RIC Auxiliary Cadet Cecil James Guthrie

RIC Auxiliary Cadet Cecil James Guthrie (aged 21) from Fyfe, Scotland (Kilmichael ambush)

Date of incident: 28 Nov. 1920 (captured, executed, and disappeared by IRA on 30 Nov. 1920, but body later exhumed and reburied)

Sources: CE, 30 Nov., 1, 3 Dec. 1920; II, 30 Nov. 1920; CCE, 4 Dec. 1920; SS, 11, 18 June 1921; IT, 22 Aug. 1921; British Forces Missing (Military Archives, A/0909); Patrick O’Brien’s WS 812, 14-17 (BMH); Charles Browne’s WS 873, 29-30 (BMH); Timothy Keohane’s WS 1295, 5-7 (BMH); Edward Young’s WS 1402, 13-16 (BMH); Barry (1949, 1989), 36-51; Deasy (1973), 169-76; Hart (1998), 21-38; Abbott (2000), 156-63; Kautt (2010), 99-118; Leeson (2011), 101, 129; Sheehan (2011), 14, 30, 121, 146; Morrison (2012), 160-72; Townshend (2013), 210-15; Ó hÉalaithe (2014), 147; Murphy (2014), 65-156; irishmedals.org (accessed 28 July 2014); http://www.theauxiliaries.com/men-alphabetical/men-g/gutherie/guthrie.htmlhttp://www.theauxiliaries.com/adric-general/compensation/compensation%20claims.html (accessed 27 Sept. 2015);

http://theauxiliaries.com/companies/c-coy/c-coy.html (accessed 28 April 2016).    


Note: A native of Fyfe in Scotland, Guthrie was initially reported missing, but he was found and executed two days later by the IRA. According to Macroom Volunteer leader Charlie Browne, however, Guthrie ‘made his way under cover of darkness from the scene of the [Kilmichael] fight and, armed only with a revolver, retraced the way he had come from Macroom. At Droumcarra he was held up by two unarmed members of “K” Company [of the Macroom Battalion] and shot with his own gun and buried at Annahala [sic]. The men concerned were taking no chances on his returning to Macroom and letting loose on the country on that night hordes of his comrades boiling with revenge. When they [i.e., the Auxiliaries] did go out there next day, they ran amok, shooting one man and burning two houses.’ Contrary to another account, Browne’s impled that Guthrie had been found and executed on the night of the Kilmichael ambush itself. See Charles Browne’s WS 873, 29-30 (BMH). 

According to the detailed account given by Fr Twohig in his eccentric book Green Tears for Hecuba, Guthrie ‘headed for the town of Macroom, through the winter darkness, rain and cold, alone, wounded, and despairing. The local Toames Company under Captain Nicholas, but known as Louis Dromey, could not let him be. Word was passed on that he had called at Twohigs of Cooldaniel and asked to be driven into Macroom. They pleaded that the horse was indisposed. He moved on past Dromcara Bar, where the Dromeys have been for a hundred years, and down the bog road towards the Gearagh. He was trailed first by the O’Mahony brothers, Jerry and John, who were then joined by Danny and Mikey O’Shea. A message was sent to Louis Dromey, the captain. At the ‘cross of four roads’ they lost him in the darkness. They headed for the wilderness crossing and passed him sitting in a bush. He said “Good evening”. They walked on a little, then returned. He said, “If I had ammunition for this, you fellows wouldn’t take me.” He threw out his now useless revolver. Louis Dromey arrived and a council of war was held. There were no alternatives. He was taken to a section of the Annahalla Bog, shot, and buried.’ See http://www.theauxiliaries.com/men-alphabetical/men-g/gutherie/guthrie.html (accessed 27 Sept. 2015). 

On the assumption that Guthrie had been killed by the IRA, and his body secretly buried, Judge Hynes granted compensation to his widow, child, and father at the Cork quarter sessions in June 1921: £3,000 to his widow; £2,000 to his infant child, and £200 to his father. Mrs Guthrie had sought £12,000. See SS, 11, 18 June 1921. The compensation awards made to the surviving wives, children, or other relatives of the seventeen military fatalities and one wounded military survivor of the Kilmichael ambush reached about £43,400. In one case the amount of the award is unknown. See http://www.theauxiliaries.com/adric-general/compensation/compensation%20claims.html (accessed 27 Sept. 2015).  

Anahalla Bog, where Guthrie was secretly buried, is located south of Macroom. Guthrie’s remains were exhumed in November 1926 and reburied in the old Church of Ireland graveyard in Inchigeelagh Cemetery. See Abbott (2000), 157; Ó hÉalaithe (2014), 147. Formerly a lieutenant in the Royal Air Force, Cadet Guthrie appeared on the ‘missing persons’ list published in the Irish Times of 22 August 1921. There it was wrongly stated that he had been abducted along with RIC Temporary Cadets Agnew and Mitchell near Macroom on 6 November 1920.

One other temporary constable at Kilmichael—the driver F. H. Forde—‘was badly wounded and taken to Cork Military Hospital, but he remained paralysed with brain damage for the rest of his life. Although republican sources state there were no survivors, a photograph of this man appeared in the 17 January 1921 issue of the Freeman’s Journal.’ See Abbott (2000), 157. Forde received a compensation award of £10,000—the largest such award made in County Cork during the War of Independence. See http://www.theauxiliaries.com/adric-general/compensation/compensation%20claims.html (accessed 27 Sept. 2015).

The Irish Revolution Project

Scoil na Staire /Tíreolaíocht

University College Cork, Cork,