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World War II

BBC to air doc on Irish soldiers persecuted for 'desertion'

Around 5,000 soldiers left the neutral Irish Army to fight fascism in the Allied forces – and were persecuted for it afterwards.

A 92-YEAR-OLD Irish man who took part in the liberation of the Nazi concentration camp of Bergen-Belsen has contributed to a BBC radio documentary on the “hidden” Irish soldiers of World War II.

Patrick Farrington was one of around 5,000 soldiers in the Irish Army who left and joined the British Army during World War II because Ireland was to remain neutral in the war. Many of them won medals for their fighting on behalf of the Allies against Hitler and fascism but were afraid to wear them afterwards because they were wanted for desertion in Ireland.

The documentary will hear how the Irish government under Eamon de Valera put the men’s names on a blacklist that stopped them from getting a job after they returned from war. TD Gerald Nash told the programme: “What happened to them was vindictive and not only a stain on their honour but on the honour of Ireland”.

Face the Facts – Deserters Deserted airs on BBC Radio 4 at 12.30pm this Wednesday, 4 January.

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