THE DEVIL'S OWN MUTINEERS
In June of 1920, as Ireland was ravaged by the excesses of the infamous "Black and Tans," a group of Irishmen far from home agonized over the harsh treatment their families were being subjected to back in Ireland.
These men, Irishmen serving as soldiers in Englands' 88th Foot, the Connaught Rangers, sometimes know as the "Devil's Own," agonized over the suffering of their countrymen all the more because they were wearing the uniform of the same country as those "Black and Tans" who were even then killing and destroying in Ireland.
The Connaught Rangers had a long and proud history as a fighting regiment, albeit, unfortunately, in the service of the oppressor of their own nation.
It was formed in 1793, it saw hard action during Wellington's Peninsula campaign, in the Crimea and the Boer War.
During the WW I they saw action in Europe, the middle east, and fought in the ill-fated Gallipoli campaign.
They took fifty percent casualties at the battle of Kosturino.
As England used the irregular "Black and Tan" police force in an attempt to browbeat and coerce loyalty from the Irish population, the soldiers of the 88th, many veterans of WW I, got up every day and helped the English maintain their grip on another colony: India.
During the Black and Tan war, Englands' Irish regiments were intentionally posted far from home, the 88th was in Punjab, India.
Finally, on June 28, 1920, a small group of the "Devils Own" could not bear to support the government that was oppressing their people any longer.
Five men in Julllundur barracks informed an NCO that they could no longer obey orders.
One soldier relented, but the other four were sent to the guard house.
Soon word of their actions spread through the regiment.
By that afternoon 200 Rangers refused orders, telling their commanding officer they were done soldiering for England until all British soldiers left Ireland.
The mutineers in Jollundur sent word of their refusal up to the Ranger units in the hills and soon another group of 70 at Solon had refused to continue their army duties, there were now approximately 390 mutineers.
However, after peaceably giving up their arms, this group of mutineers, lead by James Daly, became fearful of attack and reprisals from other troops and stormed the magazine that night attempting to retake their arms. The soldiers in the magazine opened fire and two mutineers were killed and another wounded.
The mutiny soon lost steam after this incident and most of the mutineers were court martialed.
When the trials were over 61 Rangers had been found guilty, 47 were given prison sentences and 14 were sentenced to death.
In the end 13 of those death sentences were commuted to prison sentences.
Later, after the Anglo-Irish treaty was signed, many of those in jail were given early release.
There would be no commutation of the sentence for James Daly, however. He was executed by firing squad.
Daly and the other men who put their lives on the line to make a political state thousands of miles from Ireland are not mentioned often in the history books.
In 1970 the bodies of the two mutineers killed at Solon, Sears and Smyth , and that of James Daly were brought home to Ireland.
They were interred in Glasnevin Cemetery in Dublin, with a proper memorial over them.
They had received some form of justice at last. Ar dheis De go raibh siad. (May they sit at the right hand of God.)
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