Capt. Alan Cane Lendrum MC & bar

On 22 Sep 1920 Alan Lendrum was shot by the IRA at a railway crossing in Clare. His body was not recovered by the British until the 1st Oct 1920. And the CWGC citation says 27 Oct 1920 for his death.

There is still doubt as to what actually happened. The only eye-witness account is by Liam Haugh O/C of the West Clare Brigades Active Service Unit, so there is nothing to corroborate his account which itself was made in 1947

And there is doubt as to Lendrum's relationship with the British Army. His CWGC recognition indicates that they are satisfied that he was a serving British officer - note for example the Auxiliary Police who died in service in Ireland were not recognised as they were not serving in the British Army when they died. The consensus seems to be that he was not intelligence, certainly the IRA who shot him are unanimous that they shot him to get his car, not to kill him for his position in the Crown forces. But he had relinquished his commission in Apr 1920, so the presumption must be that he had an "un-gazetted" commission when he was shot.

Let us look first at Alan Cane Lendrum's life up to the day he was shot.

1885 Jul 11. Alan Lendrum was born, the youngest son of a family of 5 children in Irvinestown, Tyrone. Son of George Cosby Lendrum & Antoinette Frances Butler

For a year he attended Portora Royal School in Enniskillen possibly 1901-02.

1901 census at Magheracross, Ballinamallard, Fermanagh with his parents

1904 Apr 14 Midshipman RN. The copy I have of his RN service is difficult to read, but it appears to have been as a volunteer rather than a permanent position

1906 Jan 29 Gains 2nd Mates cert His birthplace is given as Ballmamallard, Ireland

1907 Jan 8. Appointed Sub-Lt in Royal Indian Marine

1907 Mar 14 "Resignation accepted by Admiralty" presumably from RN to move to Royal Indian Marine

1910 Navy List, he is still in Royal Indian Marine as a Sub Lt

There is also a whole period after this when he was on the 'Lord Brassey Scheme' run by Devitt and Moore and sailed round the world a number of times.Some items about the scheme exist in the National Maritime Museum collection. There is also a 'Brassey Collection' in Hastings which might have something.

1911 Census at Leixlip, Co Kildare. He is "Retired Indian Marine" and he is staying with his sister.

Pre-WW1 He was in Malaya, apparently as a rubber planter on Eow Seng Estate, Parit Buntar

1914 Dec 2. The undermentioned to be Second Lieutenants (on probation). — Alan Cane Lendrum, 3rd Inniskilling

1915 Jul 14. Leaves UK for Douala, Cameroon. He is an Army Lt.

1915 Jul 14. The undermentioned Second Lieutenants to be temporary Lieutenants, whilst employed with the West African Frontier Force: — A. C. Lendrum, 3rd Battalion (Reserve), The Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

1916 Sep 5. R. Innis. Fus.—Lt. A. C. Lendrum, Spec. Res., relinquishes the acting rank of Capt.

1915 Dec 6. The undermentioned Second Lieutenants (on probation) are confirmed in their rank: —The Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. Alan Cane Lendrum

1916 May 4. Arrives in UK from Sierra Leonne, West Africa. His home is Cortel, Kilskeery, Co Tyrone, and he is "military"

1916 May 25. R. Innis. Fus.—Lt. A. C. Lendrum is restd. to the estabt.

1916 Jul 21. The undermentioned to be acting Capts. whilst comdg. a Co.: — Lt. A. C. Lendrum, Spec. Res.

1916 Sep 15. R. Innis. Fus.—Lt. A. C. Lendrum, Spec. Res., relinquishes the acting rank of Capt.

1917 Jan 16. Lt. A. C. Lendrum, Spec. Res., to be acting Capt. Royal Inniskilling Fus. Special Res

1917 Apr 1. Wounded

1917 Jul 5. Private Robert Hope (alias ‘J Hepple’) He served with 1st Battalion, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers in Egypt and Gallipoli but after going absent without leave for 11 weeks in France, he was shot on 5th July 1917. He is buried at Ferme-Olivier cemetery, near Ypres. The next-of-kin inscription on his grave reads ‘of Waterside, Derry’. Lendrum was believed to have been in charge of the firing squad, and refused to do the job, on the grounds that he knew the man.

1917 Jul 24. Court-martialed and sentenced to ‘forfeiture of seniority of rank and severe reprimand’. Another document in his file 'Proceedings of Courts Martial submitted for the inspection of the Adjutant-General' details the offence as 'conduct to the prejudice of good order and military discipline'. The sentence as 'forfeiture of seniority of rank and severe reprimand'. This is signed by Kenneth Marshall, Deputy Judge Advocate and Maj Gen Childs (Director of Personal Services)

1917 Aug 8. From Royal Dublin Fusiliers War Diary. 'Lt A C Lendrum from 1st Ry. Inniskilling Fusiliers joins and remains with details'

1917 Aug 31. B. Innis. Fus.—Lt. A. C. Lendrum to take rank and precedence in the Regt. and in the Army as if his promotion to that rank bore: date 27th Nov. 1916

1917 Oct 20 . R. Dub. Fus.— Lt. A. C. Lendrum, R. Innis. Fus., Spec. Res., to be actg. Capt. whilst comdg. a Co.

1917 Oct 31 Noted as Capt A C Lendrum on strength of 1st RDF.

1917 Oct 31. Noted as in command of X Coy RDF

1917 Nov 1. 1st RDF moved to be right support in the sunken road about Croisilles, sending out working parties to the front.

1917 Nov 7. The 1st RDF relieved 2nd RDF at the front in the right sub-section. X Coy was "in support"

1917 Nov 20. 1st RDF took part in the 16th Division Assault on Dovis and Tunnel Support Trenches. X Coy were under cover adjacent to and immediately SW of Lincoln Support. At zero hour X Coy was to move forward and follow the assaulting troops, collecting wire along the way. X Coy under the command of Capt Lendrum followed closely behind the leading waves and rapidly put up a double belt of double concertina wire along the whole Brigade front. Capt Lendrum was wounded. This is the action that got him his first MC

1918 Jun 25 . R. Innis. Fus. .—The notification in the Gazette of 3rd Sept. 1917, regarding Lt. (actg. Capt.) A. C. Lendrum, M.C., is cancelled

1918 Jul 22. MC Gazetted

1918 Jun 18 A letter from War Office pronounces that Lendrum's appeal to have his sentence commuted from 'forfeiture of rank' to 'reprimand' had been successful - in view of 'gallantry displayed in the field'.

1918 Oct 7. Detrained in Hagle, near Dirty Bucket.

1918 Oct 15 Wounded in an attack at Gulleghem in Belgium

1919 Feb 15 Bar to MC gazetted . Lt. (A./Capt.) Alan Cane Lendrum, M.C., 3rd , Bn., attd. 2nd Bn., R. Innis. Fus. For conspicuous courage and excellent leadership during the attack upon Gulleghem on October 15th, 1918. When his company was checked by enemy wire and machine-gun fire, he went forward under very heavy fire to reconnoitre the position, and this enabled his company to find a way through the obstacle. Throughout the whole operations he showed unfailing energy and determination.

1919 May 27. Sailed from Tyne Dock on the Porto to Archangel as part of the North Russian Relief Force

In Russia his MIC shows him attached to 3rd North Russian Rifles, a difficult posting

1919 Jul General Ironside’s efforts over the winter months in recruiting and training local Russian units to take the field and bolster his meagre forces had resulted in the formation of a number of battalions of British trained Russian recruits. One of these, the 2nd Battalion 3rd North Russian Rifles had taken it’s place in the front line at Toulgas on the Dvina with a complete field battery and subsection of a heavy battery in direct support. In the early hours of 25th April the battalion mutinied, and after murdering seven of their officers disappeared into the woods where the Bolshevik forces awaited them. Then the whole force turned to attack the remnants of the force holding Toulgas. Heavy fire from the artillery supported by a Canadian battery at Kurgomen halted the attack. Naval Actions of Russian Civil War .

1919 July 25. "M.26" (Lieutenant-Commander A. O. Fawssett, R.N.) rescued the small British garrison at Onega, which was in the hands of Russian troops who had mutinied and joined the Bolsheviks.

1920 Apr 1. Relinquishes his commission. 3rd R. Innis. Fus. — Lts., and are granted title rank of Capt. : — A. C. Lendrum, M.C.

1920 Jul His appointment as a magistrate is reported.

1920 Sep 3. Gazetted . Chief Secretary's Office, Ireland: Magistrate in Ireland, Alan Cane Lendrum. He was appointed Acting Resident Magistrate of Kilkee. Alan Lendrum was responsible for British administrated petty sessions in Kilkee, Kilrush, Miltown Malbay and Ennistymon. It was while en route to Ennistymon that he was killed by the IRA.

1920 Aug Lendrum drove from Ennis to Kilrush with   R.I.C. District Inspector George H. Noblett, when they reached a trench cut across the road by the I.R.A. and shots were fired at their car. Following this Lendrum began travelling occasionally to and from court in an R.I.C. Crossly Tender with an R.I.C. escort. More often he travelled alone carrying an automatic pistol for defence.

1920 Sep 22. Shot by a group of I.R.A. Volunteers at Caherfeenick railway crossing, near Doonbeg in West Clare.

According to Liam Haugh O/C of the West Clare Brigades Active Service Unit the aim of the operation was to commandeer Lendrum’s car not to kill him. “The car was a Ford two seater and looked good in the eyes of some [I.R.A.] Volunteer officers. The tacit consent of the brigade commander was given for its seizure when opportunity favoured – with the understanding that its owner was not to be injured.” Haugh was the only I.R.A. man to give an account of the incident and he does not claim that Lendrum was a spy. Haugh's Witness Statement

The IRA claim that Lendrum had drawn an automatic pistol to defend himself and that was why he was shot . George Noblett, an R.I.C. District Inspector and personal friend of Lendrum, later speculated : “ I am sure he resisted. Alan Lendrum was a man who would never put his hands up and he always carried a small German automatic in those days. His resistance may well have cost him his life but any other action on his part would have been completely out of character.”

As Lendrum drove towards the level crossing the gates were closed by two I.R.A. Volunteers and he was ordered at gunpoint to surrender his car. Captain Lendrum drew his automatic pistol but was shot dead before he had a chance to fire.

So what happened at the level crossing. According to Liam Haugh O/C of the West Clare Brigades Active Service Unit of the I.R.A. the aim of the operation was solely to commandeer Lendrum’s car.“The car was a Ford two seater and looked good in the eyes of some [I.R.A.] Volunteer officers. The tacit consent of the brigade commander was given for its seizure when opportunity favoured – with the understanding that its owner was not to be injured. How this was to be achieved in the event of his offering resistance was not made clear. On a few occasions parties who lay in wait were disappointed. It became known that he was to travel from Kilkee to Milltown Malbay on December 6th.. [Sic. September 22nd] Two volunteers lay in wait at a level crossing at Caherfeenick, two miles north of Doonbeg The railway gates had been closed across the road and an officer who was supposed to be present had not yet arrived when Captain Lendrum drove up. According to the account given, he whipped out an automatic when challenged. Before he had a chance to use it he was fired on and mortally wounded. The Volunteer officer concerned now came up. The car was taken a mile further on and the wounded man was taken to an outhouse in a field nearby where he died that evening. In the meantime the car was secreted eight miles further on. The body was weighed down and sunk off low-water the same night.

Lendrum’s body was hidden in Lough Donnell near Doughmore Strand. 

Ten lorries of British soldiers had left Ennistymon to search for Captain Lendrum. Captain Lendrum’s wife regularly phoned the military and R.I.C whenever he was due to make a journey and when he failed to arrive at Ennistymon the British military had set out to look for him. This meant that they came across evidence of the separate Rineen Ambush that had taken place the same day, and became involved in the hunt for the attackers there.

1920 Sep 26. The Times reported that notices were posted in Kilkee, threatening that if Lendrum was not found by 29th September the villages of "Kilkee, Kilrush, Carrigaholt , Doonbeg and Kilmihil and other towns in the west" would be burnt.

James Lendrum, his younger brother, then travelled to Clare and met with D.I. George Noblett  and  the Parish Priest at Kilkee, Canon Glynn, to negotiate for the return of Alan Lendrum’s body. Cannon Glynn approached the local I.R.A. and arranged the return of Alan Lendrum's body. According to the Irish Times; “Two civilians interviewed one of the police district inspectors in West Clare and informed him that Captain Lendrum had been shot dead when ambushed on 22 September, and Sinn Fein would give up the body if the police were withheld from their threatened reprisals for a period sufficient to enable them to obtain the body as ‘at present there were difficulties in the way’.”

1920 Oct 1. A coffin containing Lendrum’s body was recovered by the R.I.C. on the railway line near Craggonock railway station. Lendrum’s body was taken to Kilrush where a military inquest took place behind closed doors. A local paper ‘The Saturday Record’ reported that there were two bullet wounds in Lendrum's head. The British Military inquest established that Lendrum had died of gunshot wounds. However members of the R.I.C. in Clare spread an alternative version of events and claimed that Lendrum had died of drowning. According to Fr. Pat Gaynor a priest in the area; “After a subsequent autopsy, the police claimed that he had been buried while still alive: that death was due to drowning.”

Lendrum’s body was returned to Tyrone and buried at Kilskerry Church.

1920 Dec 22.Repercussions with the death of 2 IRA men. As he was the only member of the West Clare Irish Republican Brigade who could drive a car, Willie Shanahan was called on to dispose of the car driven by Alan Lendrum. Following on from this, himself and Michael McNamara (captain of the Doonbeg company) were pursued, in the belief that they could provide information on who had killed Lendrum. “They were hunted and caught after three months. Then they were questioned and they were killed on the same day, December 22 1920. Michael McNamara was killed while being brought from Kilrush to Ennis. At first, it was said that McNamara was shot while trying to escape and later, they said he was shot by accident. It was later in the day in Ennis when Willie Shanahan was shot and they said he had been attempting to escape. But it is generally believed they were both killed in reprisal,” Eoin Shanahan explained. Sunday, April 17, 2011 Clare Champion

1922 a book was published anomalously, entitled ‘Tales of the R.I.C’. It was in fact written by Temporary Major Aubrey Waithman-Long, General List while living at Ballina House, Mayo. Long had served in the Auxiliary Division of the RIC. "Tales of the RIC". are a series of anonymous short stories that appeared first in Blackwood's Magazine in 1920 and 1921. Strongly unionist, they are based on episodes in the Royal Irish Constabulary's struggle against the Irish Republican Army during the War of Independence. They begin around the spring of 1920, and end with the truce of July 1921. 'The day will come in Ireland when men will pray to God for a sight of the good old green uniform of the R.I.C. And it will be too late.' There is a chapter entitled ‘The R.M.’ which was a thinly veiled account of the death of Lendrum.  The subject of the tale is Mayne a former British Army officer appointed Resident Magistrate. Mayne is ambushed at a railway crossing who shoot him in the head. In the tale Mayne is not dead, they abandon him expecting him to die,but return later to find him still alive. Mayne is then taken to the shore and buried up to his neck in the sand for the tide to kill him. They have to rebury him a second time, he is finally drowned as the next tide. Mayne’s corpse is subsequently found in a coffin on a railway line and one his killers confesses.

1959 A book  “The Black And Tans” by Richard Bennett, states.“On the day the Black and Tans ran wild in Ennistymon, Lahinch and Milltown Malbay, for example, a party of volunteers a few miles away buried a Resident Magistrate up to his neck in sand, just below high water mark, as they imagined. He had been kidnapped and condemned to death as a traitor, but the appointed executioner had wounded him in the head without killing him. The Volunteers returned the next day to find the victim still alive. They dug him out and buried him further down the beach, where he could watch the next tide advance, to put him slowly out of his misery.”

1961. A book was published “Assassination. The Death Of Sir Henry Wilson And The Tragedy Of Ireland.” by Rex Taylor. Taylor mentions “Alan Lendrum, M.C.” and states: “One morning on his way to the courthouse, he found the level crossing gates closed against him he got out of his car and was shot down. He lay in the road suffering agony from many wounds. Those of the I.R.A. who had shot him, fearful now that he might live to name them as his attackers, carried him down to the foreshore and there buried him while he was still alive. In all the history of Irish sadistic violence there is nothing to equal this atrocity against a gallant and decent man.”

1989 Kevin Myers in the The Irish Times “Alan Lendrum had got out of his car to open the gates of a level crossing. Hidden gunmen shot him down but did not kill him. Finding him wounded but still very much alive, his assailants abducted him and took him to a beach; and there buried him up to his neck in the sand, to await the rising tide and death. Relatives of Alan Lendrum say that the first tide was not enough; so he was duly dug up and buried , still alive, further down, and in due course was drowned.”. But a short time later retracted this with "Presumably one of [Basil] Clark’s more imaginative underlings concocted the fiction that he had been buried up to his neck near the high tide point and left there for the rising sea to drown him. It did not rise high enough so that his I.R.A. captors dug him up and buried him closer to the low water mark  where finally the waters drowned him. Now this was not true. The truth was bad enough anyway, but it was not enough for Clark’s imagination. Yet though the story was intended to have a short term anti-I.R.A. value, it continued to surface in various forms throughout the years.”

2000. Richard Abbott in ‘Police Casualties In Ireland 1919 -1922′ “ [Lendrum] was ambushed and wounded between Ennistymon and Ennis, Co. Clare. He was then buried to his neck in the sand on a nearby beach by his attackers. On their return they found that they had buried their victim above the high tide line , so they buried him below it.”

British Intelligence at Dublin Castle 

WO 339/17911 for his service file