FCWM Forum, 27 February 2014
The second Friends Forum took place in the Infantry Room of the Army Officers’ Mess on February 27th, 2014. The guest speaker, Irish Ambassador to Canada, Dr. Ray Bassett, spoke to a packed audience about the military history of Ireland and the First World War, with special emphasis on the Gallipoli campaign. He captivated the audience’s attention with his account of a recent dramatic shift in the history of Ireland’s role in World War 1.
The First World War represented the largest mobilization in Irish history: 100,000 enlisted, over 20,000 casualties. However, until very recently Irish participation in the war was not part of the national political narrative. Dr. Bassett explained this silence partly in terms of the Irish national myth concerning the war of independence which took place during World War 1 and led to a downplaying of contributions to the British military and also to the erasing of public records. A number of key events heightened tensions during the war, including the importation of arms from Germany by the Ulster Volunteers who supported Irish union with Britain. The British officers’ mutiny at the Curragh base in County Kildare to oppose the enforcement of Irish Home Rule legislation added to the wartime tensions. Hostility on the part of the British upper command, especially Lord Kitchener, toward Irish nationalism and to the Catholic Church added to the growing tension. Kitchener stirred up resentment against the British when he brought in English officers, refused Irish-designated divisions and vetoed the display of the Irish Harp, but approved use of the Ulster Red Hand.
The Sinn Fein uprisings during Easter in1916 and the executions that followed ensured the lasting hostility toward ex-servicemen and the opposition to the erection of war memorials.
At Gallipoli, 4,000 Irish soldiers died. The 1st Battalions of the Dublin, Munster and Inniskilling Fusiliers were part of the 29th Division that made the initial landing at Cape Helles in April 1915.
Dr. Bassett explained that the long silence concerning Ireland’s contribution to World War 1 has ended. In 2001, the Irish government officially acknowledged the role of the Dublin Fusiliers in the First World War at a State Reception. Irish Government policy has changed to allow the heads of diplomatic missions to attend remembrance ceremonies, war records are being published and war memorials, such as the Irish Peace Park near Ypres in Flanders, Belgium, unveiled on November 11, 1998 as a memorial to Irish soldiers from the First World War, are being erected.
The audience responded warmly to Dr. Bassett’s talk, indicating by their questions and remarks that he had shed new light on this fascinating subject. Friends’ President, Douglas Rowland, presented the Irish Ambassador with a copy of In Search of a Soul, architect Raymond Moriyama’s description of the inspiration for his design of the Canadian War Museum.
Stay current with upcoming FCWM activities as they pursue their mandate to support the Canadian War Museum. Mark your calendars.
- Now: February Edition of the Torch including a World War I Supplement available
- End May 2014: May Edition of Torch
- June 2014 (date and details to be confirmed): Annual General Meeting.
Coming to a Community near you - Travelling Canadian War Museum Exhibits.
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The February 2014 edition of the Torch is now available in both hard copy and electronically. It includes farewell memories of three recently departed Friends; information on the Canadian Agency of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission; a book review on “Always a Leader –The Lives of Major Danny McLeod” by Colonel Ted Nurse; and, information pertaining to the Military Communications and Electronics Museum in Kingston, Ontario.
Included in this edition is the first of four or five annual supplements commemorating the centennial of the First World War. This supplement provides a brief tour of the Canadian War Museum’s Gallery Two; an overview of Canada’s mobilization for the Great War and of the composition of the Canadian Expeditionary Force; and, a brief look at Sam Hughes and his influence on Canada’s preparation for war. Future supplements will track the progress of Canada’s participation in the war.
FCWM Fact Sheets are short, descriptive papers that provide additional information on many of the artefacts found in the Canadian War Museum. They are useful references for students and adults looking for information.
The FCWM Research Papers are in-depth looks at some of the subject matter found within the galleries of the Canadian War Museum. They are provided as reference material for those seeking more detailed information than is currently available in the Museum.
Come and meet the distinguished group of Volunteers that performs a wide range of duties on behalf of the FCWM in support of Canadian War Museum activities. They come with diverse backgrounds including veterans, educators, parliamentarians, and business people.