Chief Petty Officer Philip William Snewin

Chief Petty Officer Philip William Snewin (aged 52) of His Majesty’s Coastguard (Ballycrovane near Castletownbere)

Date of incident: 25 July 1920

Sources: CE, 26, 30 July 1920; CC, 26 July 1920; II, 28 July 1920; CCE, 29, 31 July 1920; CWN, 31 July 1920; Kerry Weekly Reporter, 31 July 1920; IT, 2 Aug. 1920; Liam O’Dwyer’s WS 1527, 9-14; Christopher O’Connell’s WS 1530, 12-13 (BMH); James McCarthy’s WS 1567, 12-16 (BMH); Deasy (1973), 119-25; Commonwealth War Graves Commission;

http://www.cairogang.com/soldiers-killed/list-1921.htmlhttp://www.cairogang.com/soldiers-killed/coastguards/snewin/snewin.htmlhttp://www.cairogang.com/soldiers-killed/coastguards/coastguards.html (accessed 1 Aug. 2014).


Note: About twenty Volunteers from the Ardgroom, Ballycrovane, Eyeries, Inches, and Kilcatherine companies attacked the Ballycrovane Coastguard Station on Sunday morning, 25 July 1920, and encountered stiff resistance from the dozen or so ‘marines’ posted there. There was a simultaneous raid on the coastguard station at Castletownbere. See CE, 26 July 1920. A subsequent newspaper report clearly indicated that two coastguards—Philip Snewin and Charles Brown—had been killed at Ballycrovane; their bodies were brought to Hawlbowline and then placed aboard a Great Southern and Western Railway train en route to England. See CE, 30 July 1920. From his own detailed later account of the Ballycrovane attack it appears that Volunteer Liam O’Dwyer of Ardgroom, later O/C of the Castletownbere Battalion, fired the shots that killed Snewin and Brown. See Liam O’Dwyer’s WS 1527, 13 (BMH). 

The Irish Times was appalled that when Snewin’s remains were brought by train to Scarborough on 31 July 1920 for burial, there was no hearse available, and his body had to be ‘removed from the railway station on a coal cart’. The headline read, ‘Coal Cart as Hearse’. This grim exit stood in contrast to the victim’s popular local renown: Snewin had been ‘for a long time during the war in charge of the wireless station at Scarborough’. See IT, 2 Aug. 1920.

The IRA raiders at Ballycrovane seized a sizeable quantity of booty and gladly indulged an unusual request by their enemies: ‘All arms, ammunition, and equipment—11 Ross rifles, 4 short Webleys, a good supply of .303 and .45 ammunition, field glasses, rockets, Verey pistols, and bandoliers—were collected. At this stage the surviving members of the garrison requested us to increase the damage to the building so that their authorities would be impressed by the stiff resistance they had put up. We complied with their request by breaking up some more doors and windows, then, firing a few more shots, we withdrew south east to the hills.’ See James McCarthy’s WS 1567, 15 (BMH). Liam Deasy gave a detailed account of the simultaneous IRA raids on the coastguard stations at Ballycrovane and Castletownbere. He conceded that in the Castletownbere raid four Volunteers had been wounded. See Deasy (1973), 119-25.

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