Private John Alexander Hunter

Private John Alexander Hunter (aged about 20) of A Company, 2nd Battalion, King’s Own Scotch Borderers, or K.O.S.B. (Furious Pier, Waterfall, Bere Island)

Date of incident: 14 May 1921

Sources: CE, 16, 18, 25, 28 May, 13 June 1921; II, 16, 25 May 1921; FJ, 16 May 1921; CCE, 18 June 1921; CE, 13 June 1921; IT, 13 June 1921; RIC County Inspector’s Monthly Report, Cork West Riding, May 1921 (CO 904/115, TNA); Lieutenant-Colonel John M. McCarthy’s WS 883, Appendix, 11-12 (BMH); Ted O’Sullivan’s WS 1478, 38 (BMH); Liam O’Dwyer’s WS 1527, 18; Christopher O’Connell’s WS 1530, 26 (BMH); Eugene Dunne’s WS 1537, 8 (BMH); O’Donoghue (1954, 1986), 326; Sheehan (2011), 157; Bielenberg, Borgonovo, and Ó Ruairc (2015), 151; irishmedals.org (accessed 28 July 2014); Commonwealth War Graves Commission; http://www.cairogang.com/soldiers-killed/list-1921.htmlhttp://www.cairogang.com/soldiers-killed/beara-peninsula/hunter/hunter.htmlhttp://www.cairogang.com/soldiers-killed/beara-peninsula/beara-peninsula.html (accessed 8 Aug. 2014).


Note: A group of British soldiers walking at Furious Pier near Waterfall on Bere Island were lured into an IRA ambush by an apparently friendly party of local girls or young women. In this episode three soldiers were killed and a fourth was wounded. The event was investigated by a military court of inquiry at Rerrin Camp on Bere Island on 16 May 1921 rather than by the customary inquest. The IRA men asked if the soldiers had any arms and were told no. ‘Private McMillan then said to the civilians: “You want to play the game, Mac?” As the soldiers stood together by the wall, the civilians opened fire on them and continued firing for two or three minutes. Privates Hunter, McMillan, and Chalmers were killed, and the fourth soldier was wounded and left for dead by the civilians.’ See CE, 13 June 1921.

Taking the leading part in this ambush at Furious Pier were members of the Rossmacowen Company of Volunteers. (Eight IRA men armed with revolvers were reportedly involved.) ‘This operation was carried out in response to an order from H.Q., 1st Southern Division, and as a reprisal for the execution of I.R.A. prisoners in Cork.’ See Eugene Dunne’s WS 1537, 8 (BMH). By British military order all the shops in Castletownbere had to close their doors for two days (17 and 18 May) out of respect for the three dead soldiers. See CE, 18 May 1921. Private Hunter was from Bridgton in Glasgow; he was buried in the Glasgow Necropolis.

On 23, 24, and 25 May 1921 the military authorities destroyed the houses of five named persons and their families by way of reprisal: William Dwyer (Ballycrovane, Eyeries); Frank Sullivan (Inchintaglin); Jeremiah Connor (Ardgroom); T.P.S. Spillane (Waterfall); and Timothy Murphy (Rossmackowen). These houses were destroyed ‘on the grounds that their owners are supporters of armed rebels, and that such armed rebels carried out cowardly and murderous attacks on the forces of the crown, who were unarmed, in the district of Furious Pier on the 14th May 1921’. See CE, 28 May 1921.

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