Ireland: The Deserters | European Journal | DW | 18.06.2012
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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.

Irish Banks.Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence Alan Shatter speaking to journalists in the Ashling Hotel in Dublin. Picture date: Friday April 1, 2011. See PA story IRISH Banks. Photo credit should read: Julien Behal/PA Wire URN:10468865

Irish Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence: Alan Shatter

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.