United Kingdom United Kingdom (1916)
Improvised APC – 5 built

The first APCs?

The Daimler-Guinness Armoured Lorries were a little known, lightly-armored truck series that saw service in Ireland, 1916, during the Easter Rising. These are, of course, both unofficial designations, as they were just referred to as “Armoured Lorry”, “Armoured Car”, “Boilers”, and other vague names in primary sources, thus creating confusion, especially in the later part of the rising as to whether sources refer to a Daimler-Guinness or a different armored car.

The Republican rebels, who held down strategic positions in occupied buildings, were causing massive casualties to the British army. Knowing this, what is perhaps the first APC in the world was built in order to protect soldiers en route to objectives and heavily defended areas. It was made from locomotive parts and donated lorries from the Guinness Brewery.

The Daimler-Guinness can actually stake a claim to being the first APC, or at the very least, the first improvised APC, depending on which paradigm one chooses to define what constitutes an APC. Other vehicles that appear to be APCs were being built around 1916, most notably the Locomobile armored car (which was in service with the New York National Guard), but is arguably not an APC, and was also not fully enclosed. It is also unclear which month it was built (and therefore which one was made first), but the Daimler-Guinness certainly saw service before the Locomobile.

Context: The Easter Rising

The Easter Rising was an attempt by Irish Republicans to establish an Irish Republic, separate from the United Kingdom. Irish Republicanism was a long-standing ideology, which long predates The Troubles (1968-1998). Britain’s engagement in WWI provided an excellent opportunity for Republicans and Nationalists to start a rebellion. The Supreme Council of the Irish Republican Brotherhood met on 5th September, 1914, a mere month after Britain joined the war, to discuss the possibility of a rising. By May, 1915, military plans were being drawn up by a newly formed military committee of intellectuals and Republican leaders.

On Monday morning of April 24th, 1916, an estimated 1200 Republicans from the ICA, IV, and Cumann na mBan rose up and occupied various strategic locations across the city, such as Liberty Hall, and the General Post Office. The number of rebels was greatly diminished due to the IV’s cancellation of plans (because a weapons shipment for the rebels from Germany was intercepted), thus meaning that Irish Rebel numbers at first matched British military numbers. On the first day, sporadic firefights broke out across the city, mainly involving occupation of buildings from both sides. The rebels did not capture Dublin’s train stations, meaning that an estimated 15,000 more British reinforcements could arrive by the end of the week.

One of the freshly recruited British regiments, the Sherwood Foresters, from Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire, was engaged in battle at Mount Street bridge on 26th April – a location which would become notorious for the heavy casualties suffered by the British.

Seventeen rebel snipers occupied a few buildings, having fortified them since the beginning of the rising. The Sherwood Foresters were spotted by the rebels, and as they reached the junction of the road, were fired upon. The British took heavy casualties, as they lay down in the middle of the open road, and were unable to return fire – they had no munitions, having just returned from maneuvers. Ten lay dead by the end of the engagement, and many more were wounded. The Sherwood Foresters regiment was exceptionally inexperienced, having had to be shown how to load and fire their weapons only once they got off the boat at Dublin. They also did not bring their grenades or Lewis guns, which meant that they could not lay down any heavy fire on occupied buildings. Two days later, more British troops would arrive with heavy reinforcements, including machine guns and artillery in order to capture the bridge.

The warfare experienced by the British was a warfare that they had not been trained for. It was brutal, gritty, and slow-moving urban combat, featuring guerilla warfare from rebels who knew their surroundings. Worse still, the rising was, for the most part, unforeseen by the British…

Production

The British were seeking to acquire vehicles in order to keep their military effort flowing efficiently throughout the city streets. However, also knowing that heavy casualties were being taken in incidents such as the Battle of Mount Street Bridge (although that battle may have happened after the Daimler-Guinness concept was created), Colonel Bertram Portal at the Curragh Camp (the British rural stronghold in Ireland) decided that improvised armored vehicles would have to be built in order to protect soldiers. They were, essentially, flatbed delivery lorries with locomotive smokeboxes bolted onto the rear, with some armor added elsewhere to the vehicle.

Roughly twenty lorries were donated to the British army by the Guinness Brewery. This included five Daimler-Milnes delivery lorries, which would be converted into Daimler-Guinnesses at Great Southern & Western Railway Company, Inchicore Works. There is a debate as to whether or not the lorries were donated by Guinness or simply ‘appropriated’ by the British Army. However, it is highly likely that the trucks were, in fact, donated. In a letter from General John Maxwell (Commander-in-chief of British forces in Ireland) addressed to A.E. Guinness, dated 17th May, 1916, it is stated:

At this moment when the lorries you have so generously put at our disposal are being returned to you, I would like to take this opportunity of thanking you personally, and your firm, for the splendid spirit you have displayed in coming to our aid during an extremely critical period. I can further assure you that the assistance given to us by your lorries practically saved us from a breakdown in our transport arrangements, and enabled us to get through without a hitch. I should like to bear testimony to the pluck and loyalty with which your drivers have attended to their lorries throughout the late rebellion. It is impossible to speak too highly of their qualities, and I consider they are an honour to their firm and to their country.

The letter is quite clear. In a private letter, Maxwell has no need to lie about the situation – If the lorries were stolen, and if the letter was to be viewed by the public, then, and only then, would Maxwell need to lie. However, even the Republican newspaper “An Phoblacht“, in a 2013 article about Guinness’s loyalism states that there are conflicting reports about how these lorries got into British hands. Notably, thirty three drivers from the Guinness Brewery also volunteered to drive the donated trucks, and, presumably, drove Daimler-Guinness conversions, too, as most soldiers did not know how to drive. Many workers who refused to aid the British when asked were also dismissed, which further suggests that Guinness was a willing collaborator.

There is a suggestion that the smokeboxes used for the conversion were boilers taken from the Guinness Brewery, but it seems as though this is just a misconception. It actually appears as though they were actually locomotive smokeboxes, because they have indicative features such as the double-barred hinges (see photos).

Fairly little is known about the vehicle’s construction at Inchicore, and it is unclear when exactly they were built, and when the concept was made. It is likely that the vehicles were constructed at some point between late Monday and early Wednesday, but it is believed that the construction of one vehicle took roughly a full work-day. The diary of Colonel Bertram Portal would reveal substantial information, but, unfortunately, it was up for auction in 2013, and no transcripts have been released to historians (see Sidenote II below).

It is also likely that the men who built the vehicle wished to remain anonymous, and did not tell their stories, as they collaborated with the British – something which would prove to be an incredibly unpopular move. In a letter from the Chief Mechanical Engineer’s Office at the Inchicore Works addressed to a former secretary at the Bureau of Military History, Dublin, dated 15th November, 1951, it is stated:

Rising of Easter week, 1916. Our Secretary has forwarded me your letter of the 5th November, together with leaflet, and I have gone into the matter very fully and contacted existing members of the staff who were in this Department in 1916, and whilst there is recollection of events at that time, I am afraid there is very little in the way of documentary evidence which would be of assistance to you. It is, for instance, common knowledge that we did under direction of the British Army Authorities, through their Army Ordnance, construct “armoured” vehicles by mounting locomotive boiler barrels on road lorries, as shown on the photographs herewith, but there is no record of the number so turned out, and the only record I can trace is an entry in our Accounts Ledger which reads as follows:- “Half Year Ending 30th June 1916. Works Order A. 282. Military Account, War Office. “Armouring Motor Cars £365*” The wording of the entry and the amount expended would go to show that there was more than one vehicle turned out. This work was carried out by Works employees, chiefly Boilermakers. Having regard to the time that has since elapsed, it is not now possible to produce documents of any kind beyond the ledger Record quoted above. I am also enclosing a group of photographs showing an armoured train, and armoured cars constructed at Inchicore in 1922 which may be of interest.” (*£33,523 in today’s money, 2016)

A recent article from ansionnachfionn.com, reports some dubious or unsubstantiated claims. Firstly, it is reported that Sir William J. Goulding, the owner of the Great Southern and Western Railway (GS&WR), authorized the donation of twelve locomotive smokeboxes to the British for the conversion. There is no evidence to substantiate this claim, and, it appears as though only ten smokeboxes were actually used, as one Type 1 Daimler-Guinness (which is believed to be the first conversion) featured only two smokeboxes. These were larger than the other smokeboxes used on the other Type 1 Daimler-Guinnesses, but it still appears slightly shorter than the others. Secondly, the article reports that the work was carried out by military engineers from the 3rd Reserve Calvary Regiment. In reality, photos appear to show that it was mostly civilians present at the construction of the vehicles, and the above letter from 1951 suggests that it was mainly the boilermakers themselves who carried out the work, only under the direction of British army ordnance. The final dubious claim is that some vehicles had rear-facing Lewis guns. Whilst there is a pistol port notably larger than others (in fact, clearly large enough to mount a Lewis gun) at the rear of the vehicle (and a dummy port just above it), the actual use of it by a Lewis gun is not proven to the satisfaction of the author. (See Sidenote IV below)

There were three types of the vehicle:

Type 1 – the most commonly seen version, featuring cylindrical locomotive smokeboxes bolted together and placed on the rear of the vehicle, with a small area of the flatbed extending past the smokeboxes (presumably for ease of access)
Type 1a was made from two long smokeboxes, with four gun ports, and seemingly only two dummy ports painted on each side. The passenger / fighting compartment was slightly shorter than the ones seen on Type 1b and 1c.
Type 1b and 1c were made from four shorter smokeboxes. Type 1b and 1c can only be differentiated by small details, such as the layout of their pistol ports, and support bars on the cab roof. 1c also had substantially more dummy ports painted on than 1b. These are also the most commonly photographed Daimler-Guinnesses.
Type 2 – a box shaped version with an adjoined fighting compartment and driver’s compartment. It appears to have been made from steel plates. It has a rectangular rear which appears to be made from two water tanks riveted together. Only one photo is known to exist.
Type 3 – somewhat similar to Type 2, but with a V-shaped prow, probably for deflecting bullets. Only two known photographs exist, thus meaning further information is unavailable.

Type 1s had roof holes (for chimneys) sealed up with metal plates, as revealed from photographs, which would be necessary to avoid grenade attacks or rebels firing down on passengers. There was a door at the rear of the vehicle, for entry and exit – for Type 1, this was the smokebox hatch, but it is unclear what kind of hatches the Type 2 and 3 vehicles had. Usually four small pistol ports were also added to each of the sides of the smokeboxes, and dummy ports were painted on to confuse snipers – although looking closely at even poor quality photographs, it appears somewhat obvious which are which. Steel plates were also added onto the cab of the vehicle, as well as the engine compartment for protection.

Combat and tactics

Daimler-Guinnesses are most well known to reverse up against entry points to a building, allowing soldiers to enter with minimal casualties from snipers, but they actually performed many roles such as scout, APC, gun-truck, gun-tow vehicle, and general transport of military goods. They could carry an estimated 15-20 soldiers, but there were only four pistol ports on either side, and according to Sergeant Sam Cooper of B company, 2/6th South Staffs, firing from inside was uncomfortable due to the space being too small and enclosed. However, there are reports of the Daimler-Guinness being used to broadside rebel positions, which shows that it was not too uncomfortable. Cooper also recalls that every bullet that bounced on the vehicle’s armor left his ears ringing.

The idea of painting on dummy pistol ports was truly inspired, but its actual effectiveness was dubious. They were quite obvious, and, above all, if weapons were poked out of the pistol ports, it would be clear which ones were real, however, there are no credible reports of snipers ever hitting a soldier who was inside the vehicle. The vehicles were likely to be, for the most part, bulletproof.

Combat at the GPO

All sources agree that the Daimler-Guinness first saw action on Wednesday, 26th. By combining the information as given in AFV news, Caulfield’s “The Easter Rebellion“, and a statement from Volunteer Joseph Sweeney (a sniper on the GPO’s roof), its first engagement is fairly well detailed.

On Wednesday night, a Daimler-Guinness was supporting the 3rd Battalion of the Royal Irish Regiment. They crossed the Liffey over the Butt Bridge, moved along Gardiner Street, turned left onto Parnell Street, and moved up to Moore Street. Then, in order to reassess rebel strength, the vehicle turned off Parnell Street and onto Sackville Street (now O’Connell Street), and stopped in front of the Gresham Hotel. It was spotted by Volunteer Joseph Sweeney, who stated that him, Volunteer Reilly, and three other rebel snipers fired at the vehicle with rifles. All of their bullets ricocheted. Then, Sweeney (and possibly Reilly) decided to fire at the driver’s slits, with the aim of killing the driver in order to disable the vehicle. Between three and five shots were fired by Sweeney, and the vehicle stopped. The vehicle then attempted a restart, but it failed, and lay motionless until later that night. Once dark enough, and when all the lights were all out, it was towed away, reportedly by another Daimler-Guinness.

It is highly unlikely that the vehicle was damaged by, or that the driver was killed by, rebel fire – it seems as though the vehicle suffered from an untimely mechanical failure.

Another engagement at the GPO is reported just before 3pm on Thursday 27th. According to an account from Max Caulfield’s “The Easter Rising“: “There were constant alarms that the military had begun their attack. Once almost the entire garrison rushed to the northern side of the building, with a few craning dangerously out of the windows to see, after someone had reported an armored car coming down Henry Street. From the roof of the warehouse in Henry Street, Volunteer John Reid and his comrades opened fire on the monster. Bullets bounced harmlessly off its plating, until somebody tossed a bomb and stopped it” Men were then lined up in the main hall shortly after 3pm, and Patrick Pearse announced the destruction of the vehicle, and this may be the only time a Daimler-Guinness was knocked out by rebels.

Combat near the Four Courts

Wednesday – Shortly after 5pm, the Sherwood Foresters, under the command of Colonel Portal marched out of Dublin Castle towards Grattan Bridge. They were pinned down by rebel fire from the Four Courts building, just over the Liffey, which pinned down the Sherwoods. A Daimler-Guinness brought sixteen sharpshooters to the Church of the Immaculate Conception opposite the Four Courts building across the river. From behind tombstones, they began to return fire on the rebels, but to no avail. The Daimler-Guinness then towed an 18-pounder gun to Grattan Bridge, and commenced fire with four hits to the east wing, which allowed the Sherwoods to continue their advance.

This account does not appear to be substantiated outside of AFV news. (See Sidenote IV below)

Combat at Capel Street

Wednesday – During advance up Capel Street, presumably in the evening, at some point before 8pm, an unknown number of Daimler-Guinnesses (possibly two), were used to secure buildings. They did this by the typical method of reversing up to building entry points. It is unclear which unit the Daimler-Guinnesses supported.

This account does not appear to be substantiated outside of AFV news. (See Sidenote IV below)

Combat at North King Street

Wednesday – A Daimler-Guinness was spotted by rebels on Bolton Street (north of Parnell Street), but no further details (such as exact time) are available.

This account does not appear to be substantiated outside of AFV news. (See Sidenote IV below)

Thursday – The first well-documented usage of a Daimler-Guinness near North King Street was not in fact combat. Captain Edmunds of A Company, Sherwood Foresters, was in charge of a sector between Capel Street and Coles Lane. He found a large supply of sacks in a factory in his sector, and unspecified armored cars were used to deliver sandbags filled with earth to be used as barricades at strategic points on Abbey street, west of the GPO, and possibly other points.

Friday – In the early morning, an unspecified armored car was used for recon (presumably a Daimler-Guinness), which was lightly fired at with Mauser bullets. This followed an incident on Thursday in which a Red Cross ambulance attempted to reach the Richmond Hospital, but was fired upon from the rebel barricade.

Despite such minor roles, it was on Friday evening and Saturday morning that the Daimler-Guinness saw its longest and most brutal fighting. North King Street housed a major rebel stronghold known as “Reilly’s Fort“, and the rebels were dug-in deep. General Maxwell ordered an attack, nevertheless, and an encirclement with three battalions was planned. Lieutenant-Colonel Henry Taylor of the 2/6th South Staffs, was given orders to press westwards from Capal Street to join up with the 2/5th South Staffs, who were advancing eastwards from Queen Street. From the Sherwood Foresters, he learned that North King Street was too strongly held for an unsupported infantry assault, so at some point after 5:45pm, an armored car arrived to support the attack. The vehicle slowly drove up the road, and soldiers followed closely behind, firing at all the houses along the street. They broke into houses, occupied them, and tunneled from building to building using pickaxes. In the early stages of the battle, civilians were guided back to the Bolton Street Technical Schools, Taylor’s base of operations.

Two hundred yards up the road, rebel Volunteers Frank Shouldice, Thomas Sherrin, William Murphy, William Hogan, John Williamson, and John Dwan had positions on an iron stairway outside Jameson’s Malt House. They were spotted and the armored car slew across the street and fired broadside at them, thus indicating that this almost certainly a Daimler-Guinness, and not any other armored car. The rebels returned fire, but to no effect. None of the volunteers were hurt, either. The armored lorry continued to back up against the front doors of houses, to allow infantry to disembark with relative safety. However, this tactic did not negate all casualties. According to Sergeant Sam Cooper of B company, 2/6th South Staffs, one soldier was found dead below a window, probably hit by a sniper shortly after he disembarked from the armored lorry.

The Daimler-Guinness later came close to Sherrin’s position, and the Volunteers were hailed with bullets. They returned fire and, most importantly, threw grenades at the vehicle, causing it to withdraw. None of the Volunteers were hit in the exchange.

There is a misconception that the Daimler-Guinness smashed through the rebel barricade, but this does not appear to be the case. According to Caulfield, the rebel barricade was still in tact by midnight, and the South Staffs had made very little progress in the battle. This meant that the British had to turn to guerilla tactics…

Saturday – By 2am, the Daimler-Guinness slowly struggled towards the barricade. It came within thirty yards, and a party of soldiers with crowbars and pickaxes disembarked. They broke into No. 172, owned by Mrs. Sally Hughes, where twenty other families were taking refuge. Hughes recalls that “about thirty soldiers” entered, although this might be an exaggeration. They ransacked the house, and then led two civilian men upstairs, and shot them dead. The rebels retreated once they heard the pickaxes hammering at the walls.

From the rebel barricades, songs were then sung, which astonished the South Staffs to the point where they stopped firing whilst each of the several songs were being sung. As daylight began to cast over Dublin, the South Staffs stopped tunneling, and stormed over the empty rebel barricade and were fired upon from Reilly’s Pub. Seeking cover, the soldiers dashed off into Beresford Street, where Shouldice shot them all dead, one by one, from his iron stairway. By 7am, the rebels began to run out of ammo, and were exhausted. By 9am, Shouldice took a vote with his men, and they decided to run from their positions. Soldiers fired on them once halfway across the street, but it seems as though they all made it to safety.

By circa 17th May, 1916, all of the remaining Daimler-Guinnesses were in the process of being dismantled, and the lorries and smokeboxes were returned to their owners.

Overall significance

The Daimler-Guinness is usually a footnote in history, and this is not because it was a ‘bad’ vehicle with minor significance. As Maxwell stated in his letter to Guinness, the trucks that were given to them were a true help to the British military effort, and this is no exaggeration. In fact, even a simple assessment of its short combat history reveals that it not only allowed the British to adapt their tactics for guerilla warfare, but it also stopped the number of British casualties from being so high. If British soldiers remained unshielded from enemy snipers, the rebels may have even been able to hold out even longer. The artillery barrages from the Gunboat Helga were fairly ineffective against buildings such as the GPO. Even the fearsome 18-pounder guns, with their incendiary rounds, caused few direct casualties, but plenty of collateral damage, such as effectively gutting the GPO after a roof collapse. It was the soldiers with rifles and machine guns that caused casualties, and the eventual surrender of rebel forces which ended the rising.

The author notes that the Daimler-Guinness has also probably not become such a renowned symbol because it was, frankly, a British vehicle. Whilst there is much attention pointed at glorifying the Rebel side of the rising, there has been little until recently on the British side of the story, and, if it were a rebel vehicle, it would be, without doubt, glorified. They tend to be little more than a footnote in modern sources (particularly museums in Dublin), although around Easter, 2016, some articles on the vehicle have sprang up, which provide excellent information, and have invaluably contributed to this article. However, a contemporary painting by Archibald McGoogan entitled “After the Bombardment” shows both a type 1 and 2 Daimler-Guinness, which can be viewed here. It is currently on display at the National Library of Ireland’s “Rising” exhibition, Dublin.

Originally published on 9 February, 2016.

Sources:

The Easter Rebellion” by Max Caulfield
British Use of Armoured Vehicles During the 1916 Easter Rebellion in Ireland“, article from AFV News Volume 35, No.1, January, 2000.
Revolution in Dublin, a photographic history 1913-1923” by Liz Gillis
Courage Boys, We Are Winning, an illustrated history of the 1916 Rising” by Michael Barry
The Rising, 1916” Newspaper publication, 2016
A Terrible Beauty, 1916“, a docudrama directed by Keith Farrell, 2016
The GPO: Witness History Interpretive Exhibition Centre“, the GPO, Dublin, as visited by the author on 31st March, 2016
Proclaiming a Republic”, Exhibition at the National Museum of Ireland, Dublin – Decorative Arts & History, Collins Barracks, as visited by the author on 3rd April, 2016
A letter from General Maxwell to A.E. Guinness, dated 17th May, 1916, as seen in “Courage Boys, We Are Winning, an illustrated history of the 1916 Rising” by Michael Barry
A letter from the Chief Mechanical Engineer’s Office at the Inchicore Works addressed to a former secretary at the Bureau of Military History, Dublin, dated 15th November, 1951, accessible from the Buereau of Military History
ansionnachfionn.com (provides much detailed information, as well as enhanced photographs. Note: there is no apparent source citation on this article, and it does sometimes offer dubious information)
forum.ipmsireland.com (provides many additional photos, some not seen in this article)
Thejournal.ie
Anphoblacht.com
tcd.ie
Irisharmour.blogspot
railwayprotectionrepairandmainten.blogspot.co.uk
eamonnmallie.com
Historyofireland.com
Easter Rising on Wikipedia
BBC.co.uk/history
Irishconstabulary.com
hmvf.com
Longstreet.typepad.com
Irishvolunteers.org
RTE.ie
TheWildGeese.com
TheIrishHistory.com


Rendition of Daimler-Guinness Type 1b by Tanks Encyclopedia.
Daimler-Guinness Armoured Lorry by Arkhonus

Guinness Daimler truck Dublin 1916Daimler-Guinness Type 1b is posed next to by soldiers in Dublin, 1916. Four locomotive smoke boxes can be seen which have been bolted together, and have had four pistol ports crudely cut into the side. The rest of the pistol ports are just painted on to confuse snipers.

Armouredcar__Mik_O__Farrell_-largeA British soldier sits on the rear of Daimler-Guinness Type 1b near the Granville Hotel (now the Savoy Cinema), Sackville Street (now O’Connell Street), north of the River Liffey. The smokebox door allowed troops entry and exit, and, reportedly, the ability to be placed against windows and opened, allowing soldiers to storm a building. The two barred hinges can be seen clearly in this photo, which is more typical of a locomotive smokebox than anything else. A large pistol port is seen just above the lower hinge bar, which is clearly larger than the other pistol ports, and a dummy port is seen just above the top hinge bar. This larger port was reportedly for use of a Lewis gun. Credits – Manchester Guardian, History of the Great War, 1916.

Possibly on O Connell street
Daimler-Guinness Type 1b, location unknown, possibly Sackville Street. Credits – ansionnachfionn.com

Cashman photoAnother view of Daimler-Guinness Type 1b. Exact location unknown, possibly Sackville Street, or nearby.

Daimler Guinness with a crows
Daimler-Guinness Type 1b, surrounded by a crowd of civilians on Sackville Street. Credits – ansionnachfionn.com

Daimler Guinness type 1b other view
Believed to be the same view of the above, roughly at the same time. Credits – ansionnachfionn.com

boilerDaimler-Guinness Type 1b from an unknown film, presumably newsreel, probably from British Pathe. Footage of the Daimler-Guinness can be found in “A Terrible Beauty, 1916“, a docudrama directed by Keith Farrell, 2016, both real and reenactment.

MS 2074
Daimler-Guinness Type 1b, possibly shot from a window one story up. Exact location unknown, possibly near to the Four Courts building or the GPO. As taken from Elsie Mahaffy’s scrapbook available here.

HD soldiers with daimler guinness probaly sackville street
Front view of Daimler-Guinness Type 1c on Sackville Street. The engine compartment and cab have been armored up for protection. Judging by the layout of the painted on pistol ports, this is not the same one as in the above photos. Credits – ansionnachfionn.com

Daimler-Guinness possibly on Sackville Street
Daimler-Guinness Type 1c, believed to be on Sackville Street. Credits – ansionnachfionn.com. Note: Photograph is possibly mirrored, as the original can be seen in the Military Archives, Cathal Brugha Barracks, and the Bureau of Military History, Ireland, photographic archives which both show it the other way around.

img2.thejournal.ieRedacted photo of Daimler-Guinness Type 1c from 1951. Photo believed to be taken at Kingsbridge Station (now Heuston Station). This is a rare photo of rifles shown poking through the pistol ports. Despite some claims, firing from inside the vehicle was probably not such an uncomfortable experience. Credits – www.thejournal.ie and the Bureau of Military History, Ireland, photographic archives.

img2.thejournal unredactedUnaltered photo of the above. Most men appear to be civilians, that being the case, it is likely that the men were airbrushed out because they (or their families) did not wish to be associated with their allegiance to the British. However, it is suggested that military engineers performed the work. A drawing or edited image of this photo was included in  “Popular Mechanics Magazine”, November, 1916, and can be viewed here. Credits – www.thejournal.ie

more builders of the daimler guinness
Daimler-Guinness Type 1a photographed with its builders. This one seems to be perhaps the rarest Daimler-Guinness, and does not appear to have many dummy ports painted on. The passenger compartment appears to be shorter than other Daimler-Guinnesses, and was seemingly made from only two smokeboxes (which appear wider than other smokeboxes seen on other vehicles, however). Credits – ansionnachfionn.com

Guinness Daimler square armoured car Dublin 1916Daimler-Guinness Type 2 at the junction of Sackville Street and Bachelors Walk. The O’Connell monument can be seen in the background. This type supposedly built when no more smokeboxes could be acquired. This is the only known photograph of it (although other, digitally enhanced versions exist). It may look fake, but this is because the background is out of focus, and it is one of the poor quality versions of the photograph. It has been suggested that perhaps two metal water tankers and a few additional steel plates were made for this conversion, which is a very likely explanation.

Milnes-DaimlerDublin_zps7351bf39
Drawing of a Milnes-Daimler truck. Whilst this one does not belong to the Guinness Brewery, nor is it the exact model, it is very similar to what the Daimler-Guinness armored lorries would be based on.

GS WR train 1902 built at Inchicore
A train built in 1902 at Inchicore. The steambox at the front is incredibly similar to those used on Type 1b and 1c Daimler-Guinnesses. However, it seems as though most of the handles were removed for the conversion, their boltholes still visible. The chimneys, too, were removed and the holes were covered with steel plates. Credits – ansionnachfionn.com

Sidenote I: Other Improvised Armored Vehicles, 1916

Several other improvised armored cars made in 1916 in other workshops at Inchicore, the Guinness Brewery, and another unknown workshop are also reported in “Improvised Armour, From the British Army 1916, to the Islamic State 2016“, an article by ansionnachfionn.com, and AFV news. The only one described in the articles is a QF-3 pounder (it is unstated whether this was a Hotchkiss or a Vickers) mounted on the rear of an armored truck. It was driven on Wednesday 26th to Kingstown (now Dun Laoghaire), and on Thursday, from a firing position at Mount Street Bridge, it bombarded the rebel 3rd battalion’s position at Boland’s Mill, which was headed by Eamonn de Valera. de Valera ordered a large, green flag to be hoisted on an empty building three or four hundred yards away, and the British fired on the empty building instead. Later that day, the SPG lorry was taken by the Sherwood Foresters to the Royal Hospital at Kilmainham, to an unknown fate. It is unclear why such a modification would be made, presumably it was for providing rapid access to indirect (and possibly direct) heavy fire.

Sidenote II: Colonel Bertram Portal’s Diary

Another reason as to why so little is known is known about the construction of Daimler-Guinness trucks is because the diary of Bertram Portal (who came up with the concept) was lost until 2013, where it was found in a charity shop. It was then up for auction for £28,000 ($39,700). No notes were allowed to be taken, and it seems as though no transcript has been made available to historians. Viewing the transcript would almost certainly reveal invaluable information. According to the auction house, it was unsold and returned to its seller.

Sidenote III: Other Armored Cars at Inchicore, 1922

Between 50 and 150 armored Lancia trucks were supplied to the British, many of which were sent to Ireland. Whilst in service with the Free Staters in 1922, at least 50 were given armored roofs at Inchicore, and another 7 were converted to drive on railways as a result of IRA activity on the railways. Some even had a machine gun turret. These conversions took place between September 1922 and April, 1923. More is known about these vehicles, and there is even newsreel footage from British Pathe of their creation, which can be accessed here. These strongly resemble the earlier Pierce-Arrow, and other vehicles made in India, Mexico, and many other contemporary armored cars.

British-Armoured-car-across-a-street-in-Dublin This is armored Lancia was used as an artillery tractor by the Free Staters during the Irish War of Independence, 1922. Other roles were performed by vehicles of this type, including troop transport. An estimated fifty – one hundred and fifty were supplied to the British army, but many ended up in Ireland. Seven were converted to fit on railways, which varied slightly from the other. This one is at the junction of Dame street and Georges street Dublin, looking towards Trinity college. Credits –  National Library of Ireland, photographic archives.

Sidenote IV: Unsubstantiated Claims

Some information in this article has been noted as potentially unsubstantiated or not proven to the satisfaction of the author. Most primary sources, such as photos, eyewitnes accounts, and newsreel footage, are available online from the National Library of Ireland Archive, and the [Irish] Bureau of Military History Archives. The two main sources which gave the author trouble with cross-referencing of events are “British Use of Armoured Vehicles During the 1916 Easter Rebellion in Ireland“, an article from AFV News Volume 35, No.1, January, 2000, and “Improvised Armour, From the British Army 1916, to the Islamic State 2016“, an article from ansionnachfionn.com. It is possible that claims and accounts from both AFV news and ansionnachfionn.com have been written using primary sources and accounts from Irish archives, which have not seen by the author of this article, due to the vast number of accounts that would need to be trawled through.

That being said, neither of these articles state their sources, and some select claims cannot simply be cross-checked with archives (for reasons stated), nor can they be corroborated by any of the other sources used to write this article – most worryingly, Max Caulfield’s highly regarded “The Easter Rebellion“. Published in 1963, Caulfield was able to interview many survivors of the Easter Rising, which makes it a highly useful source, although some exaggerations may have been made in the euphoria of the coming 50th anniversary of the Easter Rising (in 1966). The role of the Daimler-Guinness in the shelling of the Four Courts by the Sherwood Foresters on Wednesday, as claimed in AFV news, is particularly difficult to substantiate, for what would be a fairly noteworthy event. However, smaller claims as made by ansionnachfionn.com, such as the use of a rear-mounted Lewis gun are not too unreasonable to assume to be true, there is just a lack of primary evidence.

Churchill NA 75
Medium Mark A tank ‘The Whippet’
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7 Responses to Daimler-Guinness Armoured Lorries

  1. Brian Kirwan says:

    You had posted the link over on the IPMS IRL forum and I am only seeing this now. Great stuff.

    • Willkerrs says:

      Thanks! I just got back from Dublin with an armful of books, and a load of photos of exhibitions to go through, so you’ll see this updated every now and again. In fact, I just updated another draft. It’s a horrible mess at the moment, but i’ll get it together.

  2. David Byrne says:

    Re IPMS post,, Excellent , an interesting read well done. If it is of any interest to you, that Armoured Lancia image is the junction of Dame street and Georges street Dublin, looking down at Trinity college. The Lancia was involved in an accident with a Ford car (also military) on the 13th September 1922

    • Willkerrs says:

      Absolutely, that’s great info. I’ll be working on the 1922/3 armoured cars at some point.

      I’d probably treat the Armoured Lancias separately, but the rail conversions as one lot. – I’ll possibly look at those rail conversions under the umbrella term of “Inchicore M1922/3 Armored Lorries”, if there’s enough information out there.

  3. Brian Kirwan says:

    Will
    Can you drop me a line please
    Thanks
    Brian

  4. Thomas Fogarty says:

    I’ve spent sometime trying to identify what type of engine the Smokeboxes came from and I think that certainly one of the lorries had Smokeboxes not from Inchicore but from Dundalk, the works of the Great Northern Railway. I can’t imagine Inchicore(the Works of the Great Southern and Western) requiring spare Smokeboxes at that amount for a single class of engine with the exception of J-15’s which I’m sure those Smokeboxes are not from. But one thing is for certain, I can guarantee without a shadow of a doubt the Smokeboxes were not from Guinness. Guinness had a fleet of internal 1ft 11 1/2 inch gauge locomotives but you couldn’t sit in then, never mind stand and aim a rifle. Food for thought. 🙂

    • Stan Lucian says:

      Hello Thomas!
      Thank you for your insight! We have also wondered about the smokeboxes, as a size for them would be highly useful!

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