2nd Lt Alfred Donald Hugh Breeze. 2nd Bn. Worcestershire Regiment

It appears that Lt Breeze was picked up at random on a road block manned by Deansgrange Company (F Coy) of the Sixth Battalion IRA. The IRA were blocking all roads in the area by felling trees, and the car in which Breeze and the two ladies were travelling was stopped while they blocked the road. In other words they were not targeting Breeze in particular. The situation developed when Breeze, not unnaturally tried to draw his revolver. He must have been wounded for the first time at this point. The IRA men then felled the tree, and got instructions from the Company commander to take Breeze to Leopardstown as a prisoner. The IRA removed one of the women from the car and set off with the other woman and Breeze, who had been disarmed. There must have been 2 IRA men in the car with them. The IRA view is that en route to Leopardstown, Breeze attempted to grab a revolver, and they decided at this point to execute him. So the car was stopped and Breeze was shot beside the road. I tend to believe this account as otherwise they would just have killed him at the spot where the car was first stopped - there was no need to transport him somewhere else to kill him.

However I feel that the information that Breeze was to be a witness at MacEoin's trial has been added to the story afterwards. I cannot see that Breeze was involved in MacEoin's capture and MacEoin's Court Martial had already taken place on June 14, 6 days before Breeze was shot.

1901 March. Born Plymouth Devon. Son of Alfred Dennant and Mary Ann Bridget Breeze of College View, Plymouth. He had 2 siblings, Harold Cyril Breeze (1890–1955, m. Gladys Louise Allams in 1917; Daughter Mary J) and Marion Dennant Breeze (1895–1971, no marriage).

1901 census living at 9 College View, Plymouth

1911 census living at 1 College View Plymouth

He was educated at Plymouth College, where from a junior in the Preparatory School he passed through all the forms, finishing as a prefect of the college. He was captain of the 1st Rugby team, the 1st cricket 11, & of the "Fives." He was a member of the Officer Training Corps attached to the college, & on each holiday vacation he went away on farm or camp duties with the contingent & developed a great liking for Army life.

1919 Jan From Plymouth College he proceeded to Sandhurst in January, 1919, & progressed so well there that 12 months afterwards, on the reconstruction of the Sandhurst Battalion of Cadets, his promotion was accelerated by 6 months, & he was made a sergeant. He was the 1st entry from Plymouth known to have held that rank.

1920 Jul 16. The undermentioned Gentlemen Cadets from the Royal Military College, to be 2nd Lts. Worcs Regt, Alfred Donald Hugh Breeze. He joined the Worcesters in Dublin

1921 Mar. He spent the Easter holidays at home with his parents. He arrived on Good Friday [25 Mar], intending to stay for 10 days, but he developed ... pleurisy & pneumonia, & this delayed his departure for 10 weeks.

1921 Jun 9. He reported for duty in Dublin and a few days later a letter was received from him stating that with 7 other officers he had been detailed for 2 months' duty at the Castle. He wrote to his parents about his duties at the Castle, & mentioned that the routine was for the officers to have 24 hours on duty & 48 hours off duty. When off duty, he stated, he spent a good deal of time with friends of his parents, Mr. & Mrs. Calvert Roberts, who live on the outskirts of Dublin, & frequently drove their motor car. It was surmised that he was driving the car, accompanied by Mrs. Roberts & her 2 sisters, on Sunday, when the tragedy took place. Mr. Calvert Roberts is the Dublin director of the firm of May, Roberts, & Co., patent medicine warehousemen, of London, Plymouth, & Dublin, who have a working arrangement with Breeze's, Ltd., wholesale druggists, of 41, Union Street, Plymouth.

1921 Jun 19. Died age 20.

James Moran has sent me a new photograph of the only original part of the old Ballyogan Road that still exists. This part of the road is still here as it was cut off by the M50 and is now a cul-de-sac named Castle View. There would have been a good mile between either end of this road that was without houses during the War of Independence. One can debate as to whether the car is facing the right way for the scenario that unfolded. I am fairly confident that the ILN artist made his sketch at the place where the shooting took place, and may have got the car direction wrong - the car was we know driven back to Dublin, so was not at the spot for reference, and one doubts that he brought the female car driver to the spot afterwards. It does show a section of road in the right place and with the right sort of feel.

The Officer Commanding 2nd Worcestershire Regt., Dublin cables Breezes parents : Regret to inform you that Lieut. Breeze, 2nd Worcestershire Regt., was killed on the 19th by persons unknown. Details follow. Kindly wire your wishes as regards burial. Mr. Breeze replied that he wished the body of his son to be sent home.

The IRA position on the killing is that Alfred Breeze was shot by members of the Deansgrange Company (F Coy) of the Sixth Battalion after been detained while travelling in a motor car on the road from Foxrock to Sandyford and the mountains. On the evening in question members of the Company were under instructions from Brigadier Andy McDonnell to block the roads in the area. Men at the Foxrock end were detailed to hold up all traffic leading to the mountains. A private motor car was stopped with a young man inside. While a member of the Company reassured the nervous female driver that she would only be detained a couple of minutes her companion was seen to draw a revolver. He was disarmed and arrested with a view to being taken to the grounds of Leopardstown as prisoner. (Men from the Company were adamant in later years that the car would have been let pass had he not drawn his revolver). The car was commandeered but at some point Breeze made an attempt to overpower and disarm one of his captors and was duly executed.

With various conflicting or confused statements it is difficult to be precise. But as far as I can tell from the IRA recollections, they stopped him at a roadblock at the junction of Leopardstown Road and Torquay Road. He was then taken past the point at Burton Hall where a tree was felled to close the road. It is difficult to be sure exactly where Breeze sustained the first (superficial) injury to his hip which was roughly bandaged round the outside of his clothes. It was either at the original road block, or at Burton Hall whilst the tree was being felled. He was put back in the car and appears to have tried again to escape, with the result that they shot him there and then, at the place on the map above marked "photo"

In 1959 a recording was made in Geraldines GAA club in Cornelscourt Village where surviving members of F Company Deansgrange recalled various incidents and stories relating to the War of Independence. Here is the part of the transcript relating to the death of Alfred Breeze. 

We received an order one Sunday evening, early one Sunday evening, from Brigadier Andy McDonnell that we were to block the roads in the area. We commandeered saws and all the rest of it and we had most of the roads blocked except this one coming out of, leading to Sandyford up the mountains, at Burton Hall. Jack and his men at this particular time Jack Foley was OC of the company. Jack allotted me the job of protecting the road from the Foxrock end and Michael Yorke, the Ticknock veteran, was at the other end, if I remember rightly? And we let the people, let them pass and Jack told us to hold up all traffic leading to the mountains. I was armed with a 25 automatic, the only thing I had, and it wasn’t very much. But this car, private car came up along and it was a very nice young lady driving it and a gentleman seated beside her. I pulled, halted the car, before that I let a young fella pass on a bicycle and I got strict instructions after it, Michael Yorke held him up at the other end of the road, and I got strict instructions afterwards from Jack Foley, that I was to allow no body to pass, so I decided than that I didn’t allow anyone to pass. And I halted this car, this young man was in it so she got a bit nervous, the lady was driving and she got a bit nervous at the wheel. And she halted and I was advising her not to be nervous that she would only be retained for only a few minutes and just by luck the gentleman beside her was just drawing a revolver. And luckily for me I had him covered and I disarmed him. And I sent in word to Jack that I had a prisoner outside and he sent Tommy out, the late Tommy Moran out “Lord Rest Him” Tom Moran came out with a 38, it was a 38 revolver issued to the RIC which I think Brigadier Andy McDonnell captured, captured somewhere in the area and sent it out to our company. But anyway we arrested our man and brought him round the road and the tree came down in the meantime and the Black and Tans were the other side of the tree and we moving off with our prisoner the next side of the tree. We brought him with a view to bringing him into Leopardstown as a prisoner and he attacked me in the car and he would have certainly succeeded in disarming me and overpowering me, were it not for Tommy Moran. Tommy Moran had the wonderful presents of mind and he released his grip on me but unfortunately Tommy Moran he gave me the 38, the 38 webley and Tommy Moran had the automatic that I relieved from the British Officer, who was, I forget his name? (Interrupted – Lieutenant Breeze) ‘Lieutenant Breeze, Thanks Brigadier McDonnell.’ Lieutenant Breeze. Am I correct on this Andy? I, anyway we executed him and where it not for his execution, I think he was one of the leading witnesses in MaCeoin's’s trial at that particular period and his execution halted the, postponed, postponed the trial of General MaCeoin's, otherwise General MaCeoin's would have been a Kevin Barry today if he, we hadn’t executed him

Newspaper reports give the scene of the execution as Carrickmines. Patrick J Brennan (1st Lieutenant Dundrum A Coy) in his statement to the BMH (1173 p26) gives the place of execution as Murphystown, Sandyford. He also states that Breeze was OC of the Magazine Fort at the time and was in the area on intelligence work. Men from F Coy were convinced in later years that Breeze had been a leading witness in the trial of Sean MaCeoin's and that the trial had to be postponed as a result of his death. However the trial had already taken place on June 14, 6 days before Breeze's death.

Breeze is clearly the officer whose remains were being brought through Portobello Barracks on 23rd June following De Valera's arrest by members of Breeze's regiment (2nd Battalion Worcestershire) when De Valera allegedly became involved in an argument with a high-ranking official over the morality of war, taken from Tim Pat Coogans biography of De Valera (p217 recounted from Frank Gallaghers papers). Robert Kee describes the same argument (Ourselves Alone; The Green Flag Vol 3 p141) but identifies the officer as Breeze and also gives a short account of his death in the same book (p129). Certainly De Valera had been arrested by the Worcesters (in Last Days of Dublin Castle - Sturgis Diaries), and was quickly released.

Photo from Robbie Pearson

1921 Jul 22. Probate granted to his father

British Soldiers died in Ireland