Aircraft crashed in Clare

1920 Nov 18. A platoon from "C" Company, 1st Battalion of the Ox and Bucks were guarding the crashed RAF plane near Punches Quarry, Cratloe area. They were under the command of 2nd Lieutenant M.H.Last.

A group of I.R.A. volunters led by Joe Clancy (Brigade Training Officer East Clare Brigade) had seen the plane come down and got togather an attacking group from IRA men hiding out at Hogans house in Cratloe. Their objective was to capture the aeroplane's machine gun. After dusk Clancy and his group climbed to the top of Punches Quarry and opened fire at 17.30 on the unsuspecting Ox and Bucks troops who were grouped round a large bonfire that they had lit to keep themselves warm. The IRA said that there were no sentries posted.

“I think it was about the third day after the crowd left for Limerick that a British Military plane made a forced landing in the Cratloe district. It came down in a field owned by Mr Punch. In the same field and about two hundred yards away from where the plane came to a halt was a quarry, the top of which was about twenty or thirty feet above the level of the field. I did not actually witness the landing of the plane which took place about mid day, but soon afterwards I went to Hogan’s house near at hand and got full details there of what had happened. One of the workmen Ned O Brien was in the I.R.A. and he told me that the pilot of the plane was unhurt because soon after landing he left the machine and went to the main road where was able to sent word of his position by some passer-by to the military at Limerick. I got a loan of a bike and with a young lad went off to investigate how matters stood as the idea was forming in my head that there might be a machine gun in the plane which might be captured. We turned back as soon as we saw lorries coming from Limerick. On returning to Hogan’s I discussed with Ned O Brien the possibility of attacking the plane and the guard which we now knew would be placed over it for the night, and agreed that it was an opportunity which should not be missed. O Brien went off to get the assistance of the local Volunteers. In a short while Jack Mc Namara, Motyhill, accompanied by Bill Lynch, two O Halloran brothers and six others arrived at Hogan’s.  Two men were sent off to make observations as to what was happening at the plane while Ned O Brien, Jack Mc Namara, the two O Halloran’s, myself and another man whose name I do not know went to Ballymaurice house and got the rifles. The scouts we had sent out came with the news that the military who had come out to guard the plane had built a fire in the field with a load of turf which they had commandeered from a man who was  passing along the road and that they were amusing themselves around the fire at a game called share the ring, and were obviously not expecting an attack. O Brien and Myself took the party of riflemen through the fields on to the top of the quarry. It was then about five thirty p.m. and quite dark. The fire lighted by the military gave us a splendid view of each soldier. We opened fire on them and kept up a hot fusillade for about twenty minutes of so. The military retaliated with heavy machinegun fire under which we retired to  a wood at the rear of the quarry and from there we returned with our guns to Ballymaurice house. I never learned what casualties were inflicted in that engagement on the British forces, but after the first volley I’m positive two soldiers fell into the turf fire.”

They killed 5373641 Private Alfred Spackman immediately. 5373574 Private Maurice Robins was wounded and he died on the 2nd of March 1921 in a military hospital in Fermoy.

The IRA withdrew without pressing home the attack

In revenge for this incident the regiment went wild in Limerick and caused substantial damage to property.

British Soldiers killed in Ireland