British Soldier (Private) James Arthur W. Anderson

British Soldier (Private) James Arthur W. Anderson (aged 19) of the Second Battalion of the Cameron Highlanders Regiment (possibly Martin Corry’s farm, Glounthuane).

Date of incident: 26 Oct. 1921 (executed by IRA and disappeared)

Sources: British Soldiers Missing, A/0668; A/0909 (Military Archives); Pre-Truce Absentees, MA/07304 (Military Archives); IE/MA/DOD/A/07304 (Military Archives); IE/MA/CP/4/11 and IE/MA/CP/5/2/6 (Military Archives); Michael Leahy’s WS 1421, 29 (BMH); K. McCarthy (2008), 88; Murphy (2010), Appendix 1; O’Halpin in Kelly and Lyons (2013), 347, fn. 8; https://www.cairogang.com/soldiers-killed/anderson-j/anderson.html (accessed 27 Feb. 2018). 


Note: Private James Arthur W. Anderson of the Cameron Highlanders Regiment, a unit whose activities during the War of Independence had infuriated the Cork No. 1 Brigade of the IRA, was abducted near his base at Queenstown/Cobh on 26 October 1921 and never seen again. See British Soldiers Missing, A/0668; A/0909 (Military Archives). His body was never recovered. His name appears on a list of pre-Truce absentees published by Gerard Murphy, citing MA/07304 (Military Archives). Murphy believes that Private Anderson was taken to Martin Corry’s farm at Glounthaune and executed there. See Murphy (2010), Appendix 1. A significant contemporary document reveals that Anderson went on ordinary leave on 26 October 1921; he then seems to have been made to disappear forever. A letter of inquiry from his sister dated 19 January 1922 stated that he had been kidnapped near Queenstown. At the time of his capture he was alone, wearing kilts, and carrying a map. He was described as tall, dark, and 19 years old. See IE/MA/CP/4/11 (Military Archives). 

Responding to inquiries about Anderson on 8 February 1922, a staff officer at the headquarters of the First Southern Division of the IRA replied that ‘the OC of the brigade [area] in which this man was reported to have been kidnapped reports as follows: “We have to report that Pte Anderson QOCH [Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders] did not fall into our hands, and we have no information on his whereabouts.”’ See IE/MA/CP/4/11 (Military Archives). Another report on 3 December 1921 from First Southern Divison Headquarters to the Director of Intelligence at GHQ also claimed that the Cork No. 1 Brigade knew nothing about Anderson. See IE/MA/CP/5/2/6  (Military Archives).

Gerard Murphy suggests in his 2010 book The Year of Disappearances: Political Killings in Cork, 1921-1922, that Private Anderson was kidnapped and killed in a case of mistaken identity for one Lieutenant Anderson, who was held responsible locally for the death of one of Cobh’s best-known citizens, the blacksmith and local G.A.A. president John O’Connell, on 29 May 1921. Murphy maintains that John O’Connell was himself shot dead in a case of mistaken identity for the IRA company commander John O’Connell. Murphy further suggests that the body of a British soldier in uniform discovered under the floorboards of a building on Martin Corry’s farm at Glounthaune was that of Private James Arthur W. Anderson. In this account Anderson features as just one of the many alleged secret killings and burials of prisoners of the IRA on Corry’s farm in the years 1920-22. See Murphy (2010),159-165. Murphy’s version of events, however, is unconvincing on several counts. The officer of the Cameron Highlanders who shot John O’Connell dead along the seafront at Cobh in late May 1921 was Captain Gordon Duff, not any Lieutenant Anderson. See Michael Leahy’s WS 1421, 29 (BMH); K. McCarthy (2008), 88. While it is possible that Private Anderson was one of Martin Corry’s victims, the evidence to date remains inconclusive. There is a closed file on Martin Corry in the Military Archives (DOD series, A/09690). Historians look forward to the opening of this file.   

The Irish Revolution Project

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