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March 1921 On The Train (Part 4)

Memoirs Of George Lennon

15. March 1921 On The Train (Part 4)

On the train.

When the train drew up at Fermoy station he thought that he was taking  leave of  his senses. A tremendous commotion was going on along the platform. An officer smartly opened the door of his compartment (1st class) and came briskly to attention.  A number of English looking ladies were waving regimental colors the three buglers to their front blew a tattoo salute. Then the BrigadierGeneral and his two staff officers stepped most importantly in and took their seats.

In a flash his mind cleared and he realized what was afoot The Brigadiers predecessor, one General Lucas, had been taken prisoner and carried off to an unknown destination.  Generals are not expendable and they were taking no chances with this one. The train pulled filled with soldiers and a plane was flying around overhead. At the tail end of the platform officers let go a salvo of Verey pistols as a final noisy salute.

"Quite a send off sir" said one of the staff officers most respectfully.

Some of our offensive system going west," growled the General.

The General looked like a character out of Punch. He had a walrus moustache, a beefy look and he glared at everything in his immediate vicinity.

Telephone poles flashed by and the fields with their green ditches seemed to go round in circles. Now what was he to do? When the train got to Tallow Road station Constable Neery, who knew him [George Lennon] from childhood, and two other R.I.C. men got into the next compartment.  All the other stations appeared to be heavily guarded by R.I.C. men and Tans. He cursed Liam for bringing him all that distance for a fifteen-minute consultation; the whole business could have been dealt with in a dispatch.  His one chance was to get off at Cappagh and make a dash for it. The next station beyond that was his own town where every constable knew him and he would be dragged off. At any rate he was unarmed and he would not be tortured. He could imagine the angry plaints of the General, "Damnable inefficiency, putting me into a carriage with a dangerous Shinner, - fellow might have shot me, might have murdered the three of us."

Then he realized that that he had made a vow not to be taken alive. Nurse Kent [Kilmacthomas] had given him a slim tube of morphine tablets as the idea of wounds and torture filled him with terror - but he was not going to have recourse to them this time.  He had meant to ask nurse Kent if it was sufficient to swallow the things as she carried around some kind of a syringe and needle. Still, he could not allow himself to be taken; he would have to make a dash for it.

Coming to Cappagh station he pulled all his mental and physical resources together. One of the officers most politely helped him with the door and quaking inwardly he stepped out. By some miracle the platform appeared to be deserted. Constable Neery in the next carriage appeared astounded for a bare instant and quickly averted his eyes. Oh good and darling man, thought he, may the heavens bless you. The train pulled out of the station carrying the Brigadier General to future triumphs. Perhaps to Singapore.

So I was back safely in Ballymulalla the same day. Stackpoole, who was a stickler for protocol, did not think it proper to ask me about my recent interview, although he must have been most curious, but sought my views on another matter he had been stewing over during my absence.

The local battalion commandant had been complaining for quite a long time about a bridge in his area much used by the military and which he was anxious to have destroyed. Having agreed to the necessity for destroying this particular bridge we all retired to bed.

Author: George Lennon

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