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Raids and Reprisals - The IRA and the Crown Forces

In a guerrilla war there are no large battles — instead there are many ambushes, raids, and minor skirmishes involving a few men on either side. The IRA conducted raids on barracks to take weapons and intimidate Irish born policemen. In response, the British authorities supplemented the police with mainly English men, returned from fighting in WWI. These men, the Black and Tans and Auxiliaries, often took revenge by burning and looting towns and destroying businesses. These atrocities not only punished the wrong people, but also drove more civilians to support the IRA. Atrocities were carried out by both sides, and both suffered many casualties.
During the War of Independence:

  • 278 Irish-born RIC policemen were killed.

  • Hundreds of RIC barracks were burned.

  • In 1920, 41 civilians were killed for failing to halt in response to a military challenge.

  • Over 700 civilians were killed by both sides, including 100 shot as spies by the IRA from January to July 1921.

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