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Southern Ireland and the Liberation of France

New Perspectives

Series:

Gerald Morgan and Gavin Hughes

This collection of essays sets out to correct an injustice to citizens of the Irish Free State, or Twenty-Six Counties, whose contribution to the victory against Nazi Germany in the Second World War has thus far been obscured. The historical facts reveal a divided island of Ireland, in which the volunteers from the South were obliged to fight in a foreign (that is, British) army, navy and air force. Recent research has now placed this contribution on a secure basis of historical and statistical fact for the first time, showing that the total number of Irish dead (more than nine thousand) was divided more or less equally between the two parts of Ireland.
The writers in this volume establish that the contribution by Ireland to the eventual liberation of France was not only during the fighting at Dunkirk in 1940 and in Normandy in 1944, but throughout the conflict, as revealed by the list of the dead of Trinity College Dublin, which is examined in one chapter. Respect for human values in the midst of war is shown to have been alive in Ireland, with chapters examining the treatment of shipwreck casualties on Irish shores and the Irish hospital at Saint Lô in France. Other essays in the volume place these events within the complex diplomatic network of a neutral Irish Free State and examine the nature and necessity of memorial in the context of a divided Ireland.

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Sarah Alyn Stacey Patria non immemor: Ireland and the Liberation of France 1

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SARAH ALYN STACEY Patria non immemor:1 Ireland and the Liberation of France In memory of Frank Sheridan, 591 (Antrim) Parachute Squadron, Royal Engineers, and Louis Heuguet, French army Le 18 janvier 1945 Nous avons été hier visiter le cimetière anglais. C’est très impressionnant. Il y avait beaucoup de soldats inconnus. Il y en avait un où il y avait écrit qu’il avait donné sa vie pour les autres. C’est beau. … Cher album, je ne comprends pas encore la vie, que c’est triste d’aimer, puis de se quitter, ma maman dont il faudra que je me sépare un jour, toi, qui me quitteras, moi qui fermerai plus tard les yeux. Comprends-tu la mort, toi, quel mot terrible que je ne comprends pas. Mes animaux qui eux aussi me quitteront. Je crois nous revoir tous un jour mais si la vie nous sépare, qu’un souvenir reste en nous, comme un petit nuage blanc qui voguera sur le monde.2 1 ‘The homeland [is] not forgetful’: Inscription on the reverse of the Médaille de la Résistance. 2 Excerpt from the diary of Jackie Landreaux who was aged ten in 1944. Reproduced in Paroles du jour j: lettres et carnets du Débarquement, été 1944, ed. Jean-Pierre Guéno and Jérôme Pecnard (Paris: Les Arènes, 2004), p. 150. Translation (mine): 18 January 1945: ‘Yesterday we went to visit the English cemetery. It makes a big impression. There were many unidentified soldiers. There were some [graves...

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