British Intelligence Officer (Lieutenant) Ronald Alexander Hendy

British Intelligence Officer (Lieutenant) Ronald Alexander Hendy (aged 29) of the First Royal Warwickshire Regiment (Kilgobnet near Macroom)

Date of incident: 26 April 1922 (executed by IRA and disappeared)

Sources: Evening Herald, 1 May 1922; Freeman’s Journal, 2 May 1922; Belfast Newsletter, 2 May 1922; The Times (London), 22, 23 June, 19, 20 July 1922, 12, 13 Dec. 1923; II, 13 Dec. 1923; SS, 15 Dec. 1923; Hampshire Regiment Journal (Jan. 1924); British Soldiers Missing, A/0909 (Military Archives); Michael Walsh’s WS 1521, 17 (BMH); James Murphy’s WS 1633, 15 (BMH); Maurice Brew’s WS 1695, 27 (BMH); Daniel Corkery’s WS 1719, 29 (BMH); D’Arcy (2007), 52-53; Keane (2014), 174-78; Keane (2017), 285-87, 415; http://www.cairogang.com/other-people/british/castle-intelligence/incidents/kilgobnet%201922/kilgobnet-1922.html (accessed 24 Feb. 2018); https://www.cairogang.com/incidents/kilgobnet%201922/hendy/hendy.html (accessed 26 Feb. 2018).


Note: Lieutenant Ronald Hendy and two other British intelligence officers travelled on 26 April 1922 from Ballincollig Military Barracks to Macroom in a car driven by Private J. R. Brooks of the Army Motor Transport Corps. They had with them a Newfoundland dog. They parked their car (without number plates) in front of Williams’ Hotel in Macroom, where it was spotted by a member of the Irish Republican Police, who also took note that the driver was English. These suspicious facts were promptly reported to the anti-Treaty IRA garrison then occupying Macroom Castle—not long ago a citadel of British forces. Second in command at the Castle was now Macroom IRA leader Charlie Browne. He and some of his men went down to Williams’ Hotel and found the three officers in mufti inside at the bar. Their story was that they were on a fishing holiday, but there was no fishing gear in their car, they carried revolvers, and Browne reportedly recognised one of the officers as a ‘hard man’ from his period of imprisonment by the British before the Truce. In a telephone call to brigade headquarters Browne got permission to arrest the three officers and their driver and to detain them in Macroom Castle. After further investigation the council of the No. 1 Brigade in Cork city sent orders for the four men to be executed. Three days after they had been arrested, on Saturday night, 29 April 1922, the four men (and the dog) were taken to some bogland at Kilgobnet (in Clondrohid parish), ‘a lonely and wild’ place about 5 miles north-west of Macroom, and shot dead. Their bodies were buried at or very near the spot of their execution. See http://www.cairogang.com/other-people/british/castle-intelligence/incidents/kilgobnet%201922/kilgobnet-1922.html (accessed 24 Feb. 2018). See also The Times (London), 12 Dec. 1923.

On 2 May 1922 a representative of the British Army Council wrote the following letter to Hendy’s sister: ‘I am commanded by the Army Council to inform you, with much regret, that a report has been received at the War Office from General Headquarters, Dublin, stating that your brother, Lieutenant R. A. HENDY, Royal Warwickshire Regiment, together with two other officers, was kidnapped on the 27th April [sic] 1922 at Macroom, Co. Cork, when on their way to Bantry. The message also states that you should be informed that “it is essential that the names of these officers should not be published in their own interests and for their own safety”. It is therefore earnestly requested that you will regard this as strictly confidential.’ See https://www.cairogang.com/incidents/kilgobnet%201922/hendy/hendy.html (accessed 26 Feb. 2018).    

The three executed intelligence officers had acquired a notorious reputation for torture among IRA prisoners during the War of Independence. City Volunteer Michael Walsh of Ballintemple later described his harsh treatment after he had been taken prisoner in May 1921 while drinking at a public house in Blackrock. He wound up in Union Quay RIC Barracks and then in Victoria Barracks. His interrogators wanted to know about another Volunteer named Paddy Sullivan. By his account Walsh ‘was interrogated [at Victoria Barracks] by three British intelligence officers named Henderson, Hendy, and Hammond (these were later shot by the Cork I.R.A.). The whole interrogation concerned Sullivan. I said the name might be an assumed one, it might be Sexton, I knew no Sullivan at all. One of the officers (a one-armed man) then attacked me. While the two others held me, he tried to force a small grenade into my mouth. I was in a very bad state when they left, promising to “have another session” with me the following day. In the early hours of the morning, Very Rev. Canon O’Regan, chaplain to the barracks, came to me. I told him all that had taken place. He was horrified but said there was nothing he could do to stop that kind of thing.’ See Michael Walsh’s WS 1521, 17 (BMH). Walsh may have confused ‘Hammond’ with intelligence officer George Dove. See the next three entries.

Much information has been unearthed about Hendy’s prior life and military career. He was born in Edinburgh on 29 October 1892. His father was a schoolmaster. Hendy himself went as a student to Canada in 1911 and attended Trinity College in Toronto until finishing there in 1914. Soon after the outbreak of the First World War, he enlisted with King Edward’s Horse Regiment and then served in France from April to November 1915. He was awarded a prize cadetship at the Royal Military College at Sandhurst, where he was admitted in January 1916; eight months later, he was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the 3rd Warwickshire Regiment. After his return to France in September 1916, he ‘was severely wounded in the right arm’ by a ‘bomb’ of some kind. After recuperating on home service, he went back to France briefly in November 1918 before finally returning to England in May 1919 as a lieutenant with the 3rd Warwickshires. In December 1920 he was posted to British Army GHQ in Ireland for intelligence duties. His Irish postings included Tipperary town and Newcastle West in County Limerick. The records are silent as to his activities for the whole of 1921, but his file indicates that on 28 January 1922 he was appointed as intelligence officer at the headquarters of the 17th Infantry Brigade in Cork city, along with Lieutenant H. Hammond, O.B.E., M.C., of Dorset. Hendy’s abduction at Macroom on 26 April 1922 and execution at Kilgobnet three days later are also noted. At the time of his death his parents resided at 9 Canterbury Road in Oxford. See https://www.cairogang.com/incidents/kilgobnet%201922/hendy/hendy.html (accessed 26 Feb. 2018).    

The Irish Revolution Project

Scoil na Staire /Tíreolaíocht

University College Cork, Cork,