Identity of Auxiliary letter writer admitting burning of Cork revealed after 100 years

Charlie Schulze fought against his father’s home country Germany in first World War

The burning of Cork on December 11th, 1920. Photograph courtesy of the National Library of Ireland

The burning of Cork on December 11th, 1920. Photograph courtesy of the National Library of Ireland

 

In the aftermath of the burning of Cork City 100 years ago, the Irish Labour party and the Trade Union Congress published a long pamphlet blaming the burning on the Auxiliaries.

The pamphlet included a first-hand account from an Auxiliary: “We did it all night never mind how much the well intentioned Hamar Greenwood (Chief Secretary of Ireland) would excuse us. In all my life and in all of the tales of fiction I have read, I have never experienced such orgies of murder, arson and looting as I have witnessed during the past 16 days with the RIC Auxiliaries.

“It baffles description and we are supposed to be officers and gentlemen. There are quite a number of decent fellows and likewise a number of ruffians.

“The burning and sacking of Cork followed immediately on the ambush of our men. I, as orderly Sergeant had to collect 20 men for a raid and they left barracks in two motor cars. I did not go as I was feeling sickly. The party had not gone 100 yards from barracks when bombs were thrown at them over a wall. One dropped in a car and wounded 8 men one of whom has since died.

“Very naturally the rest of the Company were enraged. The houses in the vicinity of the ambush were set alight and from there various parties set out on their mission of destruction. Many who witnessed scenes in France and Flanders say that nothing they had experienced was comparable to the punishment meted out in Cork.”

The author also appears to refer to the shocking murder of Canon Thomas Magner (73) and Timothy Crowley (24) at Dunmanway, Co Cork, by an Auxiliary Vernon Hart who was later declared insane. The attack happened on December 15th, a day before the author sent his letter.

He writes: “On our arrival here from Cork, one of our heroes held up a car with a priest and a civilian in it, and shot them both through the head without cause of provocation. We were very kindly received by the people but the consequences of this cold-blooded murder is that no one will come within a mile of us and all shops are closed.”

The letters were sent by an officer in K Company of the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) Auxiliary Division named Charlie. He sent one to his mother and another to a woman named Edith.

They contain clues as to the identity of the author. The first is that Charlie in K Company had served in Cameroon during the first World War and had a sister named Dorothy who was a violinist.

Historian and former garda Jim O’Herlihy went through the list of 2,256 Auxiliaries who served in the Auxiliary Division of the RIC (ADRIC). Of the 55 members of K Company, four had the name Charlie, but two had been wounded before the burning of Cork, and a third did not join until January 1921.

This left Charles Schulze, ADRIC No.1143, from Selkirk, Scotland. He had served in Cameroon and had a sister called Dorothy who was a performer.

As the surname suggests, Mr Schulze was of German origin. His father William was a German industrialist who moved to Scotland in the 1860s. He was so long in Britain that he was not interned as many German nationals were during the first World War.

Indeed, his three sons, Rudolf, Hugh and Charlie all served in the war against his own country, and both Rudolf and Hugh were killed near Amiens in France.

In 1922 William Schulze donated a porch to the front of Old Parish & St. Paul’s Church, Galashiels in Scotland as a memorial to his dead sons.

Dorothy Schulze changed her name to Allwyn during the war because of anti-German sentiment in Britain.

Charles was transferred to ‘H’ Company of the ADRIC on March 19th, 1921, and was promoted platoon commander on May 18th, 1921. He returned to Scotland on disbandment of the ADRIC on January 13th 1922.

He moved to England and was the manager of the YMCA military centre in Derby where he died suddenly on January 17th, 1946, and was buried in Galashiels, Scotland.