The Howes Strand Coast Guard Station Attack 1920

#OnThisDay 1920 Charlie Hurley, Bandon IRA V/C, led a raiding party of 18 men (with an extra 24 men providing security, manning road blocks etc.) in attacking Howes Strand Coastguard Station, Cork. There were 11 defenders inside but surrendered after a brief fire fight. The IRA captured 15 Canadian Ross rifles and 1,000 rounds of ammunition.

There has been some theories about this attack that suggest that the defenders allowed the Ross Rifles to fall into the IRA’s hands because they were a notoriously bad weapon in combat. 15,000 of them were dumped by Canadian soldiers in WW1 and swapped for the more reliable Lee-Enfields. The Ross MKIII would jam after a few rounds fired in quick succession and there are numerous accounts of Canadians jumping on the handle or hitting it with shovels to try and unstick the jam to no avail.

A report of the Station a few years previous stated that it could be easily held with one or two men, such were the strength of its defences. So how did so many defenders let it fall so easily without much of a fight at all and holding all the advantages? One eye witness account says that the defenders asked the IRA to make it look like they put up more of a fight and so they shot at the windows and walls to look like it wasn’t a quick capitulation.

Charlie Hurley

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