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Firing squads in the 1916 Rising


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#76 BLee

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Posted 24 April 2011 - 04:37 PM

Father Augustine, the Franciscan friar, did attend several of the executions but as McBride was one of the first to be shot the friar's experiences of executions would have been little or none and I also doubt his experience of bullet wounds would be such that he could tell that the bullets used to execute McBride were exploding bullets. I do not think we can assume he was sympatric to the Rebel's cause, his duty as a Priest would have been to attend to the spiritual needs of the condemned man regardless of his views of the Rebellion. There was little support for the Rising and although O'Neill's countermanding order is usually blamed for the very low turn-out by the second day of the Rising the whole country was aware that it had started yet apart from a few minor skirmishes and a few Volunteers arriving in Dublin from the rest of the Country the total number of fighting men and women amounted to approximately 1,500 out of a total of over 100,000 members of the Irish Volunteers.

#77 truthergw

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Posted 24 April 2011 - 04:59 PM

Of course, Father Augustine's report has its place in the accounts of the time. It is, as you say, one of the few eyewitness accounts we have. That does not mean we have to accept his description at face value. It is well known that eye witnesses do make mistakes. To stand within feet of an execution would be a harrowing experience and he must have been all but overwhelmed at what he saw. It behooves us though, at the distance of nearly 90 years to be rational in our appraisal of all the reports and accounts and to try to sift the wheat from the chaff then discard the contributions which are almost certainly in error.

#78 murrough

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Posted 24 April 2011 - 05:09 PM

I have to agree with you Tom,but I hope the sifting is applied in equal measure to all of the sources involved.

#79 Dev Brady

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Posted 11 May 2011 - 09:38 PM

This may have been mentioned by others elsewhere - but JF Lucy's "There's a Devil in the Drum" makes mention of meeting one of the NCOs involved in executions after the rising and the turmoil he was facing as an Irishman. He also refers to an officer returning to a unit - and knowledge travelling beforehand of this man's role in the 1916 events and suggests the fact that he never made it out of no man's land in his first attack may have been down to being shot by his own men.
Doc


Doc,

Sorry to drop in randomly...

The passage in question is pp 356 - 359 of the 1993 hardback edition of There's a Devil in the Drum. The unnamed sergeant in question is recorded as an Englishman, albeit serving in an Irish Regiment. Lucy was Royal Irish Rifles and by inference, so was the sergeant. (Lucy mentions the harp on the man's cap badge). Lucy met him in the Royal irish Rifles Reserve Bn barracks in 1917.

This sergeant claimed to have been in charge of 'finishing them off' during the executions. MacBride is mentioned by name and the sergeant also claimed to have Plunkett's rosary which he tried to offer to Lucy. Lucy refused to take it.

To tie in tangentially with some of the later comments here, neither the sergeant or Lucy makes mention of exploding bullets being used on MacBride or anyone else. The sergeant did make the point that MacBride refused to be blindfolded which suggests a fairly detailed recounting of events. Exploding bullets might reasonably have been brought up. Out of interest, I seem to recall there was some controversy about Michael Collins being killed with an 'exploding bullet' due to the extensive nature of the damage to his head. This seems to be a common, and understandable, impression formed by those unfamiliar with the damage caused by 303 when encountering it for the first time.

#80 Siege Gunner

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Posted 11 May 2011 - 10:50 PM

Conventional bullets were designed to be lethal in quantities of one, at considerable range, so why would there have been any need for a firing squad, in numbers and at short range, to employ any kind of modified ammunition?

Is it known what kind of rifle/bullet Michael Collins was shot with? German surgeons, encountering wounds inflicted by the British Mark VII .303 bullet in the early months of the war, certainly thought they were seeing the effects of modified ammunition, and the Germans continued to protest that the Mk VII jacketed bullet, with its lead core and separate aluminium or composite tip section, was a 'dum-dum' design.

#81 Dev Brady

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Posted 12 May 2011 - 08:11 PM

Conventional bullets were designed to be lethal in quantities of one, at considerable range, so why would there have been any need for a firing squad, in numbers and at short range, to employ any kind of modified ammunition?

Is it known what kind of rifle/bullet Michael Collins was shot with? German surgeons, encountering wounds inflicted by the British Mark VII .303 bullet in the early months of the war, certainly thought they were seeing the effects of modified ammunition, and the Germans continued to protest that the Mk VII jacketed bullet, with its lead core and separate aluminium or composite tip section, was a 'dum-dum' design.


Sorry to have dragged this discussion off piste as it were...

I believe Collins was shot was a British Lee Enfield but I don't have all my books with me just now. The report from the Adjutant 1st Southern Division only mentions the IRA ambush party as using 'rifles'. Bizarrely, in his report he accuses Collin's escort of using exploding bullets against the ambush party even though the ambushers suffered no casualties (?). the use of 'exploding bullets' just seems to be a fairly common slur for one set of people to throw at another from the time if the Hague Convention onwards.

On a practical point, I was 16 years in the Infantry and I have never come across exploding SAA. I have seen what I presume to be Dum Dum though - in British 303 with a soft lead tip to the round. Factory made and 1917 dated if I remember rightly. My father still has some in his collection at home. They were recovered from a clearance of the camber at Bull Point ammunition depot in Plymouth. But that really is a tangent and I will give over.

#82 Sinabhfuil

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Posted 14 May 2011 - 09:52 AM

May I ask for some advice? I'm going to London next week and hope to spend a couple of days in Kew looking at the archives about the Rising, for my biography of my grandfather, Thomas MacDonagh, one of the seven signatories of the Proclamation of the Irish Republic (this last added for those who haven't read the whole thread).

I'd like to post here to ask if anyone can direct me to specific files or folders - what part of the forum would be the best place to put such a posting? This Ireland subforum, or another, or both? Thanks in advance for the kind help I know you're going to give me, as you have before.

#83 connaughtranger

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Posted 15 May 2011 - 12:05 PM



Piley, what is a field correspondence book?

Not sure if it's still relevant to you but a Field Correspndence Book Army Book 152 was used by officers to send messages, orders or seek information. The pages were perforated for easy separation and the officer kept a carbon copy for his own security (see attached example) Regards Martin
Attached File  IMG.jpg   91.75KB   0 downloads

#84 jdoyle

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Posted 15 May 2011 - 02:16 PM

May I ask for some advice? I'm going to London next week and hope to spend a couple of days in Kew looking at the archives about the Rising, for my biography of my grandfather, Thomas MacDonagh, one of the seven signatories of the Proclamation of the Irish Republic (this last added for those who haven't read the whole thread).

I'd like to post here to ask if anyone can direct me to specific files or folders - what part of the forum would be the best place to put such a posting? This Ireland subforum, or another, or both? Thanks in advance for the kind help I know you're going to give me, as you have before.


I'm hoping to make the same trip in the summer. The National Archives document I'm using as my guide is at :

http://www.nationala...ster-rising.pdf

#85 Sinabhfuil

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Posted 16 May 2011 - 11:37 AM

Thank you very much jdoyle.

The odd thing is that this .pdf opens as a web page, and when you try the "downloaded from this link" link given at the foot of the page - http://www.national-archives.gov.uk/records/research-guides/easter-rising.htm - it gives an error.

#86 David Underdown

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    Also remembering my Great-Great-Uncle Pte 30649 Frederick John Holbrook, 2nd Bn, Welsh Regiment, Died of Wounds 26 July 1916, buried Heilly Station Cemetery, II D 11 aged 19 according to CWGC, but born 5 May 1898. Entered France 12 May 1915. (Avatar)

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Posted 16 May 2011 - 04:23 PM

Try http://www.nationala...ster-rising.htm

#87 wig

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Posted 01 February 2013 - 11:24 AM

The only photograph of an officer known to have commanded one of the firing squads who carried out the executions:

http://broadsidesdot...uty-to-execute/