An eyewitness description of the Cobh Pier Head attack

Death on the Pier tells the story of the Cobh Pier Head attack which took place on the evening of 21st March 1924. The book covers the lead-in to the attack, the circumstances in which it took place and the manhunt which took place afterwards. Central to the latter was the 57 year search for the mysterious yellow Rolls Royce known as the “Moon Car”.  The following is an excerpt from the witness statement given subsequently by a local town councillor,  Bartholomew Downing.

“At about ten minutes to seven I was standing on the path just opposite the pier. This big motor car came along, turned opposite the Imperial Hotel, came along and took up a position just opposite the pier head.  Immediately the soldiers came off the launch and were walking across the pier, two machine guns were placed on the side of the car.  Almost immediately I heard the rattle of machine gun fire,  and the next thing I saw was soldiers falling. They fell before it the same as corn before a scythe. It was a wave of men falling. It was a most appalling sight, the like of which I hope to never witness again.”.

1 British soldier was killed in the attack, 18 others were injured, many of them seriously and 5 civilians were also injured, including at least one child.

The shooting was followed by a massive manhunt and the issuing of a £10,000 reward (a huge sum in 1924) for five men named as suspects. The trail of the suspects  stretches from Cork to the European mainland and to the United States.

John Jefferies’ book Death on the Pier and the search for the Moon Car will be published in April 2017.