Published: 09th April 2010
:: In The Ranks of Death ::
The Irish in WWII
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From Pen & Sword Books
When war broke out in 1939 over 20,000 Irishmen were serving in the Royal Navy, Army and Royal Air Force with the greatest proportion in the Army. During the war this rose to over 120,000, suggesting that about 100,000 enlisted during the war.
Nine earned the Victoria Cross; three members of the Royal Navy, including a Fleet Air Arm pilot, four soldiers, including a member of the Australian forces, and two RAF pilots.
The author looks at the seven Irish regiments in campaigns across the globe, at Irish soldiers across the Army, at Irish sailors from the Battle of the River Plate to the final actions against Japan, and at Irish airmen from the first bombing raids of the war to the closing days of war.
Included are outstanding personalities such as the Chavasse brothers, who earned three DSOs, three DSCs and two MiDs, Bala Bredin, Corran Purden, Brendan 'Paddy' Finucane, Blair Mayne and Roy Farran, the latter pair highly-decorated SAS officers.
There are also Irish generals, such as Paddy Warren who died while commanding 5th Indian Division in Burma and Frederick Loftus Tottenham, who commanded 81st (West African) Division, not to mention giants such as Alexander, Auchinleck, Montgomery and McCreery.
Irish women are not forgotten in the book which also takes a brief look at the Irish in other Allied forces, including a most unusual volunteer for the US Navy whose application to serve had to be approved by President Roosevelt. He was William Patrick Hitler, a nephew of Germany's führer.
Although the Republic of Ireland remained neutral during the Second World War, many Irish went to join the ranks of the British Army, the same regiments their fathers, grandfathers and uncles has joined during the First World War. This book tells the story of these brave men and women – over 100,000 across all three services – who fought to destroy the Axis powers between 1939 and 1945.
As well as looking at the regimental actions, the book also examines individual serviceman and women who went above and beyond for their comrades – a disproportionate number of Irishmen rose to command British forces around the globe, and no less than nine earnt the Victoria Cross for their valour. Characters such as Blair Mayne and Roy Farran, highly decorated SAS officers, appear as examples of the bravery and heroism exhibited by the Irish forces in the bloodiest war in history.
Richard Doherty is recognised as Ireland’s leading military history author with 23 published works to his credit. He has also worked on radio and TV historical series and programmes, and lives in county Londonderry.
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