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European Journal

Ireland: The Deserters

Thousands of Irish troops joined British forces during World War II to fight Nazi-Germany. In their own country, they were punished and scorned as deserters.

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Ireland was officially neutral in the war. But nearly 5000 Irishmen deserted to join the struggle against the forces of fascism. There were no honors awaiting them upon their return to their own country - only dishonorable discharges from the Irish armed forces. They were stripped of their pensions and some even court-martialed for desertion. A new initiative has been launched to restore the honor of these heroic deserters.