21 December 2016
Search for your ancestors from Ireland among the fascinating records of five Irish regiments that were disbanded by the British Army after the Irish War of Independence in 1922
Records of nearly 12,000 soldiers from Irish regiments disbanded after the Irish War of Independence in 1922 have gone online for the first time.
The free new family history resource gives access to the regimental enlistment books from 1920-1922 and has been launched by the National Army Museum (NAM).
Following the creation of the Irish Free State in 1922, the five British Army regiments recruited in southern Ireland were disbanded: they were the Royal Irish Regiment, the Connaught Rangers, the Leinster Regiment, the Royal Munster Fusiliers and the Royal Dublin Fusiliers. In 2006 the regiments’1920-1922 enlistment books were transferred to the NAM’s collection by the Ministry of Defence.
The records were digitised with funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and can be searched electronically by unit, place of birth, place of documentation and year of documentation at www.nam.ac.uk/soldiers-records
In many cases, the soldiers’ fates after their discharge are revealed. Most of the men’s service is described as ‘exemplary’ but a few are ‘very bad’ and 99 are discharged to serve prison sentences.
One tragic example is James Daly of the Connaught Rangers, who was the last soldier to be shot for mutiny by the British Army. In June 1920 Daly led a company of Connaught Rangers stationed in Jalandhar (Punjab India) in a protest against British excesses in Ireland during the War of Independence. The authorities suppressed the mutiny and Daly was executed by firing squad on 2 November 1920.
The enlistment books also record service in earlier conflicts, such as the First World War and the Boer War.
Alastair Massie, NAM Head of Research and Academic Access, said: ‘When you consider that over half of First World War service records were destroyed in the Blitz, these enlistment books take on even more significance. They form part of a vital record of our history and we’re pleased to be making them available online where everyone can access them.’
The NAM in Chelsea, London, is currently closed for refurbishment but the original enlistment books will be accessible for research when it reopens in March 2017.
Read more family history news in the latest issue of Family Tree, on sale here