100 years of an Irish mutiny and an execution in Dagshai

Written by Man Aman Singh Chhina
| Chandigarh |

November 1, 2020 9:59:40 pm

Connaught Rangers barracks at Jalandhar the place the mutiny began in June 1920.
(Photo courtesy: www.independentleft.ie)

IT WAS a chilly winter morning on November 2, 1920, that Private James Daly of the first Battalion of The Connaught Rangers was introduced out of the guard room in Dagshai jail and shot lifeless within the rear compound by a firing squad.
Daly stays the final soldier of the British Army to have been shot lifeless for mutiny.

It was an Irish mutiny which happened in Jalandhar and Solan 100 years in the past in help of the Irish freedom motion.

The Connaught Rangers
The Connaught Rangers had been raised in the course of the British Army reforms of 1881. The National Army Museum (NAM) of United Kingdom (UK) states that the 88th Regiment of Foot (Connaught Rangers) merged with the 94th Regiment of the Foot to kind a brand new two-battalion unit. This new unit took its title from the 88th Foot, which is historically recruited within the Irish province of Connaught.

According to NAM, each battalions served within the First World War on the western entrance in 1914-15. The second Battalion suffered such heavy casualties, and in December 1914, it needed to merge with the primary Battalion. This was redeployed to Mesopotamia (now Iraq) in January 1916 and in addition fought in Palestine in 1918. Post battle, the primary Battalion spent a lot of the post-war interval in India.

“In June 1920, a few of the regiment’s males mutinied in Jullundur (now Jalandhar) cantonment in Punjab. They had been protesting in opposition to the behaviour of the ‘Black and Tans’ in the course of the Irish War of Independence (1919-22). The ‘Black and Tans’ had been members of the Irish constabulary which had been recruited from Great Britain and principally comprised of demobilised troopers who had fought within the First World War.

Private James Daly who was shot lifeless in Dagshai jail by a firing squad on Nov 2, 1920 aged 20 years. (Photo courtesy: http://www.independentleft.ie)

Of the 88 males concerned, 77 had been sentenced to imprisonment; solely the ringleader, Private James Daly, was shot,” NAM states.
In 1922, following the independence of the Irish Free State, all battalions of the British Army that had been recruited there, together with the Connaught Rangers, had been disbanded.

The mutiny in Jalandhar
According to the testimony of Lance Corporal John Flannery, obtainable with the Bureau of Military History of the Irish Army, the unrest within the 1st Battalion of Connaught Rangers began in Jalandhar on the afternoon of June 25, 1920.

“Private Dawson, B Company went to the battalion guardroom and requested to be positioned underneath arrest, giving as his cause to the guard commander that he’s in sympathy along with his nation in its combat for freedom and that he was taking this step as a protest in opposition to the atrocious deeds dedicated on the folks of Ireland by the Black and Tans,” states Flannery.

There was an try within the battalion to cowl up the incident as if Dawson was taken underneath arrest, he was later shifted to the navy hospital underneath the excuse that he was affected by sunstroke. While nothing additional occurred over the subsequent two days, on June 28, an increasing number of troops of the battalion turned up on the guardroom asking to be put underneath arrest in help for his or her nation.

A piquant state of affairs arose within the Jalandhar unit the place solely two corporations of the battalion — B and D — had been stationed on the time. C firm was stationed in Solan within the hills whereas An organization was at Jutogh close to Shimla. Soon different troops refused to parade because the information of the mutiny unfold.

According to Private Joseph Hawes, a soldier who was stationed within the battalion on the time, the troopers had been singing insurgent songs and shouting ‘up the republic’. The Commanding Officer of the battalion, Lt Col HRG Deacon, tried to manage the mutineers by addressing them and referred to his 33 years of service within the regiment and named all of the completely different battle honours gained by the battalion and regiment.

“He had made an eloquent attraction and I used to be afraid he may persuade the lads so I stepped ahead and mentioned, ‘all of the honours on the Connaught flag are for England, there are none for Ireland however there’s going to be one at this time and it is going to be the best of all of them’,” mentioned Hawes.

However, regardless of the unrest, there was no violence in Jalandhar as all of the troops willingly deposited rifles and ammunition within the guardroom and listened to the voices of cause together with that the the General Officer Commanding of the Jullunder Brigade. However, two males from the battalion slipped away to move for Solan to present the information of the mutiny to the C firm stationed there and to ask them to do the identical. While the troopers in Solan mutinied, these stationed in Jutogh remained loyal.

The mutiny in Solan
The two males who had slipped away from Jalandhar reached Solon on the morning of July 1, 1920, however for the reason that navy authorities in Solan had already been alerted in regards to the mutiny in Jalandhar, they had been looking out for guests. These two troopers stayed low until nightfall after which reached the unit strains and knowledgeable the troopers current in regards to the occasions in Jalandhar.
Both had been subsequently arrested and despatched again to Jalandhar, however not earlier than they’d completed their job and trigger a mutiny in Solan which turned out to be violent, resulting in lack of lives. Private James Daly emerged because the chief of the mutineers in Solan.

In the e book ‘A Coward if I return, A hero if I fail: Stories of Irishmen in World War 1’, creator Neil Richardson states that Private Daly led a gaggle of 70 troopers to mount a raid on the unit armoury the place all of the arms and ammunition had been saved.
‘However the hill station’s officers — all Irish — defended the armoury and refused to let Daly and his followers acquire entry to their weapons. Two mutineers had been shot and killed in the course of the combat — Private Peter Sears and fellow Irishman Private John Smyth — whereas a 3rd was badly wounded earlier than the revolt was lastly suppressed,” writes Richardson. The injured man, Private John Miranda, later died in Dagshai on December 22, 1920, of enteric fever.

The court docket martial
Around 400 troopers of the Connaught Rangers had mutinied in Jalandhar and Solan however solely 88 of them had been put by way of court docket martial. The General Court Martial was carried out in Dagshai in September 1919 and was presided upon by Lt General Sidney Lawford and three different officers of the ranks of Captain and Major. Several of the mutineers, together with James Daly, had been lodged within the Dagshai jail and a wide range of sentences had been handed by the court docket martial starting from life sentence to dying by firing squad.

Thirteen troopers had been sentenced to dying, however twelve of them acquired reprieve as their sentence was commuted to life imprisonment. Only James Daly didn’t get a reprieve and was ordered to be shot by a firing squad on November 2, 1920.

The execution

Three days earlier than the date of execution, James Daly was shifted from his cell to a guardroom of the barracks exterior the Dagshai jail and was delivered to the guardroom on the primary gate of the jail a day earlier than on November 1.
Reverend T B Baker, a Catholic priest stationed in Solan, had been referred to as to Dagshai for the final rites of Daly. He has given an in depth account of his execution to Lance Corporal Flannery.

“On the night time of November 1st, I heard his final confession, gave him the Apostolic blessing and promised him I’d give him the final anointing if I presumably might,” recalled Reverend Baker.

The execution was mounted for daybreak on November 2. Daly was ordered to be introduced out at 6 am. “The cell door was opened. There was Daly, pale and considerably thinned, unwashed and his clothes-oh, so outdated and soiled. He had on a pair or military boots unpolished, a khaki coat and trousers, a heat jersey beneath the coat and one other thinner jersey beneath this, not one shred of which had had a wash for the reason that 2nd July earlier and, it regarded prefer it,” Reverend Baker mentioned.

Daly refused to have a black serge bag put over his head as he was being taken contained in the jail for his execution, saying ‘I don’t need this. I’ll die like an Irishman’. Baker managed to coax him to put on it and earlier than he wore it, Daly requested to see his buddies lodged within the jail. This was refused by the Colonel commanding the jail.

Daly took the bag off and regarded across the jail compound when his leg touched the chair on which he was to sit down earlier than being shot. Baker states that he was extremely dissatisfied when informed he couldn’t meet his buddies one final time.

“He mentioned nothing, however his head fell on my shoulder and for the primary time he gave method. It was all so heartrending…He then, and not using a phrase, took from his coat the farewell letter which the opposite prisoners wrote to him the day earlier than and which one of many jail officers was sort sufficient to have delivered to him, as couple of cigarettes, a number of annas in silver and nickel and his inexperienced silk handkerchief, the token of management,” says Baker.

Daly refused to be tied all the way down to the chair when one Sergeant approached. Baker waved off the person whereas a medical officer got here and stuck a white paper goal over his coronary heart and transfer apart.

“The officer in control of the firing celebration then motioned me apart and I stationed myself simply exterior the firing line with my eyes mounted on this officer. As he let fall a handkerchief, the volley was fired, and a bullet discovered its mark in Daly’s coronary heart and handed out of his physique with an awesome spurt of blood. I instantly rushed ahead and snatched the bag from Daly’s head. He solid a have a look at me and as he did so I anointed him on the brow. His physique leaned a bit to the left, and he was lifeless. His shoulder blade caught in a nook of the chair and thus he remained sitting,” Baker described the execution.
Private James Daly was buried in Dagshai cemetery together with Private Peter Sears, John Smyth and later John Miranda.

The aftermath
The 1st Battalion Connaught Rangers remained stationed in Jalandhar until they had been despatched to Rawalpindi in 1921. They remained there until the regiment was disbanded in 1922.

In 1970, on the 50th anniversary of the mutiny, the stays of James Daly, Peter Sears and John Smyth had been exhumed from the Dagshai cemetery and re-interred in Ireland in Glasnevin cemetery, Dublin.

Private John Miranda was English and maybe that’s the reason his stays weren’t taken to Ireland.
He nonetheless lies buried within the cemetery at Dagshai.

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