British Army Deserters killed in Ireland

The IRA, with some grounds, eventually came to look upon British soldiers claiming to be deserters, as in fact being intelligence men. For this reason it became a less good idea as time progressed, for a Britsh soldier picked up by the IRA to claim to be a deserter.

By the same token, some deserters were shot by the IRA when all they were, were what they claimed to be .... deserters

In addition the British Army found it easier to write a man off as a deserter, rather than keep him on the battalions books as a "missing" man

Writing to the Irish Governor-General, Timothy Healy, in 1924, the colonial secretary, the Duke of Devonshire, estimated that almost 5,000 men had disappeared in Ireland between 1916 and 1924

There seems to have been little done by the British to pursue the fate of a great many missing men. There are a number of Irish references to correspondence between the Free State and Britain in MA DOD A/07304, Collins papers of missing A/0909, Mulcahy papers P7/B/21 which I have not examined. However The Year of the Disappearances reports that these papers show over 100 (26 of these soldiers were in Cork) men. Of these men, the Irish Government believed only 5 were real deserters

In November 1922, J.B. Wroughton, the deputy Adjutant-General of British forces in Ireland, wrote to the Provisional Government complaining about the lack of cooperation and pointing out that ‘it is impossible to conclude with any degree of certainty that the most obvious case of desertion was not in fact a case of execution’

According to a letter which Mulcahy wrote to the Executive Council of the Free State, from 1 November 1923 the Irish Free State government undertook to make every effort to apprehend and arrest deserters from the British Army who seek refuge in Ireland. They will not, however, be called on so to apprehend and return deserters from the British Army who deserted at any date prior to the 1 st November 1923 and gave service in the Irish Forces, whether pre-Truce or in the present National Forces In 1924 a Garda investigation found that 37 deserters were serving in the Free State army and were exempt from prosecution, while there were a further 84 who had no Irish military record. This list was forwarded on to the British government by Healy, who promised to keep watch for fresh cases

Cooperation over deserters in Ireland came to an abrupt end in September 1926 when the Cork Gardaí refused to take any action over a deserter from HMS Vivid.

The overall desertion rate between 1914 and 1918 was 10.26 per 1000 men

Killarney deserters bodies never found

Charleville deserters bodies eventually recovered, but names unknown

Essex deserters at Bandon bodies never found

Clare Deserters bodies left on the road

Monaghan & Clarke

Gray joined Irish Free State Army

Cunningham, Jordy

Thompson, Alfred . Murdered an IRA officer while a deserter

There is a List of Deserters in Mountjoy

And a List of both Missing and unaccounted for Deserters drawn up from a variety of sources


British Soldiers died in Ireland