A Brief Article on the Black & Tans and the Auxillaries
In 1919, the English authorities throughout the British[sic] Isles made and attempt to counteract the growing problem that was Ireland. They advertised across their island for men who were willing to "face a rough and dangerous task." Namely, they got the scum of the earth along with war veterans from the First World War
. Some men wished just to prolong their "adventurous" life, while others had no choice because they could find no other employment.
Officially, these men were formed into two off-shoots of the RIC, the Black&Tans and the Auxillaries. They were unleashed on the Irish landscape in March of 1920 and at the height of the Tan War, there were 2400 of the khaki-clad scum scattered across the island. The Tans were technically regarded as a designated force of constables, who mostly came from the slum areas of English cities. Criminal records, usually frowned upon, were held as the expectation for this class of man. Crimes of violence were typical, as men volunteered to avoid long sentences in English prisons. The Auxillaries consisted of "cadets" who were mostly former Army and Navy troops hardened and twisted in the trenches and seas of the World War.
The time period and composition of these two British groups did not differ much from two other infamous and fascist groups. The SA of Nazi Germany
and Mussolini's Fasci de Combattimento
were founded shortly after the Black and Tans came into being, and were no doubt founded along the same lines after understanding their brutal effectiveness. TA Jackson
in the volume of Republican history; Ireland Her Own
, says that the Tans were "deliberately, a 'fascist' device - which Mussolini, Hitler and others copied - to conceal the fact that, morally, the English invaders were back where they had been in 1169."
The tactics of the Black and Tans revolted even the English citizenry, safely reading their newspapers across the Irish Sea. Rape, looting, beatings, torture and arson pretty well describe the means by which the scum ravaged the countryside of Ireland. By August of 1920, the British Government actually santioned the burning and destruction of private property at the descretion of Tan company commanders. The IRA rose and struck back with a great ferocity, ambushing the Tans throughout the country roads of Ireland. The response by the paramilitary murderers was to burn out the nearest town to where the ambush occurred.
This only helped to swell the ranks of the IRA, with young men disgusted at the violence of the British police in Ireland. Liam Mellows
spearheaded this recruitment upsurge as the Director of Purchases for the IRA, supplying the willing youth with arms.
The Black & Tans as well as their Auxillary counterparts became infamous for shying away from combat with the IRA and instead indiscriminately shooting citizens, including children and women. Their cowardice included incidents such as the 14 dead civilians at Croke Park
, the burning of the city centre of Cork
, as well as innumerable numbers of shooting incidents involving groups of innocents.
(more specifics tomorrow: Croke Park, sacking of Cork....)