7807660 Corporal Patrick Joseph Dunney, Machine Gun Corps

The IRA shot the wrong man. They were after, they believed, Sgt Dunney, Tullagh Camp in RGA. But Dunney was a Cpl in MGC, Dunning on the other hand was a Segt in RGA. Dunning received the BEM for gallantry and his citation (in WO35/181 in the NA) reads: His medal was presented in Dublin on 12 July 1921.

1894 Born Dublin

1901 census living at 6 Tallagh Town, Tallagh, Dublin

1909 May 20. Dunney enlisted into the Royal Dublin Fusiliers Special Reserve

1911 census. living at 5 Robinhood, Clondalkin, Dublin

1913 March 26. Moved on to enlist in Regular Army for 7 years in the Colours plus 5 years in the Reserve with Royal Dublin Fusiliers. A Farm Labourer

1913Mar 30 Posted to Gravesend

1914 Aug 23. Landed in France with Dublin Fusiliers

1914 Aug 27 Promoted L/Cpl

1914 Sep 26. Promoted Cpl

1914 Sep 26. Promoted L/Sgt in 2nd Battalion RDF

1914 Oct 26. To hospital in UK, Leeds

1914 Nov 28 Returns to 3rd RDF in Cork

1915 Jan 16. Posted to 6th RDF and posted to Gallipoli

1915 Jul 31 In Mudros

1915 Sep 19 To hospital with Dysentery for 5 days, then transferred to Malta than back to UK

1915 Oct 22. Arrives back in UK, and to Hospital at Netley

1915 Nov 6. Returns to RDF at Cork

1916 Jan 26. Transferred to MGC as CSM

1916 Oct 4. Court Martialed for "impeding a Warrant Officer on 9 Sep 1916". Reverted to Sgt by dint of court martial

1916 Nov 19 To hospital with Colic

1916 Dec 6, To hospital in Etaples fro 13 days

1917 Jan 5 Re-joined regt in field

1917 Apr. Posted to France

1917 Apr 7. Wounded GSW to hospital 4 days

1917 Apr 17. Posted Home with wounds

1917 Apr 30 Appears to have been absent, but difficult to read, until 8 May 1917. There was a sentence, but it cannot be read

1917 Dec 22. Returns to France

1918 Jun 13. Returns home

1918 Sep 2. Marries in Rathfarnham Dublin to Margaret Murray, and they set up home at Air Field Cottage, Tallaght. His father is James, and brothers Thomas, James, Edward and Michael.

1918 Nov 23. Still a Sgt, posted to 1 Res Bat.

1919 Jan 23 Struck off strength of MGC

1919 Feb 22 Re-called to the Colours

1919 Aug 6. Post to HQ coy

1919 Nov 11. Tried by General Court Martial for drunkenness and reduced to Corporal

1920 Apr 9. Posted to 1st Bn MCG at Chatham

1920 May 5. Corporal Dunney though he was discharged to Class D Reserve on 5 May 1920 he was issued with an Army number (7807--- to 7817--- for the MGC) which, at least in the case of 1st Battalion MGC men in Ireland, was issued on 16 October 1920.

Whether he was "undercover" is hard to determine though the two letters - one from his sister, the other from his landlady - in his file indicate that there were "rumours" about him in the district.

1920 Aug 10 Post to Ballyvonare Posted to FS Details

The 'Foreign Services Details' Battalion, MGC, was formed in late summer 1919 to provide men for the reformed MGC Battalions that were destined for India (7, 8, 9, 11 and 12 Battalions), Ireland (1 merged with 4) and Constantinople (Z Company). It consisted of numbered cadres (at least ten) from which the battalions were created. The original 1 Battalion was reduced to a cadre at the end of July 1919 and this cadre moved to Ireland at the end of August 1919. Almost all of the remaining personnel were discharged by November and only a skeleton formation remained. Specialists (cooks, etc) were sent in January 1920 and the battalion was at about company strength by the beginning of April. 4 Battalion was merged with 1 Battalion in early April and a large draft was sent from 1st Depot Battalion in June. The Battalion's strength was then still only 512 out of an establishment of 1067 and C and D Companies were largely used for training new recruits. Part of the problem of maintaining the strength of the Battalion was the continual discharge of men for various reasons. Like many men, Dunney took his discharge to the D Reserve.

1921 Apr and May. There are statements by members of the IRA 6th battalion, one from Commandant McDonnell and one from Patrick J Brennan, 1st Lieut A Coy (Dundrum). And one from Matt Kavanagh, OC East Wicklow Brigade, IRA.

Dunney appears to have been well known to the IRA in his role of IO for the Dublin area. Kavanagh's statement is below

On page 19 of Brennans statement he reports that British Intelligence men were killed in attacks on Crosses house .

April - attack on the house of Mr Cross (Orangemen) in Ballycorus, rendezvous of Sgt Dunney (sic), Royal Artillery, Tallaght Camp, Military IO for South Dublin. He and other Intelligence personnel visited Crosses house occasionally and overnight. The attack continued until the shortage of ammo forced the IRA to retire. The house was stoutly defended. 1 IRA, Peter Little, wounded. It was reported that one occupant of the house was killed and one wounded.

May - second attack on Crosses residence, Ballycorus. At least one occupant wounded. At least 1 IRA wounded (Commandant A MacDonnell) and taken to hospital.

He also gives the name of the owner of the house as "Cross" whom he describes as an Orangeman. The nearest Cross who is Protestant in 1911 is at Glenamuck South, Glencullen, Dublin. They are living in the same house in 1901 census in seemingly more prosperous times, where Thomas is a "Master Baker" and has 4 of his sons working for him as "bakers". It is indeed near Ballycoran Lead Mine, within a few hundred yards

Andy MacDonnell's Witness Statement says that a house was attacked by men from B Coy 6th Battalion (Barnacullia and the mountain area) under the command of Ned O'Brien after information on Dunney's presence had been passed onto Commandant Andy MacDonnell from the IRB and from Tom Watkins (a member of 4th Battalion living in Saggart). Front and back of the house were attacked and the defence was fierce until Vol. Peter Little was wounded in the hip and the attack called off after the enemy reportedly sustained two fatalities and three wounded.

Close watch was kept on the house in the hopes of Dunneys return as the IRA believed he was chief intelligence officer for the county. Acting on information given to vice-Commandant Michael Chadwick that Dunney had re-entered the house another attack was launched by seven men. After opening fire on the house and then calling for surrender the occupants proceeded to return fire and attempted to break out. Brigadier McDonnell was shot in the attack which was eventually called off after the IRA ran out if ammunition, retreating back to Barnacullia. A report from GHQ Intelligence some days later apparently confirmed two dead, one wounded.

Kingston Grove - close to Cross house

If one follows the census enumerator's route, the enumerator walked westwards from Kingston Grove (Stevenson's house), and Thomas Cross lived in a small house called Rockville Cottage (only 2 or 3 windows on the front elevation)

"Rockville Cottage" was the next house west from Kingston Grove, but was knocked down some years ago, and there is a sports ground there now. Neighbours believe that Cross emigrated to Canada shortly after the truce and that at some point Cross was knocked down and killed, by a car that mounted the footpath in Canada one Christmas morning.


1921 May 18. Shot dead by the IRA near Crumlin, Co. Dublin. Dunney, an ex-Dublin Fusilier, was from nearby Clondalkin. He was killed by members of 4th Battalion ASU (P J Brennan Witness Statement above)


He is buried in Tallagh Cemetry not Goldenbridge. The burial record exists, however the gravestone and grave maker is no longer visible.Sturgis refers to a "suicide" of someone from Winter's office on this day. There is a possibility that he was referring to Dunney.

Those are the facts about Dunney's death and the various bits of evidence that have to be weighed. After a long debate on the First World War forum my view has changed on his death. I feel that the balance of probability is that Patrick Dunney was the victim of mistaken identity for Sgt Joseph Dunning. There is no connection between Patrick Dunney and the Sergeant 'Dunning" (referred to in the IRA Witness Statement above as" Dunny" )except that Patrick Dunney may have been killed by mistake for him.  The man referred to in the IRA reports is almost certainly 1402818 Sergeant J. Dunning of the RGA.  Dunning received the Medal of the OBE for gallantry and his citation (in WO35/181 in the NA) reads: 

'This NCO has during his employment on special duty shown the greatest courage and resource. In spite of many warnings that he was in danger of assassination he persisted in his dangerous work and in one instance in the guise of a delegate from the HQ staff of the IRA called a special meeting of IRA officers and secured their arrest. On 19th April his murder was attempted but although wounded he succeeded in dispersing his attackers.' His medal was presented in Dublin on 12 July 1921.

 The details of the IRA witness reports are so similar to the above citation that one cannot but conclude that they are referring to Sergeant Dunning.  I think one has consider that Patrick Dunney was not undercover - the letters in his file certainly suggest there were concerns about him being falsely accused of being a spy - and he was shot by mistake because of the similarity in names, as happened on both sides.

There the matter stands at the moment. My feeling is that he was de-facto still in the British Army when he was shot, but from a CWGC point of view not de-jure.

British Soldiers died in Ireland