British Intelligence Officer (Lieutenant) George Rolland Atkinson Dove

British Intelligence Officer (Lieutenant) George Rolland Atkinson Dove (aged 23) of the Second Hampshire 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), 25 May 1922, 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); http://www.cairogang.com/other-people/british/castle-intelligence/incidents/kilgobnet%201922/dove/dove.html (accessed 26 Feb. 2018).


Note: Anti-Treaty IRA officer Jim Murphy, Vice O/C of the Macroom Battalion and formerly captain of the Clondrohid Company, recalled the episode years later: ‘Three British army officers, accompanied by a driver, arrived in Macroom one day early in April 1922. Two of these officers (Hendy and Dore [i.e., Dove]) were members of the British intelligence who had tortured and shot unarmed prisoners during the fight [for independence]. They were wanted men and were taken prisoners by our forces on The Square, Macroom. They were lodged in the barracks, which had been evacuated by the R.I.C. and was now occupied by the Republican Police. A messenger was dispatched to Brigade H.Q. in Cork to seek instructions as to what should be done with the prisoners. Instructions were received to execute all four, and these orders were carried out that night. Next morning a strong enemy force entered Macroom area in search of the missing officers. They called again in greater strength on two other occasions, but being unable to get any information, they finally desisted.’ See James Murphy’s WS 1633, 15 (BMH).

It is clear that Murphy, with his loose and incorrect references to ‘early April’ and ‘that night’, is not a reliable witness as to the date of the British officers’ arrival in Macroom or the date of their subsequent execution. But otherwise his recollections have value. We know that British search parties went to Macroom on 27 and 28 April and again on 2 May 1922. See http://www.cairogang.com/other-people/british/castle-intelligence/incidents/kilgobnet%201922/kilgobnet-1922.html (accessed 24 Feb. 2018). Daniel Corkery, O/C of the Macroom Battalion, also later used the expression ‘that night’ to indicate the execution date of the three British intelligence officers, but he meant the night of the day when orders for the deed had arrived from Cork No. 1 Brigade headquarters. See Daniel Corkery’s WS 1719, 29 (BMH). See the next two entries.

The Times of 25 May 1922 reported: ‘Dr Atkinson Dove, of Elm Grove, Southsea, father of Lieutenant G.R.A. Dove, one of the three intelligence officers kidnapped at Macroom in April, has received a letter from the Colonel Commanding the 2nd Hampshires, intimating that there is no doubt that the officers were taken to the mountains in West Cork and murdered. Expeditions into the mountains have proved in vain.’

G.R.A. Dove was commissioned from the Royal Military College at Sandhurst as a second lieutenant in the 2nd Hampshire Regiment on 27 October 1916. After leaving Sandhurst, Dove went with his regiment to France, ‘where he was wounded three times’. He was promoted to the rank of lieutenant in April 1918. After the armistice he ‘volunteered for the Expeditionary Relief Force to Russia’. See The Times, 25 May 1922. He soon found himself with his regiment in the middle of the Russian Civil War. In November 1920 Dove ‘was brought to the notice of the British Secretary of State for War by General H. S. (Lord) Rawlinson, A.D.C. to the commander-in-chief of Allied forces in North Russia, ‘for valuable and distinguished services rendered [by Dove] in connection with the operations in North Russia during the period 25th March to 26th September 1919’. It is unclear exactly when Dove and his regiment were posted to Ireland. But he was there for the height of the War of Independence. Indeed, according to historian Fergus D’Arcy, writing in his book Remembering the Dead, Lieutenant Dove participated with other members of the 2nd Hampshire Regiment in the surprise attack on the IRA column at Clonmult on 20 February 1921—a disaster for the Midleton Battalion of the Cork No. 1 Brigade in which as many as thirteen Volunteers died. A considerable number of the IRA casualties at Clonmult were shot dead in British custody after the fighting had stopped. See http://www.cairogang.com/other-people/british/castle-intelligence/incidents/kilgobnet%201922/dove/dove.html (accessed 26 Feb. 2018); D’Arcy (2007), 52-53. See also the Cork War of Independence Fatality Register under the date of 20 February 1921.    

The Irish Revolution Project

Scoil na Staire /Tíreolaíocht

University College Cork, Cork,