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Several years ago I wondered in these columns who the mystery author of an odd little book called Tales of the R.I.C. might be. The book, which purported to be the memoirs of an officer in the Royal Irish Constabulary during the Irish War of Independence of the early 1920s, bore a lot of hallmarks of being produced by a propaganda bureau. Too much supposedly happened to one policeman and the writing was a little too slick. I thought that perhaps it was one of the last kicks of the can from one of the propaganda units set up by the British government during the First World War to enlist the sympathies of the great American public and to a lesser extent in other "neutral" countries. I had never heard of the Public Information Bureau, a similar propaganda organisation set up by the British in Dublin to influence public opinion outside the Emerald Isle after the Irish electorate turned its back on Westminster in the 1918 elections. Well, apparently a retired Irish civil servant AP Magill  recently identified a former governor of H.M. Prison Belfast as the author of Tales of the RIC. Just what retired King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry Major Aubrey Waithman Long did in the years immediately following the First World War and before he joined the prison service is a mystery. We know that he was a budding writer with at least one book to his credit and that he knew the County Clare area, where Tales of the RIC is set, very well. Some say that he did serve with the RIC, others say there is no record of this. The RIC certainly recruited former British officers as auxiliary constables in what was intended to be a crack anti-terrorism force but which quickly gained an unenviable reputation for ruthlessness, lack of discipline and brutality. But it seems more likely that Long put his writing skills at service of the Crown and laboured  in the British administration's Dublin Castle to confect his tales of republican atrocity from a variety of sources, including genuine Auxies. So, there you go, Aubrey Waithman Long and the Public Information Bureau.

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