Posted 30 September 2003 - 06:47 pm
When looking for information on the so called Black and Tans it should be remembered that they were actually members of the Royal Irish Constabulary.
Ordinary Policemen,not members of a British military force or para-militaries.
They were recruited to bolster the numbers of the regular force to meet the growing problem of the IRA in 1920. The nickname came about due to the shortage of police uniforms necessitating the use of ex-army uniforms,mixing jackets and trousers,hence the Black and Tan.This situation with the uniform only lasted a few months but the name stuck,generally to those recruits from England and Scotland. Contrary to myth they were not the dregs of the British army but were men of generally good military character.What is a common mistake is to believe the Auxillary Policeforce were the Black and Tans. By late 1920 the B&T's uniform was standard Police issue so it was not possible to identify them from regulars. However the 'Auxies' had their own uniform. A Tam O'Shanter hat,officers jackets and sometimes riding breeches with high boots.
These are the men the IRA were wary of. All were ex- army officers with good service records including many MC holders.They were commanded by Col F.P. Crozier of 36th Ulster Division fame.
Regarding information on the B&T's. Irish police [pre 1922] records are held at Kew.
I think there may be a list of the men but am not sure.Lots of info on actions,arrests etc.
The Bennett book is ok but a bit dated. I would recommend 'Police casulties in Ireland 1919-1922' by Richard Abbott,came out in 2000. Lists all known officers killed with personal history details of how killed,list of sources for research.
Of all the interviews i've read with B&T's I've yet to see one who regretted what they did.