National Army Solider Edward Searls
National Army Solider Edward Searls (about 25) of Boyle Street, Bandon (near Innishannon)
Date of incident: 23 Sept. 1922
Sources: CE, 26 Sept. 1922; FJ, 28 Sept. 1922; SS, 30 Sept. 1922; Kilkenny People, 30 Sept. 1922; MSPC/2D305 (Military Archives); Keane (2017), 309, 418.
Note: The Cork Examiner of Tuesday, 26 September 1922, reported: ‘On Saturday evening [23 September], about seven o’clock, a Crossley tender with troops, on the way from Ballinhassig through Innishannon, was ambushed on the Bandon side of Innishannon, [with] the irregulars using a Thompson gun in addition to rifles from the heights across the river. One of the soldiers was hit by an explosive bullet in the head, part of the skull being blown away, and it is feared that there is no hope for his recovery.’ See CE, 23 Sept. 1922. Other newspaper accounts mirrored that in the Cork Examiner. See FJ, 28 Sept. 1922; SS, 30 Sept. 1922; Kilkenny People, 30 Sept. 1922.
The pension file of Private Searls indicates incorrectly that he was killed on 27 September, but it is clear from the location of the ambush that the fatal incident for him was that recorded by the Cork Examiner of 26 September as having occurred three days earlier. A later report in his pension file stated accurately that he had died in an ambush by the IRA on a military lorry between Innishannon and Bandon. This was not the first tragedy to strike the Searls family. Two of Edward Searls’s brothers had been killed in the Great War. His father Thomas Searls applied for a gratuity under the 1923 Army Pensions Act. See MSPC/2D305 (Military Archives).
Edward Searls was in 1911 one of the seven children of the Bandon victualler Thomas Searls Sr and his wife Anne. Co-residing with them at 38 Boyle Street in Bandon in that year were four sons and three daughters ranging in age from 2 to 22. Edward Searls (then aged 14) was their third son. He had two older brothers named Thomas Jr (aged 22) and James (aged 16), who were likely to have later died in the First World War.