CHAPTER VII. 21ST NOVEMBER.

EXTRACT from the ' Times,' Monday, 22nd November :
" At nine o'clock yesterday morning gangs of assassins visited simultaneously a number of selected houses and hotels in Dublin, and in circumstances of revolting brutality murdered at least fourteen British officers and ex-officers, and wounded five more. In two or three cases officers' wives were pulled out of bed, and their husbands murdered in front of them."

Extract from a letter written by Father Dominic, a Roman Catholic priest, who was arrested a few weeks later : "Sunday, November 21st, was a wonderful day in Dublin."

Above are the two points of view, English and Sinn Fein, of one of the most ghastly massacres the world has ever known. It is exactly three months to-day since " Red Sunday " in Dublin.I am writing this on a Sunday morning; like 21st November,it is a fine sunny day.In the distance I hear the sound of church bells. They were ringing that Sunday morning too, summoning the people, some to Mass, and others to murder. My husband had hurried over his dressing, as he was to take a Church Parade at the Commander-in-Chiefs. I was wearing a blouse with a lot of tiresome little buttons. Had it not been for those silly little buttons I should have gone down to breakfast with my husband, and should have had the agony of seeing him and others killed or wounded before my eyes, and should probably have been shot myself. I was standing at my bedroom window struggling with the cuff of my blouse, when I saw a man get over the garden wall. I watched him idly; in spite of five months in Dublin and constant alarms and excitements I felt no fear,and not much anxiety.I thought he had come to see one of the maids.But directly I saw him take a revolver out of his pocket my fears were aroused, and I rushed to the door, and shouted to my husband,who had left the room a few minutes before. It is a bitter thought now that if I had raised the alarm directly I saw the man get over the wall I might have roused some of the other officers,though I believe from the evidence collected that it is fairly clear that several of the murderers were already in the house when this man got into the garden. Their organisation was perfect.

My husband was unarmed. The Staff and regimental officers who occupied flats in this and, I believe, other similar buildings, had been warned and advised that it would be wiser not to carry revolvers or to keep them in their rooms : on the same principle, I suppose, as the Dublin Metropolitan Police were also unarmed i.e., if you did not hurt any one no one would hurt you,and if we had no weapons in our rooms we should not be raided, and raids had been frequent in our neighbourhood: accurate information as to where such weapons would be found was apparently always given by servants in the various houses. The four other officers who had rooms in the house each, I know now, had several revolvers, but they never used them. No one fired a shot. I imagine they were surprised and shot down before they even had time to arm themselves.

Our first thought was for those friends who lived on the lower floors, and, after looking at the man in the garden, my husband rushed down to warn them, and to bolt the hall door. It was too late. The hall was full of armed men. He was ordered to put his hands up and to give his name. He did so, and added, " There are women in the house." The murderers answered," We know it." At that moment the door behind my husband opened, and he, fearing that one of the officers he had hoped to warn was coming out of his room, shouted, " Look out, M ." As he spoke they fired and shot my husband through the shoulder, and he fell at the foot of the stairs. He scrambled up, but was shot again through the back. Getting up again, he half-walked and half-crawled upstairs. The other officer, who had not heard my husband's warning, was also fired at twice, and fell at his wife's feet, she herself being slightly wounded in the knee. I had remained in my room, watching from the window the man in the garden, who stood a few feet from the back entrance, revolver in hand, ready to fire if any one tried to escape through that door. I heard six shots only, though subsequently I found at least fifty must have been fired; but the building was a large one, and except for these six they had all been fired on the other side of the house and on the other stairs. I was in an agony of anxiety, but I had sworn to my husband that I would not leave my window. The door opened, and he came in ; his shoulder was covered with blood, but his first words were, "It's all right, darling ; hey have only hit outlying portions of me. Go back to the window."

He looked much as usual,and as he had apparently walked upstairs (I can never understand now how he did get back to the room alone and unaided ), I did not think he could be very badly hurt, so I did as I was told. I saw about twenty men running and cycling away down a lane, and I also saw the man in the garden being helped to escape by one of the servants from the flat,who came out with a key and let him out through another exit. It was a dreadful moment. I had watched him so carefully, and I did think that he, at least, would be caught. I then turned to my husband, and found to my horror that he was just losing consciousness, and that the bed on which he was lying was soaked with blood.I took off his coat, and saw four bullet holes two in his arm and shoulder, a horrible-looking one in his back, and another in front. We found afterwards that these were two entry and two exit holes, but I thought at the time that he had received four wounds. He was conscious again, and I, thinking he was the only one wounded, rushed downstairs for help. Never to my dying day shall I forget the scene in the hall and on the stairs, where four officers had been shot. There were great splashes of blood on the walls, floor, and stairs, bits of plaster were lying about, and on the walls were the marks of innumerable bullets. Forunately,with two exceptions, the murderers had been so panic-stricken themselves and their hands so shaky that their firing had been wild in the extreme, and to this fact my husband and one other officer owed their lives.

I turned round the corner of the inner hall, and saw a patch of blue, and found a man in bright-blue pyjamas lying at the top of the kitchen stairs. He, I knew, had a flat on the fourth floor. Why they brought him down and shot him in the hall I do not know. I leant over him. He was shot through both lungs. I could do nothing, and I knew if I was going to help my husband I must think only of him, for there wasa limit to my physical and mental powers of endurance; so reluctantly I left him. The outer hall was by then full of people,and I found that doctors (there were at least six living within a few hundred yards) had already been sent for.I then heard that two officers were lying dead upstairs, and two were dangerously wounded ; in fact, that not one of the six officers who lived in the house had escaped. I cannot describe the awful feeling of sick horror that came over me, and how I literally shook with mingled feelings of pity and passionate anger. I went to the telephone, rang up the barracks,and implored them to send soldiers at once, and then tore upstairs again to my husband. I seized rugs and hot-water bottles from the bed of an old Irish lady who had the flat below us.I found her in a terrible state of agitation , cursing the British Government, but I had no time to waste on her. At last the doctors came to my room. They told me they had already seen the other wounded, and, leaving them with my husband, I went downstairs again. I expected the troops any moment, and I wanted to make sure that the servant I had seen helping one of the murderers to escape was arrested the moment they arrived. I could not rest till I knew the house was surrounded by soldiers. I feared the murderers might come back to finish their bloody task.

At last a party of the regiment arrived, and with them our soldier servant. He was the same man who had deserted the day after I arrived in Dublin. He had not gone far before he repented and returned, and after he had served a term of imprisonment I had pleaded for him, and had been allowed to have him back as our orderly. After all, no one could be blamed for running away from Dublin. Thank God, I had him with me that day. He was the one person in the house who remained unmoved and imperturbable ; he had come to clean boots, but it was all one to him, and he did everything for everybody. After an agonising period of uncertainty, the doctors told me they did not consider my husband's wounds dangerous, and shortly afterwards he was moved to the Military Hospital. The other more dangerous cases were taken to a nursing home almost next door, but I was firm, and implored to be allowed to take him to our hospital. I would not have trusted any one I loved in any nursing home in Ireland that day.

It was arranged that I should move my things to the barracks, so after taking my husband to the hospital (where the very sight of the matron and sisters inspired me with confidence), I returned to the flats to lock up. The place filled me with loathing. I found my orderly waiting for me with tea. I must have drunk buckets of tea that day ; every few minutes some one brought me tea or brandy, or both, and I obediently drank it all. He had already tidied up my room and washed the hall and stairs. I found my husband's clothing soaking in the bath, and I could not help smiling, though I never felt less like smiling in my life, when we had a heated altercation as to whether Lux soap or salt was best for taking out blood-stains. I suggested Lux. He preferred salt.

Our regiment was still guarding the house when I returned, and some of the men came up and spoke to me. Several of them had tears in their eyes. They had heard my husband was dead. Many of them had served with him in Malta and India. Others had fought under him at the Dardanelles and in France. I wonder what those men thought when stretcher after stretcher was carried out in front of them, and they had not been able to fire a shot or strike a blow. I think it speaks well for the magnificent discipline of the regiment that in spite of the fierce anger they felt, not one act of reprisal in any shape or form took place that night or during the ensuing week.Later on a special order of appreciation and thanks was issued by the Commander-in-Chief.

I cannot end this chapter and this most horrible episode of my life for I shall never write of, and if I can avoid it,never speak of it again ) without alluding to the courage and presence of mind of the wives of the murdered officers. Our house was only one of the many that were visited that morning. In one or two even more ghastly scenes were enacted than those I have tried to describe, but everywhere it was the same story of ruthless murder, and of bravery and self-control on the part of the women. It had been much easier for me than for any of the others , as I did not actually see any of the shooting ; I only saw the aftermath. In one house there was a friend of mine whose husband from the first was seen to be dying, and she had been wounded too by a bullet, meant, I suppose, for him as he lay in her arms. Another friend had been pulled out of bed with her husband, and had seen him led away to be shot. She was in the state of health when no woman could be expected to have much control over her nerves. Another had gone from one dying man to another,for, as she said, she could not bear to think that either of them might recover consciousness before the end and find himself alone. But except for the hysterical shrieks of one or two of the maids, I never heard a cry or saw any signs of fear. Every one was perfectly quiet and self-controlled. Two or three of the Irish papers, as well as several English ones, said that the one bright spot on that awful morning was the bravery of the wives, and they were right.

Mrs Woodcock's Story