Instigator of a city’s torching identified

PAINSTAKING work collecting all the records of the 2,265 men who fought with the Auxiliary Division of the Royal Irish Constabulary (ADRIC) finally helped identify the man who instigated the burning of Cork city 90 years ago today.

Of those ADRICs, 55 were members of the infamous ‘K’ Company which torched the city in reprisal for the death of one of their colleagues in an IRA ambush a few hours earlier.

Historian and genealogist Jim Herlihy collected the ADRIC records for a book on the Auxiliaries which he will publish next year.

A friend then supplied him with copies of letters written by ‘Charles’, one of the ADRIC men stationed at Victoria Barracks, which show he was instrumental in rounding up colleagues for the brutal reprisal.

But who was Charles?

Of the 55 in ‘K’ Company, four had the christian name Charles.

Mr Herlihy discounted two immediately as they were wounded in the ambush at Dillon’s Cross before the burning of the city, namely Temporary Cadet Charles Worrell from London and Temporary Cadet Charles Cautley from Surrey.

A third Temporary Cadet, Charles Murray from Surrey, joined K Company on January 3, 1921, and therefore wasn’t in Cork at the time.

So the only possible writer of the letters was Charles Schulze, and this was confirmed because he mentions his sister’s name in some of the correspondence.

The letters to his mother and girlfriend were written on December 16, 1920, and subsequently intercepted by the IRA.

“The ADRIC service record of Charles Frederick Lees Schulze states that he was born in Selkirk, Scotland, on May 30, 1878, and joined the ADRIC on November 29, 1920. He was a former army officer and held the rank of captain with the Dorsetshire Regiment.

“His promotion to the rank of captain is mentioned in page 3,760 of the London Gazette dated April 20, 1917, when he was attached to the West African Frontier Force,” Mr Herlihy said.

Schulze’s father, William, was born in Brunswick, Germany in 1843. Thirty years later he moved to Galashiels near Selkirk and established a tweed export business.

Charles was the oldest of three boys and two sisters, one of whom, Dorothy, is mentioned in the letter he wrote to his mother.

She became a famous violinist who held concerts all over the world.

Charles’ two brothers were killed in WWI.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission confirms that Private William Rudolf Schulze of the 7th Battalion Cameron Highlanders died on July 18, 1916, and Second Lieutenant Hugh Lee Schulze, 6th Battalion Dorsetshire Regiment, died on October 29, 1918. Both men were killed near Amiens, in northern France.

In 1922 their father had a replica of the door to Amiens Cathedral added to the porch of Old Parish and St Paul’s Church, Galashiels, in memory of his two sons.

Mr Herlihy and a friend of his in Britain are still trying to find out where Charles Schulze died and is buried.

“We are looking through records, but haven’t had any luck yet,” Mr Herlihy said.

He intends to publish a book next year on the ADRIC and one on the 10,000 Black and Tans who also served here.

The ADRICs were former officers in the British army and were paid a small fortune at the time.

“They initially got one pound a day, but that was later increased to a guinea. The Tans on the other hand got 10 shillings a day,” Mr Herlihy said.

IRA ambush used as excuse for ‘premeditated’ arson attack

FOLLOWING the IRA ambush it was reported that the Auxiliaries had opened fire without warning at the corner of King Street (now MacCurtain Street) and Summerhill North.

Women and children huddled in doorways to escape the indiscriminate firing; crowds took refuge in Kent railway station and reported that the shooting continued for up to 20 minutes, by which time the streets had become deserted, apart from British forces.

By 10pm, men from the Auxiliary Division of the Royal Irish Constabulary (ADRIC) had set light to houses at Dillon’s Cross.

An ambulance crew travelling to the scene reported a fire had been lit at Grant and Company’s department store in St Patrick’s Street. They saw up to 50 Auxiliaries in the area.

The fire brigade managed to contain that blaze, but by 11.30pm the British had set fire to the Munster Arcade and Cash’s department store.

The fire brigade were unable to put out the fires and they quickly spread, destroying among others Egan’s Jewellers, Saxone Shoes, Burton’s Tailors, the Lee Cinema, Roche’s Stores and Sunner’s Chemists.

Just before dawn on Sunday, December 12, the ADRIC forces torched City Hall and the nearby Carnegie Library.

According to fire brigade crews who tried to put out those fires, the ADRICs fired on them, turned off hydrants and cut their hoses.

Witnesses also reported that Black and Tans took part in an orgy of looting.

The uniforms of the ADRIC may have looked somewhat similar to the Black and Tans, but there were differences and evidence from reliable witnesses at the time pointed to the arsonists as being ADRIC members.

Florence O’Donoghue, an intelligence officer with the IRA’s Cork No 1 Brigade, wrote at the time that their ambush at Dillon’s Cross provided an excuse for an act that was long premeditated by Crown forces.

He based this on the rapid way in which petrol and Verey lights were brought from Victoria Barracks to the city centre and the organised way in which different groups of troops set about the destruction.

“Whatever good will the citizens of Cork may have had for the British forces was now gone,” O’Donoghue wrote.

The city’s fire brigade chief, Superintendent Alfred Huston, said in his report that a considerable amount of petrol was used to light the fires.

He added that in some cases explosives were also used.

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