#OnThisDay 1920 Brigadier General Cuthbert Lucas was captured by the IRA, led by Liam Lynch, when returning from a fishing trip on the Blackwater near Fermoy, Cork. Lucas along with Colonels Tyrell and Danford were caught by the armed masked men. The three British officers planned their escape by speaking to each other in Arabic. When they made a break for it from the Model T car, Danford was wounded so the volunteers freed Tyrell to attend to Danford’s wounds. Both Colonels were subsequently taken to a military hospital at Fermoy.
Lucas was kept in West Limerick and East Clare in captivity for four weeks in Clare moving from house to house. His capture left the Secretary of State for War Winston Churchill “purple with rage”, but Churchill needn’t have been so worried. While in captivity Lucas played tennis and croquet, he played cards till 2am some nights where he bewildered the IRA men with his dealing abilities despite having lost two fingers in the Great War. Lucas also demanded his officer’s ration of a bottle of whiskey a day which he shared with his captors “which I hated like hell to pay for” said one of his captors, Michael Brennan. Lucas got on very well with the IRA & even helped save the hay in the fields. His wife gave birth early when she found out he was captured but letters were allowed to pass between the two freely. Lucas’s wife Poppy, would address them to ‘THE IRA’.
Eventually, for both financial (Lucas bet the IRA penniless in bridge and poker and the bottle of whiskey a day was draining their finances quickly) and military reasons (with so many men tied down guarding the general, nothing else could be done in the area unless risking him being found by the Crown forces), so the IRA loosened security around the general and let him ‘escape’. One could argue that the propaganda of capturing the general had been achieved and nothing more could come of it.
In fairness to Lucas, he never gave away the locations of his imprisonment so they had probably had some arrangement.