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  1. #1
    Thailand Expat KEVIN2008's Avatar
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    An Irishman’s Diary on an Irish nurse in wartime


    “Throughout the war, Mary Morris kept a diary. It is a remarkable work. It was collected by the Imperial War Museum in London, which realised its significance but it lay in its vaults until now. “

    An Irishman’s Diary on an Irish nurse in wartime

    Mary Morris’s desire to be a nurse led in only one direction – to Britain. At the age of 18 she passed the examination to train at Guy’s Hospital in London as a nurse probationer. The time of her arrival could hardly have been more ominous. It was August 1939. Within a few weeks, Britain was at war.
    Morris, who was born Mary Mulry, grew up in Caltra, Co Galway. Her mother died when she was just three weeks old and she and her two brothers were brought up by her father and aunt.

    Her brother Michael emigrated to the United States, joined the US army and landed in Normandy on D-Day. He was among the US soldiers who liberated the Buchenwald concentration camp.

    Throughout the war, Mary Morris kept a diary. It is a remarkable work. It was collected by the Imperial War Museum in London, which realised its significance but it lay in its vaults until now.

    Those on active duties in the services are not supposed to keep diaries lest they give vital information to the enemy if apprehended, but Mary Morris inherited her father’s rebellious streak and kept one anyway. She was a lucid observer of some of the most cataclysmic events in history.

    A Very Private Diary – An Irish Nurse in Wartime is published this month to coincide with the 70th anniversary of D-Day and the start of the Battle of Normandy.
    Mary Morris landed in Normandy on a troopship on June 18th, 12 days after D-Day.
    She joined active service by enrolling in the Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service Reserves, known as the QAs. She did so despite the strenuous objections of her matron, who wanted her to remain in civilian service, and her republican father, who had fought in the War of Independence against the British.
    At one stage when she is home on leave, he rails against partition. Pithily, she recounts how her own experiences give her a sense of perspective. “I pointed out that HM Government have enough to worry about at present”.
    On reaching the coastline of Normandy, she was confronted with an “astonishing sight. The girls squealed with amazement and terror. It was like Guy Fawkes night. There was the noise of aircraft and brilliant multi-coloured flares which the sailors call ‘flaming onions’ dropping from the sky.”

    Tragically another hospital ship which sailed with them hit a mine and sank.
    Morris had already lived through the terror of war before arriving in Normandy. One of her first assignments was to nurse soldiers returning from the beaches of Dunkirk. She even fell for one of them, Pierre, a handsome French officer and her brazen courtship almost cost her fledging career. During the Blitz, she narrowly escaped death when a German bomb fell on the Alexandra Hotel in London where she had been dining with Pierre.

    Her diary cover the years between 1940 and 1946 from her time as a teenage ingénue to marriage, motherhood and the worldly wisdom that came from observing the worst of war’s horrors.

    Having witnessed so much, she writes: “I feel quite ancient at times, have seen too much suffering yet would not want to have missed any of the life I have lived so far.”
    Amidst the serious business of war, there is much levity too. Mary Morris loved to party and does not seem to lack for male admirers. Her diary entry for Christmas Day, 1944, reveals: “We danced and drank champagne until 5am. It was great fun.” She writes after two months in Normandy. “Met a crazy Irishman from Roscommon, a bomber pilot with the RAF. Paddy is a most unconventional character, a wild man of the bogs. He has all the traditional dislike of the Irish for the British yet like thousands of other Irishmen he has joined them in this fight against Hitler.”
    Her diary contain insights into the Ireland of the time and the attitude of Allied soldiers to Irish neutrality. “There is remarkable little resentment or even comment on Ireland’s neutrality during this war . . . anyway there are so many Irishmen in the British services that most people have forgotten that they are volunteers and this is not their fight.”
    Mary Morris married an officer four years her junior and settled down in England after the war. She had four children.

    Mary Morris died in 1997, but her memory lives on in this diary skilfully edited by Carol Acton. The contribution of Irishmen from neutral Ireland to the Allied war effort remains under-reported; even more so the Irish women who served. This is a welcome addition to redressing that balance.

    Tue, Jun 3, 2014, 01:00 http://www.irishtimes.com/culture/he...time-1.1817784
    Last edited by KEVIN2008; 03-06-2014 at 07:00 PM.

  2. #2
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    david44's Avatar
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    However welcome the Empire made them many had pensions denied.

    Some volunteered to fight facism like my uncle who had also volunteered unpaid to fight Franco and spent 4 years emprisoned,others would not volunteer for their own nations defence but took the King's shilling.Upon returning to De's facism thy soon discovered that they would be victimised.
    Little is told of the Irish and many Englismen who fought for Franco .The lesson must be never volunteer.

    Amongst many studies of the subject

    This week we're going to give you a break from the mind-numbing economics and politics of the euro crisis and the referendum here on the Fiscal Compact Treaty. It will be unavoidable next week in the run up to the vote in Ireland on May 31, so make the most of your time off!

    So this week we will ignore all that euro stuff. There also happens to be a good reason for switching the focus this week because it gives us the chance to take a look at an important new book which was published in Dublin on Tuesday, May 22.

    The book, Returning Home, is by the young Galway historian Bernard Kelly, and it investigates the shameful way the estimated 12,000 Irish veterans who returned to Ireland after the end of the Second World War were treated.

    Let's put it like this -- it's a long way from Saving Private Ryan.

    You would think that after fighting Hitler's armies the returning ex-servicemen would have got a hero's welcome home. But they didn't.

    Instead they came back to a country that was scornful of, ignorant of and indifferent about what they had been through. In many cases they faced open hostility. Their service in the British forces was seen by many at home as anti-national, almost traitorous.

    The book tells the stories of many of these Irish servicemen and women who fought in the war, but I particularly liked the one about a guy called John Kelly who left rural Kilkenny to join the British Army and ended up fighting the Germans in North Africa.

    In 1943, after the heat of the battle to liberate Tunis, the capital of Tunisia, he was sitting in a bar in the city center having a drink. Also there celebrating the liberation of the city were some American conscript soldiers.

    Hearing his Irish accent, the Americans said, “Say, you guys are neutral, you’re not in the war at all!” Kelly explained that he was a volunteer. The reaction of the Americans was, “Are you goddamn mad or something?”

    It was a fair question. Kelly, and thousands of other Irishmen like him, had left the safety of neutral Ireland and risked death or injury to fight in the Second World War. They played their part in defeating Hitler.
    But they got no thanks for it when they came home. It's a disgraceful and shameful part of recent Irish history. It shows how small minded and inward looking Ireland was at the time.

    De Valera had kept Ireland neutral during the war while the British and the Americans fought the most brutal and evil regime the world had ever seen.

    Whether that decision was morally justifiable given the murder and mayhem unleashed across Europe by Hitler is arguable. One can take the view that as a weak, newly independent country we had other priorities.
    But at the very least the sacrifice made by thousands of Irish people who volunteered to fight Hitler should have been recognized when they came back. After fighting the Nazis the 12,000 Irish veterans deserved that much.

    Instead they came back to a country where the attitude to them was so poisonous they quickly learned to keep their war service secret.

    My recollections of rural banner county They hated theTans theScots theEnglish theYanks the Americans and almost all their kin,endless mist priests and poverty, no wonder anybody who could walk left for London Boston or Australia.

    Endless fecking Tea novenas and sheep for comfort

    The Irish World War II shame - Irish soldiers faced hostility after arriving home - IrishCentral.com

    The Irish World War II shame - Irish soldiers faced hostility after arriving home - IrishCentral.com
    I used to have a job at a calendar factory.
    I got the sack because
    I took a couple of days off.

  3. #3
    Thailand Expat KEVIN2008's Avatar
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    Another book on the same subject:


  4. #4
    Thailand Expat KEVIN2008's Avatar
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    “John Naylor is today remembered on the memorial wall at Loos, where his name is listed with thousands of other war dead. He is presumed buried somewhere near the battlefield, the exact location of the grave now unknown. Until two years ago, the whereabouts of Margaret Naylor’s grave was a mystery too, at least to some of her family.”

    A war-time tragedy on two fronts

    The years of centenary commemorations now upon us will test the truth of a cynical quotation, attributed to Stalin and others, that whereas the death of one man is a tragedy, the death of a million is just a statistic.

    But among the many stories that fall somewhere between the extremes of that grim spectrum, there can be few as poignant as that of John and Margaret Naylor, a husband and wife from Dublin who, at the outbreak of the first World War, were the parents of three children under six.

    A grocery shop porter in peacetime, John Naylor then joined the Royal Dublin Fusiliers. And he was to be one of those very unfortunate men who found themselves in the trenches at a place called Hulluch, in northern France, on April 29th, 1916.
    It was the second day of a gas attack by Germans that sent hundreds of soldiers, including Naylor (and many of the Germans themselves, after the wind changed) to horrible deaths.
    Compounding this one man’s tragedy, meanwhile, although he couldn’t have known about it, was an incident back in his native city earlier that same day. Dublin was at war now too. And on the morning of April 29th, Margaret Naylor had risked the fighting on a mission to buy bread.
    Despite much speculation since, it is not known whether she was a victim of crossfire or a deliberate act. Nor, to my knowledge, is it known which side fired the gun. In any case, crossing Ringsend Drawbridge, she was shot in the head and fatally wounded.
    She was the first female casualty of Easter Week. And although she lingered for a couple of days afterwards at St Vincent’s Hospital, she too must have gone to her death unaware of the tragic coincidence that united her with her soldier husband, several hundred miles away.

    The couple had also had several children who died in infancy. So if there’s a consolation in the unhappy story, it’s that the three daughters orphaned in April 1916 – Maggie, Kitty, and Tessie – all survived. They were taken in by the dead woman’s sister and lived for years over a shop in what is now Pearse Street, en route to adulthood.
    The sad symmetry of their parents’ deaths underlines an similarly poignant resemblance in the casualty figures between Easter Week and the atrocity at Hulluch. In fact, somewhat more Irishmen died in the gas attack and associated fighting than did in Dublin during the Rising.

    According to a recent report in this newspaper (March 31st), which incorporated new details released by the UK national archives, the Dublin Fusiliers lost 368 troops in the attack, and the Royal Inniskillings 263. This compares with the 466 who died on all sides during Easter Week.

    For those who succumbed directly to the gas, the experience has been likened to drowning on dry land. But the gas not only made breathing impossible, it also caused a terrible thirst, to quench which only hastened a victim’s end. An army chaplain spoke afterwards of seeing dead bodies “in every conceivable posture of human agony”.
    The suffering might have been avoided with better planning. The Allied lines had warnings of a likely attack from a German deserter (there are also stories of rats abandoning trenches on the German side beforehand, in apparent reaction to leakage from canisters).
    And in fact, the British army had issued gas helmets. But in the event, many of these proved faulty. One respirator, the French-made M2 Mask, did perform well, saving the lives of those who wore it. Production was expedited as a result, and used to good effect later. But it was an expensive lesson.

    John Naylor is today remembered on the memorial wall at Loos, where his name is listed with thousands of other war dead. He is presumed buried somewhere near the battlefield, the exact location of the grave now unknown.
    Until two years ago, the whereabouts Margaret Naylor’s grave was a mystery too, at least to some of her family. But Frankie McNamee – a son of Kitty Naylor, the middle one of the three orphans – has since taken it upon himself to resurrect a history that, wilfully or otherwise, had been forgotten.

    Two years ago, he traced his grandmother to her final resting place, the British war cemetery at Grangegorman, where a handsome headstone now marks the grave of Margaret Naylor, nee Rowe, and unites her, in words on stone at least, to the tragic coincidence of John Naylor’s almost simultaneous demise in the trenches of France.

    FRANK MC NALLY: IRISH TIMES: THURS. JULY 3rd 2014

  5. #5
    Thailand Expat KEVIN2008's Avatar
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    An Irishman’s Diary on Hubert Gough, an enigmatic general



    Gen Sir Hubert de la Poer Gough: His role as neutral Ireland’s defender, and the champion of Irish personnel serving in the British forces, is an unwritten story.

    This year marks the centenary of the Curragh Mutiny and the outbreak of the Great War, as well as the 75th anniversary of the start of the second World War.

    One figure who stands at the intersection of these events, a man often misunderstood, is Gen Sir Hubert de la Poer Gough. Born in London in 1870, Gough came from a long lineage of soldiery. His family were Irish by adoption and were prominent Anglican churchmen, but gradually began to abandon clerical vocations for the “profession of arms”. Hubert was the son of Sir Charles Gough, who distinguished himself at Lucknow, during the Indian Mutiny, winning the Victoria Cross and becoming a major general.

    In 1888, aged just 17, Hubert entered the Royal Military College, and in 1889 he joined the 16th Lancers serving in the Malakand Field Force in Northwest India. By the time of the “Curragh Mutiny”, Gough was a brigadier. In March 1914, he led 57 fellow officers of Third Cavalry Brigade to deliver an ultimatum to Gen Paget, declaring that they would accept dismissal “if ordered north” to put down the UVF. Called to Whitehall, Gough and his colonels requested a written assurance that they would not be ordered to enforce Home Rule in Ulster and Secretary of State for War JE Seely agreed to their demands, but Prime Minister Herbert Asquith could not allow army officers to dictate policy and Seely resigned.

    During the Great War, Gough was the youngest British general commanding on the Western Front, but was greatly disliked by his superiors because he challenged their decisions and encouraged his own staff to do so. Field Marshal Smuts, however, learned much from Gough about the condition and vulnerability of the line while inspecting the front in January 1918, and described him as “a terrific fellow, oozing with character and Irish humour”.

    Such favour would not save him when his Fifth Army bore the brunt of the last German offensive of March 1918. Gough was relieved of his command, despite leading a spirited defensive action against colossal odds. Lloyd George needed to divert attention from his government’s failure to bolster the line adequately and according to his biographer, Anthony Farrar-Hockley, Gough was “sacrificed to political expediency”.
    Historians are divided in opinion about Gough; some label him a callous “butcher among generals”, whereas others judge him to have been unusually considerate towards his soldiers.
    In his retirement, he stewarded the Fifth Army Comrades Association and led the Chelsea Home Guard in the second World War. It was in this capacity that, ironically, Gough attacked Northern Ireland’s unionist government in August 1941. He co-authored a letter to Churchill and Canadian prime minister William Mackenzie King, criticising Stormont for organising a local defence force, analogous to Britain’s home guard, but “recruited along politico-sectarian lines”. Gough, and other retired Anglo-Irish officers, castigated Craigavon for his policies. While disagreeing with Irish neutrality, they defended the sovereign right to pursue such a course and desired to see old wounds and divisions healed through a spirit of reconciliation.

    Gough brought about recognition of the contribution of Irish citizens to Britain’s war effort. In September 1941, he published an editorial in the Times of London, citing that “very large numbers of Irishmen have joined H.M. Forces” and, upon his suggestion, Churchill formed the 38th Irish Brigade, which fought valiantly in North Africa and Italy.

    Gough also observed that there was no facility where Irish servicemen and women could meet and rest in London.
    With a donation of £1,000 from the Guinness family, he opened the Shamrock Club in Park Lane in March 1943, a venue often frequented by many Irish personnel on leave. In 1946, Gough famously wrote to the Times of London, claiming that, by July 1944, British next-of-kin lists contained 165,000 addresses in the south of Ireland.
    He felt that Britain owed a “debt of honour” to these volunteers, who “in spite of their country’s neutrality, crowded unasked to the aid of the United Kingdom in its blackest crisis”.

    Gough died in March 1963, his chief legacies being the “preventative mutiny” at the Curragh and his reputation as an “incompetent officer” in 1918. However, his role as neutral Ireland’s defender, and the champion of Irish personnel serving in the British forces, is an unwritten story which, in the year 2014, is fitting to tell.

    An Irishman IRISH TIMES JULY 8 2014

  6. #6
    Philippine Expat Davis Knowlton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KEVIN2008 View Post
    Another book on the same subject:

    Looked interesting. Unfortunately, not available on Kindle. Paperback out of stock.

  7. #7
    Thailand Expat KEVIN2008's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Davis Knowlton View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by KEVIN2008 View Post
    Another book on the same subject:

    Looked interesting. Unfortunately, not available on Kindle. Paperback out of stock.
    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Coward-Retur...hero+if+i+fall

  8. #8
    Thailand Expat KEVIN2008's Avatar
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    Using the slaughter of the first World War to make us buy groceries? Bah, humbug THE IRISH TIMES CULTURE
    The Sainsbury’s ad strives to make us associate the tragedy of a generation with self-service checkouts and shopping trollies and Christmassy feelings


    A still from Sainsbury’s Christmas ad


    Standing in muddy no-man’s land in the midst of war, a German soldier and a English soldier face each other. One extends his hand to the other. “We are not so different you and I,” he seems to say. “We are, after all, both Paul McCartney.”
    Paul McCartney’s 1983 Pipes of Peace video is very like Sainsbury’s recent Christmas ad, a homage to the unofficial Christmas Armistice of 1914, during which hostilities briefly subsided and German and English soldiers sang carols to each other before crossing the barbed wire to play football and eat Sainsbury’s chocolate.
    In the music promo, McCartney plays both a plucky, clean- shaven Tommy and a winky, moustachioed German. In this version of history, it is these disparate, pan-national Paul McCartneys who instigate the temporary truce of 1914, all to the sound of a jaunty anti-war song. In the Sainsbury’s ad, it’s ruddy-cheeked young model types who do the boundary- crossing to a bitter-sweet, less jaunty score (a piano arrangement of Leaning on the Everlasting Arms) but lovelier, Christmassier cinematography.

    Both films depict these events for different reasons, one to shill a surprisingly upbeat anti-war ditty from a former Beatle, the other to shill the wares of a British supermarket chain. I’m fine with the former. I mean, it worked on me back in 1983. After seeing Pipes of Peace on MT-USA with Vincent Hanley, it became the first album I bought (I also liked the video for Say, Say, Say with McCartney as a funky old-west snake-oil salesman swindling people alongside what I genuinely thought was a pretty, tomboyish young lady. It was Michael Jackson.) At eight years old, it was the first time I realised war was bad. Prior to this my war knowledge had come from Victor and Warlord comics and it looked like great fun.

    So it could be the nostalgia bubbling in my blood, but I feel like the Pipes of Peace video has something genuinely profound to offer about both the psychology of Paul McCartney and the futility of war. “Hey,” it seems to say, “We are all just pale reflections of the platonic, cosmic Paul McCartney, why we gotta fight?”
    The Sainsbury’s ad, on the other hand, despite basically working with the same material, leaves me weeping in a Pavlovian fashion while simultaneously feeling empty, angry and eager to shop for condiments. Borrowing powerful historical symbolism for art, even a commercial pop song, feels like an artist’s prerogative. It’s their job. Leveraging historical touchstones to make us buy groceries, on the other hand, feels like dark, Satanic behaviour.

    The Sainsbury’s ad strives to make us associate the tragedy of a generation with self-service checkouts and shopping trollies and Christmassy feelings. It fits in with current trends that like to denude the first World War of political and historical meaning so that we can use it as a big tragic signifier in period dramas (no emotional depth in your writing? Transfer the action to 1914!). The franchise could be expanded beyond the first World War, of course. And around the world I imagine there are brainstorming sessions underway at which marketeers are gleefully matching glitzy brands with suitable historical mass slaughters.

    I suspect something similar will be done here in Ireland with 1916 when we figure out how to express patriotic fervour safely and with confidence. All I can gather from the current, rather vague 1916 Inspires video, is that the Rising had something to do with Macnas and Facebook and Fungie the Dolphin and James Connolly muttering “brand Ireland” and “great little place to do business” while blasting a shotgun from the roof of the GPO at uniformed ex-Beatles (probably). We could, I suppose, learn something from the ancient enemy about the sentimental appropriation of history. Maybe all the signatories of the proclamation could be played by Paul McCartney?

    Using the slaughter of the first World War to make us buy groceries? Bah, humbug

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