Reverse Arms!: Commemorating the 1920 Mutiny of the 1st Battalion, The Connaught Rangers by Julian Putkowski.
The mutiny of the Irish soldiers of 1st Battalion Connaught Rangers remains a comparatively neglected development of the War of Independence. Even allowing for the unarguable fact that the eruption occurred far away and long ago, with the exception of Jim Daly, the notional ringleader, who was subsequently executed, it was not until 1969 that a brace of slim paperbacks chronicled the affair. A couple of decades later, Judge Anthony Babington, a British circuit judge and war veteran, originally from Cork, requested me to undertake research that yielded the first comprehensive narrative: The Devil To Pay.I declined Babington’s offer to be cited as co-author, principally because his analysis failed to take adequate account of the social and political significance of the mutiny, and also because he was less than even handed in his treatment of the mutineers. The latest scholarly appraisals of the mutiny by Professor Michael Silvestri and Dr Mario Draper endorse Babington’s flawed understanding. Indeed, Draper has been moved to unequivocally declare the popular myth surrounding the actions of James Daly and his co-conspirators was nothing more than a self-serving exaggeration of events designed to fit an idealized narrative of Irish resistance of British rule. This unqualified denigration merits a robust and prompt refutation. The dead mutineers cannot speak for themselves, and because the forthcoming hundredth anniversary of the outbreak will stir media interest and invite some sort of public commemoration of the mutiny. It would be a shame for discourse to be disproportionately influenced by Draper’s sour hyperbole. The kind invitation extended to address this year’s Daniel Corkery Summer School therefore offers me both a chance to reacquaint myself with the county from whence came my mother’s family and an opportunity to remember and commemorate the 1920 mutiny by 1st Battalion, The Connaught Rangers. Julian Putkowski, Hackney 2019 References: A. Babington, The Devil to Pay – The mutiny of the Connaught Rangers, India, July 1920 (1991) M. Silvestri, Ireland and India: Nationalism, Empire and Memory (2009) M. Draper, ‘Mutiny under the Sun: The Connaught Rangers, India, 1920’, War in History (2019), https://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0968344518791208 Julian Putkowski Researches discipline and dissent in the British Army. With Julian Sykes he wrote Shot at Dawn (1989) about executions during the First World War, and Murderous Tommies (2012), with Mark Dunning. His other work includes, British Army Mutineers 1814-1912 (1998) and an essay, Penned in Purgatory: The diary of the Town Majors of Poperinge (In Flanders Fields Museum Yearbook, 2013). During the past five years Julian has been busy giving public lectures and contributing to radio documentaries, TV features and theatre productions commemorating the 100thanniversary of the First World War, including (in 1916) the Chichester Festival premiere of Mark Hayhurst’s play First Light and Brian McKenna’s film documentary Newfoundland at Armageddon (CBC). In April 2019, he contributed to three panels of the Bristol Commemoration, Conflict & Conscience Festival.