I am trying to research the lives of two British born socialists who fought and died in the 1916 Easter Rising.
I'm wondering if any readers here can help me and/or forward on this appeal to anyone they think might.
The first is John Neale
“a Londoner … with a cockney accent, and a good socialist” (1)(2) who was stationed in the Hotel Metropole garrison under the command of Lieutenant Oscar Traynor and Charles Saurin. Neale acted as lookout, sitting “on the parapet on the top floor, scanning O'Connell Street with a pair of field – glasses” (3). He also allegedly “took 'pot-shots' at nelson's nose on the pillar until Connolly told him to desist.” (4)
During the evacuation of the Metropole, “a carelessly discharged shotgun or a stray British sniper bullet exploded an ammunition pouch (spraying) shrapnel in all directions” (5)(6) injuring volunteers Andy Furlong in the leg, Charles Saurin in the hand and John Neale in the mid region.
Neale’s “lower torso was ripped to shreds” (7), swaying he gasped to his neighbour "Can't you stand away and let a fellow lie down?" (8) He was laid on a pile of mailbags where Traynor asked, "Are you badly hurt?" to which Neale replied wryly, "I'm dying comrade". (9) In one account, Neale died in the “Castle Hospital” (10) while in another, a house in Moore Street (11) both from a severe loss of blood and after the surrender.
The second is Abraham Weekes/
Weeks/Wix a Jewish socialist (12) from Norwich (13) .
In email correspondence with Darren Lynch, he has sent me two references to Weekes that he found in his Grandfathers files from research done in the 1940s into those killed in the Rising:
Arthur "Neill" Weekes ... came over to Dublin with the Kerr brothers and many other Liverpool men to partake in the Rising. He was accidentally shot on Friday the 28th April 1916 as the last of the volunteers were making their way onto Henry Street.
Weeks is also named in the 1991 An Phoblact ‘Easter 1916 Roll of Honour’ as an Englishman who died on April 28th 1916 in the ‘GPO area’
Arthur Weekes nicknamed "Niall" was from Norwich, Norfolk in the U.K. and was a member of the London Brigade.
Donal Nevin describes an individual who may be Abraham Weeks (or possibly Neale):
"A stranger applied for permission to join the insurgents. He wore an IWW (Wobblies) on his coat. He said he had come over from England hand ad a conscientious objection to fighting for capitalistic and imperialistic governments but that he also had a conscientious objection to being left out of a fight for liberty. This man whose identity is unknown - his name might have been Allen – fought bravely during the week. He was wounded in the excavation of the GPO on Friday and died the following day'" (14)
The intriguing theory now is whether these three (Neale, Weekes, Allen) British socialists could all be the same person. They have all been described as joining the Rising late and being fatally shot during the evacuation of the Metropole/GPO.
Can anyone shed any light on any of these characters or their stories?
1. Max Caulfield, Easter Rebellion – Dublin 1916, (1963), 231
2. Neale has also been mentioned in The Irish Times article The Cockneys and Scousers who fought for Ireland in 1916 (March 28, 2005) as “John Neale of the Irish Citizen Army” and a “Cockney member of the Citizen Army” in Donal Nevin’s 'James Connolly, A Full Life' (2005), page 657.
3. Michael Foy and Brian Barton, The Easter Rising (2000), 139-40
4. Joseph E.A. Connell Jr. List of men in the GPO Headquarters Battalion in 'Where's Where in Dublin. A Directory of Historic Locations 1913-23.' (2006), 166
5. Michael Foy and Brian Barton, The Easter Rising (2000), 149-50
6. Caulfield describes the ammunition pouch as being Andy Furlong’s. While Nevin and Good’s, 'Enchanted by Dreams…’ report it has being Neale’s. Coffey doesn’t mention an ammunition pouch but just a “shotgun … (that) sprayed out a cartridgeful of pellets”
7. Foy and Barton, The Easter Rising, 149-50
8. Thomas M. Coffey, Agony at Easter, The 1916 Irish Uprising (1969), 212
9. Max Caulfield, The Easter Rebellion - Dublin 1916 (1963), 327
10. Foy and Barton, The Easter Rising, 267
11. Joe Good, Enchanted by Dreams: The Journal of a Revolutionary (1962), 72
12. The Irish Worker (No.43. Saturday, May 3rd 1924) - “A. Weeks, a Jewish comrade who joined on Easter Monday and died in action”
13. Padraic O'Farrell, Who's Who in the Irish War of Independence and Civil War (1916-23), (2nd Edition, 1997) - WEEKES, A,. Norwich, England, 28-4-1916.
14. Nevin, James Connolly: A Full Life. 646