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Sinabhfuil

Firing squads in the 1916 Rising

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mikebriggs

Harry Davidson Orr went to France with 2/6th Battalion in Feb 1917 and survived the War.

Interstingly, I've just found out he was from Chesterfield and lived on the same road my father did 30 years later.

J P Maine I'm struggling to find anything about.

As far as I am aware both the 2/6th and 2/7th provided firing squads. In the 'famous' picture of De Valera being held prisoner he is flanked by men of the Foresters.

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Sinabhfuil

I've read the book WE Wylie and the Irish Revolution by León Ó Broin; it's interesting, but not always accurate; for instance, Wylie, who says he tried to do everything he could to represent the prisoners fairly, describes Thomas MacDonagh as saying nothing whatsoever - the court martial transcript show that he corrected an error of fact by a witness.

And Wylie describes Madame Markiewicz as breaking down totally and pleading "You can't shoot a woman"; the transcript of her court martial shows no such thing.

You're a wonder, Mike Briggs - how did you find out Orr and Maine's first names?

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Sinabhfuil

I'd like to post two pics - one the Dev-as-prisoner one, the other the pic of CH Heathcote - I have a terrible ability to recognise faces, but think the officer on the left of the Dev pic may be Heathcote.

But on my first try, the Dev picture was immense. Is there any way to scale it down?

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Sinabhfuil

post-59821-039329200 1288033126.jpgTrying again: Dev as prisoner (note officer on the left) and Heathcote.

post-59821-078680300 1288033100.jpg

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Sinabhfuil

Oh drat this technology! Trying again with the Dev pic.

post-59821-050418000 1288033293.jpg

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mikebriggs

sorry...........but the guy on the left is not an Officer (and therefore not Heathcote)

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Sinabhfuil

Ah is he not? I wouldn't have known. (Incidentally, I wonder when the practice of dressing officers and men the same when in battle rig, so snipers wouldn't pick off the officers, came into being.)

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BRONNO

Harry Davidson Orr went to France with 2/6th Battalion in Feb 1917 and survived the War.

Interstingly, I've just found out he was from Chesterfield and lived on the same road my father did 30 years later.

J P Maine I'm struggling to find anything about.

Just to add a little more information.

J.P.Maine was a 2nd Lieutenant with the 2/6th Battalion, Sherwood Foresters 25th March 1915, served in Dublin in 1916 and was later Adjutant in March 1917.

He made Lieutenant in July 1917.

There was also a Lieutenant J.P. Main who served with the Int/Corps!!

Harry D Orr was a 2nd Lieutenant with the 2/6th Battalion, Sherwood Foresters 19th August 1914.

Lieutenant June 1916 and made Captain in December 1917, he was wounded in the head whilst serving in France.

BRONNO

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pob9937

hello all,

in my research of the execution squads in Kilmainham Jail, i have not turned up a single ordinary ranks name that made up the execution squads of any of the 1916 leaders.

Wig on the other hand gave me the information used in my book Blood On The Streets that gives a detailed officers account of the executions in the yard. Uncommmon Valour deals witht he execution of Ceannt but this I recall is taken from some Irish as well as British records. I believe that at the time many if not all the squads were drawn from the Sherwood Foresters. if you read Blood on the Streets you will see why many of them volunteered. War is really terrible. After the executions and the tide turned somewhat, many soldiers sympatised somewhat with the Irish question and did not want to be associated with the executions. You must also take into account that many people went to the front in Europe, never to return.

AS I have not turned up anything that does not mean their is someone out there with an excellent eyewittness account. please keep me posted.

Paul

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Sinabhfuil

I now have another issue; according to a historian who's written to me, the 59th Division didn't just include Sherwood Foresters - there were also Royal Irish Regiment in it...

Apparently there's a reference to the firing squads on page 43 of Badbridge's book The 59th Division, 1915-18 - but no library seems to have a copy of this.

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Muerrisch

Oh drat this technology! Trying again with the Dev pic.

post-59821-050418000 1288033293.jpg

interesting photo: the pose looks "at the halt" for the camera. The rifles slings are loosened, as for action [the sling could be used as a brace for firing], and the man at right flank

has what appears to be the cotton bandoleers of .303 ammunition. Surely not for the firing squad? Men are not fully dressed, no belt or other equipment. Very strange.

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BrendanLee

interesting photo: the pose looks "at the halt" for the camera. The rifles slings are loosened, as for action [the sling could be used as a brace for firing], and the man at right flank

has what appears to be the cotton bandoleers of .303 ammunition. Surely not for the firing squad? Men are not fully dressed, no belt or other equipment. Very strange.

The image is of de Valera who was not executed so the escort would not have been a firing squad.

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BrendanLee

I now have another issue; according to a historian who's written to me, the 59th Division didn't just include Sherwood Foresters - there were also Royal Irish Regiment in it...

Apparently there's a reference to the firing squads on page 43 of Badbridge's book The 59th Division, 1915-18 - but no library seems to have a copy of this.

The Royal Irish Regiment did take part in the Rising, 3rd reserves from Portobello and Richmond Barracks, but these were not part of the 59th Division which was made up mainly of Lincolnshire, Leicestershire, South Staffs and Sherwood Foresters Battalions. From reading accounts of the Rising it would appear that the Reserves were replaced by the various 59th Division Battalions as they arrived from England.

Other Irish Regiments that took part in the fighting were the 4th 5th and 10th Dublin Fusiliers, 5th Battalion The Leinsters and there were also a variety of Regiments represented by Officers and Other Ranks who were in Dublin at the time and volunteered their services.

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Muerrisch

The image is of de Valera who was not executed so the escort would not have been a firing squad.

I didn't mean to suggest that, but the bandoleers are very strange, usually associated with troops about to go into action, or just coming out.

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pob9937

I now have another issue; according to a historian who's written to me, the 59th Division didn't just include Sherwood Foresters - there were also Royal Irish Regiment in it...

Apparently there's a reference to the firing squads on page 43 of Badbridge's book The 59th Division, 1915-18 - but no library seems to have a copy of this.

on page 43 of Badbridges book it states that that ....the execution being carried out by the Brigade.

The Naval and Military Press does a reprint of this book at the moment.

To my knowledge the Royal Irish Regiment took part in the Rising but were not part of the 59th. They were as stated in an earlier post at Portobello in Rathmines. Some of these men took part in the fighting in the South Dublin Union.

Paul

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Sinabhfuil

on page 43 of Badbridges book it states that that ....the execution being carried out by the Brigade.

The Naval and Military Press does a reprint of this book at the moment.

To my knowledge the Royal Irish Regiment took part in the Rising but were not part of the 59th. They were as stated in an earlier post at Portobello in Rathmines. Some of these men took part in the fighting in the South Dublin Union.

Paul

I saw the reprint, but £22 is just a bit dear to buy the book for a single page reference - my book budget is getting a bit stratospheric at the moment!

The Royal Irish *Rifles* were in Portobello (it says in the Sheehy Skeffington accounts); the Royal Irish *Regiment* were in Kilmainham, certainly, because three of them were witnesses at the wedding of Joe Plunkett and Grace Gifford.

The O'Morchoe, Kenneth, was said to have been due to lead the firing squad shooting Joe Plunkett, but refused because they had been childhood playmates, growing up near each other on the edge of the Dublin Mountains. I don't know what regiment he was in.

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Sinabhfuil

on page 43 of Badbridges book it states that that ....the execution being carried out by the Brigade.

Paul

Sorry, what does "by the Brigade" mean, Paul?

Incidentally, Harry (Henry? Harold? Harrison?) Davidson Orr moved to Chesterfield after the war? With a head wound? Where? Not known if he had children or anything?

(I found another Orr, (ORR, Robert Clifford Captain Somerset Light Infantry 3rd Bn. KIA 19/12/1914. Aged 34, of Masoe, Ballymena. Son of Robert Harrison Orr and Cassandra Marchaise Orr, of 1, Lombard St., Belfast. Adjutant North Antrim UVF. Buried Ploegsteert Wood Mil. Cem. Belgium. Plaque held in Morrow’s Museum) here: http://snake43.webs.com/weeklywar1914.htm - wonder if they're related.)

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pob9937

Sorry, what does "by the Brigade" mean, Paul?

The 3rd Batt of the Royal Irish Regiment were stationed at Richmond Barracks, Inchicore, near Kilmainham.

In the paragraph before the bit about the executions the writer is refering to General Maxwell talking about the 2/7th and 2/8th Sherwood Foresters and their losses.

in that context I believe it refers to the battalions of the Sherwood Foresters.

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Sinabhfuil

The 3rd Batt of the Royal Irish Regiment were stationed at Richmond Barracks, Inchicore, near Kilmainham.

In the paragraph before the bit about the executions the writer is refering to General Maxwell talking about the 2/7th and 2/8th Sherwood Foresters and their losses.

in that context I believe it refers to the battalions of the Sherwood Foresters.

Ah, thanks. As always, 'braitheann sé ar an cóthéacs' - 'it depends upon the context'!

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docchippy

This may have been mentioned by others elsewhere - but JF Lucy's "There's a Devil in the Drum" makes mention of meeting one of the NCOs involved in executions after the rising and the turmoil he was facing as an Irishman. He also refers to an officer returning to a unit - and knowledge travelling beforehand of this man's role in the 1916 events and suggests the fact that he never made it out of no man's land in his first attack may have been down to being shot by his own men.

Doc

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Sinabhfuil

I have a series of documents relating to my grandfather's (Thomas MacDonagh's) execution, from Kew, but oddly the equivalent of the Plunkett one posted kindly by Mike Briggs is missing from these - there is no document signed by *the actual officer who led the firing squad* - Acting Major CH Heathcote. Does anyone know if there is such a document?

I'm also looking for *firm, contemporary evidence* of the order of the executions; James Stephens said at the time that Thomas MacDonagh was first to be executed, and I think I have a British Army account somewhere that refers to Thomas MacDonagh being executed at 3.30 on May 3, but I can't lay my hands on it. Anyone's memory twitched by this?

(I'm not interested in modern accounts, which tend to follow on the mistakes of earlier historians - unless those accounts cite original references.)

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BrendanLee

I have a series of documents relating to my grandfather's (Thomas MacDonagh's) execution, from Kew, but oddly the equivalent of the Plunkett one posted kindly by Mike Briggs is missing from these - there is no document signed by *the actual officer who led the firing squad* - Acting Major CH Heathcote. Does anyone know if there is such a document?

I'm also looking for *firm, contemporary evidence* of the order of the executions; James Stephens said at the time that Thomas MacDonagh was first to be executed, and I think I have a British Army account somewhere that refers to Thomas MacDonagh being executed at 3.30 on May 3, but I can't lay my hands on it. Anyone's memory twitched by this?

(I'm not interested in modern accounts, which tend to follow on the mistakes of earlier historians - unless those accounts cite original references.)

When I was at school over 30 years ago it was Pearse, Clark and then MacDonagh but any official contemporary documents I have seen on the executions gives all three as being shot between 3.30am and 4.00am, I have yet to see something which gives the definite order in which they were shot..

Watching a documentary on the execution of MacDonagh last night on TG4 he was shown sitting on a box when he was shot, I consulted some research notes I had taken in Kew in 2002 and have a record of MacDonagh being told by the officer in charge of the firing squad to bend his knees as he was sitting with his legs outstretched. I was wondering why MacDonagh was shot sitting down, I have no record of him being ill or injured, did the executed man get an option to sit or stand. From what research I have it appears all the other leaders apart from Connolly, for obvious reasons, were shot standing up.

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Sinabhfuil

BLee - Could you transcribe that Kew document, and give me the reference number, please?

As I understand it, all of those shot were sitting on boxes like orange crates.

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BrendanLee

BLee - Could you transcribe that Kew document, and give me the reference number, please?

As I understand it, all of those shot were sitting on boxes like orange crates.

Sorry I don't have ant reference number for the file, I read it while at Kew in late 2001 and early 2002 and at the time it was for personal research and I did not record the reference numbers.

I have put the web link below to TG4 website. Interestingly they show MacDonagh and Kent being put sitting on a box while Plunkett and MacDiarmada are shown standing when being shot. It was only when I saw the documentary on MacDonagh and they showed him being shot sitting down that I remembered reading this in the files at Kew.

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Sinabhfuil

Even if you find your notes, that would be useful. It would give me a guideline for when I go to Kew.

Still wondering if Heathcote, referenced here as the commander of that first firing squad, signed a statement saying he had done the job.

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