THROUGH THE ARCHIVES: Outrages across Ulster, breadvans attacked by raiders

From the News Letter, June 1, 1921

Tuesday, 1st June 2021, 6:00 am
An old postcard showing the Red Arch, Antrim Coast Road. Picture: Ballymena Times archive

An official report stated that a district inspector and a party of constables, cycling from Carrickmacross to Castleblayney in Co Monaghan, had been ambushed at Tullyvatragh on the afternoon of Monday, May 30, 1921.

The ambush left one constable dead.

There were no other police casualties.

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The police had returned fire and the fight lasted for about an hour.

Another report stated that the deceased’s name was Perkin and that he had served in the First World War and was originally from the Isle of Wight.

Meanwhile there had also been a spate attacks on breadmen around the province.

On Saturday, May 28, 1921 as the representative of a Belfast bakery firm was on his rounds delivering bread at Ballymacash, about two miles from Keady, that several armed men suddenly appeared from behind a hedge and ordered him to halt.

The driver refused to stop, and drove on, when shots were fired, and the horse was struck.

No attempt, however, was made to take possession of the cart, nor was the driver interfered with, the assailants decamping after the shooting.

After getting refuge for the horse and cart, the driver proceeded to Keady and brought out another animal, with which the breadvan was brought to Keady.

The wounded animal, though shot in the head, was expected to recover.

A Belfast breadvan was also held up by armed and masked me at Chesney’s Hill, Ballyardle, near Kilkeel, on Monday, May 30, 1921.

The van and bread were burned out and the driver robbed of £12.

The Larne agent of Belfast bakery was held up on the Antrim Coast Road when driving his motor breadvan to Cushendall, also on Monday, May 30, 1921.

The News Letter reported: “The occurrence took place near the white arch that spans the road on the Larne side of Waterfoot. The breadvan and its contents were burned to ashes.”

It was also revealed that at an early hour on Monday, May 30, 1921, that five men had demanded admittance to the house of James Hooks, a special constable, of Corbet, Banbridge, Co Down,

Admittance was refused and the raiders broke a window and then tried to force a door.

Constable Hooks fired through the door and the raiders made off.

There was no injury to the occupants of the house.