Irish war experience recounted in two new books
Dublin, 28 July 1917 - Two new books have been published to mark the contribution of Ireland to the Great War.
The first book is The Pals at Suvla Bay and was written by Henry Hanna. It centres on the record of ‘D’ Company of the 7th Battalion of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers and is intended as a tribute ‘to the memory of men who will rank in the annals of the war as the bravest of the brave’.
It tells the story of the ‘Pal’ battalion from their departure from Dublin in August 1914 through to 29 September 1915 when they set sail from Suvla Bay on the Gallipoli Peninsula.
Having landed some 235 soldiers strong, a mere 79 survived until the end. Contributing a foreword to the book, General Sir Bryan T. Mahon remarks: ‘There was one company (‘D’) almost entirely composed of Dublin gentlemen and the City of Dublin may well be proud of this gallant and heroic band. In my opinion it was unexcelled in the British army for bravery, dash, discipline and a sense of duty.’
The book also features a chapter on the work of the chaplain, and includes the names of battalion members, many with photographs and biographical information. It further features ‘several fine coloured sketches’ by the artist Lt Drummond Fish.
Another book, called The Irish on the Somme, is due to be published soon by Hodder and Stoughton and will feature a foreword from Irish Parliamentary Party leader, John Redmond.
In the foreword, the text of which has already been made public, Redmond defends the decision to support the British war effort in September 1914. He writes:
‘This war is a war of liberation, and its battle-cry is the rights and liberties of humanity. From the very beginning of this conflict my colleagues of the Irish party and I, myself, have availed of every opportunity in Parliament, on the platform, and in the Press to present this view of it to the Irish race at home and abroad; and despite the tragic mistakes made in regard to Ireland by successive Governments since war broke out, we are still unshaken in our opinion that Ireland’s highest interests lie in the speedy and overwhelming victory of England and the allies.’
[Editor's note: This is an article from Century Ireland, a fortnightly online newspaper, written from the perspective of a journalist 100 years ago, based on news reports of the time.]