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Sinabhfuil

Firing squads in the 1916 Rising

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Sinabhfuil

I'm looking for the members of the firing squads that executed the 1916 leaders; apparently the first three executions were by the same shaken group of soldiers.

I have two contradictory versions of the story - that the Royal Irish Regiment soldiers who were present in Kilmainham Gaol may have made up the firing squad; or that the British authorities were determined that the firing squad be made up of Dublin Fusiliers.

My hope is that some of them may have written accounts of their experiences. Any help very gratefully accepted.

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Ken Devitt

As far as I am aware the firing squads were made up of soldiers from the Sherwood Foresters. I doubt very much if soldiers from Irish regiments would have been used. There was a thread about this subject a few years ago with a pic. of one of the officers involved.

Regards,

Ken

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Sinabhfuil

As far as I am aware the firing squads were made up of soldiers from the Sherwood Foresters. I doubt very much if soldiers from Irish regiments would have been used. There was a thread about this subject a few years ago with a pic. of one of the officers involved.

Ken, if you could find me that thread it would be wonderful. Thank you for your speedy reply.

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Ken Devitt

 

I think this may be the link.

Regards,

Ken

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BrendanLee

The only official document I have seen which mentions the soldiers involved in the executions is the inquests into the executions which were published in 2001. On of the documents in the inquest reports states that soldiers for the firing squads were provided by the 59th 2nd North Midland Division under the command of Major General Sandbach.

The Sherwood Foresters were the 178th Infantry Brigade 2nd Nottingham and Derby under the command of Col. E.W.S.K. Maconchy.

The R. I. Reg. and Dublin Fusiliers involvement was a rumour spread by the Sinn Fein propaganda department during the War of Independence to discredit Irish Regiments in the British Army.

A list of British forces involved in the 1016 Rising.

http://irishmedals.org/gpage5.html

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Sinabhfuil

The only official document I have seen which mentions the soldiers involved in the executions is the inquests into the executions which were published in 2001. On of the documents in the inquest reports states that soldiers for the firing squads were provided by the 59th 2nd North Midland Division under the command of Major General Sandbach.

The Sherwood Foresters were the 178th Infantry Brigade 2nd Nottingham and Derby under the command of Col. E.W.S.K. Maconchy.

The R. I. Reg. and Dublin Fusiliers involvement was a rumour spread by the Sinn Fein propaganda department during the War of Independence to discredit Irish Regiments in the British Army.

Very useful - thank you very much! Where would I find that report of the inquests into the executions, please? And do we know any more about Major General Sandbach? (It seems unlikely that he was actually in personal command of the firing squads? Are the members of the firing squads named in the report?)

The Royal Irish Regiment reference comes from the witnesses to the marriage of Grace Gifford and Joe Plunkett, who were from the 3rd Brigade of that regiment.

By the way, what is the 59th 2nd North Midland Division?

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mikebriggs

Hello

here's the information you want, from History of the 2/6th Battalion Notts and Derby, 59th North Midland Division

post-4619-094892200 1287821133.jpg

cheers

Mike

and

post-4619-038222100 1287821227.jpg

post-4619-013514000 1287821308.jpg

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BrendanLee

Very useful - thank you very much! Where would I find that report of the inquests into the executions, please? And do we know any more about Major General Sandbach? (It seems unlikely that he was actually in personal command of the firing squads? Are the members of the firing squads named in the report?)

The Royal Irish Regiment reference comes from the witnesses to the marriage of Grace Gifford and Joe Plunkett, who were from the 3rd Brigade of that regiment.

By the way, what is the 59th 2nd North Midland Division?

The inquest reports are in the National Achieve in Kew, I don't know if they available online, I went to Kew and read them there in 2002 and am working from notes I made when there. The only soldier named was Major H Heatcote, he was named in relation to the executions of Clarke, MacDonagh and Pearse, although blindfolds had been provided no cloth targets for pinning to the person being executed were provided, the report in which Heatcote was mentioned was confusing as it was not clear if he was in charge of the firing squad or just making out the report regarding the targets, the second page of the report stated that no action would be taken so there was no further information.

Sandbach was commander of the British Troops in Dublin so I doubt very much if he attended ant of the executions. The 59th 2nd North Midland Division are listed on the web-page link in my last post, what components I could find of this Division are listed below it.

It might be interesting to post a question to see if firing squads were ever named, I done some research a while ago into the Shot at Dawn Irish soldiers and although soldiers from the executed soldiers regiment sometimes formed the firing squad I don't think I ever saw an executioner being named. I sure there must be some regulations governing the selection of a firing squad.

You can now read the Irish Times Sinn Fein Rebellion Handbook online, no mention of soldiers that carried out the executions but interesting reading.

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BIFFO

IM not getting into the rights and wrongs BUT

Go stand in the chapel at kilmainham where a member of the the uprising managed to get permission to marry his girlfriend, but both were forbidden to touch or talk other than say their marriage vows, then left silent by separate doors never to see each other again.

A member of the uprising badly wounded taken to hospital patched up, then Go stand in the yard where

Builders made a gateway specialy so that an ambulance could drive into the yard,take the badly wounded man out of the back tie him to a chair carry him to the execution post where he was shot,

Man that’s past hatred that barbaric

I’ll get me coat

:angry2:

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Sinabhfuil

These are fantastic answers, thank you so much. Keep 'em coming!

I did come across an online quote years ago from a soldier who was involved in the execution of Eamonn Ceannt - he describes him as "dropping like a bag" or "like a sack" or some such, and was very enthusiastic at the chance of having a go at those who'd done such damage to "our chaps" - but this was before I started writing a book about my grandfather, Thomas MacDonagh, and so I just shuddered and passed on.

Any accounts of the executions that anyone can find would be very helpful. I have little bits here and there, but nothing from any of the soldiers.

By the way, is there any further information on Major Heatcote (Heathcote, maybe?)

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mikebriggs

Could be Major Charles Harold Heathcote who was in Command of A Company 2/6th Battn Sherwood Foresters in 1914/15, but by 1916 I think that he was 2nd in Command.

"Major Heathcote was sent to Richmond Barracks to take charge of the prisoners and their effects. He took with him "B" Company" and Captain Orr, Lieutenant Maine (acting as Adjutant). They were uner the command of Provost Marshall Colonel Fraser."

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mikebriggs

by the way, this is Charles Harold Heathcote taken in 1909 when he was a Lieutenant in the 6th Battalion

post-4619-081195100 1287839079.jpg

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Sinabhfuil

by the way, this is Charles Harold Heathcote taken in 1909 when he was a Lieutenant in the 6th Battalion

post-4619-081195100 1287839079.jpg

I say! What a moustache!

You're a wonder, Mike Briggs. By the way - two technical questions (please answer simply; not too bright):

1) How do you attach documents so you can see them, as you, Mike Briggs, have done here with the Major's pic?

2) What (in simple and exact terms) does 2/6th mean?

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mikebriggs

here we go quick answers :thumbsup:

1) When making a post scroll down the page and you will see "browse" and "attach file" icons; once image is uploaded you will need to "add to post" icon seen on right once image is uploaded.

2) The 2/6th were a second line Territorial battalion raised in Chesterfield in November 1914 (ie 1/6th, 2/6th and 3/6th). They fought in the Easter rising in 1916 before moving to France in 1917.

see here http://www.1914-1918.net/notts.htm

cheers

Mike

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Sinabhfuil

Ah, it's the 'add to post' biz that foxed me. Thank you.

What exactly are Territorials?And what does "second line" mean? And is a battalion a lot of people?

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mikebriggs

The Territorials were pre War part time soldiers. They met up at evenings, odd weekends and had an annual 2 week Camp. The Territorial force was formed in 1908 out of the old Volunteer force. Each battalion would have about a 1000 men.

There are a couple of good books written about the Easter Rising by Paul O'Brien. In particular they cover the actions of the Notts and Derby (Sherwood Foresters) Battalions during the fighting.

Its unlikely that you'll find the names of the soldiers that were in the firing squads, many of them were in fact new recruits.

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Sinabhfuil

I have a couple of versions of my grandfather's execution - from my mother, via various sources; from HV Stanley, medical officer on the spot; from a Carmelite, and so on - but would like to see if I can find a rounded story, and for this, it would be handy to come across the actual soldiers in the hope that they might have written letters home, say, or written accounts later, or even told people in their old age.

(Not that this last is likely; while people seem to have gossiped way without let or hindrance at the time, once the war was over they shut up like traps. And this appears to be a universal psychology, which speaks well, really, of those men.)

By the way, a trawl on amazon.co.uk came up with a book on Mount Street by Paul O'Brien but nothing else. Is it in that book that I'd find material on the soldiers?

A further question: this site

http://www.wfrmuseum.org.uk/sf_museum.htm

refers to two museums of the Sherwood Foresters:

The Sherwood Foresters Collection (Notts & Derby Regiment, 45th and 95th of Foot) is located in two separate Galleries, one in Nottingham and one in Derby.

Derby City Museum and Art Gallery, The Strand, Derby has provided room to display artefacts of predecessor regiments, The Sherwood Foresters (Notts and Derbys), the 95th (Derbyshire) Regiment, Derbyshire Militia and Rifle Corps.

There seems to be no mention of the 59th 2/6th (do I have that right?) Is there a museum that might have diaries of the soldiers that were in Dublin in Easter 1916?

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mikebriggs

The book will tell you about the fighting at mount street bridge, but not the executions. It doesn't give any details about individual soldiers (although officers get a mention). Its not really what you want.

I have never come accross any written acccounts or published soldiers letters in the Derbyshire/Nottinghamshire newspapers (this was the area the British Soldiers came from). You could try the regimental archivist. The 45th and 95th becamse the Sherwood Foresters Regiment and 2/6th was just one Battalion of that regiment.

You also need to make contact with 'wig' who is a member of this forum, he knows a lot about the easter rising and subsequent executions, in the meantime here is a copy of the execution 'protocol'; shocking really

post-4619-086466100 1287846597.jpg

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Sinabhfuil

Thanks, Mike, for posting this - yes, the document is chilling; on the other hand, would it not have been equally chilling if there had been no preparation?

The grief of the Rising is something people tend to know about "our side", whichever side that is, and not about the "other side". (Sorry if this is obvious.)

For instance, the action at Mount Street Bridge, where 13 Volunteers held off two battalions of Sherwood Foresters, is heroic from the Irish side - with a battle lasting from noon to 8pm with 238 British dead or wounded at a loss of 4 volunteers.

From the British side, you only have to hear of the unutterably tragic death of Captain Frederick Christian Dietrichsen (http://irishmedals.org/gpage34.html).

I've sent a PM to Wig on this forum already, and have emailed the two addresses given on his excellent website, so I hope that he may be able to give me some information.

The help from everyone here is wonderful. When I have a few names, I'll put up separate threads on the apposite forums here (first seeking advice from those who know the forum well), and maybe also send a letter to the local papers in Nottinghamshire, in case relatives of the soldiers might have records of the firing squads.

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Sinabhfuil

By the way, the execution order kindly posted here by Mike Briggs for Con Colbert, Joe Plunkett, Eamonn Ceannt and Ned Daly lists the 2/7th Sherwood Foresters, 59th Division; I thought we were talking about the 2/6th?

Was it the 2/6th for some and the 2/7th for others?

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Sinabhfuil

And one further question: would there be records equivalent to an arrest warrant, that would give physical descriptions, height, weight, and so on; and would there be reports of the interrogations in Richmond Barracks?

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archangel9

"In the event of any of the Sinn Fein prisoners being condemned to death to-day,......"

"A party there will put the bodies close along side one another in the grave (now being dug),....."

So not much doubt about the outcome when they were already digging the grave before sentences were passed.

John

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Ken Devitt

That also struck me when I first read it a few years ago, but then I think all parties involved knew what the outcome would be.

I know there was a photograph of one of the officers involved in the executions posted on another thread but can't find it.

He had been badly wounded in France and as far as I can recall was with the Sherwood Foresters.

Still working on it.

Ken

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archangel9

That also struck me when I first read it a few years ago, but then I think all parties involved knew what the outcome would be.

Yes, I suppose there was little doubt the leaders would be executed.

John

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johnny_doyle

By the way, a trawl on amazon.co.uk came up with a book on Mount Street by Paul O'Brien but nothing else. Is it in that book that I'd find material on the soldiers?

Uncommon Valour by Paul O'Brien deals with the Sherwoods assault on the South Dublin Union and the Voluneers defence of it. One chapter deals with the execution of Ceannt. Mentions the Sherwoods as being his firing party and that Capt H M Whitehead, 7th Sherwood Foresters acting as Assistant Provost Marshal signed the confirmation of Ceannt's death. Ceannt called Thomas McDonagh as a witness at his court martial but McDonagh had already been executed. The presiding judges for the 2 day court martial were Brigadier General Blackader, Lt Col G German and Lt Col W J Kent. Prosecutor was Lt William Wylie KC who has fought during the Rising as part of the Trinity OTC.

The 1916 Rebellion Handbook lists Wylie twice with different initials :

Lt WC Wylie, KC, of the Officers' Training Corps, Territorial Force presented the prosecution of John McNeill.

Wyle, Sec Lt (temp Lt) WE, Unattd List, Dublin University OTC Mentioned in Despatches

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