RIC Constable William Elton

RIC Constable William Elton (aged 25) from Middlesex (‘The Close’ in Castletownroche)

Date of incident: 18 March 1921

Sources: CE, 21 March 1921; CC, 21 March 1921; Military Inquests, WO 35/149A/73 (TNA); David O’Callaghan’s WS 950, 11 (BMH); William C. Regan’s WS 1069, 9-10 (BMH); irishmedals.org (accessed 28 July 2014).


Note: A large party of Volunteers under the command of James ONeill ambushed a police patrol (consisting of one sergeant and six constables) at ‘The Close’ in Castletownroche on 18 March 1921. Constable William Elton was mortally wounded and died on 19 March. His colleague Constable Crowley was wounded in this attack. Former Volunteer John C. Regan, who had fought with the Castletownroche Battalion column, provided a detailed account of this incident: ‘About mid-March 1921 . . . I moved with Tim Fay, Jackie Sullivan, Jimmy O’Mahoney, and Danny Shinnick of the column into Castletownroche to ambush a patrol of Tans and R.I.C. which moved regularly about the village each night. We were assisted by representatives of the Castletownroche and Killavullen companies, who performed scouting and outpost duties. It was proposed to open fire on the patrol when it reached the gate of ‘The Close’—this was the name of a house which marked the end of the area usually patrolled. It was within 60 yards of the R.I.C. post. Jackie Sullivan, Tim Fay, and Jack O’Brien were in prone position at the gate of “The Close”, while some of the locals were posted in various [other] positions. The scouts who were to report the position of the enemy returned to the gate of “The Close” while they were being followed by the enemy patrol. This apparently made the enemy suspicious and they called on the scouts to halt. The party at the gate then decided that it was time to open fire and did so. Two of the patrol were wounded and the others escaped to the barracks. One of the members of the patrol died from wounds.’ This was Constable Elton. See William C. Regan’s WS 1069, 9-10 (BMH). Elton had about three months of service with the RIC; he had previously been a soldier and a labourer.

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