Forgotten: The Connaught Rangers suffered horrific losses in war
The Connaught Rangers was one of 6 lost Irish regiments in the British Army, disbanded with partition in 1922 and forgotten by military history. Many Northerners joined the unit, formed during the Napoleonic Wars, at the outbreak of WWI, when the Rangers made helped popularise "It's A Long Way To Tipperary" by making it their marching song. The Rangers (The Devil's Own) suffered terrible casualties during the war, but also collected 42 battle honours, including a Victoria Cross. Part of the regiment mutinied in India in 1920 over the actions of the Black and Tans back in Ireland. One of the ringleaders was the last man executed by the British Army for mutiny.
The truth behind the 28 Irish soldiers shot at dawn during WWI (Article no longer available from the original source)
28 Irish soldiers were executed by the British Army during the Great War for disobedience and desertion. For decades, the full story of how they died remained secret. For the first time, journalist Stephen Walker tells their story. --- In his uniform, lance-corporal Peter Sands looked at ease, back in the narrow streets in west Belfast. To the casual observer he looked like any other serviceman enjoying a few days' leave away from the horrors of battle. However, he harboured a secret: he should have been with 1st Battalion of the Royal Irish Rifles in France and was now listed as a deserter.
Diggers' bloody role in Irish uprising - Anzacs and Ireland
The year was 1916. Australian soldiers involved in the fighting on the Western Front had been granted leave and went to Ireland for a break. But instead of resting up, the Australian troops were pressed into more action by the British: to help crush the Easter Rebellion in Dublin. Some of the Anzacs involved were Gallipoli veterans prized by the British for their sharp-shooting skills. One group was ordered onto the roof of Dublin's Trinity College to snipe at Irish dispatch riders delivering messages to the the headquarters of the rebels. Historian Jeff Kildea has researched the episode and described the colonial soldiers' dilemma in a book Anzacs and Ireland.
Messines: The first time the Irish and Ulster divisions fought together
This week Messines has been thrust into the spotlight. On 7 June 1917, the British Second Army, under General Herbert Plummer, launched the Battle of Messines. It was one of the bloodiest battles of World War I. The battle had been months in the planning, and centred around the important Messines Ridge. The events in Messines have special resonance in the political landscape in Northern Ireland: 90 years ago, the 16th Irish and 36th Ulster divisions fought side-by-side to capture the town of Wystenchaete.
The Somme: The Irish in the battle - The 36th (Ulster) Division
Irish soldiers played a major part on the Somme as the 36th Ulster Division was committed in the attack on the first day, aiming at a German fortification called the Schwaben Redoubt. They were among the few units to reach their objective, but reinforcements never reached them, and surrounded they were forced to retreat. Of the 9 Victoria Crosses awarded on the day, 3 went to the 36th. Traumatised, they withdrew from the battlefield to re-group and march into the political mythology of Ulster Unionism. Their "blood sacrifice" was seen as Ulster's side of a deal in which Britain would "see the loyal province right" in the agonising over Home Rule.
Blood sacrifice, the left and the 1916 insurrection in Ireland
At 11.30 in the morning of April 24 1916 Bugler William Oman, a member of a syndicalist workers militia the Irish Citizen Army (ICA), sounded the 'fall-in' outside union headquarters. This was the start of an insurrection in Dublin which was to see around 1,500 armed men and women seize key buildings, and to hold these positions against British Army soldiers for almost a week. In the course of putting down the insurrection, 1351 people were killed or severely wounded and 179 buildings were destroyed. The 1916 rising in Ireland in which 20% were members of a syndicalist militia became the founding myth of the modern Irish state.
Irish Artifacts Exceed Sale Estimates, Fetch $4.2
Medals, letters and parliamentary papers marking Ireland's fight for independence from British rule in the early 20th century exceeded estimates at auction, signaling growing interest in Irish historical artifacts. The auction coincides with the 90th anniversary of Ireland's 1916 Easter Rising, and the Irish government's first official commemoration of the event in more than 30 years. It taps a growing demand for historical artifacts.
Irish report slams Britain's WWI executions of Irish soldiers (Article no longer available from the original source)
Britain's military courts during WWI executed 26 Irish soldiers under a flawed system of justice that was anti-Irish and class-biased. The previously secret report was submitted to the British authorities as part of Ireland's campaign for pardons. The Irish government is backing the pressure group, Shot at Dawn (SAD), which is seeking retrospective pardons for the men on the basis that many of them were suffering from medical conditions that were not then recognised as illnesses. Ireland cannot pardon the men as they were serving in British regiments prior to independence when Britain ruled Ireland.
Sacred land of Ulster's brave
The government has given the Somme Association a grant to buy Thiepval Wood in France. The site is where members of the 36th Ulster Division fought during the Battle of the Somme. So why does this land mean so much to people from Northern Ireland? Thiepval Wood is sacred land and when you walk into this small forest you quickly get a sense of what life was like in 1916. This was home to the 36th Ulster Division and in eight decades it has remained largely untouched. Grenades, unexploded shells and bodies lie buried, hidden away. The trenches are visible - dozens of them criss-cross the forest floor.