1916: German espionage activities in the US confirmed
1916/2016: a miscellany
The ship carrying 20,000 German rifles and ammunition to be used in the Easter Rising, the Aud, was intercepted and scuttled by its crew.
British authorities seized German attaché Franz von Papen’s financial records confirming espionage activities in the US. These included records of 126 cheque stubs involving payments to agents. Von Papen (inset) was involved as an intermediary between the Irish Volunteers and the German government, which eventually led to the purchase of 20,000 guns and ammunition destined to be used in the Easter Rising. The ship carrying the weapons, the Aud, was intercepted and scuttled by its crew.
Von Papen went on to become German chancellor. Unwittingly, he played a critical part in bringing Adolf Hitler to power. He agreed to form a coalition with the Nazis in 1933 with Hitler as chancellor and he as vice-chancellor , believing he could control the Nazi dictator. He left the German government after the Night of the Long Knives in 1934.
The War Office issued a statement from King George V to the 16th (Irish) Division before they embarked for France in 1915. “Your loyal response to the call to arms and the keen, cheerful spirit which I am told you have evinced during a long and arduous period of training are most gratifying to me and convince me that on the field of battle you will not only maintain but add to the glorious tradition of my Irish regiments.”
Thousands of Irishmen died during the abortive Gallipoli campaign, including more than a thousand during the landings of the 10th (Irish) Division . The Irish Times’ London correspondent was pessimistic about his prospects, quoting from the Evening Standard that it would “necessitate the recalling of high commanders as witnesses and a possible dislocation of military operations in consequence elsewhere. The country knows perfectly well who were responsible for the failure and we think it is rather inclined on this matter to hold that ‘things without all remedy should be without regard’ until history looks into them”.