British Intelligence in Ireland

D Branch Organisation Basil Thomson Gen Tudor RIC Ireland smith-cumming Irish ethnic spies from Scotland Yard Hounslow Spy School Gen Macready Gen Boyd, Dublin Dublin District Special Branch Ormonde Winter David Boyle Brind and Hill Dillon

A new British Administration in Dublin in 1920 reorganised both British Intelligence and British Propaganda. Both the British and the Irish had efficient propaganda organisations and were capable of, and indeed intent on, doctoring the news to gain political advantage. And if they could not doctor the news, then at least to minimise the negative effects of bad news. The British attempted to portray the men murdered on Bloody Sunday as innocent soldiers just doing their duty, and butchered often in front of their wives by the IRA. While the IRA want to put across that they were all dangerous men who would have brought about the death of a great many Irishmen if they had not been silenced, and that further they were killed because specific information existed against each man killed. It seems that the truth lies between the two opposing lots of spin.

Military Intelligence in Ireland came under Macready. It was run by Brind, a GSO1, with Hill-Dillon as his number two (a GSO2). There were three other GSO2 in the department

The British had three sources of agents, each group being ignorant of the other, and each command being suspicious of other's information.

In Dublin in March 1920, the Dublin District Command became responsible for a special branch to operate under cover. Up to that date variou agents sent from England had been operating without any formal command structureAnd on 27 May 1920 Lt Col Walter C Wilson became the man in charge of this unit. GHQ set up a card index system to create an IRA List. Regular battalions in Ireland each had an intelligence officer, charged with running informers and gathering intelligence.

Although the IIS (that is Irish Republican Intelligence) was aware that changes were taking place on the British side, it was some time before it ascertained the identities of the group. Their first break appears to have come following the execution of John Lynch, by the British. After this episode, Lt. Angliss had been one of the killers, and having had a drink too many had divulged his participation in the execution to a girl in his lodgings, who inadvertently passed this information to an IIS informant. Other members of the group were identified by landladies revealing that the men went out late at night. The British undercover men lived in boarding houses and hotels across Dublin, unobtrusively going out to keep tabs on the IRA. While at the same time the IRA Intelligence Department (IRAID) was receiving information from well-placed sources, including Lily Mernin, who was the confidential clerk for British Army Intelligence Centre in Parkgate Street, and Sergeant Jerry Mannix, stationed in Donnybrook. Another IRA source was Constable David Neligan, of G-Division (special branch) of the Dublin Metropolitan Police. Strangely both sides appeared to meet together at the Cafe Cairo, Rabiatti's Saloon and Kidds Back Pub. In addition the IRA, once they knew where undercover men were living could get the Irish servants to report on the mens' movements.

The Hounslow Spy School - London Operation to supply agents to Dublin District D Branch

The British Army Intelligence Centre in Ireland recruited a special plainclothes unit originally of 18-20 demobilized ex-army officers and some active-duty officers to conduct clandestine operations against the IRA. The officers received training at a school of instruction in London, most likely under the supervision of Special Branch, which had been part of the Directorate of Home Intelligence since February 1919. They may also have received some training from MI5 officers and ex-officers working for Special Branch. Army Centre, Dublin, hoped these officers could eventually be divided up and deployed to the provinces to support its 5th and 6th Division intelligence staffs, but it decided to keep it in Dublin under the command of the Dublin District Division, General Gerald Boyd, commanding. It was known officially as the Dublin District Special Branch (DDSB) and also as "D Branch".

One by one, they arrived in Ireland, travelling under aliases and using commercial cover, several taking jobs as shop assistants, travelling salesmen or garage hands to avoid suspicion. Area commanders like Carew were Class GG. And the senior Intelligence men in Dublin Castle were Class FF. Besides being more experienced intelligence operatives than those earlier working in Ireland, these men increased the threat to the Irish because they immediately reorganized the British intelligence effort, which until their arrival had been decentralized and uncoordinated. They moved quickly to correct weaknesses. Their accomplishments led ultimately to the events of "Bloody Sunday." s Collins attemted to reduce their influence

The letter below shows that the British establishment for D Branch

The London Gazette notices lead one to find a number of these men. I have more information on individuals on Castle Intelligence

The men believed to have been in the Intelligence operation are as follows. Intelligence has 29 individuals that I have found with II grading. The establishment was for 75 men, so I have not even found the half of them They include Ames, Angliss, Dowling, Maclean and Price who were all killed on Bloody Sunday

There are a number of "incidents" that took place and need to be understood in the conext of the history of British Intelligence

The first men from the Hounslow spy school arrived in Ireland in eary summer 1920 after a short instruction course. The first batch were instructed to pose as RE officers, but when this patently failed to fool anybody, this guise was dropped. They were told to get on with getting to know the city of Dublin, trailing suspects and carrying out small raids to gather information. For example they raided Arthur Griffith's house and removed documents. Set up in July 1920, it was originally run by Charles Tegart with G C Denham as his number two. But they were replace after 4 months, and the London Bureau was taken over by Jeffries with Cameron as his number two. Cameron would later take over. Sixty agents were sent to Ireland over th 8 or 9 months that the scheme ran for.

Alexander CB r's record indicates that there

1920 Dec 27. Dublin District Special Branch was transferred to Police, rather than Army , control. And Walter Wilson, who had been in command of DDSB resigned, rather than transfer to Winter and the Police. Ormonde Winter became Chief of a new Combined Intelligence Service (CIS) for Ireland. Working closely with Sir Basil Thomson, Director of Civil Intelligence in the Home Office, with Colonel Hill Dillon, Chief of British Military Intelligence in Ireland. The Operation of what was now became D Branch of the Police, was run by David Boyle . All the Army Agents were transferred to the Police. As Intelligence was concentrated in the Office of the Chief of Police, numbers rose from 1 man in 27 May 1920 to around 150 by 23 Jul 1921 (exclusive of outside agents)

Winter had already been placed in charge of a new police intelligence unit, the Combined Intelligence Service, in May 1920, and his charter was to set up a central intelligence clearing house to more effectively collate and coordinate army and police intelligence. The members of D Branch who survived Bloody Sunday were very unhappy to be transferred from army command to CIS command, and, for the next six months, until the Truce of July 1921, D Branch continued to maintain regular contact with Army Intelligence Centre while undertaking missions for Winter's CIS.

The Intelligence group in Dublin worked under Ormonde Winter. Deputy Police Adviser and Head of Intelligence. They included Capt H B C Pollard and Major Cecil Street . The entire Intelligence team lived in quarters at the Royal Marine Hotel at Kingstown but by September 1921 all had for safety moved inside the thick walls of Dublin Castle itself, address being Number 4 Upper Castle Yard. There had been an IRA attack on men in the hotel on 19 Jun 1921

D Branch of the Dublin Police then ran under Winter's control until British withdrawl in 1922

Ormonde Winter

A number of gong's were given to men from D Branch, though these went almost entirely to men above Grade II. And Maj General Boyd, the Dublin District Army Commander did lobby for the Intelligence men. List of British Empire Awards in Jan 1923

boyd to childs


Bloody Sunday