In his capacity as ‘Secretary of State for War (and Air), Winston Churchill establishes the Royal Irish Constabulary Special Reserve, which comes to be known as ‘The Black and Tans’. Churchill’s RICSR is a mercenary policing force recruited for the purpose of suppressing Irish independence.
Recruitment begins in Great Britain in late 1919. Thousands, many of them unemployed British Army veterans of World War I, answer Churchill’s call. By November 1921, about 9,500 men will have joined.
The nickname “Black and Tans” derives from the colors of the uniforms they wear. The Black and Tans become infamous for their arbitrary reprisals against the civilian population. In the summer of 1920, Churchill’s thugs burn and sack small towns and villages throughout Ireland — Tuam, Trim, Balbriggan, Knockcroghery, Thurles, Templemore and many others…
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