DOC Series: IRA Transport Officer

The first 2021 addition to our Decade of Centenaries series comes from the collection of Thomas Cardiff, Transport Officer of 6 Battalion, Dublin Brigade and of 2 Brigade, 2 Eastern Division, IRA, between the years 1921 and 1922.

Cardiff joined the Irish Republican Army (IRA) in March 1917 and first served with H Company, 3 Battalion, Dublin Brigade. He served as Transport Officer for the 6 Battalion from October 1919 and then for 2 Brigade from September 1921. The collection is small but contains interesting documents that relate to the workings of the Brigade Transport Branch during the period between the Truce and the Civil War. Most of these documents consist of Cardiff being directed to provide transport for the movement of goods, including castor oil, pig iron and potassium chlorate. The last being an ingredient in explosives.

The letter above is signed from Cardiff’s Lieutenant Commandant Quartermaster Niall MacNeill, the son of Eoin MacNeill, and asks Cardiff to locate a truck and deliver a large consignment of pig iron. But where is the mode of transport coming from? Cars, trucks, bicycles etc were commandeered by the IRA during the War of Independence in order to help with the movement of personnel, messages and firearms around the country. In another document entitled ‘Return of Automobiles’ there is a list of owners in D Company’s jurisdiction who should see their mode of transport returned to them. The list gives great details as to the owner’s name and address, make of car, number of seats and any other observations.

Cardiff kept a notebook in which he listed the surnames of some of his comrades and either where they lived or where they were stationed in Dublin. There are also detailed notes on how to take care of your rifle, under such headings as ‘Removing and replacing bolt’, ‘Aid to trigger pressure’ and ‘Common faults in aiming’. Some of Cardiff’s note can be seen below.

But what rifle would Cardiff need these notes for? Well the last three pages provides that information as he lists all the parts of a Lee Enfield rifle and then sketches one providing it’s number and rifle number.

Finally, the phrase ‘The devil is in the details’ can certainly be applied to a very short but very important handwritten note that caught our eye, it reads…

The weight of a bomb 1 1/2 lbs, distance to throw 25 to 30 yards, fuse of bomb 7 seconds.’

  • This post was researched and written by Meadhbh Murphy, Archivist, UCD Archives.

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