Major Gerard Thomas Joseph Barry

Major Gerard Thomas Joseph Barry (aged 38) of the South Wales Borderers, the Royal Flying Corps, and the Royal Air Force (Cork Military Detention Barracks)

Date of incident: 8 April 1921

Sources: CE, 9, 11 April 1921; CC, 9, 11 April 1921; FJ, 9 April 1921; O’Farrell (1997), 121; Commonwealth War Graves Commission; http://www.cairogang.com/soldiers-killed/barry/barry.htmlhttp://www.cairogang.com/soldiers-killed/list-1921.html (accessed 8 Aug. 2014).


Note: A distinguished British officer who had lost a leg in the Great War (he had been awarded the Croix de Guerre in August 1918), Barry was shot accidentally at Cork Military Detention Barracks in the city. He was the commandant of the barracks (he had been in the post since December 1919) and was entering the wicket-gate part of the main gate when a sentry shot him. To a staff sergeant who rushed to the gate after hearing the shot and who found the commandant laying on the ground, Barry said, ‘Don’t touch me; don’t pick me up; I’m hit in the stomach.’ His last words were, ‘Staff Sergeant, send for a priest.’ An armourer sergeant testified at a later military inquiry that ‘the safety catch on the rifle was defective, the spring being weak’. The No. 2 sentry who had accidentally fired the fatal shot testified that ‘when the Major opened the gate, he covered it with his rifle according to orders. Just as he came to the aim, he noticed the safety catch in the wrong position. He tried to put it right, but it jumped forward. He then heard the report and collapsed [i.e., fainted] soon after. He had picked up the wrong rifle when going on sentry duty. He had eight months’ service.’ Barry was struck by ‘a bullet that passed through the abdomen from behind’. See FJ, 9 April 1921. He died of his grievous wounds within hours.

A member of the South Wales Borderers Regiment, he was the son of retired Lieutenant Colonel John Barry of Inver, Queenstown, formerly of the Royal Army Medical Corps. Major Barry was buried in the Cobh Old Church Cemetery. 

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