Centenary of Connaught Rangers Indian Mutiny
The Connaught Rangers ‘The Devils Own’ was a Irish regiment in the British Army, serving as Line Infantry from 1793 to 1922. It was formed after the amalgamation in 1881 of the 88th Regiment of Foot (Connaught Rangers) and the 94th Regiment of Foot. Its 2 Regular Battalions and the Reserve Battalions had their home depot at Renmore Barracks, Galway. It was disbanded upon the formation of the Irish Free State in 1922.
Following the First World War the regiment was reduced to a peacetime strength of two battalions. On the outbreak of hostilities in Ireland, Irish regiments were stationed abroad. The two battalions of the Connaught Rangers were no different; the 1st Battalion was garrisoned in India and the 2nd Battalion in Dover. The news of the conflict back home in Ireland was reported around the world. On 28 June 1920 five men garrisoned at Wellington Barracks, Jallandhar, Punjab, protested against martial law in Ireland and refused to carry out military duties. The mutiny soon spread. The protest was peaceful with the men locking themselves in and demanding British troops leave Ireland, but under military law refusal to carry out military duties is considered mutiny.
Thirty men were locked in the guardroom. The next morning Colonel Digan pleaded with the men to return to duty and praised the work of the regiment; he failed in his efforts. A committee of seven were appointed to take charge. The Union Jack was taken down and replaced with a tricolour.
On 30 June, Frank Geraghty and Patrick Kelly, travelled to Solon barracks where C Company were stationed and spread the protests to there. Led by Private James Daly mutineers took over the Solon garrison. The only casualties took place on the evening of 1 July when the mutineers attempted to arm themselves. In a rush on the armoury at Solon, Privates Patrick Smythe and Peter Sears were shot dead; Private Sears was not involved and on his way to his billet and caught in the crossfire. The incident effectively ended the mutiny and the men placed under armed guard.
88 mutineers from both companies were tried by General Court-Martial on 20 August 1920 in Dagshai: 19 men were sentenced to death; 18 later had their sentences changed to life imprisonment; 59 were sentenced to 15 years imprisonment; and ten men were acquitted. Private James Daly was executed by firing squad on 2 November 1920 in Dagshai Prison, becoming the last member of the British Armed Forces to be executed for mutiny. Private John Miranda from Liverpool, one of the English mutineers, died later of enteric fever at Dagshai.
On the establishment of the Irish Free Sate in 1922, those serving life were released. On 1 November 1970, James Daly was reinterred in Tyrellspass, Co. Westmeath.
You can watch footage from RTÉ Archives of recordings of survivors interviewed for ‘Seven Days’ broadcast on 3 November 1970. Click here
To mark the Centenary of the Connaught Rangers mutiny, Sligo Library recorded a conversation, to tell the story of the Connaught Rangers Mutiny and its aftermath. This conversation is a chance to remind ourselves of the significance of Ireland and Sligo’s forgotten heroes.