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View Full Version : Sad Commentary - why Irish who fought Hitler don't wear Medals.



Ardee
02-01-2012, 10:58 AM
An interesting story on soldiers who deserted from the neutral Irish Army to fight with the British against Germany.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-16287211

Wolf82
02-07-2012, 03:37 PM
Wow. Never even heard of any of this until I saw this thread. Very interesting to read, but very saddening to think they were treated so unfairly.
I mean, I can see both sides and understand Ireland's 'grudges' against Britain and wishing that Britain's enemy won, and I can understand deserting a military to change uniforms being considered a crime, but still, I most definitely think they should have been treated with more respect...
It's saddening to think that they're considered outcasts after having been so brave.

downwithpeace
02-10-2012, 04:57 AM
They were given a punishment for desertion, possibly overly harsh but they did desert the country when its security was unknown, I'm not sure but did any other countries neutral or otherwise pardon their deserters?

Ardee
02-10-2012, 11:15 AM
neutral or otherwise
Well, pulling an example off the top of my head, I believe Charles De Gaulle was technically guilty of treason against the "legitimate" government of France. France had surrendered, and the Vichy regime was the legal authority, and to which army I believe De Gaulle would still belong. I believe this has been discussed elsewhere on this forum, but perhaps I'm confusing it with Axis History Forum or some such. I DO think it is safe to say DeGaulle was not tried after the war. ;-)

Evillittlekenny
02-10-2012, 03:47 PM
They were given a punishment for desertion, possibly overly harsh but they did desert the country when its security was unknown, I'm not sure but did any other countries neutral or otherwise pardon their deserters?

In Switzerland, people who served in the Waffen-SS were punished for serving in a foreign military, though there were no further investigations for war crimes etc.

downwithpeace
02-10-2012, 03:50 PM
Well, pulling an example off the top of my head, I believe Charles De Gaulle was technically guilty of treason against the "legitimate" government of France. France had surrendered, and the Vichy regime was the legal authority, and to which army I believe De Gaulle would still belong. I believe this has been discussed elsewhere on this forum, but perhaps I'm confusing it with Axis History Forum or some such. I DO think it is safe to say DeGaulle was not tried after the war. ;-)

Didn't Vichy charge him with treason and the Vichy Forces have limitations that would have probably made De Gaulle and a fair few other ranking professional soldiers disband, also the possibility that they would have been under German control, more or less.


In Switzerland, people who served in the Waffen-SS were punished for serving in a foreign military, though there were no further investigations for war crimes etc.

Don't quote me on this but I believe the Irish Government at the time did allow Irish citizens join foreign armies unlike other neutral countries but limited the number, this would have most likely not included those serving in the Irish military at the time.

Nickdfresh
02-10-2012, 05:55 PM
In Switzerland, people who served in the Waffen-SS were punished for serving in a foreign military, though there were no further investigations for war crimes etc.

Well, they should have been. They were fighting FOR Hitler after all!

I understand the Irish Gov't enforcing their military code on perceived "deserters," but there is such a complete double-standard here. There is such a thing as 'national reconciliation.' Far greater bastards than those that volunteered to fight the Nazis have benefited from it!

DeValera was a Machiavellian ****!

downwithpeace
02-10-2012, 06:36 PM
I understand the Irish Gov't enforcing their military code on perceived "deserters," but there is such a complete double-standard here.

I can only speak from my point of view on this, they were treated as deserters and rightly so, do they deserve a pardon, No, do they need a pardon, No, they abandoned their country, they had a punishment, probably overly harsh as I said above but it should end at that, they did what they thought was right and need to be seen in that way, these were brave men. Sadly social issues at the time would have piled up against them, makes me wonder what would have happened if the 5,000 joined the US Army.

JR*
05-07-2013, 07:33 AM
From the "Irish Times", 7 May, 2013 -

"An apology for the way the State treated some 5,000 members of the Defence Forces who deserted to join the fight against Nazi Germany, is to be issued in the Dáil this afternoon by Minister forDefence Alan Shatter.

At the same time a Bill providing a formal pardon for those who, in the main, joined the British forces, will complete its passage through the Oireachtas.

In all some 60,000 Irish people - women as well as men - joined the British forces from what was then the Free State, during what was known in Ireland as the “emergency”.

Under legislation enacted in 1949 these poeple were considered to have deserted the Defence Forces and were dismissed without pension and barred from future State employment and welfare.

According to Mr Shatter many of the 5,000 who deserted the Defence Forces were shunned by officialdom and were a source of shame to their families. He said their contribution to the fight against Nazi tyranny had been “airbrushed out of history”.

But Mr Shatter said it was well recognised that if Germany had invaded Britain then “Ireland was next on the list” and all those who fought against the Nazis had fought to protect Ireland’s sovereignty and independence.

Mr Shatter told RTE’s Morning Ireland that the amnesty and apology was “another brick in the wall of reconciliation” between Northern Ireland and the Republic and an acknowledgement of “our shared history”.

Mr Shatter said desertion was “a very serious offence” but “these were exceptional times” and the Government wanted to acknowledge the contribution they made and the hardship they endured when they came home."

The Army of the Irish Free State mustered about 42,000 men (incredible by current standards) during "The Emergency" (otherwise known as WW2), in spite of its neutral status. Some 5,000 of these deserted to join the British forces; these were marked as deserters, dishonourably discharged from the Irish forces and excluded from public service employment on their return. In the recent campaign to have the 5,000 pardoned and officially rehabilitated, it has been rather overlooked that they represented only a modest fraction of the number of southern Irishmen who served in the British forces in WW2 - 65,000 at least, and probably more. Many southern Irishmen also served in the US forces, some in the Canadian and Australian forces also. Best regards, JR.

Rising Sun*
05-07-2013, 08:38 AM
Many southern Irishmen also served in the ... Australian forces also. Best regards, JR.

Not Southern, and not acceptable to the Southerners or my defiantly half-Irish grandmother's opinion given his 1916 history, but Irish of a sort nonetheless and emblematic of a critical phase in Australia's resistance to the Japanese advance: http://www.kokodatreks.com/history/heroes/captainsamtempleton.cfm (as an aside, my son serves as an infantryman in the successor to Templeton's original Australian regiment, which long ago lost its Scottish and other ethnic origins)

But here's a genuine Irish VC from the same larger Papua / New Guinea campaign in which Templeton died, albeit one who didn't have a great life before or after. http://www.awm.gov.au/atwar/remembering1942/kelliher/

J.A.W.
05-07-2013, 11:54 PM
Military bureaucracy is -esp' when backed by political ideology, a monsterous entity..

Compare this situation with the 'deserters' from the US services who serviced as mercenaries in the 'Flying Tigers'..

pdf27
05-08-2013, 03:06 PM
The reasoning used as to why they shouldn't have been allowed to go is very implausible. They basically said that they were needed at home to defend against a potential German invasion. Given the disparity of force, the only way Ireland would be safe is if the British forces won - and the best way to support that would be to support Irish soldiers joining the British army. Those 5,000 staying at home would have been a mere speed-bump for the Wehrmacht...

Ardee
05-09-2013, 02:11 PM
from pdf27:
They basically said that they were needed at home to defend against a potential German invasion.

Interestingly, some cable channel ran a show just last night about German plans to actually invade Ireland, with cooperation from the IRA. It evidently took the Germans some little while to realize how farcical the notion was. I was only paying half attention, but I think the skullduggery went on some time after Sea Lion was scrapped? Still, the Irish concern may perhaps be deemed legitimate. And certainly the idea of Ireland cooperating with the British would have met resistance in some quarters, as well as raising the question of if and when the British might leave them on their own again? At least from the limited (! -- how's that for understatement?) perspective of this one TV show, the German idea was predicated upon Irish popular support, via the IRA, etc. For the Wehrmacht to than run over the nationalist army -- be it even of only 5,000 men -- might very well have been self-defeating, turning popular sentiment against them.

Of course, under that scenario, one might raise the question of how much it mattered if the "speed bump" was of 5,000 men instead of, say, 4,000, or 3,000.... ;)

leccy
05-09-2013, 04:34 PM
Military bureaucracy is -esp' when backed by political ideology, a monsterous entity..

Compare this situation with the 'deserters' from the US services who serviced as mercenaries in the 'Flying Tigers'..

Hmmm the Flying Tigers were invited volunteers and not deserters, they resigned from the US forces for political reasons and joined the Chinese Nationalist Forces until they were disbanded then most rejoined the US forces.

Nickdfresh
05-10-2013, 04:47 AM
The Flying Tigers' program was essentially one of the first covert operations and the U.S. gov't was heavily involved. The men were hardly just mercenaries...

J.A.W.
05-14-2013, 05:47 PM
That's what I mean, Nickdf,
'cause technically they were, [being paid far more than military pay & bounties for kills] - while U.S. law forbade this, & while they could've faced severe sanctions, in-fact - they were quickly welcomed back into the U.S. forces, a couple even going on to win C.M.H.'s..

royal744
08-05-2013, 02:37 PM
Military bureaucracy is -esp' when backed by political ideology, a monsterous entity..

Compare this situation with the 'deserters' from the US services who serviced as mercenaries in the 'Flying Tigers'..

LOL. Those weren't deserters, JAW and you know it. They were mercenaries, no doubt about it, but approved, by the US Gov't nonetheless and quickly re-inducted into the US Army after Pearl Harbor.

And while we are at it, US pilots served with the Royal Air Force in 'Eagle Squadrons' before Pearl Harbor and also served in the Canadian Air Force. No one thought they were 'deserters'.

I guess it all depends on what the 'national interest' is: lots of Americans who served in the International Brigade - it might have been the Lincoln Brigade - during the Spanish Civil War against Franco, when they returned to the US, were labeled "PAF"s - "Premature" Anti-Fascist(s). How stupid, demeaning, ridiculous and bass-ackwards can one be? It would have been more accurate to label everyone else "RAF"(S) = Retarded Anti-Fascist(s)!

J.A.W.
08-08-2013, 04:26 PM
Unless they were persons of interest [P.O.I.] to the F.B.I., as potential R.U.T.B. [reds under the bed]..