Thursday, December 22, 2011

Rolls Royce Armoured Cars

A feature of the recent War Dead book launch in Trim was the presence of some World War 1 re-enactors from Lord Edward's Own Historical Re-enactment group, Athy and the Irish military war museum, Drogheda. Some were dressed in uniforms of the time and had rifles, pistols, grenades, kit on display.

I was intrigued by the lot, especially by the guns and especially especially by the Vickers machine gun pictured above. You can research and write history which involves weapons and their deadly use often without ever really knowing what the weapons looked like.

One of the many fascinating characters featured in my book is the Rolls Royce armoured car The Ballinalee which spent quite a while in Sligo, was taken by the anti-Treaty forces (republicans, irregulars, IRA - what to call them is often a problem). It was used against the Free State troops for a few months until it was recaptured. The anti-Treaty forces put it out of action before it was taken and it was not used again in the war.

Anyway the armoured car's main weapon was a Vickers gun and I had never seen one until Noel French's launch. An impressive weapon firing 450 to 500 round of .303 per minute, with an effective range of 2,000 metres. The republicans took the machine gun out of the Ballinalee before they abandoned it.

The most famous of the 14 or so Rolls Royce armoured cars used by the Free State is the Sliabh na mBan beside which Michael Collins died during the Civil War. It has just been fully restored by the army and is in the Curragh, Kildare. More here , here and here.

1 comment:

David Byrne said...

Hello Michael. I have a amature blog page on the Rolls Royce armoured car in Ireland which includs some photos of the Ballinalee if your interest click on the link.