An Interesting Tale of Biological Warfare and Black Propaganda in the WOI - anyone have further info?

Mitsui2

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An Interesting Tale of Biological Warfare and Black Propaganda in the WOI - anyone have further info?

This is basically a request for info from the more learned, but it needs a long preamble.

Some months ago now I came across an old item on Broadsheet.ie about a collection of War Of Independence images available online at the Netherlands State Visual Library (Dublin At War | Broadsheet.ie).

The images were from the archive of a long-defunct Dutch magazine called Het Leven, and I was completely unfamilar with most of them, so I bookmarked the page with the intention of going to the archive and having a good root around for similar stuff. But I forgot about it till organising my bookmarks this morning, when I found the link and made the mistake of following it. I say "mistake" because I've been stuck on the damn site for most of the day, finding many Irish images I hadn't seen before including quite a few from the WOI era and even the Easter Rising.

There are some really terrific (and, at least from my point of view) rare images on the site (which is here - Memory of the Netherlands) but it isn't actually the pictures as such that prompt this OP - it's a couple of captions from one particular sequence of pictures.

I can't embed pictures here from the Dutch site, and the web addresses of the images are insanely long, but here are copies of two of the photos from The Royal Irish Constabulary Forum Forums


This is supposedly a raid on the home of a "Professor Hayes"



And this one is supposed to be a raid on "Michael Collins's house" - though they seem fairly obviously to be "before" and "after" shots of the same raid.

The third photo, which I can't find an embeddable copy of, looks like part of the same sequence, and supposedly shows a detail from a raid on Liberty Hall, where two Auxies are shown digging up a fireplace. You can see it if you follow the geheugenvannederland link above and type "Paasopstand Ierland melk" into the searchbox. This will also bring up the first of the two photos above. Typing in "Paasopstand Ierland Collins" will bring up the second of the two pictures. As an aside, "Paasopstand Ierland" means "Easter Rising Ireland", but many of the photos so-labelled in the collection come from later in the WOI.

According to the captions, these raids were in connection with plots for a) a terror attack on government buildings in London and b) a plot to infect milk destined for British troops and "police" in Ireland with a typhus bacillus (!) developed by this Professor Hayes.

I must admit that this was news to me, and googling it didn't turn up many references. Luckily, though, it did bring up two references from The Royal Irish Constabulary Forum Forums which went at least some way towards untangling what was obviously a pretty tangled tale. The first (at Auxiliaries raid Prof. Hayes' home - Typhus plot 1920 in Cornucopia Forum) clarified the situation somewhat, while the second (Truth, Lies and Photographs - Historical Inaccuracies Corrected in Photo Gallery Forum) went into some more detail about the real location of the raid, the "typhus" story and its discrediting, and even included yet another photo (hilariously - I thought myself - revealing that the mysterious, rifle-like bundle that the Tan carries over his shoulder in the photo above is in fact a bunch of hurls) from what was obviously a staged sequence .

All that, as I said, was really just by way of preamble, but thankfully the rest is short. I start this thread because I know that p.ie still has some folk on it who are extremely knowledgeable on the subject of the WOI. What I'm very curious about is whether this discredited typhus story was big news at the time, and whether it was part of a bigger propaganda campaign of this sort by the British - I mean obviously they tried lots of propaganda, but was there more on this atrocity scale... I mean typhus?

If so, does anyone know of any books about general British WOI disinformation and propaganda? I've come across various instances of it but it's a subject that I've never seen covered in any dedicated way.
 
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GDPR

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WOW! I never heard of this! I do know there were massive typhus outbreaks in POW camps in WW1 and an epidemic among the civilian population in Serbia at the end of the hostilities. I think in Brideshead Revisited, Charles Ryders deceased mamma is supposed to have met her fate gallantly driving an ambulance to the relief of the Serbs - and it was quite the thing for certain posh gels to do at the time.

Maybe thats how the British got the idea? There was a history in E Europe of pinning typhus on the Joooos as well. I have some vague idea that things got nasty in Poland round the same time because the usual war time conditions led to a deterioration in public sanitation - and scapegoats were found.

Malcolm Redthingie is going to love this thread.
 

eoghanacht

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Brilliant find Mitz, thanks.


I doubt the veracity of the claim that there was a plot to poison milk destined for crown forces, the good/old IRA would never stoop as low....
 

DrNightdub

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Bearing in mind the devestation across Europe of the post-war flu epidemic, raising fears about "typhoid warfare" (for want of a better description) would be a good propaganda / scare story / black ops approach to take.
 

Mitsui2

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Bearing in mind the devestation across Europe of the post-war flu epidemic, raising fears about "typhoid warfare" (for want of a better description) would be a good propaganda / scare story / black ops approach to take.
That's one reason I'd like to find some more specific info on this particular story. It seems to come from 1920, when Ormonde Winter ('The Little White Snake' as his colleague in the Castle Mark Sturgis described him) was in charge of what I suppose we'd nowadays call British counter-intelligence, and disinformation and what would currently call fake news were some of his preferred tools. Some of Winter's schemes were as mad as a bag of cats (as, I sometimes suspect, was he). Not that some didn't apparently work, but sometimes he seems to have thought so far outside the box that he occasionally risked falling out of the shopping trolley altogether.
 
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Mitsui2

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Here's the tan's looking to throw a grenade in the fireplace....silly tans, the grenade will only bounce back out :lol:


Going by the photos, seems completely staged for the onlooking Dutch photographer, or in the local parlance, filling him up with shíte...
Aha! That's the picture I couldn't find an embeddable copy of - the one of them searching "Liberty Hall" for "evidence" on the "typhoid" "plot".

Maybe they saw a picture of Count Plunkett and thought Santa Claus worked for Sinn Féin's Biological Warfare Department!

Ta Shinnerbot!
 

GDPR

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LOL, Im bumping this so people read it. Winter sounds like a raving head-the-ball to me, the sort who is useful for a while, but never fully trusted by his own side.

I doubt this did make headlines in the UK.

What the ghastly old fraud Winter makes me think of is Robin Bryans, the N Irish writer, who made a career out of claiming all sorts of acquaintance he did not in fact possess and insights into dark doings that he knew not of. If you ve ever glanced at his autobiography its like REF on acid.

Im sure there is a book in how these Irish chancers, (Winter was Anglo-Irish) get to convince people they know what they are talking about.
 

Mitsui2

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LOL, Im bumping this so people read it. Winter sounds like a raving head-the-ball to me, the sort who is useful for a while, but never fully trusted by his own side.

I doubt this did make headlines in the UK.

What the ghastly old fraud Winter makes me think of is Robin Bryans, the N Irish writer, who made a career out of claiming all sorts of acquaintance he did not in fact possess and insights into dark doings that he knew not of. If you ve ever glanced at his autobiography its like REF on acid.

Im sure there is a book in how these Irish chancers, (Winter was Anglo-Irish) get to convince people they know what they are talking about.
At the same time Winter did actually do stuff - he volunteered to fight the Russians with the Finnish army when he was over 60, ffs! I love Wikipedia's quote from his obituary in The Times - "He feared neither God nor man." And you're right - nobody trusted him... or even liked him. I mean, when even folks on your own side are calling you a little white snake...

He always strikes me as one of those genuinely mad Victorian figures, with a cast iron neck and utter self-belief, who really did get the British their Empire but were regarded as a bit of an embarrassment if they couldn't be made into heroes (as happened to Gordon, another nutter - but Winter engaged in too many murky shenanigans on behalf of HMG to be lionised, and didn't have the good grace to die young!). I always picture him as a bit like Viv Stanshall's Sir Henry Rawlinson.

Winter's autobiography, Winter's Tale is another of those books I'd love to have a copy of - I read it in the National Library years & years ago but have never found a copy to buy. Still, until not so long ago that was also true of Charlie Dalton's (brother of the more famous Emmett) memoir, which somehow got republished, so there's always hope.

You should read Winter's book if you ever come across it - he had a mind like a particularly singleminded, brilliant but malevolent weasel, and I'm damn certain that in some places in the book - even decades after the fact - he was still planting disinformation about the WOI.
 

Mitsui2

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Fascinating stuff Mits.

Are you confident its the same raid however?

The small window in picture 2 isn't evident in 1, and theres that unusual piece of wrought iron work, again not evident in 1.

Who was prof. Hayes.

Would a search of UCD and Trinity archives turn him up I wonder.
I'm not certain about the fireplace shot, but the others at least seem to have been covered in the second post I linked to from the irishconstabulary.com forum. There are actually several houses shown in the original photos (depending on the angle of the photo) and that link shows modern-day photos of the same buildings in North Great George's Street with conforming architectural features (including the ironwork). The actual raid seems to have been on No 42 (it's mentioned here) which housed a number of Labour organisations.

The full working out of the identification is unfortunately on a page that's only open to forum members, but they seem to have a lot of people on that forum who are very dedicated (if not downright obsessive!) about such detail.

"Professor" Hayes appears to have been Dr Michael Hayes, who actually lectured in French at Dublin University. The Auxies did raid his house at around the same time as the Georges Street raid - almost capturing Dick Mulcahy in the process (this was the famous occasion when Mulcahy escaped by climbing out through a skylight) - but that house was on the SCR, and appears to have no connection with the raid in these photos. At the time the Brits presumably issued these pics, Hayes was interned at Ballykinlar internment camp, having been arrested during the raid on his house.

This is all stuff I managed to work out yesterday, and I haven't had a chance to dig further yet, but the story that was put out along with the photos was clearly a fairytale cut from the whole cloth.
 

Cruimh

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I'm not certain about the fireplace shot, but the others at least seem to have been covered in the second post I linked to from the irishconstabulary.com forum. There are actually several houses shown in the original photos (depending on the angle of the photo) and that link shows modern-day photos of the same buildings in North Great George's Street with conforming architectural features (including the ironwork). The actual raid seems to have been on No 42 (it's mentioned here) which housed a number of Labour organisations.

The full working out of the identification is unfortunately on a page that's only open to forum members, but they seem to have a lot of people on that forum who are very dedicated (if not downright obsessive!) about such detail.

"Professor" Hayes appears to have been Dr Michael Hayes, who actually lectured in French at Dublin University. The Auxies did raid his house at around the same time as the Georges Street raid - almost capturing Dick Mulcahy in the process (this was the famous occasion when Mulcahy escaped by climbing out through a skylight) - but that house was on the SCR, and appears to have no connection with the raid in these photos. At the time the Brits presumably issued these pics, Hayes was interned at Ballykinlar internment camp, having been arrested during the raid on his house.

This is all stuff I managed to work out yesterday, and I haven't had a chance to dig further yet, but the story that was put out along with the photos was clearly a fairytale cut from the whole cloth.
Michael Hayes - later Senator Michael Hayes, was an active republican, an acquaintance of Michael O'Higgins and Richard Mulcahy - he ended up a professor of Irish at UCD in the 50s.
 

GDPR

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At the same time Winter did actually do stuff - he volunteered to fight the Russians with the Finnish army when he was over 60, ffs! I love Wikipedia's quote from his obituary in The Times - "He feared neither God nor man." And you're right - nobody trusted him... or even liked him. I mean, when even folks on your own side are calling you a little white snake...

He always strikes me as one of those genuinely mad Victorian figures, with a cast iron neck and utter self-belief, who really did get the British their Empire but were regarded as a bit of an embarrassment if they couldn't be made into heroes (as happened to Gordon, another nutter - but Winter engaged in too many murky shenanigans on behalf of HMG to be lionised, and didn't have the good grace to die young!). I always picture him as a bit like Viv Stanshall's Sir Henry Rawlinson.

Winter's autobiography, Winter's Tale is another of those books I'd love to have a copy of - I read it in the National Library years & years ago but have never found a copy to buy. Still, until not so long ago that was also true of Charlie Dalton's (brother of the more famous Emmett) memoir, which somehow got republished, so there's always hope.

You should read Winter's book if you ever come across it - he had a mind like a particularly singleminded, brilliant but malevolent weasel, and I'm damn certain that in some places in the book - even decades after the fact - he was still planting disinformation about the WOI.
Im not quite so impressed by him, though I dont doubt he did mess about and cause grief to sundry parties. I wouldnt call him an Empire builder - more a Chekist (secret policeman) in the fine old Tsarist mould. Rebecca Wests "The Birds Fall Down" is perhaps the best semi-fictional account of the wild, wild stuff pulled by these guys, who later of course seamlessly transitioned into OGPU and the KGB.

My comparison with Bryans could have been clearer - I wasnt suggesting Winter was a total Mitty, but that like Bryans whom I have read he is probably spinning like a top to plant misinformation in his own memoirs. If you have ever worked for intelligence, whatever account you later produce will either be thoroughly vetted by your employers or itself part of an ongoing intelligence op. Thats just how it works.

Unless you are John Le Carré and write novels, based on your experience, which are almost certainly more truthful.
 

former wesleyan

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At the same time Winter did actually do stuff - he volunteered to fight the Russians with the Finnish army when he was over 60, ffs! I love Wikipedia's quote from his obituary in The Times - "He feared neither God nor man." And you're right - nobody trusted him... or even liked him. I mean, when even folks on your own side are calling you a little white snake...

He always strikes me as one of those genuinely mad Victorian figures, with a cast iron neck and utter self-belief, who really did get the British their Empire but were regarded as a bit of an embarrassment if they couldn't be made into heroes (as happened to Gordon, another nutter - but Winter engaged in too many murky shenanigans on behalf of HMG to be lionised, and didn't have the good grace to die young!). I always picture him as a bit like Viv Stanshall's Sir Henry Rawlinson.

Winter's autobiography, Winter's Tale is another of those books I'd love to have a copy of - I read it in the National Library years & years ago but have never found a copy to buy. Still, until not so long ago that was also true of Charlie Dalton's (brother of the more famous Emmett) memoir, which somehow got republished, so there's always hope.

You should read Winter's book if you ever come across it - he had a mind like a particularly singleminded, brilliant but malevolent weasel, and I'm damn certain that in some places in the book - even decades after the fact - he was still planting disinformation about the WOI.

;;
 

Mitsui2

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At one time it was suggested that one of the men shot by Collins' men on Bloody Sunday was possibly involved in Biological Warfare
In Ireland?

(PS anyone else this morning being told "you must wait 30 seconds between posts" every time they try to post anything?)
 

Dearghoul

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At one time it was suggested that one of the men shot by Collins' men on Bloody Sunday was possibly involved in Biological Warfare - Captain McCormack (MacCormack?), a retired member of the RAVC who had come back from Egypt.
Interesting.

He was supposedly in Dublin buying horses for the Alexandria turf club.

Who suggested this Cruimh?
 

GDPR

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Interesting.

He was supposedly in Dublin buying horses for the Alexandria turf club.

Who suggested this Cruimh?
Well some dude called Bowen apparently see here : QUOTE Bowen also floats his theory that "there is the added possibility that he ws in Irland to assess the threatened use of germ warfare in Ireland by the IRA ....The intention of the IRA would appear to be to spread glanders among the horses ann typhiod among the troops....Of McCormack there is no record in the quarterlu or monthly Army Lists.... The Gresham Hotel where he was shot was one of Dublin's finest and certainly an expensive place for an ex-captain in RAVC"

Capt Patrick McCormack

Here the implication would appear to be that it was the IRA who were disseminating black propaganda about biological warfare. Never heard of any of this before, web sleuths.
 


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