John J Fitzgerald 1898 - 1920

Bbbots police casualties Ireland
28 Earlsfort Terrace has been demolished, these are similar original houses
Extract from Abbots Police Casualties in Ireland

Who was John J Fitzgerald? I started looking at him because he was assassinated while he was living a few doors away from my grandparents in Earlsfort Terrace. I wondered who he was and why he was assassinated. In the end I was not sure that Collins Squad got the man they were looking for.They appear to have asked for "FitzPatrick" and ended up shooting "Fitzgerald" because there was no FitzPatrick in the house. Fitzgerald was shot on Bloody Sunday , 21 Nov 1920 - the British withdrew an agent "C J Fitzpatrick" on 26 Nov

Records show he was born 15 March 1898 at Cappagh, Tipperary. A John Joseph Fitzgerald birth registration was made in Tipperary Reg District Apr - Jun 1898. He was the son of a Tipperary doctor, Dr Joseph Fitzgerald, a poor law dispensary Medical Officer at Cappawhite Dr Joseph Fitzgerald was president of the athletics branch of the GAA in Cappawhite from 1895 to 1909.

There is a John Fitzgerald aged 14 in the 1911 census at Rockwell College, one of the principal catholic scholastic establishments in the south of Ireland, is situated in this district, on the road between New Inn and Cashel in Tipperary. This might be him. The 1911 census shows his father Joseph Fitzgerald Age 52, a widower, living with children, May Fitzgerald Age 20, Edward Fitzgerald Age 10, Joseph Fitzgerald Age 7, Agnes Fitzgerald Age 3. So John Fitzgerald was not at home that day. I suspect that he attended Blackrock College, one of the chief mouners was a priest from that College, and both Blackrock and Rockwell are part of the same group of schools.

J J Fitzgerald Medal Card

The medal card established that John Joseph Fitzgerald was in the Royal Irish Regiment and went on to serve in RFC during the war. I have not been able to find him in Royal Irish Regiment. If he served with them it probably would have been in 6th Battalion, formed at Clonmel on 6 September 1914 and took part in the Somme campaign.

1917 Feb 15. Posted to 6 ACW at Oxford, and his service record shows a number of postings

1917 Oct 5. Posted missing. Local press reported Lt J J Fitzgerald, the 2nd son of Dr Joseph Fitzgerald of Cappawhite, missing since 5 Oct 1917. He was 19.5 years old, and had joined the Royal Irish Regiment previously, and was wounded on the Somme. In Feb 1917 he transferred to the Royal Flying Corps. This is our J J Fitzgerald, the date that he goes missing ties up with the RFC records

There is a reference to 2nd Lt John Joseph Fitzgerald in 5 Reserve Squadron in Warwickshire from 25/5/1917 to 18/6/1917. The SE 5 File: states on 4 September 1917 he was flying SE 5a A8908 when it swerved on take off (probably at Filescamp Farm aerodrome) and overturned; on 30 September he was flying SE 5a B504 when it crashed on landing due to a defective undercarriage, probably at Ste-Marie-Cappelle aerodrome

With 60 Sqn RFC, 2/Lt. J J Fitzgerald on 5 October failed to return from an Offensive Patrol while flying SE 5a B507 'A', he suffered engine failure over Bavichove and landed behind the German lines. There are photographs of B507 in German hands in Sturtivant & Page's The SE File and Les Rogers' British Aviation Squadron Markings of World War I. Contrary to a statement made about Fitzgerald, SE5a B507/”A”, Vickers built, wasn't the first SE 5a captured by the enemy. He landed his S.E. 5a on the airfield of Jasta 18 at Harlebeke and was taken POW.

The Army List in Dec 1917 has under RFC, Flying Officers, Fitzgerald, Temp 2nd Lt J J on 6 Aug 17, 24 May 17 (2nd date Army date for rank etc)

1918 Oct 31 2nt Lt to be Lt in Gazette

1918 Dec 18 He was repatriated as POW. Flight magazine of 25 December 1919 indicates that Flying Officer J J Fitzgerald (Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers) and RFC/RAF was Mentioned in Dispatches for valuable services whilst in captivity. Gazette Issue 31691 published on the 12 December 1919. His service record in RAF is here

1919 May 12 His service record shows him posted to Russia. He served as a flight commander in Russian Expeditionary force in no2 Squadron, one of the three Slavo-British Squadrons that ended up sharing the airfield at Bereznik. No 2 Squadron was commanded by R C Carr .

15 May 1919 Sailed from Tilbury
21 May 1919 Arrived Archangel
22 May 1919 Embarked on barges towed by steamers.
06 Jun 1919 Arrived at the front at Bereznik

fitzgerald in Russia

1919 Sep 11. Returns from Russia for "disposal"

1919 Oct 20 He was transferred to unemployed list.

1920 Jun 1. He joined the RIC with the service number 71614, and served as a Barracks Defence Officer in Co Clare. RIC records show him as aged 22 and a sergeant when he was assassinated.

1920 Jul or Aug His father told the inquest that an attempt had been made on Fitzgerald's life in Scarrif, Co Clare

1920 Oct He was described as an ex-military officer, and had served as a barrack defence officer in the RIC in Co. Clare. Whilst on that duty he had been kidnapped. He was placed against a wall and shot with his own revolver, but he was not badly injured, and dropped to the ground pretending to be dead. He was then able to take the opportunity to escape by climbing over a wall. This incident appears to have been in October 1920. The Mid Clare Brigade of the IRA say Captain John Fitzgerald RIC Number 71614 From Cappawhite, Co. Tipperary was assassinated by the I.R.A. on Bloody Sunday in his lodgings at Earlsford Terrace had been stationed in Clare as an R.I.C. Barracks Defence Sergeant. Fitzgerald had been captured and interrogated by the I.R.A., was court-martialled and sentenced to death. He was taken to a field and placed against a wall for execution. At the last moment clambered over the wall and though wounded made good his escape. After recovering from his wounds he was transferred from Clare to Dublin for his own safety.

He had gone to Dublin to have his arm wounds attended to in a Dublin hospital. John Joseph Fitzgerald had been living in the house for about a month and was only a few days out of hospital and still confined to bed when he was assassinated.

The Irish Times report on Monday November 22nd 1920 says 14 persons were killed and 5 injured. And that 10 of the dead were officers. And that they were " in one way or the other connected with the administration of justice, the collation of evidence and the prosecution of prisoners before courts-martial. "

IRA men present (from the maids and the landlady's evidence in the Inquest it would appear that there were 6 men in the raiding party. One outside the front door, one in the kitchen, one the leader remained just inside the front door and 3 went into Fitzgerald's room.

The Maid who opened the door to th hit squad is very clear that they asked for Fitzpatrick

The landlady says they walked away after the shooting down Lower Hatch Street towards Stephens Cross. She could not find anyone to help as the streets were deserted, so she got two medical students to enter Fitzgerald's bedroom, where they found him to be dead.

The Irish Times report goes on to describe the murder of Captain Fitzgerald. It reports that at about 9am on Sunday morning 21 November, a man knocked on the door of 28 Earlsfort Terrace, which was opened by a maid . He asked her if Mr Fitzgerald lived there ( reports in other papers that day have slight variants on this. One says that the man asked for "Colonel Fitzgerald", another says he asked for "Captain Fitzgerald", another for "Fitzpatrick". He asked her to show him Fitzgerald's room and pointed his revolver at her. There were seven men at the door (another report in the Irish Times the next day says 20 men) , and two of these entered the hall. The first man went to Mr Fitzgerald's room, and a moment later the servant heard Captain Fitzgerald utter a loud shout. She then heard someone say "Come on". Four shots rang out, and the man left the room at once and ran away, the others followed him.

Interestingly Thornton's Witness Statement says the man killed was "FitzPatrick"

times report

London Times Report

She later testified : ‘ I next heard Capt. Fitzgerald scream and three shots in quick succession. The party then left the house and walked away quietly. The inquest was told that Fitzgerald was shot through the forehead, in the right wrist where he tried to shield himself, in the chest, and in the neck. The original enquiry is a court of inquiry in lieu of inquest on Capt. J. J. Fitzgerald, evidence of the maid, London NA WO 35/159B. An article by Ann Dolan of TCD goes into a lot of detail on the effects on the minds of the murderers The Historical Journal, 49, 3 (2006), pp. 789–810

The police arrived shortly afterwards and found Captain Fitzgerald dead in his bed in a pool of blood, his forehead shattered with bullets, one in the heart and one to his right wrist as if he had held it up to protect himself. All shots had been fired at point blank range. The officer was unarmed.. Another report says he received 4 bullets, one to the hand, two to the head and one to the heart.

Captain Fitzgerald (The Irish Times refers to him as "Captain" in all their reports) RIC, was buried at noon on Wednesday 24th November 1920. A guard of honour was provided by the RIC. The funeral procession went from King George V Hospital, passing through lines of RIC and Auxiliary Police along Western Avenue to Glasnevin Cemetery. His grave is not recorded as a Commonwealth War Grave, but he had left the British Army by then. It was led by the band of the RIC with muffled guns. The coffin was covered by the Union Jack and carried on a gun carriage. The pall bearers were members of the Auxiliary Force and carried numerous wreaths. An RIC firing party followed with rifles reversed. Then followed detachments from both forces. Relatives and immediate family travelled in closed carriages. After prayers were said at the graveside, the Last Post was sounded and a volley fired.

funeral fitzgerald


The chief mourners were Dr Fitzgerald, Cappawhite (father), Messrs F. & J. Fitzgerald (brothers), Miss Quinlan (aunt), Mrs Hayes (grandmother), Mrs Simms & Mr D. Kilbride (cousins). The officiating clergy were Rev Father Lawless SM (Lower Leeson St) and Rev Father Moloney (Blackrock College)

So apart from being in the RIC there is very little to say whether the Squad got the right man or not.

I later discovered that a "Undercover Man " Clement Patrick Fitzpatrick was removed from Ireland 5 days after Bloody Sunday. It might be a coincidence, but it has always worried me that nobody in the IRA claimed to be responsible for the death of JJ Fitzgerald, almost as if they knew that they had got the wrong man

irish times

One can follow the Fitzgerald family of Cappawhite for some years. His father was a doctor at Cappawhite, and he resigned his medical post Feb 1924 and died March 1924. From Irish Times entries one finds various of the family mentioned

1921 Mar 9. His parents receive £2,200 as compensation for his death

Charles Grant b1881