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Tue May 7, 2013, 04:03 PM

Irish Pardon Deserters Who Joined Britain in WWII

Source: AP

The Irish government said Tuesday it is pardoning nearly 5,000 men who deserted its armed forces to fight for Britain during World War II, an episode of history that brought shame and embarrassment to neutral Ireland.

Justice Minister Alan Shatter said a bill pardoning the men mostly posthumously and apologizing to their families would be introduced and passed into law Tuesday. The move comes a year after he issued an official state apology to the men, who because of a government blacklist suffered job discrimination and loss of pension rights at war's end, condemning their families to poverty.

Shatter said the Second World War Amnesty and Immunity Bill was long overdue because barely 100 of the war veterans are still alive. The bill describes their 1945 punishments as "unduly harsh" and ensures that no surviving deserter could face a court-martial if returning to Ireland from exile abroad.

Shatter said it should remove "any tarnish from their name or reputation" and highlight the reality that, by joining the British army, navy or air force, those Irishmen did most to protect Ireland's independence, despite the official hostility back home.

Read more: http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/irish-pardon-deserters-joined-britain-wwii-19125922#.UYldsj7h5co

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Arrow 21 replies Author Time Post
Reply Irish Pardon Deserters Who Joined Britain in WWII (Original post)
steve2470 May 2013 OP
secondvariety May 2013 #1
Posteritatis May 2013 #4
Lionel Mandrake May 2013 #15
winter is coming May 2013 #2
byeya May 2013 #3
geek tragedy May 2013 #5
Nye Bevan May 2013 #9
Gore1FL May 2013 #6
DissidentVoice May 2013 #7
Gore1FL May 2013 #13
DissidentVoice May 2013 #17
dlwickham May 2013 #18
Nye Bevan May 2013 #8
Wednesdays May 2013 #10
Nye Bevan May 2013 #11
Posteritatis May 2013 #14
dflprincess May 2013 #16
Xithras May 2013 #12
goldent May 2013 #19
Nye Bevan May 2013 #21
Hayabusa May 2013 #20

Response to steve2470 (Original post)

Tue May 7, 2013, 04:45 PM

1. That's big of them.

5000 men put their asses on the line and their government blacklists them and ruins their lives. They're due a lot more than an apology.

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Response to secondvariety (Reply #1)

Tue May 7, 2013, 05:24 PM

4. Isn't it great how they waited until forty-nine out of every fifty were dead, too? (nt)

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Response to secondvariety (Reply #1)

Tue May 7, 2013, 09:11 PM

15. It's kind of like the Vatican apologizing to Galileo.

"In 2000, Pope John Paul II issued a formal apology for ... mistakes ... including the trial of Galileo .."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galileo_affair

A little late, wouldn't you say?

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Response to steve2470 (Original post)

Tue May 7, 2013, 04:54 PM

2. This couldn't have been done decades ago? n/t

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Response to steve2470 (Original post)

Tue May 7, 2013, 05:05 PM

3. pfui - They deserted to a country that was an invading force and killed 40% of the population

 

and still occupies part of Ireland today.

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Response to byeya (Reply #3)

Tue May 7, 2013, 05:27 PM

5. I'm sure Hitler would have been gentle and benevolent after conquering Ireland. nt

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Response to geek tragedy (Reply #5)

Tue May 7, 2013, 07:11 PM

9. I'm guessing it would have been a very similar situation to Vichy France.

And I have no idea how many Jewish people lived in Ireland, but I certainly wouldn't have wanted to be one of them.

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Response to byeya (Reply #3)

Tue May 7, 2013, 05:53 PM

6. England conquered Ireland under the Normans in the 1100s.

This was before the creation of the union of Britain.

The Irish War of Independence happened from 19191921 which ended in a truce. The Anglo-Irish Treaty was accepted by the envoys of the Irish Republic.



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Response to Gore1FL (Reply #6)

Tue May 7, 2013, 07:07 PM

7. Unfortunately...

My ancestors had a part in that conquest.

I am descended from the Anglo-Normans who conquered Ireland in the 12th Century. Theobald FitzWalter Butler founded the Butler Dynasty of Kilkenny...I am directly descended from Baron Butler (mother's side), from which came the British Lords-Lieutenant of Ireland.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theobald_Walter,_1st_Baron_Butler

Many times I've thought of going to Ireland to see my old ancestral roots...but I don't know how I'd be received. I know that members of the Irish Diaspora throughout the world are often very warmly received in Ireland, but technically I'm a Norman, not an Irishman.

I do agree that the timing on pardoning these Irish who served is pretty questionable, especially given that many of Eire gave their lives in British service, notably RAF Wing Commander Brendan "Paddy" Finucane.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paddy_Finucane

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Response to DissidentVoice (Reply #7)

Tue May 7, 2013, 08:05 PM

13. Thanks for the links!

The Paddy_Finucane one was especially amazing. I wrote an AP History term paper on the RAF 30 years ago. I aimed more at the formation, the organization, and eventual actions. Over the years, as I learned more, I discovered the most interesting aspect of the RAF were the people (pilots mostly, but not just).

It seems to me the stories of the Irish, the Polish, and others who took to the air in the RAF are the most interesting.

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Response to Gore1FL (Reply #13)

Wed May 8, 2013, 09:51 AM

17. Also those from the Commonwealth

The Canadians, Australians, New Zealanders and South Africans also supplied large numbers, both for the RAF and RCAF/RAAF/RNZAF/SAAF personnel, and there were American volunteers who served in the "Eagle Squadrons." However, the Commonwealth personnel were not regarded as "foreign," like the Poles, Czechs, Free French and Irish.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eagle_Squadrons

One of the RAF's top leaders, Sir Keith Park, was a New Zealander.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keith_Park

One of the RAF's top aces, Group Captain Adolph "Sailor" Malan, was a South African.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sailor_Malan

Since the uniforms of the Commonwealth nations were (and still basically are) identical to the RAF, there was a bewildering variety of shoulder flashes identifying one's nation.

I'm not sure how many Irishmen wore one, but it would have likely read "EIRE" instead of "IRELAND."

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Response to DissidentVoice (Reply #7)

Wed May 8, 2013, 10:25 PM

18. me too

some of my mom's ancestors left Scotland for Ireland

think they originally came over from Normandy as well

I think the name was originally French and then anglicized

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Response to steve2470 (Original post)

Tue May 7, 2013, 07:10 PM

8. To be fair, Roosevelt-Churchill versus Hitler-Mussolini was a tough call.

You can't really blame Ireland for remaining neutral.

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Response to Nye Bevan (Reply #8)

Tue May 7, 2013, 07:19 PM

10. Seems to me they'd have nothing to gain and everything to lose to join either side

The sticky question is, what would have happened if Britain lost, and Hitler sent forces to occupy Belfast?

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Response to Wednesdays (Reply #10)

Tue May 7, 2013, 07:22 PM

11. If Britain had lost, I'm not sure that Ireland would have gained a whole lot from staying neutral.

I don't think Hitler would have doled out much in the way of special favors and privileges to Ireland.

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Response to Nye Bevan (Reply #8)

Tue May 7, 2013, 08:29 PM

14. Ugh. (nt)

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Response to Nye Bevan (Reply #8)

Tue May 7, 2013, 10:02 PM

16. And you have to take into account that many of those running Ireland in the late 1930s and early 40s

were the same people who had spent their youth fighting England.

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Response to steve2470 (Original post)

Tue May 7, 2013, 07:28 PM

12. Ireland was a neutral country.

And you have to understand the attitudes at the time. My grandfather, a first generation American of Irish descent (both of his parents were Irish born) didn't have any negative attitudes about the English until he was forced to live there for months before D-Day. He spoke with a clear Irish accent, and was pretty shocked when he was subjected to serious British racism. He'd go to pubs with other American soldiers and be kicked out because they considered him an Irishman. He'd be made the butt of racist jokes. Some English people would refuse to discuss the war with him in the room because they didn't trust the Irish. Other than the lynchings, he said that the Irish were treated nearly as badly in Britain in the 1940's as blacks were in the American south.

There was a real hatred between the Irish and English people back then, and even the threat of Hitler wasn't enough to get the Irish involved to help the English (the fact that the Nazi's weren't really a threat to Ireland didn't help that argument). In that context, it's understandable why the Irish reacted so poorly when so many of them ran off to help the English.

FWIW, my grandfathers experiences in Britain in WW2 was also the foundation of his support for the IRA, which lasted right up until his death in the 1990's. He came home hating the English nearly as much as he hated the Nazi's (or, as he once said, "It's a damned shame that America went to war to save the Jews and gypsies, but left the Irish to whither and die"). Hatred breeds hatred, and his experiences were an example of that.

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Response to steve2470 (Original post)

Wed May 8, 2013, 10:51 PM

19. The bitterness between Ireland and England reminds a little of what goes on in DU

Every time I think of this, it makes me laugh - the ultimate in passive-aggressiveness:

Controversially, (Irish Prime Minister) de Valera formally offered his condolences to the German Minister in Dublin on the death of Adolf Hitler in 1945, in accordance with diplomatic protocol


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Response to goldent (Reply #19)

Wed May 8, 2013, 11:27 PM

21. Pretty sad. An extreme version of "my enemy's enemy is my friend", I guess. (nt)

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Response to steve2470 (Original post)

Wed May 8, 2013, 11:02 PM

20. I wonder how many were in the Guards.

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