The year is of particular significance to the Connaught Rangers Association. It is, of course, the centenary of the infamous mutiny in India when members of the regiment, outraged at the news of Black and Tan atrocities at home, grounded their arms and refused to continue to serve until all British troops were withdrawn from Ireland.
The narrative surrounding this seminal event on June 28, 1920, is familiar to all who share an interest in the Rangers. The spread of the protest from Jullundur to Solon, the soldiers attempts to retrieve the weapons they had so willingly surrendered earlier that day, the tragic loss of two of their comrades when challenged by the camp guard in the process of doing so and the subsequent arrests and court-martial which resulted in the summary execution of Pte James Daly and the incarceration of so many others.
All this is embedded in the national consciousness and rightly serves to unite successive generations of Irishmen and Irishwomen in sympathy with the plight of these brave young sons of Ireland. The historiography surrounding the mutiny, however, and the prevailing tendency to view it as an act of political redemption, demands reflection during the current Decade of Centenary Commemorations. And here, in this reflection, we engage in our greatest challenge to situate the event in Ireland’s historic struggle for independence.
Witness statements in the Bureau of Military History, the repatriation of the mutineers bodies to Ireland, a stirring memorial erected at Glasnevin Cemetery, and the presence of IRA firing parties at their subsequent re-interment, tends to portray these particular Rangers as modern-day republican icons. And for many their actions in the Punjab qualify them as such. Enough evidence is available, however, to challenge this perception. Avoiding worn-out charges of revisionism, it is incumbent upon the present committee to at least consider this evidence when attempting to commemorate the centenary with due diligence.
A public talk by Dr Tony King, Liaison Officer with the Connaught Rangers Association Committee, originally scheduled for April, will now be delivered once Covid-19 restrictions enable larger public gatherings. Details will be published when a venue and date have been decided on.
The Connaught Rangers Association extend an open invitation to any member of the public who would like to join in keeping the memory of this famous regiment alive.
Interested parties should contact chairman PJ Maloney at [email protected] or log onto www.connaughtrangersassoc.com.