Joseph Austen Chamberlain – c. 1924.
German Federal Archives via Wikimedia.

[ 31 October 1920 ]

On 31 October 1920,  Austen Chamberlain, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who was considered a dovish moderate on the issue of Ireland, wrote to his sister reminding her of the benefit of the security forces taking violent acts of retribution against Irish civilians. In some cases, where communities were considered to be uncooperative or there had been attacks on police officers, entire streets and neighbourhoods had been burned down.  It was he claimed, ‘a fact that the reprisals had secured the safety of the police in places where previously they were shot down like vermin.’1 General Sir Nevil Macready, who was the commander in chief of British army in Ireland, concurred, noting that the ‘whole atmosphere’ had ‘changed from one of hostility to one of cringing submission’ with locals touching their caps to military officers as they passed in the street.2


  1. Austen to Hilda Chamberlain, 31 October 1920, cited in Charles Townsend, The Republic: The Fight for Irish Independence, Penguin Books, London, 2014, p. 164.
  2. Macready cited in Ibid., p. 164.

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