Blarney Roses grow.
They are good men in Killarney and the same in Co. Clare,
But the likes of those young gentleman I can’t see anywhere
They treated me most kindly but if they only let me go
I’ll promise to stop the looting where the Blarney Roses grow
Now to conclude and finish and I hope it wont be long,
Till we see our little country free and all the R.I.C. gone
Well if they leave poor Barton and tell him he can go.
Then we’ll release old Lucas from where the Blarney Roses grow.
‘McCreedy’ - General Macready was in command of the troops in Ireland
‘Barton’ - Robert Barton Sinn Féin MP for West Wicklow but arrested and imprisoned for sedition. The IRA were hoping to exchange Lucas for Barton.
The general was across the Shannon:
Two days later some of us escorted Lucas to the banks of the Shannon. Michael Brennan arrived in a punt or boat. It was night-time and there was no attempt to blindfold Lucas, who was observing the stars. Mick Brennan took Lucas across the River, and I remained in Limerick.
BUREAU OF MILITARY HISTORY, 1913-21 STATEMENT BY WITNESS DOCUMENT NO. W.S. 388 Mr. Joseph Good, “Raisin”
Joseph 'Rasin' Good was one of the Members of Irish Volunteers who saw CHTL across the Shannon. The General was probably gazing at the stars calculating the direction he was moving in rather than admiring the heavenly constellations.
Meanwhile the 'filthy weather' was hampering the massive search parties detailed to sooth the tempers of embarrassed British officials by finding the elusive missing general. Roads were thick with mud, making progress hard work. Major General Strickland's diary recorded his sense of priority. 'Filthy weather' might have hampered the search parties for his missing general, but he was more concerned that rain stopped play. On 5th July he wrote: 'rain ruined tennis' and the day after, ‘no tennis of course'!
This was the mentality of the trenches - life had to go on, whatever the tragedy or misfortune that had happened to those around you. CHTL would have understood that and he was someone who enjoyed a good tennis match.
CHTL was moved to Hogan’s house at Moyhill. It was the first house that he was kept in on the Clare side. The lack of latrines obviously bothered him. The presence of three ladies and having to urinate into a bucket would have been embarrassing. It wasn't like being in the trenches or in the Dickensian dormitories at Marlborough where such things didn't bother one as there were no females for miles around. CHTL's shyness, especially around the fairer sex, would have caused him much discomfort.
This was where the daughter of the house was sent on her bicycle to buy a jacket for CHTL:
"Jack’s aunt Catie – she was a Mrs. Coughlan in later life, she was living in Moyhill when he was taken there and her first job was, she got some few pounds from her mother and she went into Limerick and bought a jacket for General Lucas because when he was kidnapped he had no proper jacket but she went in and got a jacket for him on a bicycle."
Nuala Hogan, Shannon Social History Project
Once again incredible concern and kindness is shown to the captive enemy general, by people who went out of their way to see that he was well looked after and who forked out to buy him the things that he needed.One has to remember that many of these people would have been connected to Sinn Fein volunteers and supporters who had been brutally treated by the British - if not killed by them. Here was an opportunity to revenge that brutality, but no one did. It was no wonder that later on after CHTL had escaped he packaged up his clothes and sent them back to his former captors. There may have been a certain element of: 'I won't be needing these any more - now I'm free' but also a recognition and appreciation that these clothes had been provided for him out of the kindness and hard-earned savings of the gentle folk who had cared for him who had every reason to have treated him badly.
Over in post war Germany, Violet Markham who was living amongst the British army of occupation there, wrote about Anglo German relations. She noted many fine examples of good deeds between the former enemies. She thought that there should be a ‘Book of Decent Deeds’ recordings these events. If there ever was a ‘Book of Decent Deeds’ written about the War of Independence in Ireland, ‘showing that among all belligerents there is another side to war besides that of atrocities’,* then recorded in it would be CHTL & the names of his captors, but in pride of place - the names of the many gentle folk who cared for the captive with such generous hospitality and kindness.
*A WOMAN'S WATCH ON THE RHINE: Sketches of the Occupation by Violet Markham p 233-234
The 1901 Census records the Hogan family in Moyhill: Annie, a widow with three sons and two daughters living at home. Ten years later in 1911 Thomas and Louis are still at home and the family have two servants who would have helped with the farm. Annie was recorded as having had 13 children with only 8 still living.
By 1920 the sons, Michael, Thomas and Louis would have been 42, 39 and 29 and probably very willing to help their cousins out to hide the British general, supporting the Irish fight for freedom.
CHTL mentions an ‘old lady’ and her ‘two daughters’. These could have been Annie who’d have been around 60 and perhaps two daughter-in-laws? Or maybe her two daughters came to the house to help her with her unexpected guest?