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Sinabhfuil

Firing squads in the 1916 Rising

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BrendanLee

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.

As far as I can remember it was called the Report of the inquests into the executions of Sinn Fein Rebellion Leaders or something close to that. It was described in 2001 as newly released and although a big file I found nothing I had not seen or heard before. At the time I was searching the records Kew were using a card index system and I found the most information under Sinn Fein Rebellion.

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Sinabhfuil

Thank you very much, BLee, I've noted this for when I visit Kew, hopefully next month. If anyone else can point me to particularly useful files as well, this would be great.

(I'm going to start a separate thread when I come back from a refreshing weekend in the west, away from Dublin's Hallowe'en artillery, which scares my delicate-minded dog. This time it will be on the interrogations of the leaders. They were four days, I think, between the surrender and the first executions; I wonder if the reports of these interrogations, which I think were conducted in Richmond Barracks, are open for inspection now.)

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Sinabhfuil

Another question: is there a list anywhere of all those who were condemned to death after the Rising - including those whose sentences were commuted to imprisonment?

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corisande

"1916 Easter Rebellion Hand Book" has a day by day list of men before the F G Courts Martial, their sentences and which were commuted

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Sinabhfuil

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."

Mike, do we have any more information about Colonel Fraser, d'you know by any hopeful chance?

Also, this quote: "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." - who said it?

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connaughtranger

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.

There is a paragraph at the top of next page (44) of Bradbridge's history (although he is only the compiler)that makes the £22 NMP are asking well worth while. If you want a really expensive laugh then a 1st Edition costs about £145. The text is attributed to Brig Gen E W S K Maconchy CB CMG CIE DSO.

'At the conclusion of the trial of one of the chief ringleaders and instigators of the rebellion, the President of the Court asked the prisoner if he would mind stating "What he was fighting for" His reply, given with dignity was: "I was fighting to defend the rights of the people of Ireland" He was then asked "Was anyone attacking those rights?" His reply was: "No; but somebody might have been"'

I wonder if the ringleader's name was Baldrick because, after all, Blackader - even if only with one 'd'- was a leading judge?

Col Maconchy was promoted Brig Gen on 6th June 1916 for his part in the Irish Rebellion

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Piley

Gents

I have an Army Book 152 Correspondence (FIELD SERVICE) dated 1 May 1916-22 May 1916 Major Thomas Salt Staff Officer

In it it clearly states soldiers will be selected from 3 RIR, 2/6 N&D, 2/5 South Staffs, 5 Leinsters,2/6 South Staffs

will be required for dispersal of Sinn Feiners and report with names to Dublin Castle.

I am still trying to find more about Major Salt as he then travels all over Ireland gathering Intel on arrested prisoners from Dublin to Mayo.

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Sinabhfuil

Two questions, if you'd be so kind.

Piley, what is a field correspondence book?

And everyone - a technical question: is there a way to print out the whole of this thread? (I think that somewhere in it someone gave a basis for the story that the executed men were seated on crates, for instance, but can't track down that statement. So much useful information was given here that I'd like to print it all off.)

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Mk VII

AB152 is a blank paperbound notebook. The one I have here is printed with squared paper and has two sheets of carbon paper in the back. The inside cover has 'opened on' and 'closed on' date spaces printed on it.

standard.jpg

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Sinabhfuil

And are these normally carried and used by officers?

Does it have any more about the executions, or apposite to the leaders?

Where did you come across it, Piley?

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corisande

Have you read "Secret Court Martial Records of the Easter Rising" by Brian Barton

It is a detailed record of each court martial and does include some details of their actual executions

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Sinabhfuil

Have you read "Secret Court Martial Records of the Easter Rising" by Brian Barton

It is a detailed record of each court martial and does include some details of their actual executions

Is this the same book as Behind a Closed Door? I have read that.

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corisande
Is this the same book as Behind a Closed Door?

Yes it is - they changed the title when it came out as a paperback

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irishmen1916

Most of the files for this book"Secret Court Martial Records of the Easter Rising" where released in KEW in 1992, there where a number of the files held back, so not all the court martial's are in it. Peter

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Guest SirHenryGrattan

This account says McBride was shot through the eyes. Is this unusual for a military execution?

THE EXECUTION

The cutting recounts the last meeting between MacBride and Father Augustine, the Franciscan friar who had seen the Westport soldier in the Jacob's factory after the surrender.

They met again on the morning of the execution when MacBride told of asking for some water to wash in. The friar reminded the warden of the request and witnessed the small cup of water given to MacBride who also was given his coat, requested because of the morning chill. His wishes not to be blindfolded and not to have his hands tied behind him were ignored by the squad's officer, who said they were under orders on the procedures to be observed.

MacBride remained calm saying to Father Augustine when he asked not to be blindfolded: "You know, Father, I have often looked down their guns before." He was then taken into the yard and the priest accompanied him.

"They made him stand up close to the wall," he recalled, "and the firing squad lined up armed with rifles, 12 of them, only a few short feet away. Then the officer in charge of the squad came to me and pulled me by the sleeve. He led me a few feet away. I think about seven feet. I closed my eyes for an instant. Then I opened them again and looked at that brave man. He was standing there and it seemed as though he was expanding his chest for the bullets.

Then came the crash of the rifles. I saw him still standing there erect and strong. Then the poor knees began to give way under him and he wavered and fell backwards.

"I ran to him. I bent over him and saw that the shirt over his chest and the white paper they had pinned there over his heart were untouched. There was not a mark on them.

"Then I noticed a few little specks of blood on his forehead. Then the officer turned him over and I saw – it was terrible – that the whole of the back of his head had been blown away. I could not understand this but later I knew.

"In the firing squad there were ten men with blank cartridges in their rifles. Two others had explosive shells in theirs. These two men had fired at almost point blank range and had shot Major MacBride through his eyes. That was why the head was in such a shocking condition."

http://www.westernpeople.ie/news/eyqlcweyau/

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truthergw

This account says McBride was shot through the eyes. Is this unusual for a military execution?

THE EXECUTION

The cutting recounts the last meeting between MacBride and Father Augustine, the Franciscan friar who had seen the Westport soldier in the Jacob's factory after the surrender.

They met again on the morning of the execution when MacBride told of asking for some water to wash in. The friar reminded the warden of the request and witnessed the small cup of water given to MacBride who also was given his coat, requested because of the morning chill. His wishes not to be blindfolded and not to have his hands tied behind him were ignored by the squad's officer, who said they were under orders on the procedures to be observed.

MacBride remained calm saying to Father Augustine when he asked not to be blindfolded: "You know, Father, I have often looked down their guns before." He was then taken into the yard and the priest accompanied him.

"They made him stand up close to the wall," he recalled, "and the firing squad lined up armed with rifles, 12 of them, only a few short feet away. Then the officer in charge of the squad came to me and pulled me by the sleeve. He led me a few feet away. I think about seven feet. I closed my eyes for an instant. Then I opened them again and looked at that brave man. He was standing there and it seemed as though he was expanding his chest for the bullets.

Then came the crash of the rifles. I saw him still standing there erect and strong. Then the poor knees began to give way under him and he wavered and fell backwards.

"I ran to him. I bent over him and saw that the shirt over his chest and the white paper they had pinned there over his heart were untouched. There was not a mark on them.

"Then I noticed a few little specks of blood on his forehead. Then the officer turned him over and I saw – it was terrible – that the whole of the back of his head had been blown away. I could not understand this but later I knew.

"In the firing squad there were ten men with blank cartridges in their rifles. Two others had explosive shells in theirs. These two men had fired at almost point blank range and had shot Major MacBride through his eyes. That was why the head was in such a shocking condition."

http://www.westernpe...ews/eyqlcweyau/

I suspect that the priest was very overwrought with the high drama of the occasion. Quite understandably. 2 explosive bullets in the eyes would have removed the condemned man's head not just the back of it. The events of the Easter Uprising and its sequel. The fighting for independence and the Civil War to follow are quite dramatic enough in all conscience. There is no need to gild the lily.

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Guest SirHenryGrattan

Col. H. V. Stanley, R.A.M.C, attended nine of the executions.

"After that I got so sick of the slaughter that I asked to be changed. They refused to have their eyes bandaged...they all died like lions.

"The rifles of the firing party were waving like a field of corn. All the men were cut to ribbons at a range of ten yards."

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corisande

Whilst I appreciate your intention in joining the forum is to be controversial, and I have no idea what other names you are using, I would point out that the above is not an actual quotation but a reported converstion (see BMH in Dublin)

Capt E Gerrard, an ADC to Gen Sir Hugh Jeudwine, describes a discussion he had with a medical officer, Col H V Stanley, who attended the executions of the first nine of the 1916 rebels.

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Murrough

The lily was well and truly gilded by all participants involved in Irelands troubed past,the franciscan friar was not unique in this respect

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truthergw

That may well be true but that is not a reason for us to follow suit. The struggle for Irish Home Rule had tragic elements, heroes and demons. To talk of firing squads shooting prisoners in the eyes with exploding bullets is to demean the whole subject.

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Murrough
. To talk of firing squads shooting prisoners in the eyes with exploding bullets is to demean the whole subject

I can't agree,if the article is an accurate and truthful description of the event it should be in the public domain, these were turbulent times with questionable actions practised by all.

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truthergw

I can't agree,if the article is an accurate and truthful description of the event it should be in the public domain, these were turbulent times with questionable actions practised by all.

That is a very big if. As I said above, a man shot in the head, at point blank range with explosive bullets would have no head left at all. I also am very dubious as to the 2 men with explosive bullets and the rest firing blanks.

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Murrough

I would imagine he had little knowledge of firearms,munitions,and the mechanics of a firing squad, but as a contemporary eyewitness account of an exceution it has its place,either way the result was the same for McBride whether he was shot in the face or elsewhere.

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Steven Broomfield

Would a Catholic priest (or any non-military person, for hat matter) actually know what an explosive bullet could do, or it possible that he assumed, the exit wounds being apparently larger than the entry wounds (a common enough thing), that the bullets were explosive?

I'm also impressed that the executed man, standing close to the wall, managed to fall backwards. Low wall, one assumes. Or a short man.

I'm not denying that awful things were done on both sides, but it is possible a priest was not, by the nature of his training, upbringing and possible sympathies, an entirely reliable witness.

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BrendanLee

Father Augustine, the Franciscan friar, did attend several of the executions but as McBride was one of the first to be shot the friar's experiences of executions would have been little or none and I also doubt his experience of bullet wounds would be such that he could tell that the bullets used to execute McBride were exploding bullets. I do not think we can assume he was sympatric to the Rebel's cause, his duty as a Priest would have been to attend to the spiritual needs of the condemned man regardless of his views of the Rebellion. There was little support for the Rising and although O'Neill's countermanding order is usually blamed for the very low turn-out by the second day of the Rising the whole country was aware that it had started yet apart from a few minor skirmishes and a few Volunteers arriving in Dublin from the rest of the Country the total number of fighting men and women amounted to approximately 1,500 out of a total of over 100,000 members of the Irish Volunteers.

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