Jump to content
Great War Forum

Remembered Today:

Sign in to follow this  
Wexflyer

German Files Reveal Depth of Irish Disenchantment With British Army

Recommended Posts

Wexflyer

Link to Irish Times article on new research in German archives

 

"German intelligence files, which have never been made public before, reveal how deeply the Rising affected Irishmen serving in the British army during the first World War."

"These files and many more have been discovered by the award-winning British historian and broadcaster Peter Barton, who has written several books and made documentaries about the first World War."

"... when Mr Barton visited the German archives, on many files he found a thick film of black dust. Nobody had looked at them for many decades.

He believes the records have the potential to overturn the received wisdom about the war. “I’m not interested in who won or who lost,” he says, “I’m interested in the alternative narrative that the German archives provide for so many critical and indeed symbolic events, and in the most extraordinary detail. They irrevocably change one’s perceptions of why and how things unfolded. There is no escaping the fact that the British were inveterate embellishers and fabricators – and worse.”

"Mr Barton believes the efficiency of German intelligence-gathering goes a long way to explaining why the Anglo-French alliance never won a set-piece battle, despite their commanding numerical and material advantage."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
voltaire60

  Two observations on this most interesting article. 

 

1)   Do we know if Peter Barton was using just the Bavarian archives-as he did with his stuff on the Somme,in the TV documentaries.  I understand the Prussian archives went up in February 1945 with the destruction by firebombing of the German/Prussian archives at Potsdam. the regional archives of the German Empire are-to me-an unknown.  Saxon? Wurttemberg? Baden? Hannover?  I suspect that the Saxon archives may have gone in 1945 as well, if stored in Dresden but is it Bavaria alone or has Peter Barton indicated just where the mass of material is located?

 

2) Still intrigued as to what happened to the British end of the equation-either interrogation reports on German POWs or the what has happened to captured German documents. Best suggestion so far is that they were destroyed with the culling of the Adjutant-General's library in the 1960s.

 

       One item that may be of interest- deserters may tell one tale, POWs captured in combat may tell another.  I look forward to more documentation from Peter Barton on this.

    Of course, if 4 men desert from a battalion/brigade/division, this may not be indicative of the general outlook of other irish troops in that unit-who,presumably, did not desert to the German lines. Thus, it may be a most interesting tale but it does beg the question- Why did the majority of Irish troops in Irish units keep fighting for the British cause??

 

       A quick zap of ICRC and Discovery TNA shows the following

 

i)  Too many J.Ryan names to isolate- the only 1917 query is for a private of 6RDF

 

ii)  Terence Burns has an ICRC card   Burns has 2 PA reports on him- His address is 2 Ardin Dwelings, Mountmelleck, Queens County. Of interest is that his date of birth is given as 15th May 1898- interesting because he must have been a British Army volunteer-either underage before the Easter Rising or of age and post-Easter Rising. Some interesting questions there.

 

    Burns also has a MIC

 

iii) Daniel Keys-also has an MIC

 

iv) No trace of Joggart. (Could this be Hoggart)

 

      Interesting, to know what happened to them-which I suspect will feature in the Irish Times in weeks to come-I hope.

I cannot see any mention of any of them being interrogated on POW return-which begs the question as to whether any Adjutant-General stuff is still on closure for 100 years.om

Zoom

(PS-Hope you are feeling better)

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
David Filsell

Alternative narrative? Sounds like stating the bleeding obvious. Should anyone be in anyway surprised that Irish soldiers were 'deeply affected' by the 'rising'. Seems only natural to me.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
corisande

J Ryan is RDF soldier no 19717

There is a Red Cross POW  card for  him

Dismissed misconduct 5 Feb 1920 - on his MIC. Forfeited medals

Edited by corisande

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
corisande

Terence Burns you have

He is soldier no 24903/24803

MIC with no forfeiture of medals

Red Cross POW card captured 13 Dec 1917

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
AOK4

There is indeed a lot of interesting things gathering dust in German military archives. There are the archives for Württemberg, Baden and Bavaria which are quite complete. The Saxon archives are only partially available any more and the Prussian archives are mostly gone (although quite a few micro-filmed files survive).

 

The problem with German archives is that one has to know its way (and have a good understanding of the German army and how it was structured) and that one has to be able to read the handwriting (sütterlin/kurrent).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
corisande

Daniel Keys I cannot get, but there is a MIC for a Daniel KAYS  in RDF

 

But I cannot get either Keys or Kays on Red Cross POWs

 

It is difficult to know if the Germans have just padded out the numbers or not with fictitious names

Joggart or Hoggart in RDF does not exist as a MIC or a POW

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
corisande
21 minutes ago, David Filsell said:

Alternative narrative? Sounds like stating the bleeding obvious. Should anyone be in anyway surprised that Irish soldiers were 'deeply affected' by the 'rising'. Seems only natural to me.

 

I wouldn't have put it quite as bluntly as that :) , but probably more important than this, these men were said to be deserters.

 

 It is impossible to say whether they were telling the truth (as they saw it), saying what they thought their interrogators wanted to hear, or whether the whole thing ws made up and they were merely prisoners, not deserters

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
voltaire60
4 minutes ago, corisande said:

Terence Burns you have

He is soldier no 24903/24803

MIC with no forfeiture of medals

Red Cross POW card captured 13 Dec 1917

 

     May be him-but is he the one listed as 6RDF?-   Burns (the only one in RDF) is listed as 1RDF- I had assumed that  all 4 men should,thus, be in 1RDF.  There is one Irish family called Joggart-and one only- but no "M".  

    I have posited before that there must have been some form of monitoring of Irish troops-perhaps the more so with the problems in the French army in 1917. But what it was and what happened to the records is a complete mystery.   I was surprised when searching for another man at Salonika at the Irish involvement in that front. The former questions posed by our old friend Guest are still pertinent-How "Irish" were the Irish regiments in 1917-1918?  The more so, perhaps, if there was any difference in composition between Irish battalions in France and those at Salonica. It's purely subjective but is there mileage in the leavening of Irish battalions in France with other Brits- perhaps occluded by the general run of replacement drafts. purely subjectively, the Irish battalions at Salonica do seem to remain more "Irish"

     

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
corisande
6 minutes ago, voltaire60 said:

 

     May be him-but is he the one listed as 6RDF?-   Burns (the only one in RDF) is listed as 1RDF- I had assumed that  all 4 men should,thus, be in 1RDF.      

 

Barton in his article states

"On the night of December 18th, 1917, four privates of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers left their machine gun post east of the Somme, crossed No Man’s Land and deserted to the enemy."

I have not been able to get where that came from, but there is a marked coincidence between J Ryan being taken prisoner on 13 Dec and Batron's 18 Dec

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
corisande

Terence Burns is difficult to get in other places, as he appears to have been born to parents who could not read or write. So his surname wanders

 

I think he was born 9 Aug 1898 as Terence Byrne (the Red Cross entry gives his dob as 15 Aug 1898)

 

burns.jpg.0109c59d8586249d9590d772346ed3ae.jpg

 

He is in 1911 census as TerAnce Burns with same parents who cannot read or write at 4 Pound St, Mountmellick

 

If anyone can access the 1 RDF war dairies for that week, they may give a clue

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
SiegeGunner
23 hours ago, voltaire60 said:

Do we know if Peter Barton was using just the Bavarian archives-as he did with his stuff on the Somme,in the TV documentaries. 

 

Not only Bavaria (Munich, Ingolstadt) but also Karlsruhe, Stuttgart and Freiburg.   

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
voltaire60
13 minutes ago, SiegeGunner said:

 

Not only Bavaria (Munich, Ingolstadt) but also Karlsruhe, Stuttgart and Freiburg.   

 

   Excellent-   Shows that the Great War is a never-ending story. Now....paranoid that I am....if we could just find out what the British still had!!.  Trouble is we have not lost a war nor been militarily occupied-only when this happens does the "dirty washing" come out- Said after buying Alfred Pribram "The Secret Treaties of Austria -Hungary" (Harvard 1920-1921), the first set I have seen in over 40 years in a London bookshop-Pribram got to see what was buried in the AH archives and blew the texts of the treaties.  God only knows what is still under lock and key in Whitehall.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
charlie962
On 07/05/2018 at 10:53, corisande said:

Daniel Keys I cannot get, but there is a MIC for a Daniel KAYS  in RDF

Daniel Kays 555, 40429 RDF was reported PoW German Hands Cas List  15/3/18 ( I checked- the others are not on same list)

His ICRC card includes this:

           5af1986fa04ed_KaysDRDFicrcPA19551.JPG.a32ae6bcb874fdb440ca9975781cc41e.JPG

 

Date of 'capture' agrees so it is him.

 

Charlie

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
charlie962

Off the same ICRC listings as Keyes    is T Burns (as identified by Corisande above) but note date of capture as 18/12/17. Svc No is 24903 and dob should be 1898.

                                5af19afc5a572_BurnsTRDFicrcPA19530.JPG.5ba697042a943a58867c6341bf4a25d5.JPG

 

and perhaps this is Ryan ?

                               5af19b486209f_RyanTRDFicrcPA19563.JPG.9c96a32479d5ffd2a21c921fff8d2d7c.JPG 

and  this is perhaps MJoggart?

                               5af19d62553bc_McTaggartDRDFicrc19554.JPG.0b984b295be20de25d8cebccb7e410df.JPG

 

Three of the four are W Company, (and very close service numbers) and they are the only ones on that camp listing with capture date 18/12/17. More than coincidence ?  Could the Cpl have been the instigator ?

I note from their MICs that these men were previously in different units which might have increased their feeling of lack of attachment ?

 

Charlie

Edited by charlie962

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
charlie962

Terence Burns, 24903, the corporal (? MIC says Pte),  has a surviving service record on Findmypast-  it may give a clue?

Charlie

Edited by charlie962

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
corisande

Charlie

 

No, it just links to TNA MIC for him

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
charlie962
13 minutes ago, corisande said:

No, it just links to TNA MIC for him

I mean this record on FMP which has a DoB and an attestation date: (search criteria Surname Burns, Keyword 24903)

            5af1b7e2670ff_BurnsTfmpSvcRecord.JPG.6f59df97ab29de64a54e46a4b299cc14.JPG

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
corisande

That is a big file. The relevant bits (there may be others so a second opinion is worth while)

 

He was taken POW , and after a short delay accepted as a POW (the record does not say that he was suspected of desertion)

 

There was a Court of Inquiry on 18 Dec 1918 after his repatriation

 

13 Mar 1919 The investigation continues and the War Office says he is not to be discharged

 

30 May 1919 Deserted in Ireland. Arrested in Feb 1920 , imprisoned and eventually discharged

 

burns-1.jpg.ee21c5361bd0d4550575061ea194337a.jpgburns-6.jpg.5fb477c746fa56be1cc9f2e894430b2a.jpgburns-5.jpg.e27d3f7718a3e5001fa38a9946622d56.jpgburns-3.jpg.2796ba7ec3e307c555b65e0ca5b5382b.jpgburns-2.jpg.afcd713fe0c187a096ec1456e7088bf5.jpg

burns-6.jpg.57e7a877b6c69ad40a77ec70ecf87b53.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
voltaire60

    Charlie-  good work indeed- the detection of McTaggart is a fantastic piece of back-tracking through the  available paperwork.

     Corisande- in the Sherlockian sense- "the game's afoot".  I cannot obviously see from  "Discovery" that any debrief report is available at Kew for any of these men as returning POWs. Which is odd to say the least.

      I have put up on another thread, where a member had put up a query about a returning POW record, a guess as to what had happened. Quite a simple proposition.- officer MIC cards often have "Exonerated" on them-indicating an officer had been interviewed  regarding circumstances of capture and medals could be awarded.  In that case, there was an army form with the reference number "A.G.3" tucked away on it. I had assumed-wrongly-that this meant a branch of the  Adjutant-General's department-the army department responsible for personnel.

    I had done an FOI request to MOD over here about this-  an old friend had told me that MOD FOI were quite sympathetic to such things as it makes a change from being pestered by investigative journalists all day,every day. I asked if records were still held-on the not unreasonable assumption that if officers were questioned and "exonerated" ,then at a wild guess,there must have been some who were not exonerated-and what happened to them and the records it would have generated???   The MOD response said nothing was held for Adjutant-General but was sympathetic enough to suggest that a refreshed request might bring forth further info. In particular that "A.G.3"  was not Adjutant General" but was "Advocate General". thus, the correct section which was dealing  with any questions of honour/conduct  was "Adjutant-General 3"

     The letter extract for Burns  you have printed is treasure indeed-  it shows that "A.G.3" was generating records  on queries relating to returned POWs.  Might I ask that a particular  look-out is kept for any form or reference to "A.G.3" that comes up.   In addition-given that "I.O" is the pseudonym of a well-known contemporary book on Ireland- the reference to "IO"  on the letter-is,I guess, short for "Intelligence Officer" Again, any use of these letters  being reported would be appreciated.   In addition, the previous query had a reference number for an officer on it-unrelated to any other record-that suggested a separate registry list was kept by "A.G.3"  

    What  subsequently became of these men is a  matter to have a go at from now on.  The letter extract for Burns is a smoking gun- see if anything else turns up for these men and then back to MOD for FOI. I suspect strongly that here are still materials on closure about "problem" returning POWs. 

   (The previous query concerned the Royal Munster Fusiliers in March 1918. There appeared to be no MICs for some captured officers that I could find).  It would be good if any other references to desertion to the German lines  from Irish regiments could be found and posted on this thread).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Jervis
On 7/5/2018 at 10:00, corisande said:

It is impossible to say whether they were telling the truth (as they saw it), saying what they thought their interrogators wanted to hear, or whether the whole thing ws made up and they were merely prisoners, not deserters

 

If the record of McTaggart is indeed the correct one, his home address is in a traditional Unionist area. At the risk of generalising, It would be a little surprising if he was " deeply affected" by the Easter rising to the point of desertion. 

Edited by Jervis

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
corisande

McTaggart was RC

 

Born Claudy

 

mctaggart-born-claudy.jpg.0240546d385ad32cb1848e8ef2f886da.jpg

 

Parents RC marriage

 

parents-marriage.jpg.51b2dcd414f886c70ab0bcc36675a0df.jpg

 

1901 census

 

census.jpg.414970fa74b2e83f0ade003c9ce8add1.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Jervis

I stand corrected! 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2ndCMR
Quote

He believes the records have the potential to overturn the received wisdom about the war. “I’m not interested in who won or who lost,” he says, “I’m interested in the alternative narrative that the German archives provide for so many critical and indeed symbolic events, and in the most extraordinary detail. They irrevocably change one’s perceptions of why and how things unfolded. There is no escaping the fact that the British were inveterate embellishers and fabricators – and worse.”

"Mr Barton believes the efficiency of German intelligence-gathering goes a long way to explaining why the Anglo-French alliance never won a set-piece battle, despite their commanding numerical and material advantage."

 

Well, that hardly sounds like the comments of an impartial observer, but of course a little blarney goes a long way, whether you are hoping to live out your three score and ten in 1917 or hoping to be allowed to rummage about in German archives in 2017.

 

As for the last sentence, the gentleman plainly hasn't got as far in his reading as Hill 70, Vimy, or Passchendaele , quite apart from The 100 Days, or else he's just putting an extra coat of wax on that sugar beet he's polishing so assiduously.

Edited by 2ndCMR

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Ron Clifton
On 5/8/2018 at 17:23, voltaire60 said:

The MOD response said nothing was held for Adjutant-General but was sympathetic enough to suggest that a refreshed request might bring forth further info. In particular that "A.G.3"  was not Adjutant General" but was "Advocate General". thus, the correct section which was dealing  with any questions of honour/conduct  was "Adjutant-General 3"

I think that A.G.3 was the section of the Adjutant-General's Branch that dealt with infantry other ranks personnel. (IIRC A.G.7 did the same for RA personnel.) I don't think the Judge Advocate-General's office used any abbreviation starting A.G.

 

Ron

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...