Jump to content


Photo
- - - - -

The Tan War And The Thompson


  • Please log in to reply
15 replies to this topic

#1 flying_column

flying_column

    New Member

  • Regular Group
  • 3 posts

Posted 19 January 2005 - 06:28 PM

I'm new to your forum and hope very much some well-informed Thompson enthusiast can help me with a little history.

While doing a little background reading on the Irish War of Independence I came across an episode in a book called 'Michael Collins and the Irish Republican Brotherhood' that makes reference to a shipment of Thompsons from New York bound for County Cork.

While I have my doubts about much written in the book, I know from other places - notably Tom Barry's 'Guerrilla Days in Ireland' (written in 1949) that the IRA had at least half a dozen Thompsons.

The crux of the story in the Collins book was that the IRB had links to the Thompson family, or people close to it, who could supply weaponry and training for Irish insurgents. Some 500 Tommy Guns were purchased, along with four-and-a-half million rounds of ammunition, stowed aboard a ship called the East Side, or Eastside. Thanks to a tip-off, the boat was raided and the story seems to end there. The book pursues the matter no farther.

Can someone tell me, is there any truth in this story? Has it come the way of any Thompson collectors? I'd be delighted to know and preeshayd your help.
  • 0

#2 gijive

gijive

    Respected Member

  • Board Benefactor
  • 2415 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Illinois
  • Interests:Thompson SMG, WWII, Firearms in general.

Posted 19 January 2005 - 06:59 PM

QUOTE (flying_column @ Jan 19 2005, 06:28 PM)
Some 500 Tommy Guns were purchased, along with four-and-a-half million rounds of ammunition, stowed aboard a ship called the East Side, or Eastside.

Can someone tell me, is there any truth in this story? Has it come the way of any Thompson collectors?

Yes, the story is true. Two books recommended for further reading on this subject are: "The Gun That Made the Twenties Roar.", by Wm. J. Helmer and Tracie Hill's book, "The Thompson Submachine Gun - An American Legend."

Both books cover the Eastside incident, if you are interested.
  • 0

#3 anticus

anticus

    Long Time RKI Member

  • Board Benefactor
  • 590 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Missouri
  • Interests:History, ancient coins, antiques of all descriptions.

Posted 19 January 2005 - 11:58 PM

A great general history of the struggle for Ireland is

The Green Flag: A History of Irish Nationalism
by Robert Kee.

A lot of information on Collins and his insurgent strategy.
It's required reading at the Naval War College.

  • 0

#4 John Jr

John Jr

    Long Time RKI Member

  • Regular Group
  • 1956 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Mena, Arkansas, USA
  • Interests:Plenty

Posted 20 January 2005 - 01:06 AM

QUOTE
that the IRA had at least half a dozen Thompsons.


They had more than that! Probably still do... ph34r.gif

Get Hills book.

Its worth it.


  • 0

#5 Norm

Norm

    Long Time RKI Member

  • Board Benefactor
  • 2514 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Memphis, TN
  • Interests:Thompsons (of course), Electronics, Physics, History, Mechanics, Collecting License Plates.

Posted 20 January 2005 - 05:33 AM

Murray has 4 of the "Irish Sword Thompsons." wink.gif

You can see pictures of them at www.mikesmachineguns.com. Scroll down to the middle of the page.

Norm

  • 0

#6 flying_column

flying_column

    New Member

  • Regular Group
  • 3 posts

Posted 20 January 2005 - 07:25 AM

Thank you very, very much, one and all. It looks as if I've a great deal of reading to do. biggrin.gif
  • 0

#7 Murray

Murray

    New Zealand Respected Member

  • Regular Group
  • 404 posts
  • Location:New Zealand
  • Interests:1921 and 1928 Thompsons, Luger pistols.

Posted 20 January 2005 - 07:56 PM

Flying Collumn,
The guys are correct, I do have four "G.G. Rorke guns from the Eastside shipment.

They are part of a cache of about 114 discovered inCounty Mayo in 1942.
The were auctioned off by Weller and Dufty of Birmingham England in 1983.

I imported about eight at that time. There are about 9 "Irishswords" here in New Zealand, 8 are East side guns and one is a Gentry gun.

As the boyo's say, when you take into consideration the 495 Rorke guns on the East Side plus the 50 Gentry Guns plus, I estimate about 30 1919's (the missing numbers up to number 41) There are still are lot somewhere in Ireland.

An associate of mine here recently told me about a 1919 he recently saw in an English military museum that had been captured in Ireland in the 1970's.

If you want any more information just let me know;

We're off to Dublin in the Green, in the Green
Where the Helmets glisten in the sun,
Where the bayonets flash and the rifles crash,
To the echo of the Tompson Gun


Old IRA ballad.

Regards
Murray.
  • 0

#8 John Jr

John Jr

    Long Time RKI Member

  • Regular Group
  • 1956 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Mena, Arkansas, USA
  • Interests:Plenty

Posted 20 January 2005 - 11:30 PM

QUOTE (Murray @ Jan 20 2005, 06:56 PM)
Flying Collumn,
The guys are correct, I do have four "G.G. Rorke guns from the Eastside shipment.

They are part of a cache of about 114 discovered inCounty Mayo in 1942.
The were auctioned off by Weller and Dufty of Birmingham England in 1983.

I imported about eight at that time. There are about 9 "Irishswords" here in New Zealand, 8 are East side guns and one is a Gentry gun.

As the boyo's say, when you take into consideration the 495 Rorke guns on the East Side plus the 50 Gentry Guns plus, I estimate about 30 1919's (the missing numbers up to number 41) There are still are lot somewhere in Ireland.

An associate of mine here recently told me about a 1919 he recently saw in an English military museum that had been captured in Ireland in the 1970's.

If you want any more information just let me know;

We're off to Dublin in the Green, in the Green
Where the Helmets glisten in the sun,
Where the bayonets flash and the rifles crash,
To the echo of the Tompson Gun


Old IRA ballad.

Regards
Murray.

We are VERY grateful to have Murry on the board. He owns the only interesting Colt Thompsons (in my opinion) that that manufacturer ever made. If you are EXTRA nice to him, he might let you see pictures of these historical guns.

Take care.

Jr
  • 0

#9 Murray

Murray

    New Zealand Respected Member

  • Regular Group
  • 404 posts
  • Location:New Zealand
  • Interests:1921 and 1928 Thompsons, Luger pistols.

Posted 21 January 2005 - 04:32 AM

Flying Column

Here is a photo of my four Irish Sword 1921 Thompsons which all came out of Ireland and were all part of the Eastside shipment.
All save one, #708 had thier numbers struck off but they did not know about the two other secret numbers, one under the foregrip support and in the case of the first 1000 guns, on the breach end of the barrel.


user posted image

I have had a major interest in these Irish guns since I first read William Helmers "The gun that made the twenties roar."

I have done a lot of research on the subject and there is no doubt in my mind that the reason Thomas Fortune Ryan financed John Thompson and the Thompson gun in 1916 was because of his connections with the Irish mob (as they were then refered to) and a direct connection with Michael Collins himself.

Gordon Herigstad in his book "The Colt Thompson Serial numbers" has a whole chapter on the G.G.Rorke guns with some copies of original correspondence from J Edgar Hover the young attorney who in the 1920's pursued the East side case.

I also strongly believe that most of the early production guns prior to the first recorded delivery number 41 on 3/30/21 which were the model of 1919 were all shipped to Ireland for trial and evaluation prior to the Colt production..It is also a known fact that a quantity were also smuggled into Cork concealed in a sofa.

It is also interesting to note that gun number 46 was the first model of 1921 sold to GG Rorke and was on the Eastside also.

Tracie Hill's book shows an IRA member holding hostages with a 1919 model gun in the seventies and as I mentioned earlier, I know of such a gun in the UK which was captured in Ireland by the Bristish Army.

Trust I am not boring you all,

Regards
Murray.


  • 0

#10 Norm

Norm

    Long Time RKI Member

  • Board Benefactor
  • 2514 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Memphis, TN
  • Interests:Thompsons (of course), Electronics, Physics, History, Mechanics, Collecting License Plates.

Posted 21 January 2005 - 04:58 AM

QUOTE
Trust I am not boring you all,

Regards
Murray.



laugh.gif laugh.gif laugh.gif
  • 0

#11 Merry Ploughboy

Merry Ploughboy

    Long Time RKI Member

  • Regular Group
  • 893 posts
  • Gender:Male

Posted 21 January 2005 - 07:31 AM

Flying c.,

FYI, the old Irish ballad Murray refers to and quotes is "The Merry Ploughboy".

MP
  • 0

#12 Grey Crow

Grey Crow

    RKI Member

  • Board Donor
  • 1077 posts
  • Location:North Central Pennsylvania
  • Interests:Thompson Submachine guns, computers, reptiles.

Posted 21 January 2005 - 07:44 AM

Bored Murray?

Hardly! I become bored with Thompson's when I stop finding items and information on them.

Then another tid-bit of information comes out, or a new collectable is found, and the flames are re-kindled.

Especially when it comes to information about my country of origin, and the gun I live for. Eire!

Although I must admit that after a few pints of Guinness, that my shooting skills tend to falter a tad. wink.gif
  • 0

#13 Z3BigDaddy

Z3BigDaddy

    Long Time RKI Member

  • Regular Group
  • 3697 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:State of Jefferson
  • Interests:Shooting, Hunting, Metal Detecting, Gun Trad'n

Posted 21 January 2005 - 12:45 PM

I'm kinda partial to this Murray pic......

From the front to back:

1921A Colt #708
1921A Colt #389
1921A Colt #586
1928A1 Savage arms
1928A1 Auto Ord
1928A1 Auto Ord
M1A1 Auto Ord
M1A1 Savage

  • 0

#14 Murray

Murray

    New Zealand Respected Member

  • Regular Group
  • 404 posts
  • Location:New Zealand
  • Interests:1921 and 1928 Thompsons, Luger pistols.

Posted 21 January 2005 - 01:00 PM

I have to admit that I put the lettering paint on the guns. I kinda like it, but I don't believe it was on them when they were shipped.
And, Z3big daddy, yep! I like that photo to.
I named it "Dinner Guests" if you remember, as the guns are lined up on the dinner table.

I must have a very understanding wife? sad.gif

Regards
Murray.
  • 0

#15 flying_column

flying_column

    New Member

  • Regular Group
  • 3 posts

Posted 21 January 2005 - 08:19 PM

Folks, I am quite overwhelmed by this. Thank you, thank you, and thank you all again. smile.gif Murray, if you don't mind, I'll be dropping you a line over the next couple of weeks. I could do it sooner, but my life's in boxes and I'm moving home. I have tonnes of questions. I am particularly interested in the fine details of the Eastside story (Gee Officer, sorry about the bad pun) and I'll get copies of the recommended reading sorted out.

Best wishes again.
  • 0

#16 Norm

Norm

    Long Time RKI Member

  • Board Benefactor
  • 2514 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Memphis, TN
  • Interests:Thompsons (of course), Electronics, Physics, History, Mechanics, Collecting License Plates.

Posted 22 January 2005 - 01:06 PM

QUOTE
And I belatedly notice that Murray has all the sight ladders raised. Sort of reminds one of Bill Clinton watching the Miss America swim suit competition on TV.


PhilO,

It sort of reminds me of the movie No Time For Sergeants! laugh.gif

Norm

  • 0