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July 12th 1921 Sleady

Memoirs Of George Lennon

18. July 12th 1921 Sleady

The column has been disbanded, the arms dumped and the lads have all returned home. Kirkby took off with alacrity and our best Webley revolver disappeared with him.

I am waiting for a car to pick me up. Sitting very much alone on a ditch I am overcome with sadness and I cannot shake off a dread premonition.

Everything had seemed to be going exceptionally well recently. Twelve additional riflemen had some time before coming over the Gap from the east part of the county to join us and I was moving about with a well-disciplined force of forty-two men. Our enemies had retreated into the towns and they were now only venturing out in large mobile columns complete with mounted officers and a field kitchen. We had been on the tail of one such column for three days. We just missed them coming through the Lickey position where we would have had a decided advantage. I dared not bring such a large body of troops to action in open country as they were more than twice our strength and we would have to make a capture to replenish our expended and limited supply of ammunition- to say that we were like Indians on the trail of covered wagons is not a bad illustration.

As we had had no sleep for two days running we let out enemies go and moved for rest to a place called Collagortuide (the place of the yellow fields) at the foot of the Knockmealdown Mountains.

Then a dispatch carrier came running across the fields waving a paper. Quite unexpectedly a Truce had been declared. This action on the part of our leaders caused me considerable doubt and I was wondering if accepting a premature truce was not a grave error.

At no other time in our unhappy history had things seemed to be going so well. The people were all with us as we were with our people and we had the enemy apparently on the run. We were holding two trump cards, Unity and Secrecy. Secrecy was our secret weapon as the inefficient British intelligence system was convinced that all the hills were crawling with insurgents. Now we would be coming into losing the other card our leaders would rend the country from top to bottom. True, the arms situation was by no means good but there were some signs that at last this was going to be rectified. Was it by deliberation or through incompetence that our G.H.Q. had failed to arm the Volunteers?

The questions of unity was vital. For a guerilla war to succeed the army must have the active support of the civil Population. With a hostile, or part hostile, population the game was up. I had some sad premonition regarding all this as I waited for the car. What a luxury to sit in a car after the years of footslogging. Soon we would be all riding around in cars, little heroes, and a softening up process would begin. We would, naturally, be reluctant to go back to all that other business again.

With no let up in hostilities our political leaders could have negotiated from a position of strength. Bargaining from a position of weakness they would have to accept the best terms they could get.

In fact, and in effect, the war was over.

Author: George Lennon

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