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This is the hundredth anniversary of Bloody Sunday. During the Irish War of Independence, Britain brought Secret Security Agents from its world-wide empire in a bid to defeat the Irish. They wanted to find Michael Collins and kill him. But in 1920, Michael Collins and his followers struck first and defeated them. This event had a huge impact on war. It led to Ireland becoming a free country. It also encouraged independence movements in many countries.

Michael Collins and Bloody Sunday, 1920
Michael Collins was a 16 year old bank clerk who returned to Ireland in 1916 to join the Easter Rising and fight in the war for Ireland’s independence. The Easter Rising was overwhelmed by the vastly greater forces of the British Empire. When Collins was released from the British POW camp, he returned to Ireland to lead a guerrilla war for Irish independence, 1919-1921.

He had been born in 1890 at Woodfield, near Clonakilty, in County Cork. In 1906, he went to London to be a clerk in the Post Office Saving Bank. He worked there until 1916, when he returned to Ireland. Collins “knew from Irish revolutionary history that British informers and spies had betrayed all past rebellions…” His “objective from the beginning was to put out the eyes of the British…”

The sources I have used for this article are:
Bloody Sunday—How Michael Collins’ Agents Assassinated Britain’s Secret Service in Dublin on November 21, 1920. James Gleeson
Michael Collins and the Anglo-Irish War. J.B. E. Hittle

James Gleeson was director of the London News Agency and a journalist and author.

J.B.E. Hittle is a highly decorated analyst of U.S. military intelligence.

Collins and the Irish Republican Army in their guerrilla war with the British. He had a total of about 2,500 men under arms in all of Ireland, with about 1,200 of them in Dublin.

That small force opposed 44,000 British Army soldiers, who were aided by the RIC, the Black and Tans and the Auxiliaries.

Hittle says Collins was “an organizational genius with a natural gift for espionage. Collins established an intelligence department within the IRA designed from the beginning to ‘put out the eyes’ of the British in Ireland. That he succeeded so effectively is quite remarkable considering the size and determination of British forces arranged against him.”

The guerrilla war was so effective that by 1920, great savants of Ireland could no longer be administered by the British. The situation had become so critical that the British brought their best espionage agents from all parts of the empire. They were to find Michael Collins and kill him. They got close to finding him, however, Collins struck first.

This was on Bloody Sunday, November 21, 1920.

Gleeson says: “The probing of the British force and the building up of evidence by the Irish force became a dreadful contest that could only end in death for one or another.”
Collins had agents throughout Dublin. Gleeson tells this story. “A maid in Dublin tells her boyfriend about the Englishmen in her boarding house. This puzzled her because they slept during the day and went out every night. She was puzzled also because they did not dress like soldiers. The boyfriend was a member of the Dublin Brigade IRA and he passed this information on, and was instructed to obtain any further news he could. He asked the maid about paper left lying about the rooms occupied by these men. She agreed to hoard all the papers from their wastepaper basket. She handed over the scraps, which were pieced together and scrutinized by the IRA.”

“Englishmen who went out after dark, even though they preferred to be travelers, writers, or engineers, aroused suspicion. Maids in other boarding houses were approached by members of the IRA and much valuable information was obtained concerning the movements, correspondence, and habits of the British Intelligence officers.”
“A list of thirty-five names, addresses, descriptions, and where possible, photographs, was eventually drawn up, and thirty-five portfolios giving detailed accounts of these agents and their activities accompanied the list.

Hittle says this about British agents, “Their swaggering, high-profile behavior, lack of concern for compartmentalizing sources and information, loose lips, and indiscrete liaisons brought disaster.”

“The officers assassinated on Bloody Sunday had no inkling they had been compromised with until the second before their assassins pulled the trigger.”

At 9:00 in the morning of November 21, church bells pealed and 14 agents were killed. That put great fear and terror into the British government. Bloody Sunday led to a truce being called in 1921. And eventually peace terms and a treaty were negotiated.

After the treaty, the British left part of Ireland. They had invaded and controlled it since 1177! Ireland was the first country to become independent and leave the British Empire.

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