James Daly Led The Mutiny of the Connaught Rangers in 1920
James Daly of the Connaught Rangers
James Daly was 22 years old when he died. He was executed for mutiny in India. The 1st Battalion of the Connaught Rangers was an Irish Regiment in the British Army. In June 1920 they were stationed in India at Wellington Barracks in Jullundur.
Most of them had fought for England in the First World War. The mutiny did not occur because of any mistreatment of the men out there in India. It was events in England and Ireland that was to cause the men to protest.
Ireland in 1920
Irish men and women were still fighting for their freedom in 1920. The Easter Rising in 1916 failed to free Ireland from British Rule. But sixteen of the leaders were executed after they surrendered. This so outraged the Irish people that many more took up arms joined the fight.
The British knew that the ordinary British soldiers and the Royal Irish Constabulary, (the Irish police under the control of of the British Government) were losing control of the Irish War of Independence.
The Black and Tans in Ireland
In England in 1920 there was a problem with many unemployed men who had spent four years in the First World War and were restless and troublesome. They were recruited back into the army and sent to Ireland on 25th March 1920. The people soon gave them the name of the Black and Tans because their uniforms consisted of a khaki coat with black trousers, boots and cap.
Rumours in Britain
The English papers called it 'Organised Savagery.' In India they heard stories about the activities of the Tans In Ireland. Some did not believe them, others thought them exaggerated. The Tans became more vicious as the months went by. When some of them were ambushed they retaliated, often shooting indiscriminately into the crowd. They had the power to enter and search any house they felt were hiding the rebels.
The people were often bullied in the hope that they would fight back giving the Tans an excuse to shoot them. Their activities did not go unnoticed in the English press. And soon the papers, including The Times, let the English people know what was going on. The Daily News called it 'organised savagery.'
King of England
George V also protested to the Prime Minister about how the Irish people were being treated. As the men of the Rangers in India received more letters and newspapers from home they began to realise that their own families were in danger from the Black and Tans at home. These soldiers were out in a foreign country helping the British Government suppress those who wanted independence for India. None of the Irish regiments in the British Army were stationed in Ireland for obvious reasons.
As they arrived, a guard on duty dropped his weapon and joined them. On the morning of June 28th 1920, four men presented themselves at the guardroom and refused to continue serving as British soldiers as long as their own country was being terrorised by the Black and Tans.
These were Joseph Hawes, Patrick Sweeney, Stephen Lally and Patrick Gogarty. About an hour later the remainder of the soldiers in the barracks were on parade. They had heard about the four in the guardroom.
As they stood to attention, Tommy Moran stepped forward and asked permission the join the others. He was marched to Major Payne, who tried to talk him out of it, when this failed he was brought to the guardroom. Twenty nine other soldiers broke ranks and followed him. As they arrived, a guard on duty dropped his weapon and joined them.
The Penalty was Death
B Company had been out on the practice range and knew nothing of what was going on in the barracks. When they marched past the guardroom they heard the men inside singing rebel songs. They stopped outside and stood to attention, refusing orders to go to their huts. Colonel Deacon arrived and took the men out of the guardroom to talk to them.
He told them they were committing mutiny and the penalty was death. He did not want the regiment to ruin its reputation or the men to get into trouble. He told them if they gave up now and went back to their huts no punishment would be given. The men refused and returned to the guardroom.
B Company who had been standing to attention as this was going on again refused the order to move. The officers gave up and left them alone. The soldiers and all the men from the guardroom returned to their huts to plan their next move. They selected a committee of seven men to act as spokesmen for the group. These were Hawes, Gogarty, Sweeney, Moran, Davis, McGovan and Flannery.
At 2 o'clock that afternoon the Irish Flag, the Tri Colour, was flown in the Barracks instead of the Union Jack. Frank Geraghty and Patrick Kelly had gone into the town and purchased green, white and gold material to make it.
The Irish Flag
About twenty miles from Jullundur, at Solon, most of C Company were stationed. Two of the soldiers, Kelly and Keenan had left Jullundur to tell them of the Mutiny. They were arrested as they arrived but managed to shout a message to James Daly. On 30th June about seventy men led by Daly marched to their commanding officer and informed him they refused to soldier any more, in the name of Irish Freedom.
Then they took over a hut and raised the Irish Tri Colour. At Jullundur the next day, on July 1st, two battalions had arrived. The men laid down their arms and were escorted to a nearby camp. The men at Solon had agreed to give up their guns at the request of a priest, Father Baker. They kept their bayonets as they waited for news from Jullundur.
Actions of Major Payne
The heat in India in July of 1920 averaged 100 degrees Fahrenheit. The camp for the Irish mutineers consisted of a few flimsy tents in which the flies and insects were a constant nuisance. The men were suffering from the heat, and the doctor made an official complaint. He was advised by his superior to retract the complaint, he refused.
At the camp the men were ordered out of the tents by Major Payne. He began to call out some men by name for what he said was fatigue duty. The men at first obliged, but then realised the names were all of the leaders and the most prominent members of the mutiny. They quickly joined ranks and refused to come forward.
Major Payne became angry and ordered his men to raise their rifles and take aim, and threatened to shoot all the mutineers. Just at that moment a priest put himself in front of the soldiers and told Payne that he would have to kill him first. Colonel Jackson arrived and asked what was going on. Major Payne told the Colonel of the situation. The Colonel ordered the men back to the tents.
On July 4th, the men were transferred back to the barracks and detained in one of the huts. Three days later, during the night forty seven of the men were forcibly taken back to the camp. The tents had been removed and the men were left in the open without food or water.
The Doctor's Complaints were again Ignored. After two days of this treatment they were given the chance to give up their protest, but they refused. They were taken back to the barracks and thrown into the cells away from the remainder of the men.
The next morning the other mutineers, left without guidance from their leaders accepted the orders of Colonel Deacon to fall in. They returned to their own huts without further punishment. Only one soldier Corporal Willis, refused and asked to join the others in the cells. That night the remaining forty eight Irish men were sent to Dagshai prison.
Tea and Dry Bread
Back at Solon rumours had reached the men there that those in Jullundur had been shot dead. James Daly and twenty seven of his men raided the magazine which contained the rifles they had earlier handed over. They only had their bayonets but still attacked the guards. In the struggle, Privates Patrick Smythe and Peter Sears were killed in the attack and John Egan was badly wounded.
Then Father Baker stood between the men and talked them into returning to the hut. By this time there were only twenty seven men left as the remainder had given up the protest and returned to duty. Two days later the Royal Sussex Rangers arrived at Solon and overpowered the men.
They were put in leg irons and taken to Dagshai prison to join the others, making up seventy six in all. The food consisted of small portions of tea and dry bread and soon dysentery was common. Six of the men escaped to the nearby canteen at Solon, where they loaded up with food and cigarettes.
On their return the prison was surrounded as their absence had been discovered. One of the men, Alf Delaney, volunteered to get caught so the others could re-enter the prison and hide the food. As the soldiers ran after Delaney, the others went back to their cells insisting to the astonished guards on discovery that they had been there all the time.
James Daly is Executed
The trials began on 23rd August 1920. The men who had played only a miner role in the mutiny, were given sentences of between one and three years and a few were acquitted. Hawes, Gogarty, Delaney, Moran, and Flannery were given the death sentence.
The remainder of those who had played a prominent role at Jullundur received sentences of between ten to fifteen years. Of those in Solon, Daly, Gleeson, Oliver, Kelly, Egan, Hynes and Fitztgerald received the death sentence. The others who had mutinied at Solon received long prison sentences.
Of the fourteen death sentences, all but one, that of James Daly were commuted to prison sentences by the Commander in Chief six weeks later. On 2nd November 1920 at 6 am James Daly, Regimental Number 35025 was led out of his cell and executed. He asked permission to see his friends before he was shot but was refused. He was buried in Dagshai Military Cemetery, and lies in grave number 340. He was 22 years old.
Conditions for The Prisoners in England
For those who escaped the execution they suffered torture and punishments. As soon as they were convicted conditions worsened at the prison. The leaders were often put in solitary confinement, with their hands tied constantly behind their backs, including at meal times which consisted of bread and water.
John Miranda Died of Dysentery at the Prison. They remained in Dagshai until the middle of December when they were transferred to ships in Bombay, in handcuffs and leg irons for prisons in England. Most of those with the longer prison sentences went first to Portland prison in Dorset and then on to Maidstone prison in Kent.
The leaders went into solitary confinement on arrival for three months. As soon as they were released they refused to obey orders and were returned to solitary confinement for another six months.
Home to Ireland
A year later the situation in Ireland was changing. In December 1921 the Treaty which confirmed Ireland as a Free State was signed in London. By January 1922 the British Troops including the Black and Tans were leaving Irish Soil.
All political prisoners held by the British authorities were released. But the mutineers of the Connaught Rangers were disappointed when the Government made a statement that theirs was not a political act, and therefore they would remain in prison. Six weeks later the Government relented. The men were released and allowed to return home to Ireland.
James Daly was only 22 years old when he received the death penalty and was shot dead at Wellington Barracks in Jullundur in India. He along with other Irish men of the 1st Battalion of the Connaught Rangers, a Regiment in the British Army died for their beliefs in Irish Freedom.
The young lad of 22 years old did eventually return home to Ireland. In 1970 the remains of James Daly, along with Smith and Sears were brought back to Ireland for burial.