On June 22nd 1921, George H.S. Duckham, was returning to Millstreet from leave in London where he had been married just a week earlier. A young R.I.C. constable in Millstreet, he had rested in Macroom Barrack overnight, and was making his way in plain clothes on a horse and side-car to Millstreet. It was at the height of the war of Independence, and unfortunately for him, the IRA knew he was coming and they ambushed him between Macroom and Carriganima at Carriganeigh Cross. They took him prisoner and apparently found on him amongst other things, a list of the names of the members of the Millstreet Battalion Column that were to be shot on sight. On top of that, as a constable he apparently had a bad record in the eyes of the local republicans. He was tried by the IRA and shot. His body was left across the river from Carriganima Church, but apparently taken away and buried in a bog elsewhere by locals who were afraid that the police would cause trouble in the area. His body was never found and remains a mystery. He left behind a young wife and a young son, also named George Henry Samuel Duckham. Wherever his body lies, may he rest in peace.
He is one of four+ R.I.C. (two auxiliaries, two Black and Tans) that lost their lived in Millstreet during the War of Independence. Below are two reports on his demise, and also as some details about his background:
R.I.C. Constable George Henry Samuel Duckham was serving as a constable in the districts of Macroom and Millstreet when he was kidnapped by the IRA on 22 June 1921 while travelling in civilian clothes near Clondrohid Cross. Constable Duckham was reported missing at Bandon on 22 June 1921 after he had returned to Ireland from wedding leave in England. ‘His father later received a number of documents which had been in the possession of his son when he had been kidnapped, along with a letter from Macroom which stated that the constable had been tried and executed by the IRA on the day after he had been kidnapped.’ Constable Duckham appeared on the list of ‘missing persons’ published in the Irish Times of 22 August 1921. The date of his kidnapping was given there as 23 June 1921.
Duckham appears to have been the alleged intelligence operative mentioned as captured and executed by members of the Clondrohid Company in June 1921. Local Volunteer captain Timothy Buckley ‘got a report from Macroom that a Black and Tan—a member of Millstreet garrison—was to travel by horse and side-car [from Macroom] back to his base next morning. As I could not withdraw from the position we held near the town [i.e., Macroom], I got four or five members of the company (Clondrohid) to hold him up. They were armed with shotguns, and when the Tan came along, they held him up and took him prisoner. As he had a bad record, he was shot that night. Amongst the men who captured this Tan were: Jim Twohig, Lackaduv, who was in charge; John Riordan, [and] Jerh. Dineen; Tim Murphy and Paddy Carroll acted as scouts. When this prisoner was searched, a list of the names of the members of the Millstreet Battalion Column, who were to be shot at sight, was found on him. He is buried in Clashmaguire Bog.’ See Timothy Buckely’s WS 1641, 18-19 (BMH). Constable Duckham had joined the RIC in late September 1920; he had previously been a milkman.
Former Volunteer Jamie Moynihan essentially confirmed this account in his memoirs: ‘This Constable Duckham was considered to be an unscrupulous character in the Millstreet area, and the local Volunteers had attempted to capture him on several occasions, without success. Eventually, three local Volunteers from the Carriganima-Clondrohid Company captured him at Carriganeigh Cross, north of Clondrohid, on 8 [sic] June 1921. One of these Volunteers was Paddy O’Shea of Knockraheen, Carriganima. When Duckham was captured, he had two valuable items on him: the first was Major [Seafield] Grant’s walking stick and the second was a paper found in his pocket containing a list of Volunteers in the Millstreet area who were to be shot on sight. This list probably sealed his fate. A week later he was found shot dead at a spot in the “High Field” at Carriganima, close to the location where Art O’Laoire was also shot dead in 1773.’
It was apparently Duckham to whom Macroom Volunteer leader Daniel Corkery referred when he recalled years later: ‘A lone Black and Tan was shot by some members of the local company on the Macroom-Millstreet road about the end of June 1921, and his arms were taken. His body was left on the roadside in the neighbourhood of Carriganima in the hope that his colleagues would come to collect it while I lay in ambush with the battalion column close by. The body was, however, removed by some local people and buried.’ See Daniel Corkery’s WS 1719, 25 (BMH). Duckham’s body had not been discovered by April 1926; at that point his name still appeared among those for whom investigations by both the Department of Defence and the Civic Guards to locate places of burial had proven fruitless. See Letter to G. C. Whiskard (Dominions Office), April 1926 (JUS/H/257/13, NAI). [The Irish Revoluion]
22 June 1921 Auxiliary George Duckham
George Duckham was returning to Macroom from leave when he was shot at Carriganima and buried in the bog. Daniel Corkery was a little put out: ‘A lone Black and Tan was shot by some members of the local company on the Macroom—Millstreet road about the end of June, 1921, and his arms were taken. His body was left on the roadside in the neighbourhood of Carriganima in the hope that his colleagues would come to collect it, while I lay in ambush with the Battalion Column close by. The body was, however, removed by some local people and buried.’ Tim Buckley provides the essential details: ‘About mid June I was one of a section of five or six who spent five or six days in ambush positions about 1½ miles from Macroom waiting to attack an officer of the Auxiliaries stationed in Macroom Castle. While I was engaged on this job, I got a report from Macroom that a Black and Tan — a member of Millstreet garrison — was to travel by horse and side-car back to his base next morning. As I could not withdraw from the position we held near the town, I got four or five members of the company (Clondrohid) to hold him up. They were armed with shotguns and when the Tan came along they held him up and took him prisoner. As he had a bad record, he was shot that night. Amongst the men who captured this Tan were:— Jim Twohig, Lackaduv, who was in charge; John Riordan, Jerh. Dineen; Tim Murphy and Paddy Carroll acted as scouts. When this prisoner was searched, a list of names of the members of the Millstreet Battalion Column, who were to be shot at sight, was found on him. He is buried in Clashmaguire Bog.’ On 4 July 1921 The Freeman’s Journal reported that Constable Duckham’s father had received personal effects and a letter saying that his kidnapped son had been tried and executed. Duckham’s body was never found. [Cork’s Revolutionary Dead]
Reported in the Newspapers
It officially reported that Constable George H. S. Duckham, who was returning from leave in England to his station at Millstreet, was kidnapped near Clondrohid Cross, four miles on the Millstreet side of Macroom, at 11 o’clock Thursday morning. It is stated that was taken off a car driven by Daniel Murphy, of Millstreet. There is no trace of the missing police man.
[Belfast News-Letter – 24 June 1921]
[Londonderry Sentinel – June 25th 1921]
KIDNAPPED AND MURDERED.
A tragic sequel is officially reported to the kidnapping of Constable G. H. Duckham on June 22nd after his return from wedding leave in England. The father of Duckham has received from Macroom a number of documents which were in the possession of his son, together with a letter stating that the constable was tried and executed the day after he was kidnapped.
[Northern Whig – July 4th 1921]
Mystery of Newly-Married Irish Policeman
The parents of George Duckham, whose home is at Beddington, Surrey, and who is a member of the Royal Irish Constabulary, are much concerned about his whereabouts. Since his return to Ireland after a marriage furlough, a month ago, no communication from him has been received by his parents. On Wednesday, however, a postal packet was delivered in Beddington, bearing the Dublin postmark, and containing a document which the parents knew to be in his possession, his marriage certificate, and identification card. Enclosed was also a brief note, unsigned, saving:— ” George Duckham has been court martialled executed.” Duckham appears to have been kidnapoed while returning to his barracks in County Cork from his marriage leave.
[Daily Herald – Saturday 09 July 1921]
“On June 24th a Black and Tan named Duckham, while travelling in civilian clothes, was arrested by our men and shot dead. One revolver was taken.” [Bureau of Military History – Charles Browne]
Probate: Duckham, George Henry Samuel of 4 Bridle-path Beddington Surrey died 22 June 1921 at Macroom County Cork Ireland Administration London 2 September to Emily Florence Duckham widow. Effects £20
On the morning of 22 June 1921, George had been in plain clothes riding on a horse and car which was being driven by Dan Murphy of Church Street on the trip from Macroom to Millstreet. When they reached Carriganeigh Cross at about 11am, five or more IRA were in wait for him and he was taken.
Because it is located in a dip in the road, Carriganeigh Cross was an excellent ambush site. (It’s the first turn-off for Clondrohid after Carriganima, the normal route from Millstreet to Clondrohid). The layout of the cross is different now , as back then it was a four road junction, whereas now it is three road junction. (map below shows the layout back the over the current day layout.) [OSI] [GMap]
Where was he buried?
His body was apparently left at the “High Field” for the police to discover. (The high field is in the foreground, with Carriganima village in the distance) [map]
APPARENTLY (and that’s a big apparently): When the locals saw this, they though that it would bring trouble to them and they removed the body to Clashmaguire bog. But nobody knows for sure. (Timothy Buckely’s WS 1641, 18-19 (BMH)) [map]
(It’s about 3km as the crow flies from the high field to Clashmaguire bog … or less if he was buried in what is no under forestry in Clashmaguire)
“Duckham’s body had not been discovered by April 1926; at that point his name still appeared among those for whom investigations by both the Department of Defence and the Civic Guards to locate places of burial had proven fruitless. See Letter to G. C. Whiskard (Dominions Office), April 1926”
And so it last resting place remains a mystery. The upper parts of Clashmaguire are blanketed in forestry. It’s likely that he will never be found, and that and if he is, it is likely only by chance 🙁
The Brief Life of George H.S. Duckham
1900 May 6th: born in Fulham, London, to Mary Butler and George Duckham, a breadmaker.
1900 June 27th: Baptised at Fulham St Peter, England
1901: Lived at West Street, Chapel Place, Sutton, Surrey, England
1911: lived at 223 High Street, Aldershot, Hants. He was in school. His father was a baker working from home.
1916 Jan: He joined the Royal Navy in WWI when he was still 15. His records starts in January 1916, and lasted up until 1920. He served as Boy 2, then Sig. then Ord. Sig. on 7 different ships (HMS Powerful, HMS Ganges, HMS Pembroke I, HMS Europa I, HMS Europa, HMS Bristol, HMS Sentinel, HMS Forward, HMS Theseus, HMS Theseus II, HMS Pembroke). When he joined the Navy, George was listed as 5ft 2.5″ with 32″ chest, dark brown hair, grey eyes and a dark complexion. His previous profession is given as Miller. [ref]
1920 August 3rd: He left the Royal Navy.
1920 September 24th: Joined the RIC (as a Black and Tan). His brother William Henry Duckham also joined on the same day (Roll book says September 20th 1920),
1921 January 4th: George and his brother Henry were both stationed in Millstreet Barrack (constable numbers 73329, and 73328).
1921 March 30th: His son George was born at 3 Oak Place, Bermondsey, London, England.
Registration District: St. Olave (Bermondsey) Sub-district: Rotherhithe County: County of London [a] (registration didn’t happen until around December … the end of the year).
1921 June 15th: Married 15 Jun 1921 to Emily Florence Cousins, at the Register Office, Islington, Record 1b 578. He is listed as an RIC Constable, son of George Henry Duckham, a baker’s assistant. She is the daughter of William John Cousins, a naval pensioner. Both give their address as 2 Rupert Road, Islington, London [map]
1921 June 22nd: Kidnapped by the IRA at Carriganeigh Crossroads as he returned from his wedding
1921 June 23rd: Tried and executed by the IRA
1921 December: His son was born six months after his death, and was given the same name as his father George Henry Samuel Duckham.
George Henry Duckham 1870–1955
MARY ALICE Butler 1876–1960
Mabel Mary Duckham 1896–1972
Evelyn Duckham 1898–1928
William Henry Duckham 1901–1940 (also R.I.C. was stationed with George in Millstreet Barracks in 1921)
Florence May Duckham 1903–1903
Frederick James Duckham 1906–1938
DOROTHY Elizabeth Duckham 1909–2000
Edward Marshall Duckham 1912–1987
Ruby M Duckham 1916–
Molly Olive F Duckham 1920–1995
Spouse & Children
Emily Florence Cousins 1898–1991
George Henry Samuel Duckham, 1921–2006
Emily married Edgar L Stevens in 1924, and she had six more children with him. She died in London about 1991.
His son George Henry Duckham married Gladys Coppins (1919-1995) in East Ham, London, in 1941, and they had two sons:
* Derek G.H. Duckham: b. 7 Dec 1941 in Surrey, m. Ann F Davis 1965 and had three children Julie – Neil – Carolyn, d. 4 Dec 1991 in North Vancoover, British Columbia, Canada
* Keith A.J. Duckham (1943-), m. Margaret Collings in Gosport in July 1967
DUCKHAM – Gladys Amelia. Born April 19, 1918 in Bristol, England. Passed away January 27, 1998. Survived by her loving husband, of 57 years, George; daughter-in-law Ann and grandchildren Julie, Neil and Carolyn. Predeceased by sons Derek and Keith. A memorial service and reception will be held Thursday, February 5, 1998 at 2:00 p.m. at Highlands United Church, 3255 Edgemont Blvd, North Vancouver. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Childrens Hospital
“May you rest in peace”.
DUCKHAM _ George 30 March 1921 – 20 May 2006 It is with great sadness we announce the passing of George. He was a devoted granddad to Julie, Neil, Carolyn and best friend to daughter-in-law Ann. He will also be greatly missed by many friends and family in England. Predeceased by wife Gladys and sons Derek and Keith. Many thanks to the staff at Evergreen House for their devoted care and attention. Memorial Service to be held at Highlands United Church, 3255 Edgemont Blvd, North Vancouver on Thursday, June 1st at 1:30pm.
Reception to follow service. If you so wish, donate to a charity of your
choice in his memory. [Vancouver Sun and The Province on 5/27/2006]
Bits and Pieces
His wife’s father was also in the navy navy, though retired as a pensioner (1911 census).
Here’s an interesting story from Clashmaguire bog (1937), and it may predate Duckham
His wife was granted an annual allowance of £121.6.8 for his murder.
The story goes that a local was seen wearing George’s boots a few days after he disappeared. [see Johanna’s comment below]
Was his son George a POW in WWII?
World War 2 Allies Collection
First name(s) G H
Last name Duckham
Service number 1255325
Ship or regiment R A F Stalag
Country Great Britain
View the original source
View the record’s source
Original source Prisoners Of War 1715-1945
Record set World War 2 Allies Collection
Category Military, armed forces & conflict
Subcategory Second World War
Stalag is the German for prisoner-of-war camps [wiki]
The father of Millstreet taximan of the 1980s Dermie Murphy’s, was also a taxi man, who had a horse and sidecar and he was charged to take him from the train station to Macroom that day. (Eily Buckley)
At the time of his death, he was wearing what looked like a valuable ring, and his family were contacted, but his wife didn’t want it, as she didn’t agree with what he was doing. It is probably the same ring can be seen in his wedding photo above.