Maurice Meade, Private 10271 in Royal Irish Regiment

Maurice Meade, MIC meade memoirs

1891 May 11 . Maurice Meade, was born in Ballinavanna, Elton, Co. Limerick. The only Maurice Meade born in Limerick at that time was born in Apr/Jun 1891, there were no Maurice Meades born in Limerick in 1893. From his birth details.He was the son of John and Margaret Mead living in Ballinavanna, Emlygrennan, Limerick, in 1911.

He went to the local National School until he was 12, then had to leave and go and work for a local farmer. His father took all his money for food and lodging, and young Maurice never got a penny to spend himself. He started to dream of making himself independent and reckoned that he should join the British Army. In fact he made a number of attempts to join the army before this, but was "rescued" on each occasion by his sister as he was under age

1911 census. A Maurice Meade appears in 1911 census as a "farm servant" of an O'Sullivan family in Coolalough, Hospital, Limerick aged aged 19 and born Co. Limerick, which would fit with the 1891 birth. It also ties with Casements note that Meade was a labourer before enlisting in the British Army.

1910 He joined the Royal Irish Regiment in Sept or Oct 1910 from his service number. This does not tie with his 1911 scensus data, and service number allocations can be a bit hit or miss. He probably joined up in mid 1911. He then have undergone training at Clonmel and was posted to the battalion at Guernsey, where he won the shield for cross-country running.

1914 Aug 13. He landed in France with Royal Irish Regiment

1914 Oct 24. Taken prisoner at Le Bassee. The only success during an Allied counter attack would lead to tragedy. The 2nd battalion of the Royal Irish captured Le Pilly, a village on Aubers Ridge, but the rest of the advance failed. The Royal Irish were dangerously isolated, but before the order to retreat could reach them they were surrounded by the Germans. Of nearly 900 men only 300 survived to surrender to the Germans. They were isolated for three days without ammunition or food, and eventually had to surrender. Meade says the Col was killed, and names him as Cox, in fact the commanding officer was Lt/Col E H E Daniell who was killed 19 Oct.

The fighting began at 0645 with a flanking attack on the Irish left. This was initially repulsed at 0730 by A Coy plus a platoon of the reinforcements. When placing this platoon, the Adjutant, Lt Harrison was severely wounded. The attack recommenced on the right flank where the acting Bn O/C, Major Daniell took command until noon. The Germans managed to isolate the village from the main body of the British line and then commenced to shell it from Fournes, the village which the French had failed to capture on the 19th. At 1500 Maj Daniell sent a report to Bde HQ, just as the left flank was once more assaulted. Racing to take command he was hit and killed. The fighting had now been going on since dawn. Their were hundreds of dead and wounded. Ammunition was running low and the senior officers were out of action. Without support, the Irish position was untenable and at 1600 the Germans overran Le Pilly. Irish losses were 177 killed or died of wounds. 302 were captured in the fall of the village of whom 200 were seriously wounded. 163 wounded had been evacuated before the village was surrounded.

As POWs they were moved back through France to Hamelin-on-Weser. It took them seven days to get there, and the only food he had was 2 raw eggs. They got dry bread and coffee when they reached Hamlein. Their POW camp was a bare piece of ground, without buildings, and the winter was bitterly cold. They slept in the open and had an allowance of 3 blankets. Food allowance was a small loaf of bread that has to last a week, with coffee morning and evening and a particularly unappetising soup at lunchtime.

The Germans supplied wood and the POWs built huts under German supervision. Once the huts were built they were put to work in local stone quarries. The Irish were segregated in December and taken to Limburg, where the conditions were much better. At Limburg he was recruited by Casement into the Irish Brigade.

1915 July He then moved to Zossen where he was in charge of the Irish Brigade Machine Gun stores.

1915 Dec 3. By the autumn of 1915 the Germans had all but abandoned any plans they might have had for a military invasion of Ireland. Casement and Monteith were instructed to "consider striking a blow at England... by joining the army for the invasion of Egypt and helping to free another small nation". When Casement and Monteith put this idea to the 56 members of the Irish Brigade on 3 Dec 1915, only 38 were willing to go along with the idea. The Germans reacted to this rebuff by deciding to again treat the Brigade as normal prisoners of war, which in turn caused 24 of the 38 to retract their offer to serve Germany in Egypt. Meade did volunteer for service in Egypt at this time but the Irish Brigade as such never went to Egypt. However he certainly writes that he did go to Egypt in 1917. I find this unbelievable, it is not substantiated by anyone else. Further the Witness Statement Meade to Bureau of Military History shows that the Irish Army were unable to verify it with the German Army in post war years. My conclusion is that he spent his time at Danzig working on farms and other locations in the area.

1916 Jan Volunteered for service in Egypt

1916 Jul The whole Brigade moved to Danzig. During his time at Danzig he writes that he joined the 203 Regiment from Berlin, and actually went with them and served in Egypt. Now at Zossen the Irish Brigade were attached to 203 Brandenburger Regiment. Machine guns were issued to the brigade, plus a dozen German machine gunners and a German Lieutenant to train them.. They got on well with these men who were conscripts from the Rhineland, rather than Prussians. The machine guns were, of course, kept by the Germans when not being used for training. But the 203rd Infantry Regiment did not serve in Egypt, they were only in Russia and France.

The AsienKorps was a German Expeditionary force sent to assist the Ottoman war effort in late 1917. Originally intended to assist in the recapture of Baghdad, it ended up defending the Palestine Front in 1918. The AsienKorps consisted of three infantry battalions.The battalions were numbered the 701st,702nd and 703rd Battalions and together made up the 201st Infantry Brigade

The German Asia Corps, Deutsche Asien-Korps was a well-equipped brigade. Trained in the Neuhammer forests of Silesia, the corps became a part of Army Group F (also known as the Yildirim Army) that included units of German, Turkish, and Austro-Hungarian soldiers led by the German General Erich von Falkenhayn. The Asien-Korps was formed to help aid the Ottomans in reestablishing a defensive position in the Middle East. After the Sinai front took a turn for the worse, the corps diverted their objective to Palestine in an effort stop British Field Marshal Edmund Allenby’s Egypt Expeditionary Force’s (EEF) march toward Jerusalem. On December 11, 1917, Jerusalem fell into British control forcing Army Group F to retreat north. Almost a year later what remained of the German and Turkish forces in Palestine, including what was left of the Asien-Korps, were defeated in Syria. The Deutsche Asien-Korps returned to Constantinople and, eventually, to Germany in early 1919. 201st Inf Brigade with infantry battalions 701,702,703: Oberst Werner von Frankenberg zu Proschlitz

The nominal strength of each of the Asienkorps' three (701, 702, and 703) "battalions" was 21 officers, 405 other ranks, and 25 Turkish animal handlers for the inevitable supply train. Effective strength was never actually over half that, from sickness and supply problem

Meade says that he spoke to some of the British prisoners captured in Egypt and they were surprised in him, who they thought to be German, could speak English so well. He believes that he was the only member of the Irish Brigade to actually serve in Egypt

map danzig area

On his return to Berlin he was released by his regiment, and got a job in Dirschau, which is Tczewin modern Poland, where a number of the Irish Brigade were working, with a firm called Polete. They were a firm of liquor distributors run by an ex-sergeant-major who sold coal and timber as well. He worked here for 9 months and was still working here in Nov 1918 when the war ended. The firm sold liquor, coal and wood, and in addition had stocks of much sought after coffee, which Meade used to barter for other scarce food from local farmers.

Zerhusen says when at Danzig he was constantly working (Zerhusen only gives the constantly working accolade to 3 other men). He came back into camp one day with a duck, and used it to get a new shirt and underclothes.

1918 Nov 15 circa. Kavanagh writes that he and Zerhusen went to Berlin, then on to to Munich where they met Keogh, Granaghan and Delamore. Kavanagh says after their meeting

1918 Dec. He was arrested by British military police in a bar. The implication it was at Dirschau. He was in his German uniform, and they apparently overheard his Irish accent. He was placed in a Crossley tender with an escort, and transported to Danzig. There he was put on board a British warship and to be taken back to London, with O'Neill. The Provost-Marshall only succeeded in capturing the two of them even after another 3 days searching. The ship put to sea, and they had to change into marines uniforms, from which badges and buttons had been removed. On arrival in London, they were marched under a heavy escort of some 300 men, to the Tower of London. Meade believes the escort was to protect them from a London mob if people knew who he and O'Neill were.

After 2 weeks in the cells they were court martialed for treason and sentenced to death. They then spent a further 2 weeks awaiting execution, but at that point they received a King's Pardon and a short time later were sent home, Meade to Elton, Co Limerick, and O'Neill to Dublin.

1919 late Jan. Soon after his arrival back home, he got tricked into entering the RIC barracks at Elton, and was imprisoned by Sgt Lydon. The next day he was escorted to Clonmel by a Royal Irish Regiment Sergeant, McCarthy, and 2 soldiers. Once back in the Army depot, he spent 3 days in detention, before coming in front of the CO and charged a second time with High Treason. On hearing that Meade have already been pardoned of this crime, he army required time to check the facts. So for 4 weeks he remained in the detention barracks and made beds and polished boots in return for the odd bottle of beer from the guard. Tiring of being held in detention, he managed to escape one night, by removing the guard sergeant's key while the man was asleep. It took him 3 weeks to get back home to Ballylanders towards theend of March.

1919 Apr. David Tobin and Donnacha O'Hannigan took him into the local East Limerick Flying Column, and he remained with the column until the truce in 1921. He was considered to be a great addition to the column because of his experience as a soldier and he took an active part in almost all of their major engagements.


1920 April 27. IRA captured and then destroyed the RIC barracks at Ballylanders, County Limerick. The IRA also seized arms and ammunition. In reprisal, Black and Tans went on the rampage in Limerick city. Meade was in the house where Tom Crawford was based. The barracks was defended by five RIC men and the attacking party numbered about 60.  The attackers broke a hole in the roof of the barracks and poured paraffin into it - setting the barracks alight.  The RIC subsequently surrendered.  A  number of RIC weapons were captured and the barracks destroyed.  One IRA man (Seam Meade) was seriously wounded but after a considerable time he recovered. 


1920 May 28. Attack on Killmallock Barracks.There were 28 RIC men in the barracks (McCarthy says 18 men) and the attackers were about 30 men with another 30 - 40 involved in guarding and scouting.  Despite a night long battle, in which the IRA broke a hole in the barracks from a nearby building and threw petrol into it and tried to burn the building, the RIC (under Sergeant Tobias O'Sullivan) did not surrender.  They withdrew to an outhouse.  Two RIC men were killed (Sgt Thomas Kane and Constable Joseph Morton) and one IRA man (Capt Liam Scully from Glencar, Co Kerry).  IRA men from East Clare, Cork, Tipperary as well as Limerick took part in the attack. Constable Arthur Hooey and Constable Barry were among six RIC men wounded.  RIC reprisals followed with the burning of  houses, a creamery and a public hall. The Kilmallock Barracks building is now a bank, with a small plaque above the driveway commemorating the death of Liam Scully in 1920.

1920 Aug 7. Kildorrery Ambush. They attacked and captured a patrol of RIC and Tans on the Kildorrery - Meadstown road. A foot patrol of Black and Tans in the village of Kildorrery headed down the Meadstown Road, where an ambush awaiting them about three hundred yards south of Kildorrery Village. All members of the patrol - six Black and Tans and two old RIC men - were wounded. The wounded were taken to Jim Dwane’s cottage about half a mile away at Scart and told to lie low while the Flying Column and local volunteers left the area.  Reprisals immediately followed with the destruction of houses, property and harassment of the local population. At least one of the wounded died, twenty-nine year old married man Constable Ernest Watkins from Monmouth, who died at Fermoy Military Hospital. The attack was carried out by a eleven men from the Castletownroche Battalion of the Second Cork Brigade and fourteen members of the East Limerick Brigade Flying Column, led by O/C Donnacha O'Hannigan. The prime objective of the attack, the capture of the arms and ammunition of the patrol, was successfully achieved by the volunteers during the operation.

1920 Nov 7. Grange Ambush. Grange is on the Limerick to Bruff Road. The 1st Battalion The Royal Fusiliers were escorting a R.A.F. convoy from Fermoy to Oranmore, Lieut. Allan and 30 other ranks were ambushed at Grange, near Bruff. As the IRA was expecting only two lorries they had to retreat when eight arrived. The first British lorry was blown to bits by two bombs thrown by David Tobin. 3 IRA men were wounded. Meade saw a British officer killed by David Clancy, and managed to get hold of the mans revolver and Sam Browne belt, which he wore till the end of the truce. The IRA units then managed to make a fighting retreat. The British Regiments official account says that the rebels, were speedily dealt with, and a quantity of arms, ammunition and two prisoners were taken. It would appear that no British soldiers were killed in the ambush, as there are no press reports of British Deaths

mitchelstown ambush Times

1920 Dec 17. Glenacurrane Ambush, just north of Mitchelstown. Ambush by East Limerick Brigade Column - led by Donnacha O'Hannigan - with help from Castletownroche Battalion Column (Cork No. 2) and Mitchelstown Company (Cork No.2 Brigade). The British patrol was made up of two lorries with 20 members of the Lincolnshire Regiment. Letters and a medal, awarded to Lieutenant L B Sheppard Faulkner, for 'gallant conduct in Ireland on 17 September' were confiscated. The wounded were taken to Athmaslings Cross. The medal is in the national library.

1st Battalion Lincolnshire Regiment. Pte Mincham, Killed in action at Mitchelstown, County Cork, on 17 December 1920. Sgt Leonard Ellis who also was killed the same day. Meade had a maxim gun that had been captured at Major O'Grady's house, and was sent with a section of 5 men to a height overlooking the road, so that he had a clear view of the road. His instructions were not to open fire with the machine gun, unless he enemy tried to retreat, and he could then use the gun to stop their retreat. They waited in position from 5am to about 10am. 2 lorries and a car came along the road and Meade opened fire once they passed his position, in spite of his orders not to do so. Anyway the machine gun fire made the troops surrender

map meade

1921 Feb 3. The Ambush at Dromkeen, County Limerick took place on 3 February 1921. Dromkeen is shown on the map above. 11 policemen were killed. The RIC were returning from Caherconlish to Pallas Green when the attack began, at 2.30 pm. The first lorry was fired on, hit a wall, and left some dead. The second lorry, carrying eight Black and Tans, was near the old cemetery when it was raked with fire from Maurice Meade’s group of Volunteers in a barn on the bend and the clusters of men in and near the cemetery. All the Black and Tans 'succumbed to their wounds' said O'Hannigan in a document held at the Cathal Brugha Military Barracks. Constable Cox, and his front seat passenger District Inspector Sanson tried to negotiate the roadblocks set by the Volunteers. As the lorry crashed, the three men in the back died, but the driver and the DI managed to escape.

It later transpired that three of the police were executed, all by Maurice Meade. Constable Adams was found dying by the British forces and told of being 'shot by the Shinners after surrendering', and that Constable Foody (or maybe Doyle) had been executed by Meade. Meade describes shooting a Tan who had placed his hands on his head and surrendered but whose ‘actions had been treacherous.’ When O'Hannigan found two police alive among the dead he ordered that they be court-martialed. The decision was made that they be executed by a 3 to 2 vote.

Meade writes: ‘O’Hannigan called me and said “Hey Maurice will you shoot one of them?” I agreed to do so. He gave Stapleton the job of executing the other. I took my man down the road and shot him. Then I went down to see how Stapleton was getting on and found that he disliked the job and did not want to do it, so I took the fellow over and executed him. Adams and either Foody or Doyle - were to die from Meade’s gun, executed after being captured. Another had earlier been shot by Meade upon surrendering. He was ‘treacherous’, explained Meade in his memoirs. All three had the wounds to the back of the neck consistent with an execution.

1921 Mar 30 O'Hannigan witnesses the death of Sean Finn at Ballyhahill. In this battle Tom Howard shot dead a Tan who was about to shoot the dying Finn.

1921 May 1. Shraherla Incident. A mixed unit of East Limerick Column and a number of West Limerick men were billeted here. Sudden two lorries full of tans were upon then and opened on them with Lewis guns. The IRA men had to beat a quick retreat under fire, and Meade's coat got a number of bullet holes, but he himself was uninjured. IRA men killed were: Capt Paddy Stair, James Horan and Tim Hennessy were killed in action and Casey was executed after he had been captured.

After a night long march. they got about 10 miles away to Lackelly, where they rested, but were found and fired upon by more tans. After another skirmish they drove off the enemy and discovered the bodies of their 4 fallen comrades, which they proceeded to bury. They also captured 13 bicycles from the tans, which improved their mobility.Here 3 more IRA men died - Lieut Jim Frahill, Pat Ryan, William Riordan and Tom Howard.

They then cycles on to Kilteely and were surprised the next morning by more tans. A few days after the Lackelly battle O'Hannigan was in the Annacarty region when a battle occurred which resulted in Brigadier Sean Wall being captured by the Tans. During this battle Joe O'Brien shot dead Sergeant Kingston and the Tans shot the captured Wall with a shotgun. They continued to be pursued for many days, and eventually the column was broken into smaller groups of 7 or 8 men each, in order to make concealment easier.

1921 Jul 12. The Truce takes effect and the groups disband. They drive into Kilmallock and experience the novelty of walking down the street freely carrying their arms.

1921 Dec 12. Meade shot at two RIC men at Kilmallock, Co Limrick. Sergeant Enright was killed and Constable Timoney was wounded in the shooting. The two policemen were in plain clothes and had left a hotel in Killmallock at 10.30. A group of men standing in the street fired a number of shots at them as they came out of the hotel. Maurice Meade was among the group that shot Sgt Enright that night, and although he says so in his book, does not go into any details.

Enright was a marked man because of a number of incidents in which he was involved, in particular the throwing of a bomb into a train of returning internees only 3 days before Enright's own death. The WS of a Tipperary IRA man gives. Sean Fitzpatrick and I went to Thurles to investigate the matter. Our information was that the bomb had been thrown by a Sergeant Enright of the R.I.C. and that it had been thrown from the bridge over the railway near Thurles Station.

Meade's WS gives On the previous day there was a Black and Tan named Enright who had a dog running there. This man was a brother of Enright, the R.I.C. man who was killed at Knocklong, and he was particularly active and bitter against our men, on one occasion bombing some of our captured men. For this we decided he should pay the death penalty. No opportunity to carry this out had arisen until the Truce occurred but when we saw him at the coursing match, even though the Truce Was then in operation, we agreed to shoot him and we did so that night.

1922 Mar 30. Maurice Meade attested to the Free State Army with the rank of Company Sergeant. He was posted to the 18th Battalion (Limerick) for duty with its Machine Gun Company. He served in the Tipperary area during the Civil War, with 18th Battalion. There is no mention of the Civil War in Meade's memoirs

1923 Mar 3. He was promoted to 2nd Lt.

1923 He married Nora Holloway (nee Hayes) of Emly. There are no children by that marriage and this was his only marriage.

1924 Apr transferred to the Army School of Instruction, Curragh Camp

1924 Jun 27. Under the reorganisation of the army he was appointed to A Coy 20 Battalion (Gorey, Wexford)

1924 Sep 30. He was discharged from the army as medically unfit.

Meade in old age

1956 A Dail debate in 1956 included him in a list of men resident in Limerick and getting an IRA pension. In his case £120 per year under the Military Services Pensions Act of 1924. This is a high pension on the list

1972 Apr 19. He died, aged 81 years, and is interred in Emly cemetery

Recruits to Irish Brigade