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Will O'Brien

Irish POW's being recruited by the Germans

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Will O'Brien

I am aware that the German Army via Sir Roger Casement attempted to recruit Irish POW's (without great success) to fight for them. I know that Roger Casement himself was hanged for treason in 1916 after being captured returning to Ireland, but does anyone know the fate of the few soldiers who did decide to take up the German offer?

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jhill

According to the couple of books I have on the subject, Sir Roger Casement attempted to recruit an "Irish Brigade" from among the Irish prisoners of war, primarily from a camp at Limburg. The deal, apparently, was that they would fight against British rule in Ireland, or, failing that, perhaps against Russia or perhaps in Egypt. (Obviously, this was not a serious proposition).

Since the scheme never got off the ground, the few takers never left Germany, and since the sum of their situation was a few prisoners with at best slightly better treatment than the others, there was little incentive to do anything to them after the war.

The two exceptions were the two men who accompanied Casement back to Ireland on the U-Boat. These were Robert Monteith, a former soldier and member of the clandestine Irish Republican Army, and Private Daniel Bailey of the Royal Irish Rifles. Monteith escaped to America, while Bailey, who was obviously non-political, was judged to have only joined the expedition as the easiest way to get home.

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museumtom

If you contact the National History Museum, Kildare street, in the 1916 section the uniforms these 'recruits' wore are there.Plus a lot more information.

Tom

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Guest Desmond6

When I was young our family lived just around the corner from 'Casement Street' in Ballymena, Co. Antrim. Remarkably (IMHO) it was not re-named in the wake of the events of GW. It was named after (I believe) Casement's father/grandfather who was a local businessman/landowner.

Roger Casement himself was a pupil at Ballymena Academy in his early days. I find it remarkable that it wasn't renamed because 1. so many men from the streets and terraces around 'Casement Street' were KIA and 2. if you have any knowledge of NI, you'll be aware of the strong unionist ethos of this part of the province! Hope this is of some use.

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markinbelfast

interesting....I've some letters from the trenches from a Belfast soldier who was later KIA...he talks of his delight at Casements capture and his hope that he will "get whats coming to him"...but in later letters he is even dismissive of Edward Carson who he yet to see in the trenches.

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Will O'Brien

Many thanks for the thoughts & comments made so far

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Guest Brian Thomas
Many thanks for the thoughts & comments made so far

Some internet sites refer to Daniel Bailey as Sergeant. Was he ever promoted?

I also assume that he was discharged before he went into the dock with Casement. Is that correct?

The reason I ask is that I am a lawyer writing a piece on Casement's trial.

As you probably know, following Casement's conviction, no evidence was offered against Bailey and he was accordingly acquitted.

Brian Thomas

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wig

If you can furnish me with a fax number I can send you an article written on the Casement trial in the Irish Bar Review, together with some very recent references to academic articles on the trial, just published by the Royal Irish Academy.

Wig

Some internet sites refer to Daniel Bailey as Sergeant. Was he ever promoted?

I also assume that he was discharged before he went into the dock with Casement. Is that correct?

The reason I ask is that I am a lawyer writing a piece on Casement's trial.

As you probably know, following Casement's conviction, no evidence was offered against Bailey and he was accordingly acquitted.

Brian Thomas

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Hedley Malloch

A very few did fall for Casement's blandishments and joined the German Army. At least one was captured by the British Army, confined in the Tower of London, tried for treason, found guilty and sentenced to death. His sentence was commuted to life. Unfortunately I have momentarily lost the record of his name, but these events took place in 1916.

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Terry_Reeves

Daniel Julien Bailey was an Acting Cpl. The rank attributed to him was that given to him in the so-called German Irish Brigade. At his trial, the prosecution offered no evidence and Bailey continued his service. He was not returned to his original unit, 2nd Royal Irish Rifles however, but firstly to the 3rd Bn, Wiltshire Regiment and then to the Loyal North Lancashire Regt He ended the war in Egypt with the Inland Water Transport of the Royal Engineers.

The soldier sentenced to death was L/Cpl Joseph Patrick Dowling. He was landed by submarine off the coast of County Clare on the 12th April 1918, was quickly captured and tried by Court Martial in Westminster Hall on the 8-9 July 1918. At his trial he was given an opportunity by Major General Lord Cheylesmore, the CM President, to make a statement about his circumstances, but refused to do so and was sentenced to death by being shot. This was later commuted to life imprisonment, because the Director of Naval Intelligence had promised him that he would not be executed when he was originally interrogated. Dowling appealed twice against his sentence, both of which were refused. It was only during his second appeal that he said he was only trying to make good his escape from Germany and admitted that it was a mistake on his part not to have made that statement at his CM when he was given the opportunity. His sentence was finally remitted in 1924 after pressure from the Irish Government on the Colonial Office, who were keen to conclude the Anglo-Irish Treaty. JP Dowling died from cancer in the Fulham Cancer Hospital in 1935.

With regard to the others, little more happened to them. Those identified by the War Office as having joined the Brigade had their pay and allowances stopped, along with their food parcels whilst in captivity. At the end of the war, no further action appears to have taken been taken against them except for about six, who forfeited their medals, discharge pay and demobilisation leave. I have some more work to do on some of the men involved however the Director of Personnel Services, Brigadier Borlaise Wyndham Childs, said in his memoirs, published in the 1930's, that he believed that most of the men only joined the Brigade so that they could get better treatment from the German military whilst in captivity.

The total number of men involved in the German Irish Brigade never exceeded 55 and at Casement's trial the figure was put at 50.

Terry Reeves

Edited by Terry_Reeves

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gordonpower

Hi chaps,

I wrote my undergraduate degree in University about the experiences of the Irish POWs in Limburg during the Great war. I am currently trying to put together my Masters on a similar them. If anybody has specific queries about these guys please drop me a line and I will help you as best I can. For example I notice your interest in the "German Irish Brigade" I have a list of all of its members and where in Ireland they were from if anybody want me to do a search for them?

As well as that somebody was asking what happened to these lads after the war. there are several stories following what happened to them. The most interesting I have come across to date is Timothy Quinlisk, who had been in the Royal Irish Regiment. He became an NCO in the German Brigade and was one of the first to enlist. After the war I think he was involved in Gun running for the IRA and he eventually became a double agent offering the British secret service the head of Michael Collins. Michael Collins got word of this and under his specific orders he was executed in a hotel in Cork!. I tried to track down Quinlisks relations but to no avail - I notice that another Quinlisk was killed in the Royal Irish Regiment in 1914 - so I have a feeling that family just died out or moved away -

On the same note if anybody has any info for me - please let me know - no info is too trivial and I would be grateful of it !

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Terry_Reeves

Gordon

I too have been rearching this subject for some time now. I would be interested in your source for Quinlisk's "double agent" role post-war. To date I have only managed to find a passing reference to this and am looking for a more reliable source. If I can help in anyway with specific information, please let me know.

Terry Reeves

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wig

This court sketch shows Roger Casement and Baily in the dock at Bow Street magistrates Court

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Northern Soul

Gordon/Terry,

A copy of a retuned prisoner debriefing I have from WO161 (6713, Pte. Jas. Wilson, R. Dublin Fus.) makes extensive mention of the recruitment methods at Limburg and gives a lot of details about some of the men who joined the Irish Brigade. If you would like a copy please send me a PM with your email addresses.

Andy.

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Jimmy Taylor

Gordon,

Here is something that might interest you from The 2nd Royal Irish Rifles in the Great War

Bailey 7483 Rfn Daniel Julien. Born St Michan’s, Dublin, in 1887. Commonly known as Julien. He had two sisters, Mary Jane and Elizabeth. Educated at St Mary’s School, Stanhope Street, and St Vincent de Paul School, Glasnevin, Dublin. Joined the Dublin City RGA Militia. He was an apprentice compositor at Mr John Falconer’s, printers and publishers, 53 Sackville Street, Dublin. Enlisted in the RIR 7.4.1904. Height 5 foot 4¾ inches, weight 112 pounds, chest 32½–34½ inches, Roman Catholic, blue eyes, brown hair, fair complexion. Posted to 2nd RIR 19.8.1904. Deprived six days pay for absence, 5.3.1907. Sent to India to join 1st RIR 8.3.1907. Appointed unpaid L/Cpl 14.6.1909. In confinement, 15.10.1909, awaiting trial on charges of absenting himself without leave, an act to the prejudice of Good Order and Military Discipline, and losing, by neglect, his equipment and clothing. Convicted, 9.11.1909, given 84 days detention and fined £3. Served 8 years and 357 days, of which 5 years and 328 days were served abroad. Transferred to the Army Reserve at Gosport, 29.3.1913. He lived at 44 Craven Park, Harlesden, London, for a few months, then went to Canada, returning in October 1913. This was the residence of Mrs Katherine E. O’Dea to whom he was engaged. Temporarily employed at Paddington Railway Station, from 6.7.1914, loading and unloading vans.

Mobilized at Belfast 5.8.1914 and posted to 2nd RIR. Wounded and taken prisoner 15.9.1914. British Intelligence discovered that he had joined the Irish Brigade in Germany. Mrs O’Dea had been listed as his next of kin. The Metropolitan Police made discreet enquiries and reported, 16.9.1915, that she was then residing at 28 Berkhampstead Avenue, Wembley: ‘Mrs O’Dea is a widow, has said that she was educated in Germany; she is described as a very fast woman and whilst she was living at 44 Craven Park was always entertaining soldiers. I have also been informed that Mrs O’Dea has two sons now serving in the British Army.’ 6902 Pte James Scanlon, a repatriated POW of the Leinster Regt, made a statement, 15.8.1916: ‘On one of these occasions when we went to the Brigade’s quarters Bailey was there in his unteroffizier’s uniform. He was actively urging men to join the Brigade and asked me to do so. I called him a traitor, whereupon he got up to strike me, I said “Yes, of course you would hit a wounded man.” He then sat down again … Some time about July 1915 Bailey came to our part of the camp in the same uniform with a belt and a side bayonet. The Irish prisoners crowded round him, and I saw them knock him down and kick him. The Germans came to his rescue and got him away. Several of our men were punished for assaulting Bailey.’

He came ashore at Banna Strand, Co. Kerry, from the German submarine U19, with Sir Roger Casement and Robert Monteith, 21.4.1916. He used the name Julien Beverley and was driven by car to the neighbourhood of Tralee. Arrested the next day and, on condition that he would be protected, provided selective information about the gun-running plot. Taken from Spike Island, Cork, under military escort, 6 May, to the Royal Irish Constabulary Depot, Phoenix Park, Dublin. Immediately moved to Scotland Yard and placed in Cannon Row Police Station. Transferred to Wandsworth Detention Barracks the following day. Gave evidence at the trial of Casement, 1916 Rebellion Handbook: ‘He was taken, with other Irishmen, to the camp at Limburg, where he was well treated for a time: “I saw Sir Roger Casement about April 1915 (the statement proceeded). He spoke to me about joining the Irish Brigade solely for the purpose of fighting for Irish freedom, and I joined so that I could get out of the country, and was made Sergeant straight away.” Bailey went on to say that he was sent to Berlin at the end of March 1916, and, with a Mr Monteith, went to a school to get instruction in the use of explosives. After three hours he went to another place in Berlin to get further instruction. On the 11th he and Mr Monteith and Sir Roger Casement were driven to the War Office. There he was given a railway ticket, and the three of them went to Wilhelmshaven. There they were put on a submarine.’

When the charges were read out at Bow Street, 15.5.1916, Casement, pointing to Bailey, said: ‘Well, that man is innocent. I think the indictment is wrongly drawn against him. Is it within my power to pay for the defence of this man? I wish him to be in every way as well defended as myself, and if he has no means to undertake his defence I am prepared to pay for his.’ Their trial took place 26–8 June. After Casement had been sentenced to death, the Attorney General intimated that the charge of treason against Bailey was withdrawn. ‘As he had throughout been but a subordinate, and had a good character in the Army, and having always denied any intention of helping the enemy, but, in the words of the Attorney General, took the course he did to get away from captivity in Germany, the Crown entered a nolle prosequi, and he was at once released.’ Went to live with Mrs O’Dea but was subject to compulsory retention under the Military Service Act. Transferred to 3rd Wiltshire Regt, 1.7.1916, No. 31447. Transferred to 3rd Royal North Lancashire Regt, No. 26418, 17 July. Posted to their 2nd Bn, embarking at Davenport, 19 August. Disembarked at Kilwa, Tanzania, German East Africa, 29 September. Transferred to the RE as a Sapper 272845 and moved to the EEF at Alexandria, 9.3.1917. Employed as a platelayer, WR/143247, RE, in the Railway Operating Division. A/Cpl 24.5.1919. Mentioned in General Sir Edmund Allenby’s despatches, London Gazette 5.6.1919, for services during the period from 19.8.1918 to 31.1.1919. Embarked for home at Port Said 6.9.1919. Discharged from the RE Transportation Branch 8.12.1919. File ref: 339/26418; police file: MEPO 2/10668; Irish Brigade papers: WO141/9.

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Tom A McCluskey

Jimmy,

That was a very interesting and detailed article

Thanks

Tom McC

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Guest KevinEndon

There is a song about Roger Casement called "The Lonely Bana Strand" it tells the story of Roger and his quest to gain arms for his army.

Banna Strand / Lonely Banana Strand

'Twas on Good Friday morning,

All in the month of May,

A German Ship was signalling,

Beyond out in the Bay,

We had twenty thousand rifles

All ready for to land,

But no answering signal did come

From the lonely Banna Strand.

"No signal answers from the shore",

Sir Roger sadly said,

"No comrades here to meet me,

Alas, they must be dead,

But I must do my duty

And at once I mean to land",

So in a small boat rowed ashore

On the lovely Banna Strand.

Now the R.I.C. were hunting

For Sir Roger high and low,

They found him in McKenna's fort;

Said they: "You are our foe",

Said he: "I'm Roger Casement,

I came to my native land,

I mean to free my countrymen

On the lonely Banna Strand.

They took Sir Roger prisoner,

And sailed for London town,

And in the Tower they laid him,

A traitor to the Crown;

Said he "I am no traitor",

But his trial he had to stand,

For bringing German rifles

To the lonely Banna Strand.

'Twas in an English prison

That they led him to his death,

"I'm dying for my country"

He said with his last breath,

They buried him in British soil

Far from his native land,

And the wild waves sing his requiem

On the lonely Banna Strand.

They took Sir Roger home again

In the year of '65,

And with his comrades of '16

In peace and tranquil lies,

His last fond wish, it is fulfilled

For to lie in his native land,

And the waves will roll in peace again

On the lonely Banna Strand.

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kildaremark

There is a very interesting article in the Irish Sword (summer 2005) on Limburg which includes a good many photographs of the camp and a lot about the Celtic Cross there with the names of Irishmen who died at the camp. Another article was published in the Irish Sword Winter 1995 issue on Casement's Irish Brigade from which I attach the following page:

post-6633-1160144173.jpg

It shows a photo of the Celtic Cross at Limburg and NCOs of the Irish Brigade.

Mark

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Chris_Baker

Mark - can you fill me in - what's the Irish Sword?

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Desmond7

Long established military history publication.

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Terry_Reeves

I have the papers re: Dowling. His capture, the subsequent investigation, and events after his imprisonment which became quite political, make interesting reading.

Terry Reeves

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Guest Aisling

There is a song about Roger Casement called "The Lonely Bana Strand" it tells the story of Roger and his quest to gain arms for his army.

Hi, I am doing a PhD on Roger Casement and wonder if you know anything more about this song? Or know or any others like it? i am just about to write a chapter on how Casement is remembered in song/literature/poetry/monuments, etc in present day Ireland, so any offerings would be gratefully received!

Thanks,

Aisling

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Guest Aisling

In case it is of any interest to anyone here, I also did some research on Casement and the POWs in Germany in the Imperial War Museum in London, and there are quite a few diaries and letters from both Irish and British POWs which mention Casement and his attempted recruitment drive in the camps, which I can dig out if it would be useful...?

Aisling

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gordonpower

Hi Aisling,

Anything you can forward on to me would be of great interest.

Although my research is not based solely on the Casement Brigade guys (My masters is on Irish born POWs), they seem to create the greatest interest. The guys who joined the "German" Brigade were nearly all pre war soldiers or reservists who formed part of the BEF. And yet they joined the "Enemy"(Germans) so to English or allied eyes they were traitors and hated by there former comrades (I have come across repors of them "getting a few Kicks" etc, and yet to Republican eyes they may be looked on as Heros. One only has to listen to the Haunting "Bana Strand" to see this. With the failure of the Brigade they became an embarressment to the Germans, as they did not know what to do with them. Even after the war The ex ex-brigade members were mistrusted by the ex British Servicemen in there home towns. I have come across at least one serious encounter were men were attacked for being suspected Brigade members.

It is a tough one to call. Generally speaking Great War Veterans did not talk or spoke very little of their experiences, but the Irish lads would not talk of theirs, maybe because of 1916 and the fact that "the Irish" had fought these very same soldiers (English) in the streets of Dublin etc. I think this is why we do not have so many biographys written post war by Irishmen (Of course there are a few). In mY own family my fathers cousin fought with the Royal irish Regiment (8794 Pte Martin Hunt - He was awarded the Italian Bronze medal of Valor - a unique award to Regiment) he later had his house burned down to the ground (as family history goes)..by his own brother who was staunchly Republican. On my mothers side of the family another cousin fell out with his brother as one night after he had a few too many he told his brother of a charge he took part in during the Boer war (Talana I think). He explained how he decapitated a Boer during the charge (he was in the cavalry). The other brother was so horrified he never spoke again to his brother (He was a republican) .

All I can say is...

God help Ireland and her sons (and daughters too of course!!)

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