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Black and Tans

Black and Tans was the nickname, derived from a Limerick hound pack, or the colour of the uniform, for an auxiliary police force recruited in Britain 1920–1 from ex-servicemen to reinforce the hard-pressed Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC). The ill-disciplined force was associated with drunken brutality and reprisals against the Irish community following Irish Republican Army (IRA) atrocities. It is frequently confused with auxiliaries formed from army officers, established several months later. The Black and Tans soon became synonymous with talk of British oppression, and in the Irish Republic the conflict 1919–21 is often called ‘The Tan War’.

Michael Hopkinson

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