A new study by the University of Edinburgh found more than 3,600 soldiers from the south of Ireland died on active service during WWII. Their names joined those of almost 3,900 fallen combatants from Northern Ireland on a roll of honour being unveiled at Trinity College Dublin on 12 June.
The study estimates that in the British army alone, as many as 100,000 people from the island of Ireland served in WWII, despite the Irish Free State's neutrality in the conflict. (Working out how many people did serve is harder than one might think, The best estimates I have seen would estimate 60-70,000 men and women from Eire served in the British armed forces during WWII)
Historian Yvonne McEwen said the ambitious project, which began in 2003, was inspired by stories of her grandfather's experience upon coming home after WWI where he fought as a Royal Irish Fusilier. "Society was not very kind to returning men who fought in the First World War, and I wanted to look at that in terms of WWII particularly with a partitioned country," she said. "I wanted to learn what happened to these men and women on both sides of the border - it turned out to be a staggering picture. suppose it was like becoming a detective - the more I uncovered, the more I wanted to know. I've learned a lot about the sacrifice made on the island of Ireland."
The roll of honour will be permanently housed in the Trinity College library, but Ms McEwen said some of the blanks in her research still needed to be filled.
It has taken a long time but the Republic has woken up to the contribution and the sacrifice made by those men and women who fought to defeat the Nazi monster. The IRA, on the other hand, got into bed with the Nazis.