I came across this being debated on reddit

Why Irish soldiers who fought Hitler hide their medals

By John Waite BBC Radio 4, Face the Facts John Stout: "I feel very betrayed about how we were treated, it was wrong"
Five thousand Irish soldiers who swapped uniforms to fight for the British against Hitler went on to suffer years of persecution.
One of them, 92-year-old Phil Farrington, took part in the D-Day landings and helped liberate the German death camp at Bergen-Belsen - but he wears his medals in secret.
Even to this day, he has nightmares that he will be arrested by the authorities and imprisoned for his wartime service.
"They would come and get me, yes they would," he said in a frail voice at his home in the docks area of Dublin.
And his 25-year-old grandson, Patrick, confirmed: "I see the fear in him even today, even after 65 years."
Mr Farrington's fears are not groundless.
He was one of about 5,000 Irish soldiers who deserted their own neutral army to join the war against fascism and who were brutally punished on their return home as a result.
They were formally dismissed from the Irish army, stripped of all pay and pension rights, and prevented from finding work by being banned for seven years from any employment paid for by state or government funds.
A special "list" was drawn up containing their names and addresses, and circulated to every government department, town hall and railway station - anywhere the men might look for a job.
Continue reading the main story Find out more

  • John Waite presents Face the Facts: Deserters Deserted
  • The programme will be on BBC Radio 4 at 12:30 GMT on Wednesday 4 January 2012 and can be heard afterwards on BBC iPlayer
  • Read more about the programme

It was referred to in the Irish parliament - the Dail - at the time as a "starvation order", and for many of their families the phrase became painfully close to the truth.
Treated as outcasts Paddy Reid - whose father and uncle both fought the Japanese at the battle of Kohima Ridge - recalls a post-war childhood in Dublin spent "moving from one slum to another".
Maybe one slice of bread a day and that would be it - no proper clothing, no proper heating.
"My father was blacklisted and away all the time, picking turnips or whatever work he could get. It's still painful to remember. We were treated as outcasts."
John Stout served with the Irish Guards armoured division which raced to Arnhem to capture a key bridge.
He also fought in the Battle of the Bulge, ending the war as a commando.
On his return home to Cork, however, he was treated as a pariah. "What they did to us was wrong. I know that in my heart. They cold-shouldered you. They didn't speak to you.
Continue reading the main story “Start Quote

What happened to them was vindictive and not only a stain on their honour but on the honour of Ireland”
End Quote Gerald Nash Member of the Irish Parliament
"They didn't understand why we did what we did. A lot of Irish people wanted Germany to win the war - they were dead up against the British."
It was only 20 years since Ireland had won its independence after many centuries of rule from London, and the Irish list of grievances against Britain was long - as Gerald Morgan, long-time professor of history at Trinity College, Dublin, explains.
"The uprisings, the civil war, all sorts of reneged promises - I'd estimate that 60% of the population expected or indeed hoped the Germans would win.
"To prevent civil unrest, Eamon de Valera had to do something. Hence the starvation order and the list."
Ireland adopted a policy of strict neutrality which may have been necessary politically or even popular, but a significant minority strongly backed Britain, including tens of thousands of Irish civilians who signed up to fight alongside the 5,000 Irish servicemen who switched uniforms.
Confidential list Until I showed him the list - the size of a slim phone directory and marked "confidential" - John Stout had not realised his name was included.
But after the war it quickly became apparent that he could not get work and was not welcome in Ireland - so he returned to Britain.
"I feel very betrayed about how we were treated, it was wrong and even today they should say sorry for the problems we had to endure. We never even got to put our case or argue why it was unjust," said Mr Stout.
And the list itself is far from accurate, according to Robert Widders, who has written a book about the deserters' treatment called Spitting on a Soldier's Grave.
Eamon de Valera inspects his country's neutral army
"It contains the names of men who were to be punished but who'd already been killed in action, but not the names of men who deserted the Irish army to spend their war years as burglars or thieves," he said.
In recent months, a number of Irish parliamentarians have begun pressing their government to issue a pardon to the few deserters who remain alive.
"What happened to them was vindictive and not only a stain on their honour but on the honour of Ireland," TD Gerald Nash said.
But for those nonagenarians who helped win the war but lost so much by doing so, time is of the essence, and it is running out fast.
Face the Facts - Deserters Deserted will be on BBC Radio 4 at 12.30GMT on Wednesday 4 January 2012 and will be available to listen to afterwards online.


My own view is that Irish Neutrality was the only option for the state as to join Britain at War would have generated a Civil War .

The pre WWII army was around 10,000 in strenght and 5,000 represented 50% or so.

During the 1930's you had both the Blueshirts and IRA active as paramilitaries.

The blow to the security of the state was massive .

Take the Christmas Raid

The Christmas Raid

The term Christmas Raid is a name used within the folklore of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) to describe the theft of a huge quantity of weapons and ammunition from the Regular Irish Army's ammunition Magazine Fort storage depot in Dublin'�s Phoenix Park.

The raid took place on 23 December 1939, and was immediately prior to the passing of the Emergency Powers Act in Ireland.

A total of 1,084,000 rounds of ammunition were taken and removed in thirteen lorries with no casualties or hindrance.

The ammunition didn't remain at large long, however. On 1 January 1940 it was reported that almost three quarters of the ammunition had been recovered - a total of 850,000 rounds -

Two and a half tons were seized in Dundalk, County Louth

Eight tons in Swords, County Dublin,

Sixty-six cases of Thompsons and ammunition in South Armagh (2 and a half tons captured by the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC)),

One hundred crates containing 120,000 rounds in Straffan, County Kildare.

The raid had turned into another disaster for the IRA to contend with. The volume of material stolen, and the massive hunt to recover it that followed turned up all the stolen ammunition and weapons plus more, along with the IRA volunteers attempting to store it. The positive effect on morale that the raid had made evaporated. The day after the raid the Irish Minister for Justice, Gerald Boland, at an emergency session of the Dail introduced the Emergency Powers bill to reinstate internment, Military Tribunal, and executions for IRA members. It was rushed through and given its third reading the next day creating the Emergency Powers Act.

These guys were not there to protect the country or their minds were elsewhere.

5 people have thanked this post

I'd admire them for their bravery in fighting the germans but the reality is that desertion is a crime and considered even worse during wartime.

The author of the article seems to give the impression that they view Irelands needs for defence during wartime as less important than Britain even though we could have faced an invasion from Germany or the Allies.

However i dont see any harm in pardoning them now either.

jonniebgood1 Moderator

pablomakaveli said:
I'd admire them for their bravery in fighting the germans but the reality is that desertion is a crime and considered even worse during wartime.

The author of the article seems to give the impression that they view Irelands needs for defence during wartime as less important than Britain even though we could have faced an invasion from Germany or the Allies.

However i dont see any harm in pardoning them now either.

Pardoning them now would as you say do no harm. Germany pardoned its wartime deserters in October 2009. Surely given that these men had good intentions they should be pardoned. There is a short but interesting radio piece by RTE on this subject that can be listened to here (Title = History Show November 13, 2011 - Dev's treatment of deserters. Its about 2 thirds down the page)

I believe the controversial order was emergency powers order no 362 which saw the creation of a black list of the deserters that was subsequently circulated to all civil authorities to deny assistance or employment to the returning soldiers. The Dail debate on order 362 can be read here and is interesting in parts. It shows that in the consideration of this order that the TD's were well aware of the horrors that the Irish 'deserters' had been fighting against with references to Belsen amongst many stories that had been reported at that stage.

And from the response to calls to refute order 362:
Mr. R. Walsh: I have been 16 or 17 years in this House. I have heard many speeches, anti-national and otherwise, but I have never listened to a speech that seemed to be so deliberately intended to do the maximum harm to this country and to this State by deliberately misconstruing the Order referred to as that which has just been delivered. I wonder if the Deputy who is so anxious to secure justice for those men would extend that justice to any one of those men who happened to join the German Army.

Dr. O'Higgins: Definitely, I should do so. There is your answer.

Mr. Walsh: It is rather amusing. I shall give the Deputy credit for one thing—he never concealed his attitude during the war. We would not have been neutral if he could have helped it. I ask the Minister, in his statement, to refute the imputation that this Order was inspired by malice against a certain group of Irishmen because they held certain political opinions. Let us regard this matter realistically. Desertion from an army is desertion. It cannot be camouflaged. It is either desertion or it is not and it is doubly damaging and doubly dangerous to the army from which desertion takes places if the deserter joins another army which might conceivably be fighting the army from which he deserted. Let us have some sense of reality. The Army authorities here are asked to condone the act of a man who deserts from the Irish Army and joins another army which the Irish Army may conceivably be fighting. Such a deserter is in a position to use whatever capacity he has as a fighter against the Irish Army and he is also in a position to act as a very dangerous spy.

1 person has thanked this post

To find out what happened Bosco's Daddy you need to scroll down to the end

Professor Murphy from UCC has a very readable piece on Irish Neutrality

War-time neutrality was conducted as a pragmatic policy, based on a widespread consensus and on Ireland's realisation of the futility of the "collective security" notion of the inter-war period. Neutrality was about keeping us "out of the war" and avoiding the threat of renewed civil conflict and foreign occupation, which belligerent involvement would bring.
Neutrality put Ireland's interests first and it was the supreme test of the State's new-found sovereignty. In the words of Joseph Walshe, secretary of the department of external affairs: "Small nations like Ireland do not and cannot assume the role of defenders of just causes except their own.''
Certainly, neutrality was not pursued out of high-minded principle, but was an expression of realpolitik, which allowed for "a certain consideration" for Britain's interests in Eamon de Valera's phrase. For all that, it was a genuine policy, seriously conducted until the end, even to the bizarre extreme of De Valera's ill-conceived expression of condolences on the death of Hitler. Moreover, there was no jumping on bandwagon towards the end of the conflict.


Samuel Beckett gets a deserved mention but not Francis Stuarts HawHaw type broadcasts urging voters to vote Fine Gael in 1943.

Also missing is the sometimes quoted Cranborne Report which gives an idea how far we went for Collective Security .

I can only find it on Wikipedia

Viscount Cranborne, the British Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs, wrote a letter to the British War Cabinet regarding Irish-British collaboration during 1939-1945:[44]

  • They agreed to our use of Lough Foyle for naval and air purposes. The ownership of the Lough is disputed, but the Southern Irish authorities are tacitly not pressing their claim in present conditions and are also ignoring any flying by our aircraft over the Donegal shore of the Lough, which is necessary in certain wind conditions to enable flying boats to take off the Lough.
  • They have agreed to use by our aircraft based on Lough Erne of a corridor over Southern Irish territory and territorial waters for the purpose of flying out to the Atlantic.
  • They have arranged for the immediate transmission to the United Kingdom Representative’s Office in Dublin of reports of submarine activity received from their coast watching service.
  • They arranged for the broadening of reports by their Air observation Corps of aircraft sighted over or approaching Southern Irish territory. (This does not include our aircraft using the corridor referred to in (b) above.)
  • They arranged for the extinction of trade and business lighting in coastal towns where such lighting was alleged to afford a useful landmark for German aircraft.
  • They have continued to supply us with meteorological reports.
  • They have agreed to the use by our ships and aircraft of two wireless direction-finding stations at Malin Head.
  • They have supplied particulars of German crashed aircraft and personnel crashed or washed ashore or arrested on land.
  • They arranged for staff talks on the question of co-operation against a possible German invasion of Southern Ireland, and close contact has since been maintained between the respective military authorities.
  • They continue to intern all German fighting personnel reaching Southern Ireland. On the other hand, though after protracted negotiations, Allied service personnel are now allowed to depart freely and full assistance is given in recovering damaged aircraft.
  • Recently, in connection with the establishment of prisoner of war camps in Northern Ireland, they have agreed to return or at least intern any German prisoners who may escape from Northern Ireland across the border to Southern Ireland.
  • They have throughout offered no objection to the departure from Southern Ireland of persons wishing to serve in the United Kingdom Forces nor to the journey on leave of such persons to and from Southern Ireland (in plain clothes).
  • They have continued to exchange information with our security authorities regarding all aliens (including Germans) in Southern Ireland.
  • They have (within the last few days) agreed to our establishing a Radar station in Southern Ireland for use against the latest form of submarine activity.


Churchill's attitude

Winston Churchill enjoyed a good joke. According to Dennis Kelly, one of Churchill’s former literary assistants, the following was one of his boss’s favorite stories, one that ‘he used to adore telling’: ‘British bomber over Berlin, caught in the searchlights, flak coming up, one engine on fire, rear-gunner wounded, Irish pilot mutters, “Thank God Dev kept us out of this bloody war.”


And then take this into account which puts the British position for their own soldiers

Sir, – Robert Widders and Peter Mulvany should read the Dáil Debates for April 29th, 1980 (http://historical-debates.oireachtas.ie/D/0320/D.0320.198004290013.html) to see how the British treated the puppeteer Eugene Lambert who they wrongfully accused of deserting from their army 34 years earlier. Eugene was arrested as he stepped off the ferry at Dover on his way back from France on a family holiday, brought forthwith before a magistrate, and jailed there and then. And the alleged offence was supposed to have taken place in Omagh, one year after the Nazis were defeated, and peace had been reigning for 34 years before they arrested him!
Our minister for foreign affairs was told by the British that the arrest was part of a campaign to find and punish any British army deserters going back over a long time. So there was no policy of pardon there, whether peace had broken out or not!
There are numerous defence provisions voted for by the people of Ireland in Bunreacht na hÉireann which require citizens to give loyalty to the State, and which legitimise the defence and Emergency laws and provisions made by the State. During the Emergency the State was the only authority to decide how it would conduct national defence, and how to deal with threats from both the Nazis and the Allies. It is outrageous to suggest that any individual or group can be justified in taking unilateral military action which they, rather than the State, think is an appropriate national defence action. Taking such unilateral actions is properly seen as rebellion or mutiny, particularly when, as in this case, the numbers of individuals reach into the thousands.
The loyal comrades of the deserters had every right to feel resentful when they had to fill the “bearna baoil” vacated by those from whom they expected comradeship and loyalty in return. This is one reason why the taking of an oath of allegiance to a foreign country by a soldier while still under an oath to Ireland is prima facia evidence of desertion. – Is mise,


So not prosecuting anyone was "official policy".

Ireland also benefitted from UN membership in 1948 & was rewarded with aid under the Marshall Plan.

It is estimated that some 70'000 Irish (north & south served) with some 7,000 casualties.

And check out the Elizabeth "Espionage" Bowen link Churchills double agent in Ireland .

Elizabeth Bowen was a British writer who
happened to be born in Ireland, and to inherit a
Cromwellian property in Co. Cork. Britain was an Empire
and a great many of her well-known writers were born
in the Empire. For example, Kipling was born in India
and Orwell in Burma. Bowen was Irish only if one takes
Irish as a subset of British – as was done, of course, for
She adopted an Irish persona for espionage
purposes during the War. But in various memoirs,
written without an ulterior motive she made it clear that
she was not milk and watery British but English. The
part of the world that made her buzz was Kent.
She was English Churchillian. After the rejection
of Churchill in 1945 England was no longer English
enough for her. She could not stand it when the lower
classes came to the top. So she retreated to her
property in Ireland – not because it was Ireland but
because it was not Welfare State England.
Her espionage reports to Churchill are objective,
well informed and well written accounts of Irish opinion
during the War. It is a great pity that more of them are
either withheld or destroyed. But they are espionage
reports to her Government, written frankly in the
confidence that they would remain secret.
Following the inaugural Bowen/Trevor Summer
School in Mitchelstown in 2007 an exchange of letters
took place in the Irish Examiner. The most well-known
contributor was Martin Mansergh TD.
Why does Mr Mansergh get so exercised about
Elizabeth Bowen and her activities here during WWII?
The facts of the matter are now indisputable. At
the beginning of the war she immediately volunteered
her services to the British Government to do espionage
work in Ireland. She befriended people under false
pretences, reported in secret,, got paid for it, wrote
about 200 reports (according to her biographer, Heather
Bryant Jordan) - approximately one per fortnight - and
delivered a number of personal reports too sensitive to
be put in writing. She deceived all her Irish
acquaintances and was well pleased with what she did.
James Dillon was mortified and humiliated when the
truth was brought to his attention in 1974.
Innumerable other English writers and artists did
similar. It was their patriotic duty and they cannot be
criticised for doing so. She succeeded in her main aim of
helping to get Churchill to resist his instincts to invade
and so helped him avoid a costly bloody nose. Southern
Ireland always was ‘unfinished business’ for him and he
was ‘bulling’ for another go after the failure of his Black
and Tans. She was also successful in never having her
cover blown.
And now we have the extraordinary situation of a
legislator here seeking to maintain her cover! What
does it say of his priorities and judgement? And he is no
ordinary member of Fianna Fail, he is “Fianna Fail’s
most venerated elder statesman”, no less, according to
the Irish Independent (January 4, 2008).
To seek to make his case he has to turn Irish
history, and common sense, inside out and upside
down. Elizabeth Bowen becomes someone else. In fact
she becomes some sort of monstrosity because she did
all the above and was neither a traitor nor a spy but
was an agent for both governments. The logic of this is
that the Irish government needed someone to go
around the country deceiving people in order to inform
itself about how people felt about neutrality!
Furthermore, that they got the British government to
pay for this and never asked for a copy of any of the
reports! She becomes not just a double agent in the
normal sense, more a duplicate or parallel agent. The
logic gets more bizarre the more one thinks about it.
A good example of Mansergh’s methodology is
the way he tries to get an ultra-revisionist book “The
Emergency” by Professor Brian Girvin further revised to
seek to prove his case that it was really the Irish
Government that set Bowen up for her spying.


2 people have thanked this post
kabakuyu Registered User

Gerald Morgan, long-time professor of history at Trinity College, Dublin, explains.
"The uprisings, the civil war, all sorts of reneged promises - I'd estimate that 60% of the population expected or indeed hoped the Germans would win.

Is there any real basis for this qoute from Prof Morgan or is it just his personal opinion,were there any polls conducted at the time? There is a huge difference between people expressing an opinion that the Germans would win and actually hoping they would win.

3 people have thanked this post
ejmaztec Registered User

kabakuyu said:
Is there any real basis for this qoute from Prof Morgan or is it just his personal opinion,were there any polls conducted at the time? There is a huge difference between people expressing an opinion that the Germans would win and actually hoping they would win.

I can't see it at 60%, but that's my personal opinion based on nothing in particular.

Were there any stories where those heading off to join the Allies were pressured by the "60%" not to go?

I can imagine Franco supporters, Blueshirts and hardcore republicans hoping that the British would get a good "doing", but after the Americans joined in, the feeling would have been different, as I don't think that anyone had an axe to grind re the Americans, and wouldn't have wanted the Germans to beat them.

kabakuyu Registered User

Were there any stories where those heading off to join the Allies were pressured by the "60%" not to go?

I know of none, but I have no doubt that this figure of "60%" will be seized upon by certain interests for political reasons and will join the other old favourites of how the Irish refuelled the U-boats and left the lights on so the germans could bomb more accurately
Its funny how a nation with an alleged support of "60%" for the nazi regime did not manage to put an any German/Irish unit in the field, I suppose they could have called it "Waffen SS Division Hibernia" or "Division De Valera"
If I recall correctly alot of other European nations eg.Norway, Holland,Belgium, Spain,and Denmark to name a few did provide volunteers to fight for Hitler.The support for Hitler must have been quite staggering in those countries.

Zebra3 Registered User

Soldiers deserted their country that they had pledged to defend when, at the time, there was a significant possibility that they were joining an army that may have been planning an invasion of their homeland.

It didn't happen, but it could very easily have.

Given that the soldiers would have had no knowledge of the death camps, to them, Britain and Germany had very little difference in their treatment of humans. So any crap of "fighting facism", was just that.

Would we pardon any soldiers who went off to fight for Germany in the belief that Britain was our historical enemy and that they could try to re-occupy the Free State?

3 people have thanked this post

Zebra3 said:

Given that the soldiers would have had no knowledge of the death camps, to them, Britain and Germany had very little difference in their treatment of humans. So any crap of "fighting facism", was just that.

Lots had been to Spain, on both sides, and whatever about Irelands Civil War - Spains and its aftermath was well nasty.

They may not have had the full skinny on the death camps but they had the general gist .

Would we pardon any soldiers who went off to fight for Germany in the belief that Britain was our historical enemy and that they could try to re-occupy the Free State?

With reference to this an Professor Morgan.

Did any Irish fight for the Germans ?

70,000 or so from both sides of the border fought for the British. 7,000 were killed. That's between 1 & 2 % of the population, more if you say fighting age.

Does anyone know how many fought for the Axis ?

And, how does Prof Morgan arrive at the figure ? Were there any pro-german politicians topping the polls anywhere in Ireland. ?

If this is the guy he is professor of english ?


1 person has thanked this post
FiSe Registered User

There is a double thread on it here: http://www.boards.ie/vbulletin/showthread.php?t=2056496336

FiSe Registered User

CDfm said:
Did any Irish fight for the Germans ?
Does anyone know how many fought for the Axis ?

We all know by now that there were Irish citizens fighting in German uniforms. Either as a POW/deserters from the British Army or due being caught in the circumstances of the time and their German origins...
I can imagine that their number wouldn't be in 100s rather than 10s, but I don't have exact or estimated number at all.

1 person has thanked this post

I can't see how Prof Morgan's figures would make any sense as the numbers don't stack up. Maybe he was analysing literature or political writings and that would hardly be representative.

Here are extracts from the North Strand Bombings site on whether Ireland knew what was coming and its knowledge of Spain.

Along with every other country in Europe, but uniquely amongst Commonwealth members Ireland did not join the war. People ask what countries in Europe were neutral in the First World War and the answer is all of them except the belligerent and that’s not being smart. The two that started…well Poland was obviously no longer neutral, it had been invaded; Austria had been annexed in the Anschluss. The United Kingdom and France were at war with Germany, everyone else was neutral when Germany invaded other countries they stopped being neutral and became invaded. Ireland is often described at the time as being neutral, but perhaps a better phrase is Garret Fitzgerald’s ‘non-belligerent’. Because while we weren’t actually at war there was a huge of commerce with Britain, both in people who went to work in the war in the war industries, the British soldiers having gone to fight in the war proper and trade; we sold tonnes of stuff to Britain. The period in Ireland, is normally called as “The Emergency”, and that is normally said to be some sort of euphemism; it’s not because de Valera’s constitution enacted a couple of years previously, Sub-section 3º of section 3 of Article 28 of the Constitution, said:
In this sub-section “time of war” includes a time when there is taking place an armed conflict in which the State is not a participant but in respect of which each of the Houses of the Oireachtas shall have resolved that, arising out of such armed conflict, a national emergency exists affecting the vital interests of the State.
And the day before war was declared, on 2 September the same de Valera said to the Dáil that he was proposing, ‘That Dáil Éireann hereby resolves, arising out of the armed conflict now taking place in Europe, a national emergency exists affecting the vital interests of the State’ – the same exact phrase from his constitution of two years previously.
He went on to say “I do not think it is necessary for me to add anything to what I have already said. I think it is evident to everybody that the circumstances contemplated by the amendment of the Article of the Constitution do, in fact, exist”.
Now the commentators on the war, Eunan O’Halpin, being one of the very good ones, in his book ‘Defending Ireland’, he said that the Government basically accepted the conventional wisdom of the time that aerial bombing of civilian targets would be an inevitable and rapidly decisive tactic in the European war. That’s actually not true; there were huge sections of Europe that knew nothing about aerial bombing. Spain did because the Luftwaffe had practiced their aerial bombing in the Spanish Civil War. And it suddenly struck me while reading this that de Valera did too, because de Valera had two very good opportunities of finding out what happened in Spain. He would have known people who served in Eoin O’Duffy’s Irish Brigade and he would have known and indeed locked up some of his own ex-colleagues who fought in the International Brigade with Charlie Donnelly and Mick O’Riordain. ..........................

Where over a few short nights we had mines dropped in Enniskerry, bombs in Drogheda, bombs in Bettystown, bombs in Terenure in Dublin, eight at the Curragh Racecourse, ten near Duleek, and eight in Carlow where three people were killed and finally three more in Oylegate in Wexford. So we had 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9 bombings over ten days or 8 of them over two. In the Knock Row in Waterford, three people were killed. Now later that night, that’s the night of 3rd January 1941, Dublin was bombed again. And the rather terse report in the Military Archives on the first major bombing in Dublin since, basically since the Rebellion and the first serious event since the Civil War,................................................................................

Uniquely in wartime bombings and this includes the North Strand Bombing, uniquely the Irish Army were of the view that this bombing was deliberate. There is in the Military Archives in Rathmines a large file called the 2nd World War Bombings on which I base much of what I’m talking tonight and Commandant D.J. Murphy and Captain T.J. Hanley mentioned the earlier bombing of the Rosslare-Fishguard boat, and saw in the set of attacks an attempt by Germany to disrupt or destroy the supply of food to Britain, and a punishment for the breaking off of trade with Germany by the creamery management in Campile, which they had done earlier. So going back to the non-belligerent, not alone were we supplying Britain with much-needed food but we had stopped selling to Germany.


Snickers Man Registered User

CDfm said:
Oh My God they arrested Bosco's Daddy

I remember that incident very well and it was indeed part of a broader sweep against "deserters" from the British Army going back decades. There were several other Irish nationals, including quite a well known writer from Northern Ireland - I think his name was Galvin- who were also arrested. But the papers were out of date and there were several cases of mistaken identity.

But let there be no doubt about the persistence of the authorities in chasing up people decades after the alleged "offence" of desertion had been committed.

I have very mixed feelings about this. I didn't believe there was major discrimination against Irishmen who had served in the British forces. My own granfather did, although as he died in the war I don't know how his subsequent treatment in Ireland post war might have been. Certainly we never felt the need to keep quiet about him, and I seem to remember several classmates of mine in national school who were only too happy to talk about the exploits of their fathers/uncles/grandfathers who took part in world war II.

1 person has thanked this post
jonniebgood1 Moderator

Reference is made in this history ireland piece on Irish volunteers to WWII to attempts to prevent Irish army personnel joining the British army. It references Irish military intelligence unit G2 trying to prevent this happening.

By 1943 the main objective of G2 was to discourage desertion from the Irish armed forces and to apprehend those who attempted to leave the state. G2’s efforts met with mixed success. In 1942 nearly three quarters of deserters were apprehended; however, during the first eight months of 1943 this had dropped to a third. This implied that those who wished to desert to the British side in 1943 were finding effective means of doing so.

The article goes on to explain how people could avoid being apprehended.
A number of factors were involved. Some members of the British Legion were in contact with military authorities in Northern Ireland and could secure safe passage from the South. In addition, it was common for an individual to arrange the specific date he would cross the border and arrangements were made to pick him up by the military authorities. It is also probable that deserters had by this time a more effective escape route out of the South which allowed them to leave undetected. It is also likely that most civilians who crossed into Northern Ireland to volunteer did so without the requisite travel permits from the Irish authorities. According to one source, he had family reasons for travelling to Northern Ireland during the World War II, but had considerable difficulties obtaining a permit. This, despite the fact that he had been born in the North, had family there and spoke with a strong Northern accent. The reason for this was that the Irish authorities assumed that any male of military age attempting to obtain a travel permit was doing so to enlist. Some sources suggest that up to 200 Irish citizens were enlisting in Belfast per week, especially in 1944 and 1945. If these figures are accurate it would mean that about 10,000 people per annum were recruited in this way and crossed the border in a clandestine fashion. Official Irish sources, on the other hand, indicate that between 1943 and 1945 only 771 travel permits were issued to males going to Northern Ireland.

The Irish government drew a distinction between those who provided references for members of its armed forces, which was illegal, and those who did so for civilians.
According to one official source, ‘it is clear that while individuals are facilitating or assisting prospective recruits for the British Forces in a variety of ways, the formal act of recruiting takes place across the border’. It was clear to Irish security personnel that short of introducing new and draconian legislation to prohibit Irish people from joining a belligerent power’s armed forces, little could be done to prevent those wishing to leave the state from doing so.



It is interesting that the reasons aren't analysed.

The feeling I get from this article is that many thought the state would not survive or else did not take their oath to serve very seriously at all.

It really is hard to gauge how popular independence was really following the 1930's and WWII.

The 1916 rising itself was not a popular rising and the populism that accompanied the elections etc may have somewhat waned.

The emigration outflows may have masked the dissatisfaction.

The other thing that is not visible is the composition of the army. Who was in it and what was their relationship to volunteers that fought for independence.

What happened deserters that were apprehended ?

And how come deserters who came back were comfortable to do so and that indicates they had no fear of punishment.

Want to share your thoughts?

Login here to discuss!