Flogging of Irish POWs in Bulgaria denied
London, 14 November 1917 - Allegations that Irish prisoners of war in Sofia have been subjected to flogging have been rejected in the House of Commons as ‘reckless and unjustly made’.
The charges have been levelled against a British officer, Lieutenant Gilliland, who has been placed in command of the POWs in the camp by Bulgarian authorities. They arise from statements made by four repatriated prisoners, of the Connaught Rangers, to both the Irish Prisoners’ Association and the British Government.
This is the second time the treatment of Irish prisoners at the camp has been raised in the House of Commons.
Last week, Mr Jeremiah McVeagh MP for South Down, made reference to Lt Gilliland, who, it was claimed, had ‘habitually appropriated food and clothing consigned to Irish prisoners; [and had] ordered the flogging of the prisoners by their Bulgarian captors for trivial breaches of discipline, where prisoners of other nationalities were spared’.
The punishments were allegedly carried out in the public square, and on St Patrick’s day, five Irish soldiers, including one aged 53, were flogged.
[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.]