DANCING UP A STORM IN LA-LA LAND: Tonight, Riverdance opens a run in Hollywood, at Hollywood Pantages Theater. Performances Tues-Sun at 8pm, US $22.50 - US $65.50. Call 213-365-3500 or visit http://www.riverdance.com/ for more info.
For more February events from WGT, click HERE.
WE GOT MAIL: MEDAL OF HONOR 'WINNERS'? SIEGE OF KUT
The following e-mail arrived at our door last week from Nebraska:
Hello, I was looking at your website and found it to be very informative about many Irish contributions worldwide. There is one item that I thought might be worth rewording and that is located on the webpage http://www.thewildgeese.com/pages/us.html. "Medal of Honor Winners" should probably read "Medal of Honor Recipients," as that would be a more appropriate title to veterans than the word “winners." Again, your website is very helpful and informative and is something that all Irish throughout the world should take pride in. Thank you for your time and consideration.
SFC Jack Murphy
John (Jack) G. Murphy
Sergeant First Class, NE ARNG
National Guard Bureau Marathon Coordinator
1776 North 10th Street
Lincoln, Nebraska 68508-1096
Business Phone # 402-309-7359
Business Fax # 402-309-7375
We agree with Sgt. Murphy's point and have revised the link title, as he recommends. Sgt. Murphy later informed us that he conducted the first ever Irish American Heritage Presentation for the Nebraska National Guard last March. This was to help recognize and celebrate Irish American History month. He informs us that he has PowerPoint presentation used then that he is making available to anyone one interested in using it for these same purposes. You can e-mail Sgt. Murphy to arrange for delivery.
IRISH AT KUT? : We exchanged e-mails recently with author John de St. Jorre ("The Marines," "Legendary Golf Clubs of the American East"), who asked if there were any Irish regiments involved in the Siege of Kut, a battle between the British and the Turks in Iraq during the First World War. ... "It was an epic struggle--the longest siege in British imperial history--that ended in capitulation to the Turks, a sort of minor Gallipoli," John noted., adding, we happily note, "I went to your website--very interesting and well presented."
Our UK correspondent, Kieron C. Punch, replies:
The majority of troops under the command of Major-General Charles Townshend within the town of Kut were members of the 6th (Poona) Division from India. (The vast majority of the "British" forces which participated in the campaign against the Turks in Mesopotamia were Indian.) Each of the brigades within the various Indian Divisions of the British Army was usually "stiffened" by the presence of a "Regular" British infantry battalion. Thus, in addition to 9 Indian battalions, the 6th (Poona) Division also contained 3 British battalions, although none of these was Irish. The 3 battalions were: 16th Brigade -- 2nd Battalion, Dorsetshire Regiment; 17th Brigade -- 1st Battalion, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamsphire Light Infantry; 18th Brigade -- 2nd Battalion, Norfolk Regiment.
Many of the supporting units, such as the artillery brigade, within the 6th Division (and all other Indian Divisions) were also British. I do not believe that any artillery brigades were raised in Ireland during the Great War (even the 10th, 16th and 36th Irish Divisions went to war with English/British artillery units listed in their order of battle), so it is unlikely that there was any formation of Irish troops present within the garrison of Kut. One Irish battalion did fight with the Tigris Corps, which attempted to relieve Kut. This was the 1st Battalion Connaught Rangers which served in the 7th Brigade of the 3rd (Lahore) Indian Division. The Rangers fought with distinction in the battles of Umm-al-Hanna, Abu Roman and Beit Aiessa, but suffered heavy casualties including the loss of their commanding officer, Lieutenant-Colonel Murray.
Incidentally, my grandfather's cousin, Corporal Martin Gleeson from Limerick, served with 19th Battery, 9th Brigade, Royal Field Artillery, which was part of the Indian 7th (Meerut) Division and which also fought in the Kut campaign. This goes to show that some Irishmen, who had not enlisted in designated Irish formations, were probably also serving with the "British" units holed-up within Kut, but we can only guess their number.
All the best,
The above photo is from the The National Archives (UK), showing an emaciated Indian army soldier who survived the siege of Kut (December 1915-April 1916). IWM Q 79446 (1916).
These links provide more information about The Siege of Kut:
* The Mesopotamia campaign, from The National Archives (UK)
* The siege of Kut-al-Amara, to 29 April 1915, From "The Long, Long Trail: The British Army in the Great War"
WGT POLL--McALEESE NOT PLAYING 'WITH FIRE': Last week we posted a poll in the WGT Forum, in response to Irish News columnist Roy Garland's suggestion that Irish President Mary McAleese "plays with fire" when she says the 'heroes' of 1916 ultimately fostered a new, confident Ireland. The vote tally, as of 5 p.m. today, was 8 Yes and 14 No. Two individuals posted comments on the thread for the poll, aside from our introduction to the issue. Rick Grant (a WGT consulting editor) stated, in part: "Pointing back at an old fire pit is not the same as playing with fire. Characterizing people who took up arms in a struggle they felt was vital to their continued existence as heroes is not an attempt to rekindle a struggle that is now part of history. Every nation and culture has such people as its forefathers, though perhaps not as many as the Irish." Pat Hickey, WGT's Midwest (US) Correspondent comments: "The Unionist gentleman is 100% wrong and consistent to the bigoted ethic that gerrymandered the six counties out of a United Ireland. Playing the Yeoman for the Crown has done nothing for Ulster or Ulstermen. The positively ludicrous suggestion that Protestants are not a part of the Republic of Ireland is sad. The truth -- like light on the eyes -- really closes the bigot's mind shut. ..." Not one of the 8 No voters posted in defense of their vote. Our attempt at balance on this issue comes from making available to blog and forum visitors both sides of the issue, and letting them decide. So far, the tide is against Garland's thesis.
MUNICH IN IRELAND? Elsewhere in the WGT Universe, the film "Munich," released in December, prompted the following thread in WGT's Forum, initiated with the following comment:
"I enjoyed the movie "Munich" by Steven Spielberg.His point of an "eye for an eye" leaves everyone blind is poignant. Nevertheless I have to admire the Israelis and their secret service Mossad in their dogged determination to wipe out the perpertrators of the Mnich massacre ,to have their revenge on the killers. I often wonder if the British government had of applied the same determination in their fight against the terrorists of IRA/Sinn Fein , the dirty terorrist campaign called "The Troubles" would not have dragged on for 35 years. I applaud the Israelis for their single mindedness to find and punish the murderers of Munich.I wish it could have happened in my beloved homeland, Ulster."
Among the replies: "Further, the British tried retribution. Read http://www.thewildgeese.com/pages/retribut.html by forum member Kieron Punch. Clearly, such terroristic tactics on the part of the British 1920-1921 failed to halt the momentum toward Irish independence. In fact, arguably these tactics gained support for the IRA." Read more of the thread or comment in the forum. Slan, Ger