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Cuthbert Lucas (LI 1892-96) – Letters from Captivity

Today marks the 100th anniversary of Cuthbert Lucas (LI 1892-96) being taken into captivity by the IRA. His granddaughter, Ruth Wheeler, emailed us to tell about his time in captivity and to share the letters he wrote to his wife.

“My grandfather, Cuthbert Henry Tindall Lucas was educated at Marlborough from 1892 to 1896. He went on to Sandhurst and then saw an incredible military career, serving in the Second Boer War, India, Egypt and the Sudan. He was rapidly promoted throughout WW1 and mentioned in Despatches 9 times.

After serving as part of the Army of Occupation in Germany in 1919, he was sent to Ireland to Fermoy. On 26th June 1920 he was captured by Liam Lynch and the Cork II IRA brigade. He was held for over a month and eventually ‘allowed to escape’. This was because his captors thought that he was ‘too nice a guy to shoot’.

During his month’s captivity, CHTL negotiated a daily bottle of Whiskey and played tennis and croquet with his captors. He played cards with the lads and was taken salmon poaching. He also helped ‘save the hay’ at his own request as he needed ‘healthy exercise’. An amazing postal system was set up so that not only could CHTL write to his wife, who was heavily pregnant in England, but that she could write to him.

It is the War of Irish Independence’s equivalent of the WW1 Christmas Day football game. None of the IRA Witness Statements contain a bad word against General Lucas. When he finally got back to England, Lucas stated that he was treated as a ‘gentlemen by gentlemen’. This stopped any reprisals by the British against any of those who were involved in the capture. As a way to celebrate the 100th year anniversary of my grandfather’s capture, I am posting all his letters to my grandmother from this time along with IRA Witness Statements. newspaper articles from the time, relevant Hansard and papers from the Churchill Archive. There are also family history quotes and some from history books written about the event. The letters are being posted on their 100th year anniversary and the website is being built up over a month. It is free to access and I hope that it can act as a resource for those wanting to study this amusing but important event during the War of Independence. I thought that I would let the college know as it involves one of its ex students.

The website is can be found here.

There have been several articles in The Irish Times, The Irish Independent, BBC online and an interview on RTE radio.

Kind regards,
Ruth Wheeler”