RIC Constable Harry Clement Jays

RIC Constable Harry Clement Jays (aged 22) from Hampshire (Leap)

Date of incident: 21 Nov. 1920

Sources: CE, 23 Nov. 1920; CCE, 27 Nov. 1920, 29 Jan. 1921; CWN, 27 Nov. 1920; Strabane Chronicle, 27 Nov. 1920; II, 19 Jan. 1921; Military Inquests, WO 35/152/37 (TNA); RIC County Inspector’s Monthly Report, Cork West Riding, Nov. 1920 (CO 904/113, TNA); Stephen Holland’s WS 649, 1 (BMH); Patrick O’Sullivan’s WS 1481, 7 (BMH); Abbott (2000), 151; ‘The Irish Rebellion in the 6th Division Area’, Irish Sword, 27 (Spring 2010), 140. 


Note: In an ambush at Leap at about 9 p.m. on the night of 21 November 1920, Constable Jays (an Auxiliary) was killed and Constable B. E. Mills was ‘dangerously wounded’. Both were from England. They were among five constables who ‘had just left Sheehan’s Hotel in Leap when they were attacked’. See Abbott (2000), 151. The ambush was carried out by members of the Corrin Volunteer Company, which formed part of Leap Company, under its captain Patrick J. Crosbie. See Patrick O’Sullivan’s WS 1481, 7 (BMH).

Stephen Holland, former adjutant of the Leap Volunteer Company, gave an account that differed in some important details and added new ones: ‘There was another ambush in the village of Leap on the 21st November 1920, the Sunday before the Kilmichael ambush. There were only two Tans in the party ambushed, and one was killed and the other wounded. We had about eight or nine [men] with double[-]barrelled shot-guns and one “Peter the Painter”. The wounded Tan got into a concealed position and kept firing at us. It was as bright as the day, and we could not go out to get the dead man’s weapon, so we had to leave our position by degrees. On the following Wednesday the Tans evacuated Leap barracks and we burned it that night, and there was no enemy post in the company area from that until the Truce.’ See Stephen Holland’s WS 649, 1 (BMH). The newspaper account of the killing of Jays and wounding of Mills contained an unconfirmed report that three civilians had been killed. It was said that ‘the people of the locality are greatly disturbed and, fearing reprisals, are leaving their homes’. See CE, 23 Nov. 1920.

Constable Jays had been a member of the RIC for only nine months. He had previously been a soldier and a footman/waiter. His comrade Constable Bertie Mills was seriously wounded by a shotgun blast in the left hand, left arm, and both legs and spent over three weeks in the hospital recovering from his injuries. He later sought £5,000 in compensation for having been maimed. See CCE, 29 Jan. 1921.

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