Sean Russell

sean russell


The raids are believed to have been planned by Sean Russell who later organised the bombing campaign in England in the 1930s

So, who was Sean Russell?

Born in Fairview, Dublin in 1893, Russell joined the Irish Volunteers in 1913. He participated in the 1916 Easter Rising as an officer in Dublin Brigade’s 2nd Battalion, under Thomas MacDonagh. Following the Rising he was interned in Frongoch and Knutsford.

After the Irish War of Independence began, he was attached to the IRA General Headquarters Staff (GHQ) and became IRA Director of Munitions in 1920. In 1925, after the Irish Civil War, he was jailed in Mountjoy Prison but escaped on 25 November in a breakout he helped organise.

From 1922 until his death he remained a senior member and chief of staff of the IRAy.

Russell died in 1940 on a German u-boat after travelling to Nazi Germany in an effort to secure support for the IRA’s efforts to overthrow the Free State and reunite Ireland north and south.

On 15 July 1940, Frank Ryan – an IRA man who had fought on the Republican side in the Spanish Civil War and was captured by Franco forces – was handed over to the Abwehr and taken to Germany. The capture of the German agents from Operation Lobster I did not prevent Abwehr Chief Canaris sanctioning the transport of Russell to Ireland. Both Russell and Frank Ryan, (who had arrived in Berlin on 4 August), departed aboard U-65 from Wilhelmshaven on 8 August – the mission was titled Operation Dove ("Unternehmen Taube" in German). Russell became ill during the journey and complained of stomach pains. U-65 was not equipped with a doctor and he died on 14 August, 100 miles short of Galway. He was buried at sea and the mission aborted. Following the return of the submarine to Germany an inquiry was set up into Russell's death by the Abwehr. This inquiry included the interrogation of U-65's crew and Frank Ryan. The conclusion drawn was that Russell had suffered a burst gastric ulcer and without medical attention he had died. A number of conspiracy theories arose around the subject of Russell's death including that he was poisoned onboard ship, shot by the British Secret Service in France, or murdered by Kurt Haller. However, Russell's brother, Patrick, confirmed after the war that he suffered from pre-existing stomach problems and as a result did not drink alcohol.




Bloody Sunday