On the 13th November 1920, an R.I.C. patrol of seven men was making its way by lorry from Galbally to Bansha when it was ambushed at Inches Cross, Lisvernane, in the Glen of Aherlow County Tipperary. The lorry initially made it through the ambush position but the steering mechanism was wrecked by a bullet, which caused it to crash into a ditch.
The police returned fire initially from the floor of the lorry, when this became untenable they took cover beneath it. It was in this position that Constables O'Leary, Mackessy and Butrock received their wounds; O'Leary and Mackessy dying shortly after.
Petrol from the lorry had dripped onto the bodies of the wounded and dying men and caught alight. When the attack was over one of the constables was stated to have said "You don't want to burn us; take these bodies out". It is alleged that this was refused and the constable, himself wounded, dragged the bodies at great risk from under the burning vehicle.
The Constables involved:
1. Constable Patrick Mackessy (aka Mackesy) 62820, thirty five and married with three children, was originally from Lisselton, Co.Kerry. He had nine years'police service, having been a farmer before joining the R.I.C. He was a clerk in the District Inspector's office. His Mass Card shows he lived in Murgasty, Co. Tipperary.
2. Constable Jeremiah O'Leary 65367,was a thirty-year-old single man from Co Cork with ten years' police service, having been a labourer prior to joining the R.I.C. His last words to his comrades were "Carry on!".
3. Constable Patrick Fardy 68957, from Wexford, single. He received a 1st class favourable record plus £10 on the 16th Aug 1920 for his part in the defence of Cappawhite RIC Barracks, and two subsequent 3rd class FR's. He was disbanded from the Castle Guard Company in 1922.
4. Constable John Thomas Miller 71096, a twenty-two-year-old single man, from Co.Wicklow, died on 14 November in the Military Hospital, Tipperary. Previously a teacher, he had only a few months service, being in Tipperary from September. He came from an RIC family, his father Alexander Miller 45116 (pensioned June 1920), brothers Alexander Francis (69782) and Robert William (79799) all being police constables.
5. Constable Charles WilliamW Buntrock* 74436, seriously wounded, was removed to the Military Hospital in Tipperary. Buntrock, a twenty-seven-year-old married man, was from West Ham, Essex, he would have had one months service on 15 November, 1920, having been a boiler maker and soldier prior to joining the R.I.C. but he died on 13 November 1920 from his wounds. He was married To Gladys Maud Morgan in Canning Town, in 1913.
6. William Bolton Buntrock 74437, a 20 year old man, joined on the same day as Charles, who was his brother. Unusually, they were allocated to the same station in the same county. He received a 3rd class Favourable Record on the 9th September 1921 (along with Charles Sheeran, Sgt Patrick Joseph Murtagh 61179).
7. Constables Derwent Wallace 74565 (driver), was from Castlerigg, Cumberland and twenty one years old. He was appointed to Tipperary on the 7th November 1920, and resigned on the 5th March 1921.
This attack was carried out by No 1 Flying Column attached to the I.R.A's Third Tipperary Brigade under the command of Dinny Lacey. The I.R.A. took the police weapons, but did not get any ammunition as it had all been expended by the police during the attack. (After the attack on the police, a house near the scene was burned as the occupants had refused to give shelter to the wounded police.)
Following the attack four lorries of military and police arrived from Tipperary, arresting a number of men and burning house to the ground. It was alleged that the occupants had refused to give shelter to the wounded police.
Police Casualties in Ireland, 1919-1922. Richard Abbott. 2000.
Daily Sketch. Mon, November 22, 1920.
Irish Times, Nov 15 1920.
National Archives CO 904/43
* Richard Abbott has him named as Bustrock.