Connaught Rangers mutiny: a far-away conflict brought home in new archive

Irish government stepped in after mutiny soldiers were refused British war pensions

A certificate dated January 8th 1937, signed by Frank Aiken, minister for defence, granting a dependents’ allowance to James Daly in respect of his son James Joseph Daly executed in India on November 2nd 1920 for his part in the Connaught Rangers Mutiny.

The Connaught Rangers who mutinied as British soldiers in a far-away part of the empire became Irish heroes.

News did not travel fast in 1920, but eventually details of the Black and Tan war reached the Irish-born soldiers serving in the British army in India.

On June 27th a group led by first World War veteran Private Joseph Hawes told their officers they would refuse to serve in protest at British military atrocities in Ireland.

The revolt at Wellington Barracks, Jullundur, near the border with modern-day Pakistan, spread to Connaught Rangers companies at Jutogh and Solon near Hyderabad.


Private James Daly and 50 Irish soldiers in Solon took up arms and declared their hut to be known as Liberty Hall.

Their chaplain intervened and persuaded the men to surrender their weapons, which were returned to the armoury on the understanding that no action would be taken for such serious insubordination.

However, the mutineers had a change of heart and attempted to storm the armoury. Privates Patrick Smythe and Peter Sears were shot dead in the struggle and the remaining mutineers surrendered on July 2nd. They were led away to the notorious Lucknow Prison.

Two months later Private Daly was executed by firing squad at the age of 22. The bodies of Privates Daly, Smythe and Sears were repatriated to Ireland in 1970 on the 50th anniversary of the mutiny.

Fourteen were sentenced to death, but their chaplain, Fr Benjamin Baker, intervened and their sentences were commuted to life imprisonment. They were released in 1923.

The mutiny had serious economic consequences for the men involved. Though many of them were veterans of the first World War, they were denied a military pension by the British government.

In 1936 the Irish Government intervened and passed the Connaught Rangers (Pensions) Act. It granted a State pension to those sentenced by the general court martial to death, penal servitude, or imprisonment for any term of not less than 12 months.

In total 38 Connaught Rangers soldiers were awarded service pensions.

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy is a news reporter with The Irish Times