Anglo-Irish Treaty-Ireland’s independence.

I remember the celebration in 2016 when Ireland was commemorating the centenary of the Easter Rising. There had already been events months beforehand. On 20 January 2016. Ireland’s first ever commemorative €2 coin went into circulation to mark the centenary year of the Easter Rising.

The Easter Rising , was an armed insurrection in Ireland during Easter Week in April 1916. The Rising was launched by Irish republicans against British rule in Ireland with the aim of establishing an independent Irish Republic. Of course this event needed to be remembered, because it was such an important step towards Irish independence.

However, fast forward to today, December 6 2021, and you will find there are hardly any events planned. Even though today marks the centenary of an even more important event in Irish history, the signing of the Anglo-Irish treaty.

The Treaty formally ended the War of Independence, set the stage for British withdrawal from most of Ireland, and the handover of power to an independent Irish government.

It was signed in 10 Downing Street at 2.20 AM on the 6th of December 1921.The treaty created an Irish Free State that was to be afforded the same status as Canada, a self-governing dominion within the British Empire.

It was signed on the Irish side by delegates Arthur Griffith, Michael Collins, Eamon Duggan, Robert Barton and George Gavan Duffy.

On the British side were Prime Minister David Lloyd-George, Winston Churchill, Austen Chamberlain and FE Smith, Lord Birkenhead.

The Treaty gave Ireland independence, but as a member of the British Commonwealth, and not as a Republic. In 1937 Ireland adopted a new constitution and in 1948 it declared itself a republic.

There would be no all-island unity, as Northern Ireland could decide to – and did – remain outside the new state. An oath of allegiance was to be sworn by TDs. The British Navy would keep access to several seaports. The Irish delegates signed the Treaty after being warned by Lloyd-George that refusal to do so would mean that the War of Independence would resume within days.

The delegates argued that it was the best possible deal under the circumstances, but critics at home, led by President Eamon de Valera, claimed the signing was done under duress and so was invalid.

The Dáil, Irish Parliament, approved the new treaty after nine days of public debate on 7 January 1922, by a vote of 64 to 57, but it was not the assembly specified in the treaty. Therefore its approval of the treaty was not enough to satisfy the requirements of the treaty. The “meeting” required under the terms of the treaty was therefore convened. It formally approved the treaty on 14 January 1922. The “meeting” itself had a somewhat ambiguous status, not being convened or conducted in accordance with the procedures established for the House of Commons, nor being declared a session of Dáil Éireann. Anti-treaty members of the Dáil stayed away, meaning only pro-treaty members and the four elected unionists (who had never sat in Dáil Éireann) attended the meeting. Those assembled overwhelmingly approved the treaty, nominated Michael Collins for appointment as chairman of the provisional government and immediately dispersed with no parliamentary business taking place. This was the nearest that the House of Commons of Southern Ireland ever came to functioning; no other meeting ever took place, but the vote on 14 January, in strict compliance with the treaty wording, allowed the British authorities to maintain that the legal niceties had been observed.

The text of the treaty

  1. Ireland shall have the same constitutional status in the Community of Nations known as the British Empire as the Dominion of Canada, the Commonwealth of Australia, the Dominion of New Zealand and the Union of South Africa, with a Parliament having powers to make laws for the peace, order and good government of Ireland and an Executive responsible to that Parliament, and shall be styled and known as the Irish Free State.
  2. Subject to the provisions hereinafter set out the position of the Irish Free State in relation to the Imperial Parliament and Government and otherwise shall be that of the Dominion of Canada, and the law practice and constitutional usage governing the relationship of the Crown or the representative of the Crown and of the Imperial Parliament to the Dominion of Canada shall govern their relationship to the Irish Free State.
  3. The representative of the Crown in Ireland shall be appointed in like manner as the Governor-General of. Canada and in accordance with the practice observed in the making of such appointments.
  4. The oath to be taken by Members of the Parliament of the Irish Free State shall be in the following form:

I …………………. do solemnly swear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution of the Irish Free State as by law established and that I will be faithful to H.M. King George V, his heirs and successors by law, in virtue of the common citizenship of Ireland with Great Britain and her adherence to and membership of the group of nations forming the British Commonwealth of Nations.

  1. The Irish Free State shall assume liability for the service of the Public Debt of the United Kingdom as existing at the date hereof and towards the payment of war pensions as existing at that date in such proportion as may be fair and equitable, having regard to any just claims on the part of Ireland by way of set-off or counter-claim, the amount of such sums being determined in default of agreement by the arbitration of one or more independent persons being citizens of the British Empire.
  2. Until an arrangement has been made between the British and Irish Governments whereby the Irish Free State undertakes her own coastal defence, the defence by sea of Great Britain and Ireland shall be undertaken by His Majesty’s Imperial Forces. But this shall not prevent the construction or maintenance by the Government of the Irish Free State of such vessels as are necessary for the protection of the Revenue or the Fisheries.
    The foregoing provisions of this Article shall be reviewed at a Conference of Representatives of the British and Irish Governments to be held at the expiration of five years from the date hereof with a view to a share in her own coastal defence.
  3. The Government of the Irish Free State shall afford to His Majesty’s Imperial Forces:

(a) In time of peace such harbour and other facilities as are indicated in the Annex hereto, or such other facilities as may from time to time be agreed between the British Government and the Government of the Irish Free State; and
(b) In time of war or of strained relations with a Foreign Power such harbour and other facilities as the British Government may require for the purposes of such defence as aforesaid.

  1. With a view to securing the observance of the principle of international limitation of armaments, if the Government of the Irish Free State establishes and maintains a military defence force, the establishments thereof shall not exceed in size such proportion of the military establishments maintained in Great Britain as that which the population of Ireland bears to the population of Great Britain.
  2. The ports of Great Britain and the Irish Free State shall be freely open to the ships of the other country on payment of the customary port and other dues.
  3. The Government of the Irish Free State agrees to pay fair compensation on terms not less favourable than those accorded by the Act of 1920 to judges, officials, members of Police Forces and other Public Servants who are discharged by it or who retire in consequence of the change of Government effected in pursuance hereof.
    Provided that this agreement shall not apply to members of the Auxiliary Police Force or to persons recruited in Great Britain for the Royal Irish Constabulary during the two years next preceding the date hereof. The British Government will assume responsibility for such compensation or pensions as may be payable to any of these excepted persons.
  4. Until the expiration of one month from the passing of the Act of Parliament for the ratification of this instrument, the powers of the Parliament and the Government of the Irish Free State shall not be exercisable as respects Northern Ireland and the provisions of the Government of Ireland Act, 1920, shall so far as they relate to Northern Ireland remain of full force and effect, and no election shall be held for the return of members to serve in the Parliament of the Irish Free State for constituencies in Northern Ireland, unless a resolution is passed by both Houses of the Parliament of Northern Ireland in favour of the holding of such election before the end of the said month.
  5. If before the expiration of the said month, an address is presented to His Majesty by both Houses of the Parliament of Northern Ireland to that effect, the powers of the Parliament and Government of the Irish Free State shall no longer extend to Northern Ireland, and the provisions of the Government of Ireland Act., 1920 (including those relating to the Council of Ireland) shall, so far as they relate to Northern Ireland continue to be of full force and effect, and this instrument shall have effect subject to the necessary modifications.

Provided that if such an address is so presented a Commission consisting of three Persons, one to be appointed by the Government of the Irish Free State, one to be appointed by the Government of Northern Ireland and one who shall be Chairman to be appointed by the British Government shall determine in accordance with the wishes of the inhabitants, so far as may be compatible with economic and geographic conditions, the boundaries between Northern Ireland and the rest of Ireland, and for the purposes of the Government of Ireland Act, 1920, and of this instrument, the boundary of Northern Ireland shall be such as may be determined by such Commission.

  1. For the purpose of the last foregoing article, the powers of the Parliament of Southern Ireland under the Government of Ireland Act, 1920, to elect members of the Council of Ireland shall after the Parliament of the Irish Free State is constituted be exercised by that Parliament.
  2. After the expiration of the said month, if no such address as is mentioned in Article 12 hereof is Presented, the Parliament and Government of Northern Ireland shall continue to exercise as respects Northern Ireland the powers conferred on them by the Government of Ireland Act, 1920, but the Parliament and Government of the Irish Free State shall in Northern Ireland have in relation to matters in respect of which the Parliament of Northern Ireland has not power to make laws under that Act (including matters which under the said Act are within the jurisdiction of the Council of Ireland) the same powers as in the rest of Ireland, subject to such other provisions as may he agreed in manner hereinafter appearing.
  3. At any time after the date hereof the Government of Northern Ireland and the provisional Government of Southern Ireland hereinafter constituted may meet for the purpose of discussing the provisions subject to which the last foregoing article is to operate in the event of no such address as is therein mentioned being presented and those provisions may include:

(a) Safeguards with regard to patronage in Northern Ireland:
(b) Safeguards with regard to the collection of revenue in Northern Ireland:

(c) Safeguards with regard to import and export duties affecting the trade or industry of Northern Ireland:

(d) Safeguards for minorities in Northern Ireland:

(c) The settlement of the financial relations between Northern Ireland and the Irish Free State:

(f) The establishment and powers of a local militia in Northern Ireland and the relation of the Defence Forces of the Irish Free State and of Northern Ireland respectively:

and if at any such meeting provisions are agreed to, the same shall have effect as if they were included amongst the provisions subject to which the Powers of the Parliament and Government of the Irish Free State are to be exercisable in Northern Ireland under Article 14 hereof.

  1. Neither the Parliament of the Irish Free State nor the Parliament of Northern Ireland shall make any law so as either directly or indirectly to endow any religion or. prohibit or restrict the free exercise thereof or give any preference or impose any disability on account of religious belief or religious status or affect prejudicially the right of any child to attend a school receiving public money without attending religious instruction at the school or make any discrimination as respects state aid between schools under the management of different religious denominations or divert from any religious denomination. or any educational institution any of its property except for public utility purposes and on payment of compensation.
  2. By way of provisional arrangement for the administration of Southern Ireland during the interval which must elapse between the date hereof and the constitution of a Parliament and Government of the Irish Free State in accordance therewith, steps shall be taken forthwith for summoning a meeting of members of Parliament elected for constituencies in Southern Ireland since the passing of the Government of Ireland Act, 1920, and for constituting a provisional Government, and the British Government shall take the steps necessary to transfer to such provisional Government the powers and machinery requisite for the discharge of its duties, provided that every member of such provisional Government shall have signified in writing his or her acceptance of this instrument. But this arrangement shall not continue in force beyond the expiration of twelve months from the date hereof.
  3. This instrument shall be submitted forthwith by is Majesty’s Government for the approval of Parliament and by the Irish signatories to a meeting summoned for the purpose of the members elected to sit in the House of Commons of Southern Ireland, and if approved shall be ratified by the necessary legislation.

De Valera did not accept the result, and led opponents out of the Dáil in protest. This began the chain of events that led to the outbreak of the Civil War six months later.

sources

https://www.rte.ie/news/2021/1206/1264949-anglo-irish-treaty/

https://cain.ulster.ac.uk/issues/politics/docs/ait1921.htm

https://www.onthisday.com/photos/anglo-irish-treaty

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anglo-Irish_Treaty

https://www.museum.ie/en-IE/Collections-Research/Collection/Documentation-Discoveries/Artefact/The-Signing-of-the-Anglo-Irish-Treaty,-1921/7a49e7e5-7cf7-4218-b3b4-c974d4adafa6

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The unlikely Irish contributions during D-Day.

D-DAY

Ireland remained neutral throughout World War II, but that is not to say there was no contribution from the Irish during the war. Many young Irish men did join the British army and also  partook in Operation Overlord, more common;y known as D-Day.

However this blog is not about any of those troops but about 2 less likely participants in Operation Overlord.

blacksod

When Maureen Flavin took on a job as postmistress at the Blacksod light house in Co. Mayo in Ireland she had not anticipated the other job which was bestowed on her.The job was taking barometer and thermometer readings(basically weather forecasting) at the remote Blacksod weather station on Ireland’s west coast. But she did do her job and it made a global impact.

mAUREEN

On her 21st birthday, June 3 1944, she took the barometer readings and noticed a sudden drop, indicating bad weather was coming. Maureen gave the report to Ted Sweeney who was the lighthouse keeper and they sent it in and, Maureen , quickly received a call from a British woman asking them to check and confirm the report.

The report was send again and an hour later, she received a call from the same British woman, asking her to check and confirm again, which she did.

report

Unbeknownst to Maureen the Allied leaders who were  in London were relying on her weather reports to judge whether they should proceed with the D-Day launch as planned. The chief meteorologist, a Scottish man named James Scagg, was giving General Eisenhower regular weather updates.

He advised Eisenhower that based on Maureen’s report Operation Overlord, which was planned for June 5,1944, should be postponed. Scagg knew that the weather forcasted by  Maureen would hit the UK and France after it hit Ireland.Eisenhower took the advice and postponed the planned invasion by a day. So D-Day happened on June 6 because of young Irish woman. Maureen later married the lighthouse keeper Ted Sweeney. Their son Vincent is currently the lighthouse keeper at Blacksod light house.

2019-06-06

The other unlikely Irish D-Day hero was born and raised in the village of Carnlough on the Antrim Coast in Northern Ireland. He joined the RAF as a messenger, and although he wasn’t a pilot nor did he have a plane he still flew a dangerous mission.

You see Paddy was a messenger pigeon who served with the RAF during the Normandy operations in June 1944,

Paddy

He was the fastest pigeon to reach England with a coded message from the battle-front beaches of Normandy.

The brave bird brought back vital information about the Allies’ progress, flying 230 miles in four hours 50 minutes – the fastest time of any of the messenger pigeons involved in the mission with an average speed of 56 mph.

In the face of poor weather conditions and the threat of German falcons, deployed to intercept Paddy and his comrades, he delivered his message to his home loft at RAF Hurn.

He was the only Irish pigeon to have been awarded the Dicken Medal for bravery. Paddy was trained for his specialist role in Northern Ireland and England.

Prior to the D-Day Normandy landings on June 6, 1944, the bird was delivered to RAF Hurn in Hampshire. Two days later he was among 30 pigeons taken to France by a unit of the 1st US Army. Paddy was released at 8.15 a.m. on June 12, carrying coded information on the Allied advance.

dicken

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Sources

RTE

BBC

My secret Northern Ireland

Irish Central

Irish Mirror

Independent.ie

Derry Girl

lYRA

Technically you weren’t a Derry Girl , you were born and raised in Belfast. But you made Derry your home, you became one of its daughters.

Like the show Derry Girls, witty, sharp and funny, so were you.

But what happened today is not funny, It is rotten to the core. A talented young prime example of humanity was killed. Killed by thugs who claim to fight for a cause.

There are some who say that these people don’t represent them, but not all of them are truthful in that.

I did not know you nor did I ever meet you, but that doesn’t matter for it was clear to me that you were pure in your heart and steadfast in what you believed in.

I hope that those who loved you can find solace in the knowledge that you were a decent human being. a rarity in this ever changing world.

We never met but I wish we had.

May you rest in peace and may your soul live on in those who know and love  you.

RIP Lyra McKee,

Typhoid Mary

mary

How could a seemingly healthy woman spread a potentially deadly disease?

Typhoid or Typhoid fever fever is a bacterial infection that can spread throughout the body, affecting many organs. Without prompt treatment, it can cause serious complications and can be fatal.If typhoid fever isn’t treated, it’s estimated that up to 1 in 5 people with the condition will die. However at the start of the 20th century that number would have been greater.

The main symptoms of typhoid fever are:

  • a high temperature that can reach 39 to 40C
  • headache
  • general aches and pains
  • cough
  • constipation

Additionally it can cause diarrhea and a rash.Typhoid fever is caused by a type of bacteria called Salmonella typhi. It is basically spread by poor hygiene.

Mary Mallon was an asymptomatic carrier of the pathogen associated with typhoid fever. This means although she was infected she didn’t have any signs of the symptoms. Although she herself did not have the symptoms, she was a carrier and could infect others around her.

She  was born in 1869 in Cookstown, County Tyrone, in what is now Northern Ireland.Orphaned as a child, Mary lived with her grandmother. Her Grandmother taught Mary how to scrounge for food and cook with what they had, making potato cakes and nettles over a peat fire.

In 1883 or 1884, Mary immigrated  to the US  where she lived with her Aunt and Uncle.In 1900  , she found employment in Mamaroneck, New York, as a cook.

Mary ccok

Soon a number of residents of the houses where she worked developed fever and diarrhea.

In 1901, she moved 18 miles to Manhattan, where members of the family for whom she worked developed fevers and diarrhea, and the laundress died. Mallon then went to work for a lawyer and left after seven of the eight people in that household became ill.

In 1906 she moved to  Oyster Bay ,Long Island.Where again she got a job as a cook. Within two weeks, 10 of the 11 family members were diagnosed with typhoid and hospitalized. Mary moved jobs again, this time for a wealthy New York banker, Charles Henry Warren. The Warrens had rented a house in Oyster Bay for the summer of 1906, Mallon went along too ,where she infected  six of the 11 people in the family.

Eventually one of the families Mary had worked for hired George Soper, a typhoid researcher

soper

After his investigation Soper released his  results on June 15, 1907, in the Journal of the American Medical Association. He had the believe that Mary Mallon could be the source of the outbreak.He wrote:

“It was found that the family changed cooks in August 4. This was about three weeks before the typhoid epidemic broke out. The new cook, Mallon, remained in the family only a short time, and left about three weeks after the outbreak occurred. Mallon was described as an Irish woman about 40 years of age, tall, heavy, single. She seemed to be in perfect health.”

Soper looked into the employment agencies which staffed private kitchens and retrieved the name of Mary’s employers from 1900 to 1907. He found out that typhoid had struck seven of the last eight families where she worked. He also discovered, , that in all the stricken households she had lovingly iced and nursed the victims ,even receiving a tip of $50 from  one employer.

Soper tracked Mary Mallon to a house on Park Avenue,home of Walter Bowen, where a daughter and maid had already come down with typhoid. When Soper  approached  Mary about her possible role in spreading typhoid, she was furious.

Soper reported this to the authorities  and eventually, the New York City Department of Health arranged for Mallon to be taken into custody. Doctors found typhoid bacteria in her gallbladder, but she refused to have it removed as she didn’t believe she carried the disease. Mallon was held in isolation for three years at a clinic located on North Brother Island.

hospital

In 1910 it was agreed that Mallon could be released from the Hospital if she agreed to stop working as a cook, and take precautions to ensure that she didn’t infect more people with  typhoid. She returned to the mainland and got a job as a laundress. But Sbecause this was a low paid job  she changed her name to Mary Brown and resumed working as a cook.

For the following five years, everywhere she went, typhoid followed. In 1915 she set off a major outbreak in New York in which 25 people were infected and two died. She was arrested and on March 27,1915 the health authorities  returned her to quarantine on North Brother Island,where she remained for the rest of her life.

isolation

Despite her isolation she became a minor celebrity and was occasionally interviewed by the media.Visitors  were  strongly urged warned not to accept even a glass of water from her . On November 11,1938, died of pneumonia at the age of 69.

poster

 

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Sources

Irish Times

Irish America

 

The 535-536 AD climate change and the famine.

weather

In the years 535 and 536, several remarkable aberrations in world climate took place. They were the most severe and protracted short-term episodes of cooling in the Northern Hemisphere in the last 2 Millennia.

Including bizarrely low-temperatures, with snow fall during the summer months in some locations; widespread crop-failures and famine; greatly decreased levels of sunlight; and also causing geopolitical problems.

While it’s currently believed that the event was caused by an extensive atmospheric dust veil formed either, due to  a large volcanic eruption in the tropics, or the disintegration of a large amount of space-debris in the upper atmosphere, it is still unclear.Evidence does point towards the volcanic explanation though — owing to the presence of substantial sulfate deposits in glaciers around the world corresponding to the years in question.

There is some documented evidence from the time.

The Gaelic Irish Annals record the following:

“A failure of bread in the year 536 AD” – the Annals of Ulster
“A failure of bread from the years 536–539 AD” – the Annals of Inisfallen”

Further phenomena were reported by a number of independent contemporary sources:

Low temperatures, even snow during the summer (snow reportedly fell in August in China during the Northern and Southern dynasties, which caused the harvest there to be delayed) Crop failures
“A dense, dry fog” in the Middle East, China and Europe
Drought in Peru, which affected the Moche culture”

It caused famine in Ireland but also in other countries around the world.

Tree-ring analysis work done by the dendrochronologist Mike Baillie — of the Queen’s University of Belfast — has shown that there was “abnormally” low growth in Irish oaks in the 536 growing season. This was followed by a partial recovery and then another drop in growth in 542.

Tree-ring analysis of tree-stands in Sweden, Finland, California, and Chile, all confirm these findings.

tree

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The rape and the murder of 7 year old Patricia Wylie- A WWII crime story.

Tyrone

The Republic of Ireland remained neutral throughout WWII. However Northern Ireland,which was and still is, part of the UK did not stay neutral.

On  January 26 1942 the first US troops arrived in Belfast.

US TROOPS

It must have given the people of Northern Ireland mixed feelings, On one hand they must have had the realization that they were dragged into the war, on the other hand they must have felt a sense of relief and security, with the US troops there to protect them.

TROOPS USA

Unfortunately that sense of security would have disappeared soon, on the night of 7–8 April 1941 Belfast experienced the first part of the Belfast blitz. The attack was relatively small and it’s purpose was probably only to see how good Belfast’s defenses were.

About a week later the city was hit again this time killing about 900 and injuring approximately 1500.

Blitx.JPG

But then again it was war and something like this was to be expected. However what wasn’t expected was the evil within the US troops that were send to Northern Ireland.

Most of the soldiers were good men, and most of them were heroes for they had left the relatively safety and comfort of their own land, but had decided that they would give that up in the fight for freedom and against tyranny.

But the army is a reflection of the wider society meaning there were good but also ban men and some were just pure evil, as was Private William Harrison.

He  was stationed at Cluntoe Airfield in Ardboe, Co Tyrone, and, up until then, relations between the soldiers and local were pleasant and harmonious.

cluntoe

By 1943, over 3,500 American troops were stationed there and the local economy was booming because of it.

Serving with the 2nd Combat Crew Replacement Centre Group, United States Air Force, Private William Harrison had got to know the Wylie family from Killycolpy near Stewartstown, County Tyrone, and became friendly with them.

On 25th September 1944, on a visit to the Wylie’s  home, Harrison who had been drinking wanted   to repay money he had borrowed from Mr Wylie. but he was out fishing.Harrison then decided to accompany the 7 year old daughter, Patricia, to the local shop.

Unfortunately they never made it to  the shop. Harrison took the little girl to a nearby field where he sexually assaulted and strangled her.

Patricia’s semi-naked body, partially covered with hay, was later found in a field half a mile from her home.

At an inquest into the murder a US Major vowed that this vile crime would not go unpunished. During the court martial in Cookstown that November, Private Harrison admitted choking the youngster, but said he didn’t know why.

He was sentenced to death and was hanged on April 7,1945 in Shepton Mallet prison in Somerset.

jail

 

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Source

Belfast Telegraph

 

The time when the Americans arrived in Northern Ireland.

US-TROOPS-2

The republic of Ireland remained neutral during WWII although it did specify the era as the “Emergency”,

Northern Ireland however, as part of the UK, was not neutral. On January 26, 1942, the first American soldiers  to land in the European theatre of operations in World War Two disembarked their troop ships in Belfast docks.

US-TROOPS-5

 

Soldiers of the American Army’s 34th Infantry Division having a snack at L.M.S. Station after disembarking in Belfast. Jan 1942.

US-TROOPS-3

Marching through the streets of Belfast, a novelty for the local children, are some ot the first American troops to pass through Northern Ireland. Jan 1942.

c1126cd791f0204375ebdb24dc3f4320

Marching through the streets of Belfast are seen here some of the American troops who were the first of a stream of 300,000 to pass through Northern Ireland. Jan 1942.

US-TROOPS-7

What is funny to see is that all the troops were still wearing the M1917A1 aka Brody or Kelly helmet. These helmets had started to be replaced by the M1 helmet in late 1941 and continued being replaced in 1942.

on4252__05

 

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The Bombing of Broadgate, 1939- The IRA S-plan

IRACoventryBombing_large

In the wider perception of European history, the late 1930s is remembered as the time when Nazi Germany began to cast its shadow over Europe leading ultimately to the most destructive conflict in history – World War II. At the same time however, old grievances were bubbling to the surface once more in Ireland and the Irish Republican Army (IRA) were about to resume their campaign to unify Ireland and expel what they saw as a British military occupation of Northern Ireland.

84_small_1299515921.jpg

ON AUGUST 25, 1939, an IRA bomb killed five innocent people and wounded more than 60 others in Coventry. The dead included a 15-year-old boy and an 82- year-old man. Little over a week later, the bombing was overshadowed by the outbreak of the Second World War.

The first direct talks between the IRA and the Nazis began in 1937, when Tom Barry, the then chief-of-staff, travelled to Germany.

image

The legendary leader of the Cork flying columns was accompanied on his travels by a German agent, Jupp Hoven. While posing as a TCD student, Hoven undertook spying work in Belfast, Dublin and Cork. He was a close friend of Helmut Clissmann, who ran the German academic exchange service in Dublin. Both men were from Aachen and had nurtured links with the IRA in the 1930s.
Barry’s 1937 trip to the Continent was aimed at seeking German support for IRA attacks on British military installations in Northern Ireland. But at an IRA convention in April 1938, Barry’s plan was rejected in favour of more grandiose pro-German plans conceived by the new chief-of-staff, Seán Russell. The 1916 veteran had long cherished a Casement-style alliance with Germany.

seanrussell

In August 1938, Russell called on an old IRA comrade, James(Saemus) O’Donovan, who, since 1930, had been working as a manager at ESB headquarters in Dublin.

James_O'Donovan

The IRA leader’s visit was to enlist his friend’s help in designing a bombing campaign on English soil, to be launched the following year. Russell and O’Donovan were the only two surviving members of the IRA general headquarters staff who had opposed the Anglo-Irish treaty in January 1922. Despite being on the state payroll and having a young family, O’Donovan did not hesitate to accept Russell’s call to arms. I

O’Donovan’s elder son, Donal, had misgivings about his father’s decision to re-enlist with the IRA in 1938, at the age of 41. But James O’Donovan himself never expressed any regrets about his role in the English bombing campaign, which resulted in the deaths of seven members of the public, scores of serious injuries, and the execution of two IRA volunteers in February 1940.

The S-plan kicked off with polite formality, as might be expected from an ex-pupil of the Jesuits (O’Donovan was born in Roscommon in 1896 and educated at Glasgow’s prestigious St Aloysius College). In mid-January 1939, the British foreign secretary, Lord Halifax, received an IRA letter declaring war, which began ‘Your Excellency . . .’. It was typical of O’Donovan to issue a deadly threat cloaked in formal terms.
The ultimatum gave the British government four days to withdraw troops from Northern Ireland—an impossible deadline to meet. In fact, however, the S-plan had nothing to do with forcing a British withdrawal from the North, and everything to do with attracting the attention of the Germans. Russell saw Hitler as the only European leader capable of destroying Britain. His logic was that with England on her knees, nothing could prevent a German-backed reunification of Ireland.

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The British government refused to adhere to the demand and thus the IRA declared war on the United Kingdom on Sunday 15th January 1939. The next day, five bombs were detonated in London, Warwickshire and Newcastle-Upon-Tyne. The targets were electricity pylons and power sub-stations in an attempt to specifically harm industrial outputs in those areas. This set the tone for much of the IRA’s campaign and over the following week a significant number of targets were hit but with almost no fatalities since they were aimed at infrastructure, power and gas supplies. This was a key factor in supporting the propaganda war since large numbers of deaths might turn the all-important American support against them.

As a wave of IRA bombs exploded across English cities in  January 1939, it didn’t take the Abwehr long to act. In early February it dispatched one of its agents, Oscar Pfaus, to Dublin to meet the IRA leadership. O’Donovan recalled that on 3 February the German agent ‘met Seán Russell and myself in Pete’s [Kearney] house in Clontarf. He explained that his principals would be glad to meet a representative from us and discuss the possibility of assistance . . .’.
This was an offer the IRA leaders could not refuse.

Throughout 1939 the IRA carried out repeated attacks aimed at further undermining the British industrial complex and the British people’s confidence in their government to protect them. In July 1939, attacks were made on cinemas in London and Birmingham using tear gas bombs which although didn’t kill anyone struck fear in to the wider public that their enemy was on their own streets and walking among them. At the same time, perhaps frustrated by the lack of results thus far, the British government revealed that it had been informed that the attacks on the UK would intensify in the coming months. Not long after this, bombs were detonated at banks across London killing one person while a second was killed in a blast at King’s Cross train station a month later. The British responded with emergency powers that saw large numbers of the Irish community in Britain get deported to Southern Ireland who were themselves introducing legislation to combat the IRA. The British were also increasingly concerned about reported support for the IRA’s campaign coming from Berlin.

Then on August 25th 1939, less than a week before Hitler’s forces crossed in to Poland, a rather inconspicuous-looking bike was placed up against a wall in Broadgate, part of Coventry’s busy city centre.

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The bike had a basket on the front, common for the time, with a bundle inside it. A rather frustrated man had left it there and walked away having found it difficult to take the bike across the tramlines in the area. His name was Joby O’Sullivan who came from Cork and he was the only one who knew that the bundle in the basket was in fact a bomb. He would later state that he intended to take the already armed bomb to a nearby police station but the tramlines had slowed his progress down meaning the bomb was due to detonate soon and not wanting to be a martyr he left it where it was.

At two minutes after half past two on a busy Friday afternoon, the 5lbs of explosive was detonated by an alarm clock timer. The blast shattered glass which shot out like bullets that cut down people walking by at the time.

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A young shop assistant, 21-year old Elsie Answell, was killed instantly having been standing by a window near where the bomb detonated. She was due to be married in early September but ended up getting buried in the same church her service was to take place.She was only identifiable by her engagement ring.[2

In the W.H. Smiths store, 30-year old Rex Gentle who came to Coventry from North Wales for holiday work and 15-year old local boy John Arnott were also killed in the initial blast. 50-year old Gwilym Rowlands was killed while sweeping the roads for the council while the oldest victim, 82-year old James Clay, was struck down as he walked home from his regular café which he had left earlier than usual because he was feeling unwell. Another 70 people were injured many of them with severe lacerations caused by the flying glass.

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The British public were outraged and the attack served to further diminish confidence in British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain and his government who seemed impotent to stop both the IRA at home and Hitler in Eastern Europe.

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The Battle of Ballynahinch

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The Battle of Ballynahinch was fought outside Ballynahinch, County Down, on 12 June, during the Irish rebellion of 1798 between British forces led by Major-General George Nugent and the local United Irishmen led by Henry Munro.

Munro was a Lisburn linen merchant and Presbyterian United Irishman who had no military experience but had taken over command of the Down organisation following the arrest of the designated leader, Rev. William Steel Dickson on 5 June.

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Upon hearing of the victory at Saintfield on 9 June, Munro joined the rebel camp there and then moved to Ednavady Hill, Ballynahinch to join the thousands who had gathered in support of the rebellion. The response of the British garrisons was to converge on Ballynahinch from Belfast and Downpatrick in two columns accompanied by several pieces of cannon.

The battle began on the night of 12 June when two hills to the left and right of Ballynahinch were occupied by the British who pounded the town with their cannon. During a pause when night fell, some rebel officers were said to have pressed Munro for a night attack but he refused on the grounds that it was unchivalrous. As a consequence many disillusioned rebels slipped away during the night.

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As dawn broke the battle recommenced with the rebels attacked from two sides and although achieving some initial success, confusion in the rebel army saw the United Irishmen retreat in chaos, pursued by regrouping British forces who quickly took advantage by turning retreat into massacre. Initial reports claimed four hundred rebels were killed, while British losses were around forty.James Thomson (mathematician), the father of the famous scientist William Thomson, 1st Baron Kelvin was at the battle and published an eyewitness account.

Munro escaped the field of battle but was betrayed by a farmer who he had paid to conceal him and was hanged in front of his own house in Lisburn on 16 June. Ballynahinch was sacked by the victorious military after the battle with sixty-three houses being burned down. Cavalry scoured the surrounding countryside for rebels, raiding homes and killing indiscriminately, the 22nd Dragoons being guilty of some of the worst atrocities.The most famous victim was Betsy Gray,

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a young female rebel who, with her two brothers, was slaughtered in the post-battle massacre, ensuring her place in legend to this day.

Because of his family’s involvement in this event, Robert Stewart, the future Lord Castlereagh, was made chief secretary of Ireland.

Baseball and the WWII Battlefield

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In January 1942, Kenesaw Mountain Landis (1866-1944), the national commissioner of baseball, wrote a letter to President Roosevelt in which he asked if professional baseball should shut down for the duration of the war.

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In what came to be known as the “green light” letter, Roosevelt responded that professional baseball should continue operations, as it was good for the country’s collective morale and would serve as a needed diversion.

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During the war, 95 percent of all professional baseball players who donned major league uniforms during the 1941 season were directly involved in the conflict. Future Hall of Famers Bob Feller (1918-), Hank Greenberg (1911-86), Joe DiMaggio (1914-99)

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and Ted Williams (1918-2002) exchanged their baseball jerseys for military fatigues. Feller, in fact, enlisted in the U.S. Navy one day after Pearl Harbor. Because baseball was depleted of so many able bodies, athletes who otherwise likely never would have made the big leagues won spots on rosters. One of the more notable was Pete Gray (1915-2002), a one-armed outfielder who appeared in 77 games for the St. Louis Browns in 1945.

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By June 1942 more than 41,205 American military personnel were stationed in Northern Ireland, and with the Americans came American culture, from bubble gum and candy to big bands and, of course, baseball. The build-up was an impressive display of American efficiency, but one obstacle, unforeseen by military high command, was causing a dilemma.

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In a country where similarities with home seemed to end with the language, troops became desperately homesick. Daily training left them restless, agitated and suffering low morale. Something was needed to prevent the worsening of an already difficult situation.
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It was evident that a competitive sports program could help improve matters, and team games of basketball and soccer, combined with track and boxing, went a long way to make amends. But America ‘s national pastime – baseball – had by far the greatest impact on morale.

The first recorded baseball game took place near Belfast on Saturday, April 25, 1942. Despite overcast, blustery conditions, the 2nd and 3rd Battalions of the 133rd Infantry Regiment, 34th Infantry Division, attracted an inquisitive crowd of more than 1,000 locals who were treated to a play-by-play account over a public address system, a concert by the regiment band, and an impromptu jitterbug demonstration on the sidelines.

 
Major General Russell P Hartle, acting commander of the US Army Northern Ireland Force (USANIF), was invited to throw out the first pitch, and with all the fanfare of a major league opening day, baseball had arrived in Northern Ireland .

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Pitching for the winning 3rd Battalion in the 14-4 game was Corporal Robert Lange of Wilton Junction, Iowa.

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a 21-year-old right-hander who was a member of the Cleveland Indians’ farm system and had an 8-4 won-loss record with the Flint Arrows of the Michigan State League in 1940. In the sixth inning, Corporal Leo J Robinson, a 24-year-old outfielder from Harper’s Ferry, Iowa , hit a solo home run for the winning team. It was the first home run hit in Europe by an American serviceman in World War II. “[Robinson] was well known as a semi-professional player prior to World War II,” explains his son, Stephen L Robinson. “He was an outstanding hitter and pitcher in high school and was offered a professional contract from the Crookston, Minnesota , baseball team of the Northern League in 1936, but he turned it down because the family was suffering greatly as a result of the Depression and he could make more money working in the Civilian Conservation Corps.”

Neither team had uniforms, equipment was scarce, and a soccer field, without a backstop or pitcher’s mound, served as a diamond for the afternoon.

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But baseball had arrived, and the troops welcomed it with open arms. With the Army Air Force based at the Combat Crew Replacement Unit at Greencastle in County Down and the Langford Lodge Base Air Depot in Antrim, the Navy at the United States Naval Operations Base (USNOB) in Londonderry, and the Army scattered throughout the island, battalion-level baseball soon flourished on the Emerald Isle.

In July 1942, 34th Infantry and 1st Armored division all-stars teams were selected to participate in Northern Ireland ‘s first officially recognized baseball game of World War II. The last “official” game had taken place 25 years earlier, on October 31, 1917 , when Canadian and American troops put on an exhibition game for the local people. Staged at Windsor Park , a soccer stadium in Belfast , and a part of the Anglo-American Independence Day celebrations, the local government and American military pulled out all the stops to put on a July 4 spectacle.

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Representing the 34th Infantry Division were the Midwest Giants while the 1st Armored Division were represented by the Kentucky Wildcats. It would appear that the Kentucky Wildcats nickname was chosen because the original player line-up featured troops who were predominantly from that state. Indeed, a pre-game press cutting listed the southern-state players. However, for reasons unknown, but probably because the originally selected players were with a military unit that was otherwise indisposed, the Kentucky Wildcats were represented by players mainly from New York and the east coast.

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