Irish soldiers refuse to support Roger Casement in Germany

Irish soldiers refuse to support Roger Casement in Germany
Roger Casement is reported to have attempted a recruitment of Irish soldiers interned at a German POW campPhoto: National Library of Ireland, KE 009

England, 6 December 1914 – There are claims that Irish soldiers held in German prisoner of war camps have rejected pleas from Sir Roger Casement to join the Irish brigade for Germany.

According to a letter which is supposed to have been received in England from Germany, all the Irish prisoners of war were brought together at Limburg and to hear Sir Roger Casement’s research.

A group of prisoners in a German prison camp in Limburg. [Image: Irish Life, 26 November 1915. (Full collection of Irish Life available in National Library of Ireland)]

Heckled by soldiers

The letter claims that the soldiers booed him and heckled him. The refusal to join the brigade was met with severe reprisals with even the ration of bread to each man being stopped. It is then claimed that the men were tied to trees and eventually 49 went over to the German side.

The remainder of the 2,500 Irish are reported to have stayed loyal to the British Empire.

Angus Mitchell discusses Casement’s trip to the USA and to Germany

[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.]

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