28 Upper Pembroke St, Dublin

upper pembroke st dublin

The house, owned by a Mrs Gray, was let as flats. She was described as a silver haired matronly woman. A number of British officers lived here, mainly because getting accommodation was difficult for a British officer in Dublin in 1920 and many landlords would not rent to servicemen.. There seem to have been flats rented to 3 regimental officers and their wives, and other flats to 4 single men, who appear to have been intelligence officers.

We can get a good idea of the situation at 28 Upper Pembroke St from the writings of Mrs Woodcock, who saw it all happen.

I did get a very nice service flat , in a house where there were eight or nine suites of rooms, several of them already occupied by officers and their wives, and others by six or seven men who shared rooms. I never quite knew what those men were, and I wondered if they were officers why they did not live in barracks . Two, we were told, were in the Ordnance, and the others we knew as " the Hush Hush men." They came in and went out at odd hours, and I never really got to know any of them. Five out of the six are now dead.

My husband was unarmed. The Staff and regimental officers who occupied flats in this and, I believe, other similar buildings, had been warned and advised that it would be wiser not to carry revolvers or to keep them in their rooms : on the same principle, I suppose, as the Dublin Metropolitan Police were also unarmed i.e., if you did not hurt any one no one would hurt you,and if we had no weapons in our rooms we should not be raided, and raids had been frequent in our neighbourhood: accurate information as to where such weapons would be found was apparently always given by servants in the various houses. The four other officers who had rooms in the house each, I know now, had several revolvers,

Forunately,with two exceptions, the murderers had been so panic-stricken themselves and their hands so shaky that their firing had been wild in the extreme, and to this fact my husband and one other officer owed their lives.

I turned round the corner of the inner hall, and saw a patch of blue, and found a man in bright-blue pyjamas lying at the top of the kitchen stairs. He, I knew, had a flat on the fourth floor. Why they brought him down and shot him in the hall I do not know. I leant over him. He was shot through both lungs. I could do nothing,.. so reluctantly I left him.

I then heard that two officers were lying dead upstairs, and two were dangerously wounded ; in fact, that not one of the six officers who lived in the house had escaped. Does not tie up, as some did escape a there appear to have been more than six officers living in the house

I missed one officer who had a flat in the house, and was told that he had gone on leave. Later on, when I went to see my husband in hospital, I found that, far from being on leave, he had been badly wounded in a raid while we were away ...There were four Secret Service men living in the house, and two others came in to meals, and I did wonder sometimes if it was safe for them and for us.

Her record indicates that there were an unspecifed number of regimental officers with their wives, they appear to be Col Woodcock, Col Montgomery and Capt Keenlyside, and 4 intelligence men, Major Dowling, Capt Price, Capt Jeune and Lt Murray. The additional men were Ames and Bennet who had just moved out, and are probably the two whom Mrs Woodcock says came for meals

A group of about 10 IRA men entered the house at 9.10am.The hall porter, James Green was shaking mats outside.2 stayed in the hall, and 4 went up each of the two staircases. It was a 3rd Battalion job. IRA men present include

Dalton had done most to find the information to condemn the men in the house in Pembroke Street. He had courted Rosie the maid there, got an IRA man, Matt, employed as the porter ; he found out that the two men he wanted slept in rooms on the third floor. The rest of the British officers in the house were not specifically on the list . The maid later said to him "Oh why did you do that to them. I thought that you would only kidnap them and send them away"

Dalton met Paddy Flannigan at five minutes to nine as they had arranged the night before. Dalton later explained to Ernie O’Malley

I was with Flannagan and 2 fellows and we went up the left hand stairs to the third flight. I knew the one where Dowling and Montgomery (sic) were for the girl had told me. The other doorway was adjacent and there was a landing …The two lads were in bed in pyjamas and Paddy Flannigan said for us and they got up rather startled and I thought this was the [time?] and I wanted the papers. They were against the wall when Paddy fired. The fellows fell and they made a gurgling sound. Said I to Paddy Flannigan ‘ I want to search the bloody room.’ ‘Get to hell out of this ’ said Paddy. The other fellows brought their men to the hallway. They had the men in pyjamas and they had their hands up. I was stopped by the 3rd Bn officers. ‘Who are you they asked?’ ‘I’m an intelligence officer’, I said and here were not more than 6 or 7 in the house. The[y] were lined up. They were held up on the staircase to the cellers. I saw one hit the floor and [fall] down the stairs. Paddy Flannigan said goodbye and went up by Earlsfort Terrace

Charles Dalton wrote in his memoir that when it was over ‘ I started to run. I could no longer control my overpowering need to run, to fly, to leave far behind me those threatening streets. ’ Later he ‘thought over our morning’s work, and offered up a prayer for the fallen ’.

Dalton's Witness Statement says I last met Maudie on the Saturday evening, 20th November 1920, at our rendezvous and she told me that all her  ( boarders ) were at home, with the exception of two who were changing their residence that night to Upper Mount St. I duly reported to the Brigade Headquarters and told Dick McKee of the change of address of two of them and he had already briefed all the squads for action on the following morning. However, he made a patch unit to attend to the officers in Upper Mount St. - Unquote. This was Ame's and Bennett.

The following British officers had rooms in the house and were involved in the shootongs

Mrs Woodcock, wife of Col Woodcock wrote a book and recorded events as she saw them. 21st November was a fine sunny day. In the distance I hear the sound of church bells. They were ringing summoning the people, some to Mass, and others to murder. My husband had hurried over his dressing, as he was to take a Church Parade at the Commander-in-Chiefs. I was wearing a blouse with a lot of tiresome little buttons. Had it not been for those silly little buttons I should have gone down to breakfast with my husband, and should have had the agony of seeing him and others killed or wounded before my eyes, and should probably have been shot myself. I was standing at my bedroom window struggling with the cuff of my blouse, when I saw a man get over the garden wall.(this was Leo Dunne whose job was to cover the back door) I watched him idly; in spite of five months in Dublin and constant alarms and excitements I felt no fear,and not much anxiety.I thought he had come to see one of the maids. But directly I saw him take a revolver out of his pocket my fears were aroused, and I rushed to the door, and shouted to my husband,who had left the room a few minutes before. It is a bitter thought now that if I had raised the alarm directly I saw the man get over the wall I might have roused some of the other officers, though I believe from the evidence collected that it is fairly clear that several of the murderers were already in the house when this man got into the garden. Their organisation was perfect.

My husband was unarmed. The Staff and regimental officers who occupied flats in this and, I believe, other similar buildings, had been warned and advised that it would be wiser not to carry revolvers or to keep them in their rooms : on the same principle, I suppose, as the Dublin Metropolitan Police were also unarmed i.e., if you did not hurt any one no one would hurt you,and if we had no weapons in our rooms we should not be raided, and raids had been frequent in our neighbourhood: accurate information as to where such weapons would be found was apparently always given by servants in the various houses. The four other officers who had rooms in the house each, I know now, had several revolvers, but they never used them. No one fired a shot. I imagine they were surprised and shot down before they even had time to arm themselves.

Our first thought was for those friends who lived on the lower floors, and, after looking at the man in the garden, my husband rushed down to warn them, and to bolt the hall door. It was too late. The hall was full of armed men. He was ordered to put his hands up and to give his name. He did so, and added, " There are women in the house." The murderers answered," We know it." At that moment the door behind my husband opened, and he, fearing that one of the officers he had hoped to warn was coming out of his room, shouted, " Look out, M(ontgomery) ." As he spoke they fired and shot my husband through the shoulder, and he fell at the foot of the stairs. He scrambled up, but was shot again through the back. Getting up again, he half-walked and half-crawled upstairs.

The other officer, who had not heard my husband's warning, was also fired at twice, and fell at his wife's feet, she herself being slightly wounded in the knee. I had remained in my room, watching from the window the man in the garden, who stood a few feet from the back entrance, revolver in hand, ready to fire if any one tried to escape through that door. I heard six shots only, though subsequently I found at least fifty must have been fired; but the building was a large one, and except for these six they had all been fired on the other side of the house and on the other stairs. I was in an agony of anxiety, but I had sworn to my husband that I would not leave my window. The door opened, and he came in ; his shoulder was covered with blood, but his first words were, "It's all right, darling ; they have only hit outlying portions of me. Go back to the window."

He looked much as usual,and as he had apparently walked upstairs (I can never understand now how he did get back to the room alone and unaided ), I did not think he could be very badly hurt, so I did as I was told. I saw about twenty men running and cycling away down a lane, and I also saw the man in the garden being helped to escape by one of the servants from the flat (this was James Green the porter, who later received 2 years for assisting the murders getaway) , who came out with a key and let him out through another exit. It was a dreadful moment. I had watched him so carefully, and I did think that he, at least, would be caught. I then turned to my husband, and found to my horror that he was just losing consciousness, and that the bed on which he was lying was soaked with blood.I took off his coat, and saw four bullet holes two in his arm and shoulder, a horrible-looking one in his back, and another in front. We found afterwards that these were two entry and two exit holes, but I thought at the time that he had received four wounds. He was conscious again, and I, thinking he was the only one wounded, rushed downstairs for help. Never to my dying day shall I forget the scene in the hall and on the stairs, where four officers had been shot. There were great splashes of blood on the walls, floor, and stairs, bits of plaster were lying about, and on the walls were the marks of innumerable bullets. Forunately,with two exceptions, the murderers had been so panic-stricken themselves and their hands so shaky that their firing had been wild in the extreme, and to this fact my husband and one other officer owed their lives.

I turned round the corner of the inner hall, and saw a patch of blue, and found a man in bright-blue pyjamas lying at the top of the kitchen stairs. He, I knew, had a flat on the fourth floor. Why they brought him down and shot him in the hall I do not know. I leant over him. He was shot through both lungs. I could do nothing, and I knew if I was going to help my husband I must think only of him, for there wasa limit to my physical and mental powers of endurance; so reluctantly I left him. The outer hall was by then full of people,and I found that doctors (there were at least six living within a few hundred yards) had already been sent for.I then heard that two officers were lying dead upstairs, and two were dangerously wounded ; in fact, that not one of the six officers who lived in the house had escaped. I assume this means that here were only 6 officers in the house at the time the raid took place.

When the IRA men entered the house, Mrs Grey was coming down the stairs. The pointed a gun at her and told her to return to her room, which she did. Dowling and Price occupied adjoining rooms on the third flor, and both were both in pajamas according to Charlie Dalton's testamony. Col Woodcock and his wife, and Capt Keenlyside and his wife had rooms on the second floor, and Col Montgoery and Lt Murray had rooms on the ground floor.

It appears that the IRA men divided into two groups, and each went up its own staircase. On the third floor they knocked on the doors of Dowling and Price. One of the other officers in the house said that he heard a voice says "I have a letter for you Sir", followed quickly by two bursts of pistol shots.

The noise of the shots brought other British officers to the doors of their rooms, or to the stairs. Col Woodcock was already ot of his room and on the ground floor ready for breakfast. He saw a youth coming down the stairs carrying a gun, who told him to put his hands up. At that moment Montgomery came out of his room on the ground floor. What exactly happened is confused, but both Montgomery and Woodcock were hit by bullets. Mrs Woodcock's account gives four bullets passing through her husband's body, and two hitting Col Montgomery. Col Woodcock then literally crawled back up the stairs to his room, where his wife was.

Capt Keelyside and his wife both emerged onto the stairway, and saw three IRA men. Mrs Keelyside refused to get back to the rooms. As Capt. Keenlyside was about to be shot, a struggle ensued between his wife and Mick O'Hanlon. The leader of the unit, Flanagan, arrived, pushed Mrs. Keenlyside out of the way and shot her husband but they only wounded him in the arm.

Lt Murray was held in the hall on the ground floor. They fired at him as they left, but did not kill him. One of the wounded officers told me he was placed against a wall in the hall, and eight men took, or tried to take, careful aim at him. One man's hand shook so much that a comrade took his revolver away from him, and another supported his trembling right hand on his left arm. This officer also was a regimental officer, and had nothing to do with police or secret service. Like my husband , he too had a most marvellous escape, and none of the shots he received were vital. From Mrs Woodcocks book - probably refers to Lt Murray

Jeune wrote that on the evening he took part in a search of the railway yards at Inchicore. After several hours they found no ammunition, and slept in some of the railway carriages in the yard. When he woke, he phoned Dublin Castle, who informed him of the raids. And when the returned to Pembroke St, where he shared a flat with Murray, he found a very "distressing scene" .Murray had been taken to hospital. But the body of his "friend Chummy Dowling" was lying full length on the floor. He was dressed in uniform and had been shot through the heart. Dowling was due to relieve Jeune. .

 

Addresses raided by the IRA