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. 

“Death on the Pier” to be published soon

Moon Car

The Moon Car – disappeared after 1924 attack. Found in 1981.

After a number of delays in getting the book out, publication is finally within sight. Problems arose in sourcing photos for the book and sorting out copyright for same.  New information also came to light recently which will add to available knowledge of the Cobh Pier Head attack of 1924, its aftermath and the story of the elusive “Moon Car” – the mysterious yellow Rolls Royce Silver Ghost which disappeared after the attack and was not rediscovered for almost 60 years.

We will also have a new cover design and additional witness testimony.  We will have a firm date for publication soon but it will definitely be in Spring 2017. Keep an eye on this site for further updates.

Death on the Pier, new book coming soon

Cobh Reward poster


The intriguing story of a 1924 attack on unarmed British soldiers in the Irish Treaty Port of Cobh

It’s March 1924. It is less than 18 months after the foundation of the Irish Free State which was founded under the Anglo-Irish Treaty which split the Irish Republican Army and led to a short but deadly Civil War.  A mutiny is taking place within the Irish Army due to mass demoblisation of men while some who are unhappy that the Free State is not doing more to achieve the aims set down by Michael Collins who described the Treaty as a “stepping stone to the republic”. Meanwhile remnants of the Anti-Treaty IRA continue to pose a threat. On March 21st a group of armed men seated in a yellow Rolls Royce and dressed in Irish Army uniforms fire on unarmed British soldiers coming off a ferry in Cobh. Are they Free Staters or Anti-Treaty “Irregulars” or perhaps a combination of both?  An 18 year-old British soldier is dead, 18 others injured seriously and six civilians also wounded. As they depart the town, the attackers fire on a British warship. An hour later British soldiers seeking revenge or perhaps searching for their missing comrades fire shots in the town of Cobh and local citizens flee for cover.  The Rolls Royce and its occupants cannot be found even though there is a £10,000 reward for information which might lead to their arrest. The news flashes around the world. The dead soldier is given a huge funeral in his native Rochdale while back in Ireland there is almost universal condemnation of the attack.  Murder, mystery, intrigue, cover-ups, it’s all in Death on the Pier,  the story of the Cobh Pier Head shooting and the Search for the Moon Car.  Author John Jefferies unravels the story in his new book.

It is hoped to have the book in print and in the shops by Spring 2017 and it will also be on sale through this website.