Lucas Ambush

General Lucas, who had been captured by the IRA while on a fishing holiday near Fermoy, managed to escape and reach the safety of Pallas Green RIC barracks. It was decided that he would be given a lift in a Crossley tender manned by Ox & Bucks LI, but the IRA did not know that he was aboard when they ambushed the vehicle on the 30th of July 1920 on the Tipperary side of Oola. It was thought at the time that the ambush was set up to either recapture General Lucas or kill him but recent research has shown that the ambush was set up to capture the Military Mail which was also in the Crossley Tender at the time.

The Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry Chronicle records that the two men killed in the Oola ambush

General Lucas had been captured on 26th Jun 1920 by the IRA. A report in the Times says he was not sure where he was kept captive, put he says that he was eventually able to remove bars from the windows and escape early in the morning of Jul 30th. He moved across country and got to the police station in Pallas Villaage, and informed them who he was

James Kilmartin (W.S. 881) from Monard was Captain of the Solohead Company and describes attacks on RIC Barracks and raids for arms – describes the Oola Ambush on 30 July 1920 which involved escaped IRA prisoner General Lucas

An episode which I should, have mentioned earlier was the Oola ambush which, in fact, took place before the starting of the column. This was the time when General Lucas had escaped and when we ambushed the military party which had picked him up on the road. This was a purely Company activity. It was the Solohead Company which organised and carried out this ambush. When I say that the Oola ambush was organised and carried out by the Solohead Company, I mean that it was chiefly the Solohead Company which was involved. There were a few men from Dunohill with us, as well as Breen, Treacy and the Battalion Commander, Ned Reilly. We had all discussed and arranged the matter beforehand and as far as I remember it was Treacy who had suggested that there was a despatch rider whom we should hold up and capture there. We hardly expected any large force to appear. When, therefore, a small lorry arrived on the scene of the ambush - it was, in fact, the lorry carrying General Lucas - we opened fire on it.

We had arranged for a cart with a ladder mounted on it to be pulled across the road when this despatch rider would be due to arrive and when, actually, this small lorry appeared, the cart was pulled across the road. I was in a position close to this barricade and when the lorry pulled up I stood up and called on them to surrender, which they did at once. Unfortunately, however, there was nobody else near me to take the surrender and some others of our men, who were further away and perhaps not in full view of what was happening, opened fire so that the soldiers in the lorries jumped down and fled for cover. I remember well that morning when Ned Reilly placed us in position he said very seriously to us that we should remain exactly where we were placed, and that he would shoot the first man who left his position. Consequently, when we called on the soldiers in the lorry to surrender and some few shots had been fired, they put their hands up and said they would surrender but the firing continued from our side from men in other positions and there was only one other man near me so we could do nothing before the soldiers had all cleared off to the side of the road. I did not know at this time where Ned Reilly, Treacy or Breen were but, as it transpired afterwards, they were at the other side of the road. These men were not in a position to see what was happening or whether the soldiers had indicated their willingness to surrender, so they opened fire on them and kept it up. The soldiers standing with their hands up had no alternative but to run for cover.

The next thing was that two more lorries full of British military arrived on the scene and they began to take part in the action. I went to the gate of the field where we were looking for Ned Reilly but could see no sign of him or anyone else, but I could see a policeman from Oola - an R.I.C. man who was above us at a gate - firing down towards where we were. I could see no sign of any more of our men and I decided that they must have left us to shift for ourselves. I came back and told my men that we had better get out of this position as best we could and, in order to do this, we had to cross the road, in the course of which we were fired at all the time by the policemen above us. The two lorries of military which I mentioned as having arrived did not get into action until we were across the road but they then turned a very heavy fire from machine guns and rifles on the lower position held by our me and made it very difficult for them to get away because the military fire raked all the ditches and cover around. However, our men all succeeded in making their escape from the position and we withdrew, considering ourselves lucky to have got away from a rather ugly position without casualties. I believe there were some casualties on the British side and it was only a good while afterwards that we learned that the first small lorry that we had held up had carried General Lucas. The ambush at Oola took place, I believe, on the 30th July, 1920, and the newspapers gave the military casualties as two soldiers killed and three wounde

Tadhg Crowe (W.S. 1658) from Solohead took part in the Soloheadbeg Ambush and the Oola Ambush on 30 July 1920

hat ambush at Oola took place on 30th July 1920. It arose from a report by the Solohead Company that a lorry of military carrying mails and preceded by a motor cyclist passed regularly along the Tipperary-Limerick road, and Sean Treacy decided to ambush it. Jim O'Gorman and Michael Fitzgerald called to Quinn's for me after the ambush and told me what happened. The motor cyclist did not pass and the lorry, when it came, was fired on by the main party. This lorry was closely followed by a second lorry of military who dismounted and took part in the fight. After the first volley it was found that the ejectors of the Martini rifles which the main party were using failed to eject the empty cases from the breech, due perhaps to incorrect ammunition being used. There was then no option but to break off the engagement and Treacy, they said,. saved the day, as he kept the soldiers pinned down on the road with rapid fire from his parabellum whilst the main party were withdrawn, Later, we learned that two British soldiers were killed and three wounded and that General Lucas, who had escaped from I.R.A. custody on the previous night, was in the lorry, having been picked up by the military at Pallas.

British Soldiers died in Ireland