In 1916, during the Easter Uprising in Ireland, the British government called in the Anzacs to reinstate order. The Anzacs were Australians and New Zealanders.
These troops were from outside Ireland and some of them had Irish ancestry.
Anzacs were tough veterans of Gallipoli and in 1916 they were fighting a force of civilians who had no battle experience.
This happened when the Irish revolted against British rule, a century ago tomorrow,and many Irishmen in the ranks of the British army rejected to fire on their countrymen.
The Anzacs were just a small part of the large numbered, well-trained and battle-ready British forces. Although it was a “lopsided” fight that resulted in the defeat of the rebels, the fight did not sway off their cause.
The revolt had its origins in England’s command over Irish affairs since the 12th century.
Ireland was incorporated into the U.K. and its parliament was abolished between 1800 and 1801. The Acts of Union was passed by an Irish parliament dominated by pro-British Protestants, which led to the incident.
During the next century, Irish nationalists fought to regain independence. British parliament passed the Government of Ireland Act and it seemed like the nationalists became victorious.
However, the outburst of WWI resulted in arrangements for an Irish parliament being delayed, says The Sydney Morning Herald.
The Casement Affair
Sir Roger Casement was the man who arranged the weapons shipment from the Germans. The Irish nationalists were furious as they took advantage of Britain’s engagement with war to stage a rebellion against British rule.
Nationalists from the Irish Republican Brotherhood and the Irish Citizen Army sought German help. German armaments were smuggled in.
However, the capture of a major shipment by the British Navy alarmed the British to the upcoming rebellion.
Casement was arrested for treasonous activities and it had caused serious embarrassment to Casement’s Australian relatives.
After Casement’s arrest, there were orders to cancel the operation. But two compatriots, Padraig Pearse and Tom Clarke, decided to move on with the fight. On April 24, Easter Monday, the Irish Volunteer army grouped at various rendezvous points in the city.
They moved out to capture strategic points including the General Post Office, which controlled telephone and telegraph lines in and out of Dublin.
One of the rebel leaders, Pearse, announced a declaration of an Irish Republic, says The Daily Telegraph.
The Anzacs and other dominion troops were on leave in Dublin and came to assist of the empire.
It resulted in the death of 66 rebels and 16 summarily executed. In the fight, 143 British troops were killed, along with 260 civilians.
Australia’s reactions were mixed. In the outcome of the rebellion, many Australians with Irish ancestry knew that the British acted too heavy to squash the revolt.