Irish in the French Resistance and section F of SOE, 1940-45

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by fantassin, Jan 6, 2009.

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  1. An interesting read on a little known subject:

    "Paddy fait de la résistance". The Irish in the French Resistance and section F of SOE, 1940-1945 In 1941, the Irish Prime Minister, the Taoiseach, Eamon de Valera, sent a note to Ireland’s Department of Foreign Affairs to obtain an estimate of the number of Irish people who were in occupied France.

    The department estimated that there were between seven hundred and eight hundred who lived there. But, to this day, it has been possible to identify more than twenty Irish by birth who served during the war in support of the Resistance, the Free French Forces (FFL) or the SOE.

    All those who joined resistance groups in occupied France already lived there and worked there in 1940; adding to this is a certain number born in France or French territory, but ethnic Irish.

    Much more, in french, at:
  2. that is probably a very interesting article but my long ago O'Level French unfortunately isn't up to it :(
  3. There are a number of translating tools you can use, from Google to's not necessarily very accurate but you'll get the gist...
  4. Or better yet

    why dont you give us the gist of it
  5. Can’t quite see the point of this? If it was established that say 90% of the Resistance/F SOE were Irish, or that none were, that would have curio value. Why is there anything remarkable to say ‘there were Irish in the Resistance/F SOE’ when there were Irish involved in the war all over Europe, and in the Allied forces of course. A large percentage of British Middle East Commando were Spanish – Spain being officially neutral as well.

  6. Didn't know Beckett got a Croix de Guerre. Hats off to him. I met him once. He was very charming and funny. Nice to learn that there were Irish people involved in resistance and sneaky-beaky stuff in Occupied Europe. Stands to reason, I suppose.

    I wonder if Irishmen Frank Stringer and James Brady were entitled to any British WW2 medals. Would they have been entitled to the War Medal and the Defence Medal, and perhaps even the 1939-1945 Star? Or would their entitlement have been forfeit?

    Brady and Stringer were both soldiers in the Royal Irish Fusiliers. Born in Roscommon in 1920, Brady (Army Number 7043207) joined up in 1938. Their battalion was posted to Guernsey in May 1939 and he and his mate Stringer got into serious trouble the following month when they got drunk and beat up a policeman. Brady got eighteen months and Stringer twenty-one months. They must have nearly killed the copper. When war broke out, they petitioned to be allowed out of jail to rejoin their regiment but appear to have been ignored so they were obviously considered to be "a right pair".

    The Germans landed in June 1940 and Brady and Stringer became POWs. In fact, they remained in jail until September and were then sent to Germany where they were put to work on a farm. They were recruited in 1941 by the German Abwehr (Military Intelligence) to work against the British.

    To cut the story short, they ended up enlisting in the Waffen-SS in the late summer of 1943, according to Brady's pre-trial statement. Following training, they were sent to Jägerbataillon 502, which became SS-Jagdverband "Mitte". This was the centrepiece of Otto Skorzeny's commando organisation.

    After three weeks in Romania in August 1944 blowing up bridges, their initial training with the Germans having been demolitions-oriented, they took part in the arrest of Admiral Horthy by Skorzeny in Budapest.

    Both men went with "Miite" to the Oder Front in January 1945. Stringer doesn't appear to have made it out of the Schwedt Bridgehead, according to James Brady's account. Brady and Stringer fought with SS-Jagdverband "Mitte" as part of Skorzeny's Division "Schwedt" in the Schwedt Bridgehead on the Oder Front.

    Brady then fought at Oderberg, where he was wounded and evacuated to Grunau, just outside Berlin. As the Soviets moved on Grunau, Brady and other walking wounded were taken into the city. Brady was again wounded. After the capitulation, Brady got out of hospital and made for for the American Zone, reaching it on 26.6.1945. He eventually turned himself into the British in Berlin in September 1946.

    We all know about the British Freecorps. One wonders what happened to the British medals held by some of the BFC renegades. There had been an attempt by Sir Roger Casement to form an Irish Legion in Germany during WW1. Casement had gone to Germany late in 1915 to organise both the arms shipments for the planned Easter Week uprising and the recruitment of this Irish Legion.

    In the end, the Irish Legion came to nothing as the handful of recruits were of a very low order indeed. Not unlike the BFC episode, in a way. In fact, many of them were consumptive. Casement tried to advise the rebels in Dublin to call off the uprising but was ignored and the rest, as they say, is history.

    Contrary to some wild claims, Hitler was never very interested in proposals for an Irish Waffen-SS unit. While he and his henchmen considered the Irish, and Celts in general, to be highly suitable for interbreeding purposes from an Aryan viewpoint, he throught the IRA was a bit of a joke by then.

    Nothing like as much cooperation occurred between hardline Republicans and the Nazi government as Pinewood, Hollywood and authors like Jack Higgins would have people believe. In any case, the Nazis' plans for the island of Ireland would have precluded the Irish nation remaining there: they planned, I believe, to 'absorb' those Irish deemed racially valuable into the Germanic Nation and to turn the whole place into one massive 'reception centre' for Europe's flotsam and jetsam.

    That madness aside, it wasn't lost on Hitler, on a more prosaic level, that German aircrew downed in the Irish Free State were interned while Allied aircrew tended to turn up in Ulster, thereby escaping internment. Contrary to what some people like to say about Ireland and the Nazis in WW2, the Dublin government was by no means pro-Nazi, even if President de Valera was a rather authoritarian character.

    Nor were the Irish people: roughly a third of combat personnel in the British armed forces during WW2 were volunteers from neutral Ireland, which rather puts the SS-Jagdverband Mitte's two Irish delinquents in their proper perspective...

  7. Judging by the number of eastern European Gypsies begging, busking and selling the Big Issue that I'm tripping over here in Dublin every time I go to the shops one could say that's happened anyway

    From where did you get that figure? Seems rather high. Estimates I've read for volunteers from the "Free State" who enlisted in all three services range from about 70,000 to 150,000. I've heard that about half the Irish regular army, maybe 4,000 to 5,000 men, went "on leave" on the outbreak of war but actually had gone off to see some action in His Majesty's Forces before it was all over.

    There was also the very "interesting" Joseph Lenihan, uncle of the late Brian Lenihan TD (Irish equivalent of MP), Mary O'Rourke TD and grand uncle of the current Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan and Junior Minister Conor Lenihan (yes Fianna Fail like to keep it in the family)

  8. That's a familiar sounding story
  9. I recall hearing that any members of the British Army who joined "Casement's Brigade" forfeited their right to War Medals so I presume the same would have been true of Stringer and Brady.
  10. Regarding the Brady and Stringer story, it's quite well-known to those with an interest in the units involved. I have a copy of Brady's statement, which was sent to me by someone who heard that I was researching for a book on the Waffen-SS Parachute Battalions, elements of which participated in a number of operations with Skorzeny's SS-Jagdverband "Mitte". Brady and Stringer aren't really relevant to my focus but the story is an interesting one nonetheless. I know that Brady returned to Ireland in 1950.

    I agree that any member of the British armed forces who volunteered to serve in the Wehrmacht, including the Waffen-SS, during WW2 must have forfeited the right to any medals they were due for WW2 service. On the other hand, there may have been a few BFC men with campaign medals predating WW2 but that's a question someone like Adrian Weale would probably be better able to address, given his definitive print and television histories of the unit and the men that served in it or, at least, posed for photos wearing the gear.

    To my fellow Dubliner tripping over untermensch in the streets of Dublin, I hear you! My old man is one of just three tenants playing his own rent in what was intended to be a "luxury block of flats" in central Dublin. Most of the occupants are "refugee families", paid for by the Irish taxpayer. They're not delinquents but then, their babies aren't old enough to be juvenile delinquents yet. And when my old man applied for some of the benefits he reckons he's due, such as help with the rent once he saw these people living free of charge in his building, after paying his taxes and charges dutifully all his working life, he was knocked back. It's a tough one to swallow for an auld fella who was always liberally-minded and who was always quick to tell me I was to the right of Ghengis Khan. He doesn't say that anymore.