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Irish Winners of the Victoria Cross


Schomberg

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When you consider the size of this island it never fails to amaze me just how many recipients of the VC were Irish born...

30 Irish VC recipients received awards in the Crimean war, 52 Irish VCs in the Indian Mutiny, 46 Irish VCs in numerous other British Empire campaigns between 1857 to 1914, 37 Irish VCs in the First World War and eight Irishmen received VC awards for valour in the Second World War. as of April 2008 the number of Irish born VC winners stands at 188.

I was reading one account of the Royal Bengal Fusiliers who described his regiment as 1/8 English, 1/8 Scottish and 6/8s Irish and described the Irish soldiers as outrageously brave, full of wit, love a bit of "devilment" (will have to start using that word!) and first in for any sort of "merriment". Never short of a cheeky excuse no matter how difficult the question. :lol: which sounds about right (in a good way)
 

Sync

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Hm. A figure of 188 is pretty stunning when you see there's only been about 1500 of them given out.
 

bob3344

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I read a book some time ago called 'Recollections of a rogue' by samuel chamberlain which was the basis for the cormac mcccarthy novel blood meridian.

In it samuel states that the Irish were the best possible raw material for troops, but very, very difficult to control.

He also mentions the san patricos - an irish battalion who crossed over during the american-mexican war to fight for the mexicans, they were all hung - i'd never heard of them, but they are apparently revered in mexico to this day.
 

Breadan O'Connor

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When you consider the size of this island it never fails to amaze me just how many recipients of the VC were Irish born...

30 Irish VC recipients received awards in the Crimean war, 52 Irish VCs in the Indian Mutiny, 46 Irish VCs in numerous other British Empire campaigns between 1857 to 1914, 37 Irish VCs in the First World War and eight Irishmen received VC awards for valour in the Second World War. as of April 2008 the number of Irish born VC winners stands at 188.

I was reading one account of the Royal Bengal Fusiliers who described his regiment as 1/8 English, 1/8 Scottish and 6/8s Irish and described the Irish soldiers as outrageously brave, full of wit, love a bit of "devilment" (will have to start using that word!) and first in for any sort of "merriment". Never short of a cheeky excuse no matter how difficult the question. :lol: which sounds about right (in a good way)

It wasn't all medals and glory for the Irishmen in the British army.

Often the women they had relationships with, the "camp followers", lived in the direst squalor.

Like the "curragh wrens" who lived in holes in the ground with their children near the Curragh barracks in Co. Kildare. The Curragh Wrens
 

Asparagus

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Hm. A figure of 188 is pretty stunning when you see there's only been about 1500 of them given out.
The Irish where always very good at making Victoria cross.
They really got under her skin.
 

Schomberg

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Arracht

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There was a bit of mopery from Belfast Unionist councillors with regard to Northern Irelands only WW2 VC winner

When Magennis first won the VC, he was treated rather shabbily by the Unionist-dominated Belfast City Council because he was from a working class Roman Catholic family. Although the public collected £3,600 in appreciation of his heroism, the council refused to give him the freedom of the city. The only official recognition was a small photograph tucked away in the robing room of the council chamber.
[ame="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Joseph_Magennis"]James Joseph Magennis - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia@@AMEPARAM@@/wiki/File:James_Magennis_mral.JPG" class="image"><img alt="James Magennis mral.JPG" src="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/0/04/James_Magennis_mral.JPG/250px-James_Magennis_mral.JPG"@@AMEPARAM@@commons/thumb/0/04/James_Magennis_mral.JPG/250px-James_Magennis_mral.JPG[/ame]
 

Libero

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Let's not forget William George Nicholas Manley of Dublin.

Again and again, he showed tremendous courage under fire to tend to the injured as an army medic. He is still the only person in history to have won the Victoria Cross and the German Iron Cross.

[ame="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_George_Nicholas_Manley"]William George Nicholas Manley - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia@@AMEPARAM@@/wiki/File:Victoria_Cross_Medal_Ribbon_%26_Bar.jpg" class="image"><img alt="" src="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/d2/Victoria_Cross_Medal_Ribbon_%26_Bar.jpg"@@AMEPARAM@@commons/d/d2/Victoria_Cross_Medal_Ribbon_%26_Bar.jpg[/ame]
 

Schomberg

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There was a bit of mopery from Belfast Unionist councillors with regard to Northern Irelands only WW2 VC winner
Hardly mopery mate, but utter idiocy with a good helping of bigotry more the like....shameful...
 

Schomberg

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Cael

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52 Irish VCs in the Indian Mutiny, 46 Irish VCs in numerous other British Empire campaigns between 1857 to 1914,
Murdering vermin, who shamed the name of Ireland all over the globe. And for your information, the "Indian Mutiny" was no "mutiny." The whole Indian population wasnt part of the British armed forces. It was a blow for the independance of the Indian nation - put down by low life scum - and the lowest of the scum were those who "won" Victoria Crosses.
 

sgtharper

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Loooney!!!!
 

cry freedom

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I may have got this wrong as it was something I read over 40 years ago.
But wasn't the first cross awarded/presented to an Irishman and wasn't the first civilian to get a cross also an Irishman.
 

sgtharper

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I think you're right on the first one but I know you're right on the second, a chap called Kavanagh I believe. I think he was a Civil Engineer or suchlike and it had something to do with the Siege of Cawnpore during the Indian Mutiny if I remember correctly. There's a good, if slightly fictionalised, account of it in "Flashman and the Great Game" by George Macdonald Fraser.
 

Schomberg

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I may have got this wrong as it was something I read over 40 years ago.
But wasn't the first cross awarded/presented to an Irishman and wasn't the first civilian to get a cross also an Irishman.
sgtharper said:
I think you're right on the first one but I know you're right on the second, a chap called Kavanagh I believe. I think he was a Civil Engineer or suchlike and it had something to do with the Siege of Cawnpore during the Indian Mutiny if I remember correctly. There's a good, if slightly fictionalised, account of it in "Flashman and the Great Game" by George Macdonald Fraser.
Charles Lucas from Armagh was the first person to ever receive the VC. Thomas Kavanagh from Westmeath was the first civilian to get it.
 

cry freedom

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When you consider the size of this island it never fails to amaze me just how many recipients of the VC were Irish born...

30 Irish VC recipients received awards in the Crimean war, 52 Irish VCs in the Indian Mutiny, 46 Irish VCs in numerous other British Empire campaigns between 1857 to 1914, 37 Irish VCs in the First World War and eight Irishmen received VC awards for valour in the Second World War. as of April 2008 the number of Irish born VC winners stands at 188.

I was reading one account of the Royal Bengal Fusiliers who described his regiment as 1/8 English, 1/8 Scottish and 6/8s Irish and described the Irish soldiers as outrageously brave, full of wit, love a bit of "devilment" (will have to start using that word!) and first in for any sort of "merriment". Never short of a cheeky excuse no matter how difficult the question. :lol: which sounds about right (in a good way)
Wasn't it about an Irish regiment at Waterloo that the Duke of Wellington said, "I don't know what they do to the enemy but by Christ they frighten me".
Or is that another myth like the "Born in a stable" story.
 

The Caped Cod

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I read a book some time ago called 'Recollections of a rogue' by samuel chamberlain which was the basis for the cormac mcccarthy novel blood meridian.

In it samuel states that the Irish were the best possible raw material for troops, but very, very difficult to control.

He also mentions the san patricos - an irish battalion who crossed over during the american-mexican war to fight for the mexicans, they were all hung - i'd never heard of them, but they are apparently revered in mexico to this day.
Same for the Navvies. Fed on "a diet of meat and beer" I believe was what I read. Always complimented for their hardiness though considered "unsuited" to mental tasks involved in Engineering.
 

former wesleyan

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Wasn't it about an Irish regiment at Waterloo that the Duke of Wellington said, "I don't know what they do to the enemy but by Christ they frighten me".
Or is that another myth like the "Born in a stable" story.
A myth. He said it when shown a list of his oficers.:)
 

Cruimh

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Same for the Navvies. Fed on "a diet of meat and beer" I believe was what I read. Always complimented for their hardiness though considered "unsuited" to mental tasks involved in Engineering.
It's one of those quirks of history - it has become more or less accepted that Navigators (Navvies) and the other unskilled labourers were mainly Irish when it wasn't the case.
 

zakalwe1

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PRIVATE TIMOTHY O'HEA, VC
1ST BATTALION, THE RIFLE BRIGADE
The Only VC won on Canadian Soil

Ten years after Queen Victoria instituted the Victoria Cross, a 20-year old Irish soldier won the Empire's highest award far from the scene of any combat, at Danville, Quebec, Canada. Private Timothy O'Hea was honoured "for conspicuous courage under circumstances of great danger" - an almost classic understatement.

On the afternoon of 9th June 1866, a railway train from Quebec stopped at Danville. Locked in converted boxcars were 800 German immigrants. In another boxcar was 2000 pounds of ammunition for use against the Fenian raiders and it was O'Hea's job along with four other men of the 1st Battalion Rifle Brigade to guard.

Late in the afternoon, O'Hea noticed that the boxcar containing the ammunition was on fire and after shouting an alarm, discovered the railwaymen and other soldiers had fled. O'Hea grabbed the keys to the boxcar from a dithering Sergeant and climbed aboard. He ripped burning covers off ammunition cases and tossed them outside, then for almost an hour, making 19 trips to a creek for buckets of water, he fought the flames, the immigrants cheering him on unaware of their peril.

Timothy O'Hea fought on alone and won. By evening, the ammunition had been loaded into another car and the train - immigrant coaches still attached - was on its way again. O'Hea not only displayed great courage and total disregard for his own life in putting out the fire in the boxcar, but also saved 800 immigrants from certain death had the ammunition exploded. His was the only Victoria Cross ever won in Canada.

The name of Private Timothy O'Hea VC is inscribed on the Rifle Brigade's roll of honour in Winchester Cathedral, England and his medal resides in the Royal Green Jackets Museum, also in Winchester. O'Hea eventually died in Australia in 1874 and is buried in Sturt's Desert, Queensland.
At the time of his death, O'Hea's VC was nowhere to be found. The mystery of its whereabouts was solved in 1950, when the medal turned up, after 76 years, lying in a drawer in the Art Gallery of new South Wales. Apparently, O'Hea had left it with a friend who had "presented it to the gallery."
 
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