As a boy and afterwards as a journalist, I came face to face with two men who fought for the British Army and two who fought adjoin it. They lived little added than 100 afar from one another, afar by the Bound and by actual altered ideals. They never met – which was aloof as well, as they would accept been bitter enemies.
The man with the eye patch
As a boy I sometimes abutting others at the capital area we had annihilation to do but watch the apple go by. One day we saw a man and his wife airing past, again about-face arise the adjacent boondocks of Ballymena. The man had an eye application and an abandoned sleeve, and we knew he had been blood-soaked in the war.
However, it wasn’t until afresh that I abstruse that he was the best blood-soaked accepted in the British Army. He had been advance in the arm, hand, face, head, stomach, ankle, leg, hip and ear.
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Hugh Stewart and his wife Jane
My acceptable acquaintance Gertie Goodhue, who additionally lived in Ballymena, told me she had generally apparent him walking accomplished her abode and that his name was Lieutenant-General Sir Adrian Carton de Wiart.
Among added medals, he had been awarded the Victoria Cross – the British Army’s accomplished adornment – and he got it for arch his troops in an advance on a German position in the apple of La Boiselle in France during the Action of the Somme in 1916.During a continued aggressive career, he survived two aeroplane crashes and as a captive in Italy during Apple War II, was amid the generals who tunnelled their way out of the medieval Vincigliata Castle.
So what was he accomplishing walking accomplished my abode in County Antrim?
During the war he allowable the 61st Division for a aeon in Northern Ireland and had his HQ in Ballymena. Gertie still has her mother’s archetype of his memoirs, called, abnormally enough, Happy Odyssey. Aback he retired, he lived in Aghinagh House, not far from Macroom in Co Cork, area he died in 1963 at the age of 83.
The man in the wheelchair
As a announcer alive in Dublin, I came face to face with a man who ability accept advised de Wiart a prime ambition as he had approved to assassinate addition arch British officer. I was accoutrement affairs in the Dail when, for a bound vote, the Fianna Fail government brought in a agent in a wheelchair. He couldn’t go bottomward into the chamber, so he was accustomed to vote from the aisle that encircles it. As I looked beyond at him, I abstruse that he was none added than the allegorical Dan Breen.
With Armistice Day, de Wiart’s aboriginal war with Germany was over – but Breen’s war with Britain was alone beginning. In 1919 at Soloheadbeg in Co Tipperary, he and some others ambushed an RIC convoying convoying a amount of gelignite, cutting two of the constables dead. It was the alpha of the War of Independence. As his accomplishments and ballyhoo grew, a £1,000 accolade was offered for advice arch to his arrest.
He was blood-soaked in the appropriate side, lung, arm, hand, and thigh. He was additionally advance in the larboard leg in an assassination advance on the Lord Lieutenant, Sir John French, abreast the Phoenix Park. In his memoirs, My Action for Irish Freedom, he recalled that a accumulation of volunteers captured addition arch officer, Accepted Lucas, abreast Fermoy and captivated him earnest but he escaped.
Following the Civil War, Breen became a TD for Tipperary but afterwards accident his bench in the 1927 accepted election, went to America. He alternate in 1932 and represented his Tipperary constituency until his retirement in 1965. As a constant adversary of Britain, he was pro-German and alike beatific altogether wishes to Hitler. He died in 1969 age-old 75.
The quiet man
When Accepted de Wiart was walking aback into Ballymena, he would accept been blind that he was casual the abode of addition man who had been honoured for courage at the Somme. Like de Wiart, he was the nemesis of Dan Breen, accepting fought adjoin Germany in both apple wars. His name was Hugh Stewart.
As a boy, I would see this tall, quiet man walking beeline as a ramrod on his way into the town. Men like him formed
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