Tuck into a slice of Leo Burdock history via the Military Archives

by Padraig Conlon

Did you know that before he found fame through his legendary chipper, Leo Burdock put his life on the line taking part in attacks on the hated Black and Tans in the south inner city?

His fight for Irish freedom is detailed in his unsuccessful application for a military pension, which can be found online in the ever-fascinating Military Service Pensions Collection (MSPC) records.

Since the first online release of records in 2014, the MSPC project has provided unprecedented public access into Ireland’s fight for independence.

The files, which relate to 1,576 veterans of the Irish Revolution and cover the period 1916-1923, have been in the public eye quite a lot during the ‘Decade of Centenaries’.

As detailed on his application, Burdock was a member of C Company in the Dublin IRA’s Third Brigade, and his name appears on a list of company members provided by ex-IRA officers in the 1930s to help verify military service claims.

His parents, Bella Burdock and Patrick, had opened the first Leo Burdocks at No 2, Werburgh Street, Christchurch – the site where they’re still located – in 1913 and, during the War of Independence, Leo said he took part in a number of attacks on Crown Forces in the city centre.

In an attack on a lorry of Black and Tans in the south inner city in April 1921, he said he was posted near Jacob’s Biscuit Factory as the lorry came from Camden Street towards Aungier Street.

“I was armed with a bomb and grenade. I fired shots only. I fired four or five shots,” he said in evidence to support his claim.

“The lorry did not stop, it slowed down passing a tram as we fired.”

He also told how he was part of a group that fired on “a Tan lorry” going from Stephen’s Green to College Green a few weeks earlier.

The file is one of the first known references to Leo Burdock in historic records of the War of Independence.

The records also show that following the War of Independence, he was an active anti-Treaty IRA member in the Civil War.

Leo Burdock’s story is just one of the many fascinating historical records in the MSPC archives.

To check out the MSPC, see militaryarchives.ie/collections/online-collections/military-service-pensions-collection-1916-1923.

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