The Afterlife of Roger Casement’s Irish Brigade, 1916-1922

Author: Justin Dolan Stover (Idaho State University)


Roger Casement remains one of the key figures of the 1916 Easter Rising despite being marginalized from its planning and absent during the fighting. Casement’s intended contribution of arms and ammunition never reached Ireland. The Irish Brigade he recruited from Prisoners of War (POWs) in Germany also failed. All but two of its members remained in Germany during Easter week. Casement was arrested shortly after washing ashore at Banna Strand in Tralee, County Kerry. He was detained in the Tower of London, faced trial, and was subsequently executed in August 1916. Evidence given at this trial and in concurrent newspaper reports fail to detail and explain the motivations of the men who joined the Irish Brigade, and his death in 1916 provides an inadequate conclusion to the Brigade episode. Who were the men of the Irish Brigade? Why did they join Casement, and how might their experiences be understood within the broader contexts of small cultural armies formed during the Great War, and of nationalist loyalty?

The men who volunteered for the Irish Brigade did so for a variety of reasons. While their actions are in many ways suggestive of Polish and Czech parallels, the Irish Brigade was small and not altogether ideologically cohesive. It was not, for example, held together through any overt, collective patriotism, but through a variety of single factors, including individual affinity to Casement, the prestige, freedom, and comforts that accompanied Brigade membership, and an overall outlook toward self-preservation in time of war. As such, the Irish Brigade permits the character, ideals, impact, and legacy of Casement to be further examined on both local and global levels. On a different, methodological level, Casement and the Irish Brigade illustrate the complexities of personal and collective loyalty, as well as British perceptions of treason during the Great War—themes that featured prominently in Casement’s letters and diary of the period, in the recollections of Brigade members, and, of course, in the prosecuting evidence presented during Casement’s trial. In essence, the men Casement left behind in Germany provide important, though at times disheartening, evidence on the failed Irish Brigade and its place in the historiography of the Great War and Irish revolution. This suggests, amongst other things, the supposed cohesion of cultural armies during this period and the pervasive impact of Irish nationalism.



Casement found the Irishmen he encountered at Limburg prison camp in December 1914, “dirty and shivering in their thin khakis,” and looking terribly demoralized.[1] His initial recruiting efforts had little effect on a body of men he interpreted as being of low social class and lacking a nationalist education.[2] Joseph Zerhusen, German-appointed interpreter to the Brigade, excused Casement for low enlistment returns, and instead explained how English soldiers within Irish ranks rallied against the idea of the Brigade:

Instead of going by the identity cards of the prisoners of war to select the soldiers of Irish nationality to put them into a separate camp, they let the men come on parade and then the order was given “All Irish to the right”. […] Therefore, quite a lot came forward although they were really no Irishmen and afterwards these very men were the stumbling block which practically handicapped Casement’s adventure.[3]

In an attempt to remedy low returns, Casement, alongside Brigade recruiting sergeants Timothy Quinlisk, Michael Keogh, and a man named MacMurrough, played on the hardships of camp life to encourage enlistment.[4] Joining the Brigade in exchange for food and drink became common practice. Casement’s agreement with the Germans also established that, should the Brigade fail, each member would receive free passage to the United States, be found employment, and given £20 with which to start a new life. Moral, or patriotic, pressure intensified the allure of physical comforts. John O’Neill recounted how he was called a traitor and a coward for not joining the Brigade.[5]

Roughly two percent, or fifty-five of the 2,500 Irish POWs that were gathered at Limburg, joined the Irish Brigade.[6] Inclusive of NCOs, Robert Monteith—a British Army veteran and later drill instructor for the Irish Volunteers introduced to Casement by Clan na Gael—and several men who died during the course of their captivity, this total reaches approximately sixty-five.[7] Such a poor response no doubt contributed to Casement’s failing morale during this period, as well as declining German interest in the project.[8] The Germans’ frustration was perhaps best expressed by Rudolph Nadolny of the general staff, who stated in mid-1915: “Only fifty-three men and we had ordered 100 uniforms!”[9]

While official reports identify hunger, fear, and exposure as standard thrusts toward enlistment in the Brigade,[10] several members defended their participation on the basis that other belligerent nations had organized cultural minorities into fighting units. In September 1915, Keogh, Quinlisk, Joseph Dowling, Daniel Bailey (a.k.a. Beverley), and Michael O’Toole wrote collectively to Casement, asking

If these things be loyal and right for the allied sovereigns to do for the sake of Servia [sic], of Italy, of Bohemia, of Poland, and to enrol the soldiers of the Austrian and German armies in corps pledged to fight against Austria and Germany, then how much more right is it for Irishmen to volunteer to fight for Ireland and for that cause alone?[11]

Personal loyalty to Casement also helped to strengthen the convictions of Brigade men. In August 1916, Louis Hahn, another translator, reported that the Brigade was “disappointed” about Casement’s execution: “everybody thought he might get away.” Each man subsequently swore to take a life in retribution.[12] The men annually observed the anniversary of Casement’s death, a precedent that would be followed after the war. On 3 August 1917, Michael O’Toole wrote, “Today […] we do not feel in much humour for amusement or for music unless of its ‘Keening’ sort as our thoughts are extended on the noble man who one short year ago today laid down his life for the Old, Old Cause.”[13] Michael Ryan wrote to Thomas St. John Gaffney, former U.S. Consul in Munich who was recalled in 1915 over his pro-German sympathies and who became administrator of the Brigade,[14] in similar tones in September 1918: “always remember,” he said, “that we are all members of the Irish Brigade and that whatever people say against us we are still loyal to our former Chief and will always respect his name and Cause.”[15]

Regardless of these sentiments, freedom of movement and pocket money supplied from Clan na Gael in America often facilitated idleness and a sense of entitlement, and divided Brigade members. The Brigade was relocated several times in an effort to curb dissatisfaction, alleviate boredom, and prevent trouble. It was removed from Limburg to a camp at Zossen between June and July 1915, and placed under the charge of its interpreter, Joseph Zerhusen. Daniel McCarthy, an American sent to inspect conditions in various POW camps in Germany, and who published his observations in 1918, surmised that the Brigade’s removal to Zossen was for its own safety.[16] Indeed, men were frequently found drunk in nearby towns and refused to leave due to their perceived special status as Brigade members.[17] Orders were subsequently issued that forbade German soldiers from supplying Irishmen with alcohol.

The departure of Casement in April 1916 left the Brigade in a difficult, irreversible position. Its training duties were suspended shortly after the Easter Rising and its equipment retained by German military authorities.[18] In the summer of 1916, the Brigade was again moved, this time to Danzig where it was charged with guarding Russian POWs.[19] Conditions improved somewhat for the men, and their freedoms again expanded.[20] Toward the end of 1916 and throughout 1917, most of the men were employed in Dirschau (Tczew) and Stolp (Słupsk), as well as towns nearer the Baltic coast, where they had taken leave from the camp at Danzig.[21]

The British War Office received contrasting accounts of the Brigade at this time. It was reported that the project had been abandoned by the Germans following the Brigade’s move to Danzig; that Brigade men had become “disillusioned” with their situation; that many “willingly shared their better rations with famished British captives”; and that twelve had petitioned for reinstatement as allied prisoners of war.[22] An interview conducted between the War Office and an escaped Russian prisoner, “Sergeev,” detailed the decline in status experienced by the Irish at Danzig at this time. His observations of the Irishmen were similar to those made by Casement upon arriving in Limburg in 1914: “they were neglected by the Germans, their clothes became tattered, they went about with unshaven faces, [and] their food was that of the Russian prisoners. They looked utterly dejected and despondent.”[23] The unraveling of the Irish Brigade continued throughout 1916, a period during which Zerhusen noted how the Brigade brought “unpleasantness to everybody concerned. These men did not fit in within the general rules. They were neither fish nor flesh, neither prisoners nor soldiers nor free men and yet they were all of this.”[24]

One thing they were not was loyal soldiers of the British Army, a fact noted in the correspondence of the Treasury, War Office, and various civilian aid societies. Repatriated British prisoners had eagerly named deserters, and by 1916, Sir Bertram B. Cubbit and the War Office were able to identify a majority of men who had joined the Brigade. Steps were immediately taken to stop their pay, parcels, and post.[25] The Irishwoman’s Association at Kensington Palace, responsible for aiding members of the Connaught Rangers, exclusively withheld parcels to Brigade member Patrick Forde.[26] Only one member, Michael O’Toole, was married. His wife contested the discontinuance of her separation allowance, but was informed by authorities that it was “no use fencing with the question.”[27]

In an effort to find purpose and pay, men sought employment in local villages; each sported their Irish Brigade uniform as military garb of any type commanded respect.[28] The type of work the men found varied from clerical jobs to technical and mechanical work. Michael Keogh and James Carr found work as firemen on a steamship; Timothy Quinlisk worked as a clerk. Patrick Keogh got a job in a gas factory as a plumber, Delamore worked as a fireman at a brewery, Dowling and Kavanagh worked as blacksmiths, and McDonagh found work at a taddler shop. Louis Hahn, another liaison overseeing the Brigade, arranged for a number of men to undertake farm work in the place of Russian prisoners.[29] The experience was not positive. Michael Keogh reported that a good deal of men simply refused to work, returning from short stints of labor claiming “that does not suit me.”[30]

Complications with the Brigade were not limited to finding and keeping employment. By early 1918 several of the men had German wives and children. In April 1918, sixteen men of the Brigade were “put under special control” and required to report weekly for inspection.[31] A letter from Zerhusen to Gaffney details the growing discredit of the Irish Brigade:

In some towns the police and magistrates have begged us to take the Irishmen away, as there is always some trouble, swindling, debts, burglaries, selling stolen goods, beating policemen […found] living with Kriegerfrauen when the husbands came home. […] In some factories they will not employ Irishmen, because they work too irregular, one day and the next day gone, or keep away in the afternoon, get advances on weeks pay and disappear. In short on the average they are a disgrace on the name of Irish.[32]

Informing on fellow-Brigade members also occurred, eroding whatever camaraderie remained within the unit. A variety of letters addressed to Zerhusen, Hahn, and Gaffney illustrate how men attempted to portray each other as thieves and thugs. In fact, several Irishmen were periodically interned at Quasdow prison camp, described by O’Toole as “that Hell on Earth,” due to “tettle-tattle accusations” against their comrades.[33] This indiscipline and punishment was fairly evenly distributed. Nearly every member of the Brigade was punished for some infraction during this period.[34] O’Toole bluntly explained the rationale behind the Brigade’s conduct: “We have lost all for nothing. Drink is our only refuge from bitter thoughts. […] We are cut off and damned.”[35]

The interpersonal breakup of the Brigade was gradual. However, its official dissolution can be traced to the German Revolution in November 1918 when the Germany with which Casement had aligned himself ceased to exist. Armed with false names and papers, Brigade members were told to “shift for themselves,” and scattered. Maurice Meade, who served with the Germany army in Egypt, went to Berlin and worked as a wholesale liquor distributor.[36] Others got jobs in Bavaria through Professor Charles Curry of Munich University, Casement’s old friend.[37] Some fought for the German Government in suppressing revolutionaries.[38] Certain evidence suggests that Peter Carr and Patrick Sweeney were killed doing so.[39] However, conflicting sources indicate that Carr died from complications following a suicide attempt in September 1918, and that another Brigade member, James Carr, stabbed Sweeney to death over a financial dispute.[40]

Several other men escaped through the port at Danzig and, it was rumored, returned to Britain, no doubt mindful that their former comrades in the British Army had identified them as traitors. In fact, it was commonly believed amongst law officers examining the Brigade case in the postwar years that members were “terrified as to what their reception would be in England.”[41]

Throughout 1919 the British Government seriously considered pursuing charges of treason against known members of the Irish Brigade. However, the exact nature of offences committed by Brigade men and the practicality of a collective case complicated proceedings. Prosecution by civil power or court martial was also an issue, and it was determined that court martial could only be employed if the charge of desertion were applied. As Brigade men were already prisoners when solicited by Casement, this course was abandoned. A second consideration was prosecuting specific treasonous actions exhibited by Brigade members, for which little evidence existed or was provided hearsay.[42] As a result, recruiting sergeants, and others that solicited fellow prisoners from their allegiance to the Crown, were perceived of greater legal value than others who may have joined the Brigade to avail of material comforts.  This was clearly illustrated in the opinion of the law officers of the Crown:

[I]t is highly improbable that a jury would convict anybody of this offence against whom it could only be said that he had joined the Irish Brigade.  It would be open to any such a person to say, and to say without the possibility of contradiction, that his reason for joining was not disloyalty to the Crown, but a desire to get a favourable opportunity for escape, or more lenient treatment from the Germans.[43]

In this regard, the War Office focused on consequence rather than intent, and redirected its attention to accomplices to the Easter Rising.[44]

In the end only three men were tried: Maurice Meade, Patrick O’Neill, and Joseph Dowling. The British captured Meade and O’Neill during the allied occupation of Berlin following the war. They were transferred to the Tower of London, hastily tried for high treason, and sentenced to death. Both were granted the King’s pardon, though neither claims to have requested it.[45] Their acquittal was, in the words of the Deputy Attorney General Robert Child, “a sad (not to say ignominious as far as we are concerned) ending to a disgraceful incident.”[46]

Several men led colorful, if not dubious, lives following their time in the Brigade. Daniel Julian Bailey, alias “Beverley,” was quickly reinstated in the British Army and deployed to the Mesopotamian front after he returned to Ireland with Monteith and Casement in April 1916. Though charged alongside Casement in May 1916, the prosecution brought no evidence against Bailey and he was not brought to trial with Casement at the Central Criminal Court the following month. Though subsequently challenged by nationalists, witnesses stated that Bailey “practically turned King’s Evidence” upon his capture in an effort to evade punishment, and that the prosecution struck a deal with Bailey to provide evidence against Casement and ensure his conviction. Acquittal and reinstatement in the British Army certainly supports this version of the story.[47]

Following their release, Patrick O’Neill returned to Dublin and Maurice Meade to Limerick. The latter was accosted by the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) near Knocklong, County Limerick, and held at the local barracks. He managed to escape and was soon after contacted by local Irish Republican Army (IRA) leader Donnchadh O’Hannigan, who had organized a flying column in the area. Meade joined the IRA and participated in several attacks on British forces. He represented a small percentage of the IRA that was recruited amongst Irish veterans of the British Army.[48] He was described as a “crack shot and hugely competent in combat.”[49] Other accounts suggest Meade’s service in the Great War also contributed to his own brutalization, or of having been “battle hardened.”[50] This was particularly evident at the Dromkeen ambush in February 1921, during which Meade reportedly killed a Black and Tan who had surrendered, stating that he considered the man to be “treacherous.” Meade shot another Tan execution-style following an on-the-spot court martial. He served with the column until the Truce in 1921 and later joined the Free State army, from which he retired in 1924 with the rank of second lieutenant.[51]

Timothy Quinlisk returned to Ireland and acted as a double agent. Michael Keogh attempted to salvage Quinlisk’s reputation by stating that he acted as a decoy in the Irish Republican Brotherhood, under the unoriginal pseudonym “Quin,” and for months led authorities in Dublin Castle in false directions.[52] The work of Brian Inglis and John Borgonovo suggest the opposite—that, in fact, Quinlisk was actually working for the British and presented himself to the IRA as an arms smuggler.[53] Richard Walsh, Brigade Adjutant in Mayo and representative on the Irish Volunteer Executive, found Quinlisk to be of considerable ability and intellect but had no deep commitment to the Irish cause, gambled and was in constant need of money, and was “extra fond of drink.” Quinlisk relocated to Cork in early 1920 where he was exposed, executed, and labeled a spy.[54] Another Brigade man to meet a violent end was Jeremiah O’Callaghan, who was “mysteriously killed in Mallow barracks” in August 1922.[55]

Michael Keogh, who left contradictory and doubtful evidence of the Irish Brigade and its members, remained in Germany throughout most of his life. He served in the Bavarian 16th  Infantry Regiment toward the end of the war, and later joined the Freikorps where, in quelling a riot in Munich in 1919, he claimed to have saved the life of one Adolf Hitler.[56] Keogh returned to Ireland in 1921 to sell some of Casement’s letters before returning to Germany.[57] Writing to a friend in 1933, Keogh confessed that he felt himself an “Exile of Erin.”[58]

Michael O’Toole also remained in Germany. He moved to Coblenz and was arrested by American forces in June 1921 for spreading anti-British propaganda. The War Office informed allied commanders that O’Toole’s presence in the United Kingdom was “undesirable.”[59] He was released and slowly drifted into destitution. In 1922 he applied for repatriation following the establishment of the Irish Free State. The Minister for Home Affairs, Kevin O’Higgins, stated that the Irish government was not in a position to facilitate his return; O’Toole’s wife was unable to pay his fare; his siblings also refused to help, though it was estimated that they were in a financial position to do so.[60]

Apart from Casement, the most publicized member of the Irish Brigade at the time was Joseph Dowling, whose landing in Clare in 1918 had spurred the arrest of Sinn Féin leaders under the “German plot.” Dowling refused to make any statement at his trial and was convicted of treason in September 1918; his death sentence was commuted to penal servitude for life.[61] Dowling’s imprisonment garnered little attention throughout the Irish War of Independence. Though Michael Collins communicated his support for Dowling, W.T. Cosgrave, Kevin O’Higgins, and others failed to see imprisonment stemming from membership in the Irish Brigade as possessing any great political capital.[62] Dowling made little protest regarding his confinement. His sole petition was to be detained in Ireland, so that friends and family, whom he had not seen since the outbreak of war in 1914, could visit him.[63] His request was never granted. Dowling briefly returned to Dublin after his release in 1924, after which he quietly lived the remainder of his life in London. He was repatriated to Ireland following his death in 1932 and given a funeral with full republican honors.[64]


II. Conclusion

Roger Casement’s legacy would have been secured had he not attempted to organize and deploy an Irish Brigade. His humanitarian work in Africa and South America, advocacy of Irish cultural nationalism, anti-imperial writings, and role as recruiter for the Irish Volunteers made him a recognized figure in pre-war Ireland. The consequences for his liaison with Germany at a time of grave imperial crisis for Britain, and his attempts to, in the opinion of law officers and some repatriated POWs, seduce British soldiers from their allegiance to the Crown, extend considerations of his influence and ideology within Irish history. In fact, Casement’s execution for treason in August 1916 has not prevented him being placed alongside Patrick Pearse, Thomas Clarke, James Connolly, and others who were executed months before for their direct roles in organizing and carrying out insurrection. Indeed, Casement is central to the history of the Easter Rising despite his failure to directly aid it or partake in it.

The same notoriety cannot be said to have extended to members of the Irish Brigade. With the exception of Joseph Dowling who, like Casement, was prosecuted and whose suffering became public knowledge, the names and legacies of men of the Brigade are largely neglected and forgotten. As a group, they were truly liminal, belonging in two separate camps simultaneously but in reality serving neither. As a result, they were as ignored in postwar Britain as they were marginalized in post-independence Ireland, being denied British military pensions while also being overlooked for service pensions subsequently awarded to members of the Irish Republican Army.[65] Individual decisions to enlist for the Brigade, and certain self-destructive behaviors undertaken as a part of it, may therefore reflect actions prompted by the uncertainty and depravation of war and prison life more than they do genuine personal adoration of Casement and Ireland—or spite toward each other, respectively.

Complete dissolution of the Brigade was never realized, however, and several members fought to preserve, or establish in different ways, their place in Irish history. Several reverent Brigade veterans, particularly Michael Keogh, John Kavanagh, John Greer, and Thomas Wilson, attended memorial services for Casement and campaigned for the repatriation of his body to Ireland. Ireland was directly reminded of the Brigade and its significance to the events of the Easter Rising when, in 1935, some surviving Brigade men donned what remaining German-Irish uniforms could be found and marched in the Easter Rising Commemoration.[66]

While Casement and the Irish Brigade provide important insights into the ideological foundation, recruiting, and deployment (or failed deployment) of cultural armies during the Great War, examining them on par with more well-known examples in somewhat problematic. For instance, Josef Pilsudski’s Polish Legion, formed in 1914 amongst ethnic Poles within Austria-Hungary to fight against Russia, the Polish Blue Legion, formed in 1917 amongst Poles in France, and Tomáš Masaryk’s Czechoslovak Legion, recruited from expatriate Czechs and Slovaks to fight alongside the Allies, were not only numerically larger than the Irish Brigade, but demonstrably more effective as a fighting force. While motivation for joining cultural armies during the Great War could certainly be aligned with the notion of enlisting as a “political or moral” protest against perceived imperial dominance and exploitation—particularly in the case of Ireland in its relationship with Britain and Poland in its relationship with Russia—primary group loyalty and cohesion are seen lacking within the Irish Brigade.[67] In addition to the divergence in size and leadership, one might observe the success and overall coherence of the Polish and Czech legions opposite the failure of the Irish Brigade in terms of applicability. The Irish Brigade was never put into action as a unit, and was thus denied the outlet for which they were recruited. Thus, without an outlet for loyalty, individual interest wanes and the collective ties that bind are loosened and come undone.[68] Though part of a wider European movement, the purpose of the Irish Brigade died with its chief, Roger Casement. Unable to perform the duty for which it was recruited, many attached themselves to the legacy of Casement, maintaining that their failure as a fighting force did not reflect their convictions as patriots.


[1] B.L. Reid, The Lives of Casement (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1976), 244; see also Roger Casement’s German diary, 4 Dec. 1914, Casement Papers, MS 1,689, National Library of Ireland (NLI), Dublin.

[2] See Angus Mitchell, Casement (London: Haus Publishing, 2003), 105; see also Reinhard Doerries, Prelude to the Easter Rising: Sir Roger Casement in Imperial Germany (London: Frank Cass, 2000), 9.

[3] “Reminiscences of Joseph Zerhusen,” 10 Nov. 1966, Roger McHugh papers, MS 31,728, NLI. The traditional approach to recruiting Irish revolutionaries was to approach men individually, thus eliminating peer influence, positive or negative. Andreas Roth faulted both Casement and the German command, particularly in the area of selecting strictly Irish POWs; see Roth, “‘The German soldier is not tactful’: Sir Roger Casement and the Irish Brigade during the First World War,” The Irish Sword 19 (1995), 313.

[4] MacMurrough claimed to have joined the British Army out of financial trouble, and asserted that he had no intention of returning to Ireland after the war “with a red coat.” Quinlisk, only nineteen at the time, had witnessed his brother killed near La Bassée, and confessed to Casement that he “was quite prepared to be put on trial for high treason”; see Casement’s German diary, 8 Jan. 1915, MS 1,690, NLI. Confusion pervades both the character and evidence of Keogh. He is referred to in contemporary correspondence as both “Kehoe” and “Keogh,” provided evidence to the Bureau of Military History under the name “Kehoe,” and published a series of articles in The Catholic Bulletin under the surname “McKeogh.” A book compiled by his son, Kevin, whose narrative at times contradicts the articles penned for The Catholic Bulletin, also bears the name “Keogh.” In order to avoid confusion, he is referred to throughout this article as Michael Keogh, although citations of his publications maintain their given spelling. Michael Keogh should not be confused with a less-active member of the Brigade, Patrick Keogh. See Michael McKeogh, “Roger Casement, Germany and the World War,” The Catholic Bulletin, 18 (Jan.-Dec. 1928); Casement’s German diary, MS 1,690, NLI; Michael Kehoe, Dublin, Bureau of Military History (BMH), Witness Statement (WS) 741,; and Michael Keogh, With Casement’s Irish Brigade, ed. Brian Maye (Drogheda: Choice Publishing, 2010).

[5] Statement of John O’Neill, interview no. 463, WO 161/98, The Nation Archives, Kew (NAK). Casement’s diary details prisoners’ refusal of the Brigade stemming from two distinct positions: one, a belief that the Irish Brigade would be used to fight for Germany, rather than for Ireland with German aid, and two, “because England had given them Home Rule (!) and because Germany had burnt and pillaged the R[oman] C[atholic] Churches and wantonly attacked little Belgium: see Casement’s German diary, 7 Dec. 1914, MS 1,690, NLI. Similar reports were relayed by the Brigade chaplain, Father Nicholson, in February 1915; see Nicholson to Casement, 23 Feb. 1915, Casement papers, 13085/25, NLI.

[6] These statistics were compiled from various sources. See Roth, “‘The German soldier is not tactful,’” 322; Doerries, Prelude, 211-14; John Devoy papers, MS 18,081/10, NLI;  Michael Kehoe, BMH, WS 741; Casement papers, MS 13,085/1/ii, NLI; and Lists and Register of Irish Brigade Soldiers,  n.d., 13,085/6. Roth puts the prisoner total at 2,486, while a report of the 18th Army Corps cites 2,247 POWs by Jan. 1915: see WO 141/49, NAK.

[7] Extended list received by C.2. Cas., American Embassy of prisoners of war transferred from Limburg to Zossen. See “Treatment of Prisoners at Limburg,” 26 June 1915, WO 141/9, NAK. This list does not specifically identify the Irish Brigade but forty-seven of the fifty-five names also appear on the original list supplied by the Royal Munster Fusiliers.

[8] See Roger Sawyer, Casement: The Flawed Hero (London: Routledge, 1984), 122; see also Casement to Boehm, 8 Apr. 1915, P 127/5, University College Dublin Archives (UCDA).

[9] Casement’s German diary, 28 Mar. 1916, MS 1,690, NLI.

[10] Roth has stated that in fact “no one joined as a result of sympathy with Germany”; see Roth, “‘The German soldier is not tactful,’” 330. Mainly, however, Brigade members maintained at the time that it was for Ireland they fought, not as soldiers of the Kaiser; See Keogh, Quinlisk, Dowling, Beverley, O’Toole to Casement, 24 Sept. 1915, Casement Papers, MS 13,085/9/vii, NLI; and “Letters of the Irish Brigade,” Casement papers, MS 13,085/1/ii, NLI.

[11] See Keogh, Quinlisk, Dowling, Beverley, O’Toole to Casement, 24 Sept. 1915, MS 13,086/9/vii, NLI.

[12] Hahn to Mrs Gaffney, 15 Aug. 1916, Casement papers, MS 13,085/1/v, NLI.

[13] O’Toole to Gaffney, 3 Aug. 1917, Casement papers, MS 13,085/1/vii, NLI.

[14] Gaffney appears frequently in the record of the Irish Brigade. He is noted as attending meetings with Casement in Germany as early as December 1914. See Casement’s Germany diary, 17 Dec. 1914, MS 1,690, NLI.

[15] Ryan to Gaffney, 16 Sept. 1918, Casement papers, MS 13,085/1/ix, NLI.

[16] McCarthy summarized, “The Irish brigade in its resplendent uniforms, drunk with liberty, aided abetted by other enthrals, did not present in this condition that material appearance which their Teutonic allies had proudly pictured to themselves. After a fitful and hectic moment in Berlin they underwent a sudden disappearance. Their whereabouts are unknown. Limburg was no safe place for them.” See Daniel J. McCarthy, The Prisoner of War in Germany (New York: Moffat, Yard and Company, 1918), 121-30. Zerhusen recalled how the men arrived at Zossen still in prisoner of war clothes, with little to do, and that indiscipline was rampant; See “Reminiscences of Joseph Zerhusen,” 10 Nov. 1966, McHugh papers, MS 31,728, NLI.

[17] Zerhusen to Casement, 9 Oct. 1915, Casement papers, MS 13,085/1/ii, NLI.

[18] McKeogh, “Roger Casement, Germany and the World War,” 942. The German General Staff distanced itself from the Brigade, and sought advice from the Kriegsministerium (Ministry of War) as how best to employ the men; see Roth, “‘The German soldier is not tactful,’” 326. Casement’s influence remained. He had instructed that the Brigade was to be provided with funds from Clan na Gael, roughly 8,000 marks, held by Georg von Wedel, head of the Foreign Office, English department; Zerhusen to Gaffney, 18 Apr. 1916, Casement papers, MS 13,085/1/iii, NLI. This policy toward the men continued throughout the war; see précis of W.C. Harrington, c. 1917, Casement papers, MS 13,085/1/i, NLI.

[19] See Keogh to Gaffney, 29 May 1916, and Golden, Rahilly, Mallon, Forde, Donoghue, and McGrath to Gaffney, 11 June 1916, Casement papers 13,085/1/iv, NLI.

[20] “Reminiscences of Joseph Zerhusen,” 10 Nov. 1966, McHugh papers, MS 31,728, NLI.

[21] McKeogh, “Casement, Germany and the World War,” 951; and Michael Kehoe, BMH, WS 741.

[22] “Limburg on the Lahn, report of the 18th army,” n.d., WO 141/49, NLI; and Statement of Alfred Adams, WO 161/100, NAK.

[23] Statement made by escaped Russian prisoner “Sergeev,” 11 July 1918, WO 141/9, NAK.

[24] “Reminiscences of Joseph Zerhusen,” 10 Nov. 1966, McHugh papers, MS 31,728, NLI.

[25] B.B. Cubit to Honourary Secretary, Prisoners of War Help Committee, 25 May 1916, WO 141/9, NAK; See also McKeogh, “Casement, Germany and the World War,” 738.

[26] Alice Drew-Smith to Lord Newton, 14 Mar. 1917, WO 141/9, NAK.

[27] J.L. Brierly for Attorney General, 6 July 1916, WO 141/9, NAK.

[28] Michael Kehoe, BMH, WS 741.

[29] These men were Meade, O’Neil, Lynch, T. McGrath, Treacy, Fulforde, Berry, Sweeny, P. McGrath, O’Mahony, D. Murphy, O’Callaghan, Scanlon, J. Murphy, O’Donoghue, Wilson, Waters, Brandon, Rahilly; see Hahn to Gaffney, 4 July 1916, Casement papers, MS 13,085/1/v, NLI.

[30] See Keogh to Gaffney, 9 July 1916, and Hahn to Gaffney 24 July 1916, 18 Mar. 1917, Casement papers, MS 13,085/1/v, NLI.

[31] Hahn to Gaffney, 8 Apr. 1918, Casement papers, MS 13,085/1/viii, NLI.

[32] Zerhusen to Gaffney, 20 May 1918, Casement papers, MS 13,085/1/iv, NLI.

[33] O’Toole to unknown, n.d., Casement papers, MS 13,085/1/ix, NLI. The whirlwind of accusation, indiscipline, and self-destruction eventually claimed Zerhusen, who was dismissed from the Irish Brigade by the Kriegsministerium in late September 1918; see Hahn to Gaffney, 27 Sept. 1918, Casement papers, 13,085/1/viii, NLI, and James Carr and John Barnacle to Zerhusen, n.d., Casement papers, MS 13,085/1/ix, NLI.

[34] Brigade officers, who would steal from the rank-and-file while they were out working, committed inter-Brigade theft exclusively; see P. Keogh, Burke, Fulford, McMahon, McCabe T. McGrath and Carr to unknown [most likely Zerhusen or Gaffney], 20 May 1917, Casement papers, MS 13,085/1/vi, NLI; see also both Hahn to Gaffney  and O’Toole to Gaffney, 26 July 1917, Casement papers, MS 13,085/1/vii, NLI.

[35] O’Toole to Gaffney, 2 Aug. 1917, Casement papers, MS 13,085/1/vii, NLI, and Zerhusen to Gaffney, n.d., Casement papers, MS 13,085/1/ix, NLI.

[37] Michael Kehoe, BMH, WS 741.

[38] “Limburg on the Lahn, report of the 18th  army corps,” n.d., WO 141/49, NAK.

[39] Michael Kehoe, BMH, WS 741.

[40] Evidence was given by fellow Brigade member Daniel Murphy; see David Grant, “Casement and the Irish Brigade recruited from Irish POWs,”

[41] Robert Child to Gordon Hewart, 2 Feb. 1919, WO 141/36/1, NAK.

[42] See various correspondence regarding legal proceedings against the Irish Brigade: 2, 6, 18, and 27 Feb. 1919, WO 141/36/3, 4, and 9, NAK.

[43] “Repatriated members of the German Irish Brigade, opinion of the Law Officers of the Crown and Mr G.A.H. Branson,” c. May 1919, WO 141/36/17, NAK.

[44] See various correspondence regarding legal proceedings against the Irish Brigade: 10 and 18 Mar. 1919, WO 141/36/12 and 14, NAK.

[45] Maurice Meade, BMH, WS 891; see also Irish Times, 4 Oct. 1924.

[46] See both Robert Child to Secretary of State, 18 Apr. 1919, and “Repatriated members of the German Irish Brigade, opinion of the Law Officers of the Crown (Gordon Hewart, E.M. Pollack) and G.A.H. Branson,” c. May 1919, WO 141/36/17, NAK.

[47] See Keogh to Kuno Meyer, 28 Aug. 1919, DE 2/172, National Archives of Ireland (NAI), Dublin; “Case of Dowling (Prisoner) July 1918, notes from Court Martial,” Maurice Moore, n.d., Gavin Duffy collection, CD 45/15/2, Irish Military Archives, Dublin; and Robert Child to Attorney General, 2 Feb. 1919, WO 141/36, NAK.

[48] Edward Madigan, “‘A seamless robe of Irish experience’: The First World War, the Irish Revolution and Centenary Commemoration,” History Ireland 22, no. 4 (July/August 2014), 14-17,

[49] John O’Callaghan, Revolutionary Limerick: The Republican Campaign for Independence in Limerick, 1913-1921 (Dublin: Irish Academic Press, 2010), 126.

[50] Ibid, 139.

[51] Maurice Meade, BMH, WS 891; see also Irish Times, 4 Oct. 1924.

[52] McKeogh, “Casement, Germany and the World War,” 732-3.

[53] See Brian Inglis, Roger Casement (Belfast: Blackstaff Press, 1993), 395 and John Borgonovo, Spies, Informers and the “Anti-Sinn Féin Society”: The Intelligence War in Cork City, 1920-1921 (Dublin: Irish Academic Press, 2007), 76-77, 136-7; see also Padraic O’Farrell, Who’s Who in the Irish War of Independence and Civil War 1916-1923 (Dublin: Lilliput Press, 1997), 88-9.

[54] Jim Hurley relayed details of Quinlisk’s execution to Walsh in an internment camp during the Irish Civil War; see Walsh, BMH, WS 400, 100-109,

[55] McKeogh, “Casement, Germany and the World War,” 732-3.

[56] Keogh, With Casement’s Irish Brigade, 161-5.

[57] Erskine Childers and Arthur Griffith bought several of Casement’s letters on behalf of the Irish movement; see both Michael Collins to Diarmuid O’Hegarty, 29 July 1921 and Diarmuid O’Hegarty to the manager, Young Ireland, 9 Aug. 1921, DE 2/172, NAI. See also Keogh, With Casement’s Irish Brigade, 166-7.

[58] Keogh to Frank Robbins, 20 Dec. 1933, MS 22,250, NLI.

[59] “Memorandum regarding Michael O’Toole,” 2 Mar. 1922, CSORP 1922, box 6199, R 65, NAI.

[60] “Memorandum regarding Michael O’Toole,” 18 and 30 Apr. 1922, CSORP 1922, box 6199, R 65, NAI.

[61] See the Daily Mail, 11 Feb. 1924.

[62] This was particularly the case during debates on post-Treaty amnesty and indemnity following the establishment of the Irish Free State. See W. T. Cosgrave, Dáil debates, vol. 2, col. 487, 4 Jan. 1923, and Kevin O’Higgins Dáil debates, vol. 2, cols. 490-91, 4 Jan. 1923,

[63] Prisoner’s petition, Dowling to Secretary of State, 4 Sept. 1919, Home Office (HO) 144/3444, NAK.

[64] Memo on Joseph Dowling, R.N. D’Arth. (Governor of Parkhurst prison), 10 Feb. 1923, H.O. 144/3444, NAK; see also Times, 6 Aug. 1932 and News of the World, 7 Aug. 1932.

[65] Roth, “‘The German soldier is not tactful,’” 329.

[66] There is evidence of Brigade men attempting to organize a march in the 1935 Rising commemoration; see, for example, The Irish Press, 4 April 1935; see also, Irish Independent, 5 Aug. 1935 and Irish Press, 20 May 1957. I would like to thank David Grant for his compiling an extensive history of the Irish Brigade at, which fills in many of the gaps found in the existing archival evidence.

[67] Alexander Watson, “Fighting for Another Fatherland: the Polish Minority in the German Army, 1914-1918” The English Historical Review, 126, no. 522 (2011), 1149.

[68] Robert Wolfe divided this concept of loyalty and its outlets into two parts: natural loyalty, such as fidelity toward one’s family or country, as explored by Alexander Watson, and contractual loyalty, or that secured through an oath or membership in an organization; see Robert Wolfe, The Poverty of Liberalism (Boston: Beacon Press, 1969), 55, 60-1.