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Ireland & Irish during WWII

Ireland & Irish during the Second World War.
Latest hand-picked WWII news. See also: British Tanks, British Nazis, The Blitz, Nazi uniforms and troubles.

This is Ireland, don’t bomb - WWII coastal marking restored
A poignant World War II marking designed to ward German bombers away from neutral Ireland has been uncovered and restored to its former glory.

World War II crazy Irish hero who rammed a Tiger II tank and took it out
Sir John Gorman lived a life eventful by any metric. He joined the Irish Guards in 1942 and attained the rank of Captain by the time he returned to civilian life in 1946. He made his name chiefly for his actions during Operation Goodwood as the Allies fought their way through northern France. On June 18 1944 he and a group of men under his command were driving a group of M4 Sherman tanks when they ran into four German tanks some 900 feet away. One of them was a feared mark called a King Tiger whose gun was already trained on the British tanks. When previously discussing what they would do if they ran into a King Tiger Sir John told his men, `The only thing we can do is to use naval tactics — if the 88mm gun is pointing away from us, we shall have to use the speed of the Sherman and ram it.`

Ireland and the Nazis: a troubled history
As a neutral leader, de Valera trod a fine line between Nazi Germany and Britain, not helped by a pro-Nazi envoy in Berlin and his controversial condolences on Hitler`s death

How did favourite Nazi commando Otto Skorzeny become an Irish farmer?
He was Hitler's favourite Nazi commando, famously rescuing Mussolini from an Italian hilltop fortress, and was known as "the most dangerous man in Europe". After World War Two, he landed in Argentina and became a bodyguard for Eva Perón, with whom he was rumoured to have had an affair. So when Otto Skorzeny arrived in Ireland in 1959, having bought a rural farmhouse in County Kildare, it caused much intrigue. At 6ft 4in and 18 stone, known as 'scarface' due to a distinctive scar on his left cheek, Skorzeny was an easily recognisable figure as he popped into the local post office.

Ireland pardons soldiers who deserted to fight Nazis in World War II
Thousands of Irish soldiers who deserted their neutral nation`s military to fight with the Allies in World War II will be officially pardoned under a new law set to be passed recently. 5,000 deserters were court martialled or dismissed from the Irish defence forces in 1945, a move that left them without military pensions and barred from any state job for seven years. Defence Minister Alan Shatter formally apologised in 2012 for the discharge order, known as the `starvation order` because of the devastating effect it had on ex-servicemen and their families.

Dark Times, Decent Men: Stories of Irishmen in World War II by Neil Richardson
Why would an Irishman enlist in the WWII when his country had declared its neutrality? Raymond Wall was just 21 when war broke out in 1939. Within days, he had joined the Local Security Force and shortly after he travelled north of the border to enlist. He would end the war as a leading aircraftman amongst the ground crew of No 90 Squadron RAF at Tuddenham in Suffolk where his tasks included the job of loading 1,000lb bombs onto aeroplanes. So what made Wall, leave behind his family and make the trip to England to become a member of RAF Bomber Command? He later told: "Those were different times then. They were dark times. There was an insidious evil rampaging across Europe, and decent men were needed to stop it."

Nazi dossier reveals Hitler's plans to invade Ireland in spite of Irish allowing U-boats into their waters
A top-secret Nazi war dossier has come to light which reveals Hitler's chilling plans to invade Ireland during the Second World War. The document contains detailed maps and postcards of the country and has been kept by a family out of public view since the end of war. And it reveals that even though Ireland was officially neutral during the conflict, Hitler still viewed the country as a target for invasion. The Irish allowed German U-boats into their waters, but the booklet entitled "Militargeographische Angaben uber Irland" pinpoints key cities and other sites in Ireland for destruction.

Irish WWII deserters who joined British army to fight Hitler pardoned
4500 Irishmen who were branded deserters for joining Britain's struggle against Nazi Germany are to be pardoned. Irish justice minister Alan Shatter told that the government apologises for the way they were treated after the second world war. The men deserted from the Irish defence forces at a time when the neutral Irish Free State was playing no part in the battle against the Third Reich. In August 1945, the government dismissed soldiers who had absented themselves during the war and disqualified them for 7 years from holding employment or office remunerated from the state's central fund.

The Irish Hitler: the strange tale of Bridget Hitler and the Nazi leader
The quiet grave in a small Catholic cemetery in Coram, Long Island contains the bodies of Bridget and Patrick Stuart Huston, her son. However, there is no surname on the gravestone because they were notorious under another name. Bridget Dowling was a Dublin native who married Alois, Adolf Hitler`s half brother. She bore a son, Patrick who had four children himself, two of whom survive. The sons grew up on Patchogue, Long Island. The sons are among the only remaining blood links to Adolf Hitler and the two surviving brothers have no children so if they remain that way the Hitler Irish and American link will die out.

Irish soldiers who fought against Hitler hid their military medals after the war to avoid persecution
5,000 Irish soldiers who swapped uniforms to fight for the British against the Third Reich went on to suffer years of persecution. One of them, Phil Farrington, took part in the D-Day landings - but he wears his military medals in secret. Even to this day, he has nightmares that he will be arrested by the authorities and imprisoned for his WW2 service. He was one of 5,000 Irish soldiers who deserted their own neutral army to join the war against fascism and who were brutally punished on their return home as a result. They were dismissed from the Irish army, stripped of all pay and pension rights, and prevented from finding work.

Secret WWII documents reveal that US Marines arrived in Northern Ireland earlier than previously thought
Secret files detailing the presence of US Marines in Londonderry during the Second World War have been recently declassified. They reveal that the first American armed forces personnel arrived in Belfast not in 1942 as was traditionally held, but in Derry, to prepare the base at Ardmore in August 1941 - four months before Pearl Harbor was attacked.

The Belfast Blitz - One of Northern Ireland's darkest days
On 15 April 1941 almost 1,000 people perished during an intensive bombing raid by the German Luftwaffe. In addition to a huge loss of life there was also extensive damage across Belfast, leaving 100,000 people without homes. The city was considered to be a legitimate target during the Second World War because of its shipyard and aircraft factory.

Eye witness: "I saw an Alsatian dog with a dead baby in its mouth. It was running away. I took off my metal helmet and threw it on the ground. The rattle scared the dog and he dropped the baby."


Martin S. Quigley was the chief American spy in Ireland during the Second World War
Martin S. Quigley, an American film representative and WWII spy, has passed away at 93. In 1943 he was sent to Ireland as an agent of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) to gather intelligence about Ireland's official neutrality and the local views about the Allied and Axis powers. Quigley reported to the OSS director Major General William "Wild Bill" Donovan that in spite of their conflicts with the English, the Irish supported eventual Allied victory, because of their strong economic connections with England.

The period of wartime neutrality is known in Ireland as "the Emergency", because of the wording of the constitutional article used to suspend normal government of the country. The wartime Prime Minister Eamon de Valera famously - and disreputably - signed the book of condolence on Hitler's death, on May 2, 1945.


The Devil's Deal: The IRA, Nazi Germany and the Double Life of Jim O'Donovan by Dave O'Donoghue
As a chemistry student at UCD Jim O'Donovan -- who had major role in the bombing campaign of Britain in 1939-1940 -- became the IRA's top explosives man during the War Of Independence. After settling into a job with the ESB, he became the group's primary link to Hitler's Third Reich.

Operation Green (Unternehmen Grün) - Nazi invasion plans for Ireland
In June of 1940, Nazi Germany's 1st Panzer Division had just driven the British Expeditionary Force into the sea at Dunkirk - and Hitler's general staff draw up detailed plans to invade Ireland. The Nazis, in high spirits after their victory in France, were determined to press their advance into Britain and Ireland. German invasion plans for Britain were codenamed Operation Sealion, while plans for Ireland were codenamed Operation Green. Some military historians feel that the plans for Operation Green, composed in minute detail, may have been a attempt to draw British resources away from Nazi invasion of England.

Member of Hermann Goering division, Rommel's Afrika Korps and managing director for buses in Northern Ireland
Werner Heubeck, the former managing director of Ulsterbus and Citybus, made a name as the boss who carried bombs from the buses during the Troubles in Northern Ireland. His years in the Nazi Germany's Luftwaffe helped form the man who kept the bus service running through Northern Ireland's darkest days. During the Troubles he became famous for carrying bombs from hijacked buses around Belfast. Heubeck was born in Nuremberg and enlisted into the Luftwaffe in 1942. He served with the Hermann Goering division in western front, then in Italy, before being shipped to join Erwin Rommel's Afrika Korps in the last stages of the north African campaign.

100,000 served in WWII from the island of Ireland, despite the Irish Free State's neutrality
A study by the University of Edinburgh has found over 3,600 soldiers from the south of Ireland died on active service during World War II. Their names join those of nearly 3,900 fallen soldiers from Northern Ireland on a roll of honour, unveiled at Trinity College Dublin. In the British army alone, up to 100,000 people from the island of Ireland served during the war, in spite of the Irish State's neutrality. The role of soldiers from Northern Ireland is well-known, but it was a different story for war veterans in the south coming home to a country whose leader Eamon de Valera had paid his respects to the German representative after Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler diedd.

De Valera ordered top secret war files destroyed before possible Nazi invasion
Officials burned hundreds of secret files on the orders of PM Eamon de Valera as panic grew in Ireland over a possible Nazi invasion during the Second World War. In a separate move, two Irish diplomats travelled to London to seek British help but made the odd decision to only request military help once the Nazi forces had actually landed on Irish soil. The revelations are made in a book of declassified documents. The volume, published by the Royal Irish Academy, covers the 17 months at the start of WWII as Europe fell apart before the Nazi attack. The files in "Documents in Irish Foreign Policy -- Volume VI -- 1939-1941" reveal a mood of persistent crisis.

Adolf Hitler's Irish escape plan - Spying on Ireland by by Eunan O'Halpin
British Intelligence claimed Adolf Hitler and other Nazi leaders planned to hide in Ireland at the end of World War II. That was one of the more outrageous hoaxes created up by British Intelligence, claims "Spying on Ireland" by professor Eunan O'Halpin. It lifts the lid on British "black propaganda" efforts to undermine neutral Ireland. His book also tells the tale of Joseph Lenihan, who was parachuted into Ireland in July, 1941, from a German aircraft to act as a Nazi spy, but he handed himself over to the British authorities, who then attempted, in vain, to use him as a 'double agent'.

Over Here documentary: Northern Ireland and the arrival of GIs in 1943
The tragic tale of Lillian Forbes and Charles P Blankenship, a member of the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division, is one of a number of local accounts in the documentary called "Over Here" - about the US Army presence in Ulster. Blankenship arrived in Northern Ireland on Dec 9, 1943, for a 3-month stay in preparation for D-Day. He had a close relationship with Lillian and the pair engaged. Unfortunately Charles never came back. He was killed in action during the drop on Sainte-Mère-Église, Normandy early on the D-Day. "Over Here" is set to look into how the arrival of GIs in 1943 affected on Northern Ireland.

Irish role in Spanish Civil war marked
They came from across Ireland and fought against fascism and Franco in the 1930s as part of the International Brigades. At the weekend their role on the side of Spain's ousted republican government was marked in Belfast. A display of memorabilia and photos relating to the defeated republican side is on display. 78 of the 2,000 left-wing idealists from Britain, Ireland and the Commonwealth who fought against Franco came from Northern Ireland. A sculpture to the men was unveiled in Writers' Square. Irishmen also fought on the side of Franco, mostly members of the Blueshirts as part of Eoin O'Duffy's 700 men brigade known as la bandera Irlandesa.

Claim Eamon de Valera torpedoed unity twice in World War II
Eamon de Valera twice rejected offers of Irish unity during WWII - but in doing so forfeited any chance of a 32-county Ireland. De Valera felt offers could not be delivered and were made without the Stormont government - and it wasn't worth taking a chance with Ireland's neutrality. Documentary "Hidden History - Face Off: De Valera v Churchill" reveals how one of the offers came 5 hours after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor from Winston Churchill. The telegram seemed to offer him the united Ireland if he would join the Allied effort to crush the Nazis. Historian Piers Brendon claims this cost any chance of reunification.

That Neutral Island - Bread was black and so was propaganda
By then neutrality had ceased to be, if it ever really was, a comfortable condition. The flow of fresh eggs and assured rhetoric had dwindled pitifully. Bread was black. Trade was drastically curtailed. Foreign travel was restricted by permit. Dead sailors were being washed up on shores. Censorship was all-enveloping. No longer was there widespread indifference to the war, as in its first years when, as Clair Wills observes, Ireland had become "a land of fairy-tale peace, far removed from the battle front, while its inhabitants were arraigned for their detachment from reality, their isolation and myopia".

May 4-5 1941 204 Luftwaffe aircrafts bombed Belfast
The night of May 4 and 5 1941 brought death to Belfast, when 204 Luftwaffe aircraft bombed the city targeting the shipyard, aircraft factory and the port a vital one in the battle of the Atlantic. Casualties were heavy and the Oval, Glentoran's headquarters in the pathway of the Heinkel and Gunkers, as they dropped their high explosives, mines and incendiaries became a grotesque mass of twisted metal with a huge water filled crater on the middle of the pitch. To visit the Oval in those days was a strange experience: Your foot sank in the mud, railings lay rusted, an emblem of another age.

Neutral Island: A Cultural History of Ireland During World War II
Ireland's wartime neutrality was a source of bitter controversy. Winston Churchill was the fiercest critic, denouncing the Irish premier Eamon de Valera as cowardly, and leaning on him to lease back the Treaty ports that Britain had finally given up in 1938. The Americans were no less vituperative, accusing the Irish of acting as "a ready-made Trojan horse" for Adolf Hitler. And there were also criticisms from Irish writers based abroad, including Louis MacNeice and Samuel Beckett, whose efforts in the French resistance made him scornful of those back home. A recurrent image: wartime Britain was enduring blackouts while Dublin blazed with light.

Irish De Valera helped Nazi Waffen SS war criminal
A nazi war criminal given asylum in Ireland after World War II lived under an assumed name approved by Eamon de Valera’s government. Célestin Lainé was advised by de Valera to continue using an alias so that if the French government asked if he was in Ireland, the taoiseach could truthfully answer no. Lainé was leader of the Waffen-SS unit Bezen Perrot, and responsible for the murder of civilians in occupied Brittany. He joined the SS and took command of the region, ordering the execution of resistance fighters who had once lived alongside him. Another Nazi in Ireland was Andrija Artukovic - responsible for the death of 1m people in Croatia.

Gestapo and Waffen SS background of Irish publisher exposed
The Nazi past of Ireland's foremost educational publisher is to be highlighted in a tv programme to be broadcast this month. The details the record of Albert Folens, a Belgian who after fleeing to Ireland following the war built up a business producing textbooks. He died in 2003 at 86. His involvement with both the Gestapo and Waffen SS is to be revealed. He was, the programme says, a volunteer in the Waffen-SS Flemish legion, serving on the eastern front until he was wounded. After treatment in an SS hospital, he joined the Gestapo, working at their Brussels headquarters as a translator.

Ireland spurned plea to back release of Rudolf Hess
The son of Adolf Hitler’s right-hand man Rudolf Hess sought the help of the Irish president to persuade the Soviets to release his father from jail in 1968, according to released state papers. Rudolf Hess, the former deputy leader of Nazi Germany’s ruling Nazi Party, was 74 and in ailing health at the time in Berlin’s Spandau Prison, according to secret files released by Ireland’s National Archives office. Hess was the only prisoner left in Spandau and had served 27 years after he was convicted of war crimes at the Nuremberg trials in 1946 for aiding and abetting preparations for World War Two.

Northern Ireland World War II site launched
A website focusing on how the Second World War affected Northern Ireland has been launched. It will enable users to view resources that are held in Northern Ireland's museums and archives. Among covered topics are: Northern Ireland in the Blitz, Londonderry's role in the Battle of the Atlantic, American Forces in Northern Ireland. The site also includes information on how unprepared Northern Ireland was for the war and allows visitors to listen to men and women who experienced the war.

Irish president consoled Nazis over Hitler's death
Ireland's president during World War II offered condolences to Nazi Germany over the 1945 death of Adolf Hitler, newly declassified government records show. Historians had believed that Ireland's prime minister at the time, Eamon de Valera, was the only government leader to convey official condolences to Eduard Hempel, director of the German diplomatic corps in Ireland. De Valera's gesture -- unique among leaders of neutral nations in the final weeks of WWII -- was criticized worldwide.

Ireland's Nazis (Hidden History) - 2 x 52 min documentary film   (Article no longer available from the original source)
In the aftermath of the Second World War, the Irish public provided safe haven to some of the most notorious Nazi collaborators and war criminals. Protected by church and state, they either made their homes and careers (like publishing Irish schoolbooks) in Ireland or used it as a staging area for escape to America.