Irish Deserters pardoned after about 70 years.

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On the 7th May 2013 the Irish government passed a bill to given pardons and amnesty to about 5,000 Irish troops who were classed as deserters in 1945.


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This bill become law within days of being passed.

And it has been a long time coming.

During World War 2, about 60,000 Irish volunteered to join the British Army in the international fight against Germany. However, about 5,000 of these were from the Irish armed forces, and as the Irish government, under the leadership of Prime Minister Eamon de Valera [the only western leader to offer condolences to Germany following Hitler’s death in April 1945], chose not to join the fight, and remain neutral, these men (fighting for world freedom) were officially classified as deserters.

It has been written that once the threat of an invasion of Ireland had disappeared, about 10% of the Irish Army headed to Northern Ireland, and enlisted in the British Army.

The punishment for these 5,000, for putting their lives at risk to protect freedom and democracy, was to be treated with total disrespect when they returned home. Many of them were court-martialed, and considered as traitors for fighting the Germans.
The government made it very difficult for these men to get jobs and cancelled any government retirement benefits, causing many of them and their families great hardship.


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In August 1945, The Irish government passed an emergency measure that targeted those men who left the Irish military and joined the Allied forces to fight Germany. This measure, The Emergency Powers (No 362) Order 1945 (S.R. & O. 1945 No 198) or Section 13 of the Defence Forces (Temporary Provisions) Act, 1946 (No 7/1946), that targeted these men, commonly known as the ‘Starvation Act’ due to the effect on their families for many years, barred them from all taxpayer-funded jobs.

Their names were all listed in a book so that they could be isolated for years. This book virtually disappeared only after most of the men had reached retirement age, and was no longer needed.

One report states that the book was a confidential 1945 document entitled, ‘List of personnel of the Defence Forces dismissed for desertion in time of National Emergency’, and was circulated to all government departments and local governments, etc. Confidential??

Even those that died during the battles were posthumously court-martialled, like Private Joseph Mullally, an Irishman from Moate, County Westmeath, who joined a Yorkshire regiment. He was died in action on D-Day, 6 June 1944, but in August 1945, he was posthumously court-martialled for his actions. Source: Spitting on a Soldier’s Grave

Those that deserted and fought on the German side however, appear not to have been treated the same way.

List of Personnel of the Irish Defence Forces Dismissed for Desertion During the Second World WarList of Personnel of the Irish Defence Forces Dismissed for Desertion During the Second World War
www.bookdepository.com

Once the war was over these men were officially dismissed the service and their names published in this confidential document. The formal title of the document is “List of personnel of the Defence Forces dismissed for desertion in time of National Emergency pursuant to the terms of Emergency Powers (No 362) Order 1945 (S.R. & O. 1945 No 198) or Section 13 of the Defence Forces (Temporary Provisions) Act, 1946 (No 7/1946).” In it are listed, in alphabetical order, some 5,000 or more names with Army No, last recorded address, date of birth, declared occupation prior to enlistment in Defence Forces, and date of dismissal from Defence Forces. In the latter case the date is almost invariably 8 August 1945. This document was circulated to all civil service departments and state run services, e.g post office, health service, state owned bus , rail, air and shipping companies etc. This was obviously intended to bar them from any form of government employment. It is a fascinating document and one which I have never been aware of before. It would be interesting, with the Naval and Military Press CD of Soldiers Died in WWII, to see how many of them were killed or died in the war. The number of desertions is surprisingly large for a small army, but it must be an indication of the strength of feeling at the time.

  • Publisher: Naval & Military Press Ltd
  • Published: 02 June 2011
  • Format: Paperback 136 pages
  • ISBN 13: 9781845748883
  • ISBN 10: 1845748883

————————————————————
Spitting on a Soldier's Grave: Court Martialed After Death, the Story of the Forgotten Irish and British Soldiers

Spitting on a Soldier’s Grave

www.bookdepository.com

Court Martialed After Death, the Story of the Forgotten Irish and British Soldiers

The story of the Irishmen who deserted from the Irish Army to join the Allies in the struggle against fascism and Nazism during the Second World War, has been kept secret for over half a century.

  • Publisher: Matador
  • Published: 29 November 2010
  • Format: Paperback 168 pages
  • ISBN 13: 9781848764996
  • ISBN 10: 1848764995

www.amazon.co.uk Spitting on a Soldier’s Grave:
Court Martialed After Death, the Story of the Forgotten Irish and British Soldiers


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