Why Irish soldiers who fought Hitler hide their medals

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Marcus
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Why Irish soldiers who fought Hitler hide their medals

Post by Marcus » 28 Dec 2011 14:39

Interesting about the Irish who fought in the British forces.
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.
[...]
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.
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.
[...]
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.
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.
"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.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-16287211

/Marcus

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Annelie
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Re: Why Irish soldiers who fought Hitler hide their medals

Post by Annelie » 28 Dec 2011 16:19

Interesting, thanks Marcus.
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.
I suppose their disdain of the British still was strong.

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phylo_roadking
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Re: Why Irish soldiers who fought Hitler hide their medals

Post by phylo_roadking » 28 Dec 2011 18:01

all sorts of reneged promises
I wonder which promises he's referring to?

Also, it would be VERY wrong to assume, as one might from that article, that ONLY 5,000 Irish citizens fought in the British armed forces in WWII - the figure is far closer to one hundred thousand (In Time Of War, Robert Fisk...and several others, but Im not close to my bookshelves today) The article ONLY refers to Irish Defence Forces' deserters.
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mikel
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Re: Why Irish soldiers who fought Hitler hide their medals

Post by mikel » 09 Jan 2012 21:42

Hard to believe any large group of folks in the free world would support Nazi Germany or its efforts.
Some real bad blood existed and even continues on some levels in Ireland, but overall they knew which side their bread was buttered on.

JonS
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Re: Why Irish soldiers who fought Hitler hide their medals

Post by JonS » 10 Jan 2012 03:31

mikel wrote:Hard to believe any large group of folks in the free world would support Nazi Germany or its efforts.
Really? You need to get out more.

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Mark McShane
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Re: Why Irish soldiers who fought Hitler hide their medals

Post by Mark McShane » 20 Jan 2012 22:52

Have seen this article discussed in other forums with little good been said about it. The 5000 specifically mentioned were deserters. I hope that someone has told that old soldier thats he can sleep safe at night and not worry about the police calling to take him away.

schrisbpd
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Re: Why Irish soldiers who fought Hitler hide their medals

Post by schrisbpd » 21 Jan 2012 03:29

As far as the "One Hundred " is concerned....I would be willing to bet that number is made up of mostly Irishmen from Northern Ireland...and the Republic of Ireland!

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phylo_roadking
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Re: Why Irish soldiers who fought Hitler hide their medals

Post by phylo_roadking » 21 Jan 2012 12:47

the figure is far closer to one hundred thousand
As far as the "One Hundred " is concerned....I would be willing to bet that number is made up of mostly Irishmen from Northern Ireland...and the Republic of Ireland!
If my figure is what you're referring to - no, that figure is for British servicemen originating from the Irish Free State, it doesn't include those from Northern Ireland :wink:
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Mark McShane
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Re: Why Irish soldiers who fought Hitler hide their medals

Post by Mark McShane » 21 Jan 2012 13:08

This is just from a vague memory so I can be corrected but I thought it was around 40-45,000 in the armed forces and about 150,000 civilians working in the UK during the war.

schrisbpd
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Re: Why Irish soldiers who fought Hitler hide their medals

Post by schrisbpd » 21 Jan 2012 13:15

If my figure is what you're referring to - no, that figure is for British servicemen originating from the Irish Free State, it doesn't include those from Northern Ireland :wink:[/quote]

Wow...thanks for correcting me! What kind of figures do u have for people from N. Ireland serving in the british military during ww2????

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phylo_roadking
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Re: Why Irish soldiers who fought Hitler hide their medals

Post by phylo_roadking » 02 Feb 2012 20:02

Just over 38,000 Northern Irish volunteers (there was no conscription here!) served in the armed forces in WWII...with 30,830 of those being recruited during the war period.

29,750 Irish citizens were recuited via the Services' Belfast recuiting office from 1939 to 1945; I don't have a figure for how many went direct to the UK mainland then joined.
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phylo_roadking
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Re: Why Irish soldiers who fought Hitler hide their medals

Post by phylo_roadking » 16 Feb 2012 20:48

Just over 38,000 Northern Irish volunteers (there was no conscription here!) served in the armed forces in WWII...with 30,830 of those being recruited during the war period.
To refine the above....the actual number was 37,282 Northern Irish men and women served in the forces during the war -
29,549 in the Army (incl. 2087 women),
4623 in the Royal Navy,
3110 in the RAF.

(Figures from Fisk)
29,750 Irish citizens were recuited via the Services' Belfast recuiting office from 1939 to 1945; I don't have a figure for how many went direct to the UK mainland then joined.
In 1945 a British government figure was released saying that 42,665 Irish citizens joined the British armed forces during the war -
30,900 in the Army (incl. 3060 women),
715 in the Royal Navy,
11.050 in the RAF...

...however - for some reason this total was brought down to 38,000 a year later with no explanation 8O

Dublin however consistently claimed higher figures - at least 42,000 and even on occasion De Valera claimed as many as 165,000 joined the British forces! Fisk notes he may have been a victim of his own propaganda :lol:
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panzerplatten
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Re: Why Irish soldiers who fought Hitler hide their medals

Post by panzerplatten » 16 Feb 2012 22:01

Hello phylo,

Devs figure, does seem somewhat exaggerated, the 32000 figure only relates to the Belfast office though? On top of that I presume the figures that signed up at diff recruiting office's across mainland UK. Does disk give an overall estimate phylo?

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Re: Why Irish soldiers who fought Hitler hide their medals

Post by panzerplatten » 16 Feb 2012 22:04

Sorry misread,
Your last post overall UK figures 42000.

Regards mark

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phylo_roadking
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Re: Why Irish soldiers who fought Hitler hide their medals

Post by phylo_roadking » 16 Feb 2012 22:12

...the 32000 figure only relates to the Belfast office though?
No, the Belfast office figure is the aforementioned 29,750; that's therefore some 69.7% of the whole, as per the 1945-British issued figure of some "42,665 Irish citizens joined the British armed forces during the war".

Therefore some 12,915 Irish citizens (according to the 1945 British figures*) went to the mainland to enlist.

* I have to keep making that caveat, for there's still no final or official figure out of Dublin AFAIK.
Twenty years ago we had Johnny Cash, Bob Hope and Steve Jobs. Now we have no Cash, no Hope and no Jobs....
Lord, please keep Kevin Bacon alive...

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