Thursday, January 20, 2011

'Sinn Feiners' in New Cross, 1921

In June 1921 the Irish War of Independence was at its height. In May 1921 Sinn Fein, the party promoting Irish independence, won 124 of the 129 seats in the Irish parliamentary elections. The parliament was dissolved and the British government ruled Ireland directly as a colony. There were violent clashes between the Irish Republican Army and the British forces, including the notorious Black and Tans. It was in this context that sabotage of the railways was attempted in London, including a taxi hijack drama across SE London - I assume the car hired in New Cross and then hijacked in Lee was the same one that ended up in the shoot-out in Bromley. A month later a ceasefire was agreed in Ireland paving the way for most of the country to become a sovereign nation.

'OUTRAGES NEAR LONDON (Ashburton Guardian, 20 June 1921)

Sinn Feiners last night attempted to set fire to a number of railway signal boxes around London. The most serious outrage was at Clapton, where the assailants fired revolvers and wounded the signalman, who managed to telephone for assistance. He reached the next box, where he was medically attended. The criminals at Southall poured oil on the instruments and the woodwork, after binding and partially gagging the signalman, who was just able to shout for help. Workmen from the locomotive works nearby arrived just in time to prevent the fire. A similar attack was made at Barnes, where the fire was extinguished before much damage was done. A party of gunmen hired a taxicab at New Cross at midnight and told the driver to proceed to Lee. When approaching Lee the men jumped out of the taxi and surrounded the driver. They bound him and threw him on the roadside, and then disappeared with the car.

Nine arrests have been made. Scotland Yard reports that the signal-box outrages are the work of Sinn Feiners. The men arrested are all Irishmen, aged from seventeen to twenty-four years. They were armed with revolvers and carried wire-cutters and paraffin. At Bromley (Kent), the police stopped a taxi-cab from which six armed men fired. The police returned the tire, wounding a man named Robinson, who was recently acquitted on a charge of incendiarism. He, with three others, has been charged with firing at the police. with intent to murder.

Further attempts were made to damage the London railways last night, sleepers on the Brighton line at Battersea were set on fire, but the flames were extinguished before serious damage was done.

Further attempts were made to damage the London railways last night, bleepers on the Brighton line at Battersea were set on tire, but the flames were extinguished before serious damage was done'.


Sy said...

awesome blog

Anonymous said...

A fascinating snapshot from the Irish War of Independence in Lewisham. The grave of Lieutenant Price ( MI5 agent) lies in Brockley & Ladywell Cemetery. He was killed in a notorious shoot out with Sean Treacy ( Irish Republican Army) in Talbot Street, Dublin in October 1920. who was also killed, which event was made world famous by the celebrated & iconic image of him, firing at Treacy, from the 1926 film 'Irish Destiny' shortly before he was killed..

Mike Guilfoyle
Friends of Brockley & Ladywell Cemetery-Foblc