Tuesday, February 09, 2016

'The raiders left behind a black silk mask' - IRA attacks in Catford, Blackheath & Tooting 1921

During the Irish war of independence (1919-1921) there were armed attacks in London linked to the conflict, in the lead up to the truce agreed in July 1921 that paved the way for independence for most of Ireland. Here's a report of a series of attacks in May of that year in South London, from The Times (16 May 1921).

On Saturday May 14th 1921 'Between 10 o'clock and midnight', 'a series of outrages, believed by the police to be the work of Sinn Fein agents in this country, took place in Outer London. They were all the work of armed parties of men, and in the majority of cases there was proof that the incidents had a direct connexion with the troubles in Ireland..

Two masked men tried to force their way in to the residence of Mr Charles F Duffield, a double fronted house, 141 Wellmeadow Road, Catford, standing in the heart of the St Germans estate. As the result of the attack, Mr Duffield, aged 61, is in Lewisham Hospital with a bullet through both thighs, and his wife, Edith Mary Duffield, has a bullet wound through each wrist... The raiders left behind a black silk mask, a bicycle pump and a heavy revolver with four live cartridges in it'.(The Times speculates that this was a case of mistaken identity as the Duffield did not appear to have any connections to Ireland).

141 Wellmeadow Road SE6 - now the London Stage School,
scene of  a non-fatal shooting in 1921
Four armed men attempted to force their way in to a house in 'Halstow Road, Westcombe Park, Blackheath, at the house of an officer in the Royal Irish Constabulary, who is at present serving in Ireland'

'At Tooting an attack was made by a number of armed men on a house in Coverton Road, occupied by Mr William Dawner, whose son is in the RIC. The knocked at the door, and when it was opened, drew revolvers and forced their way inside. When they were inside, they produced bottles of petrol, which they poured over the floors of various rooms. They then set fire to the place'

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