IRA’s Tommy Guns Confiscated in the ‘East Side Affair’, New Jersey 1921

#OnThisDay 1921 A FBI & police raid on a ship called the “East Side”, with an all Irish crew, in Hoboken, New Jersey discovered 495 Thompson submachine-guns destined for the IRA. This raid was authorised by future Director of the FBI, J. Edgar Hoover.
Nearly all of the 500 guns were smuggled aboard a collier ship, the East Side as ‘engine room supplies’, their serial numbers obliterated to prevent trace. The ship, stuck in Hoboken, New Jersey as part of a worker’s strike, was supplied with a fresh Irish crew to get it underway. However, on June 15 1921, it was raided and the guns seized. There had been no tip-off from British authorities, no elaborate Bureau investigation; the ship’s captain had simply become suspicious of the activity on the collier.”  “More importantly however, the export of arms to Ireland from the US wasn’t actually illegal!”

The guns were impounded and most but not all found their way to Ireland in 1925, much too late to be used in the War of Independence and indeed the Civil War. Some of them found their way, through nefarious means, to the mafias of Chicago where the Thompson got the nickname, “The Chicago Typewriter’.


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