28 June, 1920

28 June, 1920

28th June - Second Letter to Poppy

Secret diary: Mon 3 miles E *

Official diary (28th June): I proceeded on foot to another farm just east of Mallow.

Location: Daniel McCarthy's home in Creggane

*CHTL’s estimation of a 3 mile walk ties in with Michael O'Connell's statement: "The distance across country was about four miles.’' The distance by road is listed as 5.3 km, 3.29 miles.


My darling Pip,

Go on writing to brigade head quarters as I hope the letters will eventually reach me. I am still bored as there is very little to pass the time with, and not much ‘exercise’. I have now got some soap cigarettes a razor and a bottle of whisky to pass the time with, so can anyhow get my two days growth off. I see the newspaper daily, and the inaccurate reports of my own capture.

I am very pleased to see Col Danford is still alive, I thought he was dead when I left him. He should pull round all right now. My car was smashed up, don’t know how much damage was done, but the insurance people will put that right.

Hope you are not worrying at all, as there is no reason to. Worry will be very bad for you just now. I wish I could be with you to cheer you up through it all. However we shall shortly settle down together and then there will be no more trouble or worry.



Second letter sent to Mrs C.H. Tindall Lucas, No1 Cleveland Gardens, Hyde Park London W.2. The postmark is unclear. This was kept in an envelope with the Telegram dated the 5th July so may have arrived on the same day.

The second letter to Poppy shows a happier CHTL. He now had a bottle of Whiskey "to pass the time with" although he was still bored and not getting much exercise. CHTL’s low boredom threshold was causing him discomfort. He was such an active person; sitting around doing very little was torment. However he was able to read the newspaper; often, when it was available, ‘The London Times’. This was something else he had successfully negotiated with his captors: one marvels at the network of IRA volunteers who risked their own freedom to provide CHTL with his ‘basic needs’, including daily newspapers and bottles of Whiskey and to post letters to Poppy and pick up letters from her to their high maintenance prisoner!

It is important to note that having access to news about the outside world is one of the indicators that CHTL did not suffer from Stockholm Syndrome where 'the hostage endures isolation from other people and has only the captor’s perspective available. Perpetrators routinely keep information about the outside world’s response to their actions from captives to keep them totally dependent'. FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin 2007

CHTL’s captors did not attempt to isolate him from what was going on in the world: being able to correspond with Poppy was another way that CHTL was able to keep up with what was going on beyond the four walls of which ever Irish home he was temporarily 'imprisoned' in.

CHTL may well have thought kindly towards some of his captors but there was always a level of distrust as he kept a secret diary. The kindness that he was shown was real and not imagined as in cases of real Stockholm syndrome sufferers. He always wanted to escape and was constantly looking for the right opportunity. When his captivity had dragged on with no sight of being released, he took that step. He did not distrust the authorities as it was to them he turned to when he escaped.

After spending his first night in captivity at the O’Connells house in Lackendra, Lombardstown, CHTL was moved to Creggane the next day where the McCarthy family were his hosts. The 1911 census lists eight McCarthy family members.

Daniel would have been 25 in 1920 and his brother Michael or ‘Mick’ (also called Myles) was 23. Their father Myles McCarthy was 62.

This was where CHTL managed to acquire (along with the all important Whiskey) a wash kit. It was Sean Moylan's sister Mamie who was sent to buy pyjamas and a toothbrush for the general; she was just one of many female supporters of the cause who willing took risks and tended to the needs of their high profile prisoner. (p50 Sean Moylan Rebel Leader Aideen Carroll, Mercier)

Keeping up a well groomed appearance was something that even the lower ranks in the trenches in France were expected to attain. In far less salubrious conditions in the muddy fields of Flanders, men were required to be washed and clean shaven apart from the mandatory well-clipped moustaches of the senior ranks. This was regarded as an important way of keeping up morale. If a soldier let his appearance slide, his spirits would quickly follow: a dejected soldier would not be a determined fighter. CHTL would have expected to be provided with a wash kit so that he could maintain this important army discipline.

CHTL truly believed that Danford had been killed. This had brought home that the IRA meant business. It must have been a great relief that Danford hadn't died as a result of their failed bid for freedom. Being the senior officer, it was most likely that the escape plan was CHTL's idea: it would definitely have been his decision to attempt it. At this point he probably had a heavy heart full of guilt and regret; feeling that he might have contributed to his friend losing his life. To know that Danford was alive must have been a huge relief and boosted CHTL's morale. Now he only had responsibility for getting himself out of this fine mess and getting home to Poppy and Cutlett.

The other casualty of the abortive escape attempt was CHTL’s car. He was having trouble with the car before he was captured and his previous history with automobiles had been pitted with breakdowns and accidents. A crashed car would not be that unusual in CHTL’s life although the manner in which it reached that state was highly unusual. It was probably due to incidents like CHTL’s tussle with Liam Lynch that led to insurance companies putting in a clause about the exclusion of damage caused by terrorism and war!

It’s not known whether CHTL was successful in his insurance claim.

Determined to stay positive, CHTL tried to reassure Poppy: "we shall shortly settle down together and then there will be no more trouble or worry". No more 'trouble and worry' appears to indicate that CHTL believed that he could well be on his way out of Ireland as he had been so desperate to do before he was captured. Maybe CHTL thought that this kidnap ordeal could have a silver lining after all! He appeared to have had a steadfast belief that he would 'get out of this hole alive' and had some indication of the likelihood of that from conversing with his captors.

Poppy, at the time this letter was written, was still unaware that CHTL had been captured.

She was cocooned in the nursing home in London, twiddling her thumbs awaiting her due date and possibly fuming at the thought of her in-laws evicting her from their home in such a sudden fashion, way ahead of her planned schedule, and without a reasonable explanation.

It is surprising that CHTL appeared to be so calm when his captors around him were far from relaxed and spent anxious hours throughout the night guarding him: expecting that any moment there would be a raid as the British tried to reclaim their general. Quarter master, Michael O'Connell, was especially on edge:

The prisoner was detained in my home until the night of Monday, June 28th 1920, when he was removed to the house of Myles McCarthy at Cregane. This man's son, Michael, had earlier that evening been sent to Fermoy with a dispatch from Liam Lynch for the military there. The message was to inform the British in Fermoy that, if there were any reprisals for the capture of General Lucas, it was open to him (Lynch) to take any action he considered necessary.

When General Lucas was being moved to McCarthy’s, the route followed was through the town lands of Gurranes and Greeves, to Laharn Cross, thence through Droumpeach on to the Gortroe-Nadd road at Creggane, where we entered McCarthy's house. The distance across country was about four miles.

Lucas was accompanied by Liam Lynch, while, with Ned Murphy, I acted as advance guard. When the prisoner had been fixed up at McCarthy's, I was posted as guard with Michael O'Sullivan (known as Mick Jeff). He was an agricultural labourer employed by Myles McCarthy.

I was placed on guard by Jerry O'Hanlon, R.I.P., who handed me a grenade and showed me how to use it. It was my first experience of this type of weapon. Although we were extremely anxious during the night, anticipating large-scale raids by the enemy in view of the importance of our prisoner, the night passed all too quickly, helped on by my fellow guard's (Mick Jeff) stories on a variety of subjects. The situation of McCarthy's house where Lucas was detained, was ideal from our (the guards') point of view as it overlooked the valley of the Blackwater, extending to Kanturk in the west and to a point eight miles beyond Mallow in the east. These were the points from which enemy raiders in search of Lucas might be expected to come.

BUREAU OF MILITARY HISTORY, 1913-21. STATEMENT BY WITNESS. DOCUMENT NO. W.S. 1428. Witness Michael O’Connell, Glentane, Lombardstown, Co. Cork. Identity. Quartermaster, Cork IV. Brigade, 1st Southern Division, I.R.A.

Questions in Parliament

On 28th June Hansard recorded the questions asked in parliament by MP's of all parties about CHTL’s capture by the IRA. Here a Scottish Unionist MP, a Coalition Liberal Member of Parliament, a Independent Conservative MP, a Liberal MP and a National party MP discussed the incident:

Sir H. CRAIK (Scottish Unionist politician MP for the Combined Scottish Universities)

(by Private Notice) asked the Under-Secretary for War whether he has any information to give the House in regard to the kidnapping by Sinn Feiners in Ireland of Brigadier-General Lucas?

Sir A. WILLIAMSON (Parliamentary Secretary, War Office)

Brigadier-General Lucas and Colonels Danford and Tyrell were arrested at Kilbarry, five miles from Fermoy, where they had been fishing, at 11 p.m. on the 26th instant by twelve armed and masked men, who had a motor-car bearing no number. At a place called Rathcomrack Colonel Danford tried to escape. A man in one of the cars fired two revolver shots, wounding him in the head and arms. He was left there with Colonel Tyrell, and the General taken away in the motor car towards Cork. He has not since been found. The two Colonels have returned to Fermoy. The officers were unarmed. A telegram received to-day at one o’clock says, "No news of General Lucas.”

Lord R. CECIL (Independent Conservative MP for Hitchin):

Is there any news as to the condition of the wounded Colonel?


I am not able to answer that question.

Mr. C. PALMER: (British journalist and newspaper editor sat briefly in the House of Commons as an Independent):

May I ask why the right hon Gentleman used the words "General arrested" instead of "General kidnapped"? Do you "arrest" a man without authority?


That is the word used in the Press and elsewhere. I suppose the telegraphist thought it was most convenient.

[HON. MEMBERS: "The wrong word!"]


Can Sinn Feiners "arrest'' British officers?


It is the wrong word to me—


Thank you!


"Kidnapped'' is the proper word.

HC Deb 28 June 1920 vol 131 cc30-130

The word 'arrested' was politically very contentious. As Mr Palmer pointed out, one can't 'arrest' someone unless you have the authority to do so. To say that the three officers were arrested implied that they had breached a law and that those who had arrested them were well within their rights to do so. A misplaced word can cause enormous embarrassment and the government were all ready deep in a hole over Ireland, CHTL's arrest/kidnap had dug them in deeper. Sir Williamson did not make the best job of trying to climb out of this awkward situation.

The Speaker saved the day and helped Williamson recover by swiftly moving on, calling upon Asquith to speak before Lord Croft, who was known for always being able 'to put over a point effectively’ (The Times, 9 December 1947, p. 7.) could have his say.




(From our own correspondent.)

DUBLIN, June 28.

Since Sunday morning the military stationed in Fermoy have been searching the countryside for General Lucas, who, as recorded yesterday, was kidnapped by Sinn Fein is at Kilbarry, County Cork on Saturday night. All the roads are patrolled, and aeroplanes are scouting in every direction, but up to this evening no trace had been found of the captured officer.

It now appears that General Lucas, who was accompanied by Colonel Danford, R.E. of Fermoy and Colonel Tyrrell, had arranged to spend some days in salmon fishing on the Blackwater. On Saturday night the party drove in a motorcar to the fishing lodge at Kilbarry. Here they found a number of armed men, who make them prisoners and drove away with them in motorcars in the direction of Cork City. It was at a place named Clykeel that Colonel Danford was wounded while trying to escape, and that Colonel Tyrell was released to attend to him. It is understood that his wounds are not so serious as was at first reported.

A telegram from Fermoy this afternoon states that soldiers who were infuriated by the capture of General Lucas and the other offices turned out last night and wrecked a number of houses in the principal parts of the town. Nearly 400 soldiers were engaged, and it's stated that there was some looting.

Publication unknown - Cuttings found amongst CHTL's papers


I have reason to think that Lord French’s warning at Belfast, coupled with the moderate terms of his appeal for national unity, is likely to have good results. The warning has been enforced speedily by the kidnapping of the three officers in Co. Cork, and its sequel in the wrecking of many houses in Fermoy by angry soldiers. The danger of an utterly anomalous situation is beginning to be realised by thoughtful Sinn Feiners. It is true that two persons are needed to make a quarrel, but England cannot continue to ignore the fact that a large body of Irish extremists insist on being at war with her.

Publication unknown - Cuttings found amongst CHTL's papers

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