Rankin Memoirs 2

After a month in Philadelphia in 1914, I joined the state’s National Guard. The Irish friends I had made at the Irish Club would not hear of joining, claiming that it was composed of the worst elements in the city. But I wanted military experience for the future. Also I wanted to acquire some ammunition.

Roger Casement

Each Sunday I went to the rifle range and salted away some bullets. By the end of the year I had over 600 rounds of Springfield ammunition hidden in my lodgings. I learned that my friends’ allegations against National Guard members were false. I was treated as a man and a coming soldier. In all respects they were men, soldiers and a credit to their country.

Roger Casement came to Philadelphia in September 1914 and reviewed several hundred young Irishmen who were in uniform – but had no rifles or ammunition. He told them that they would be wanted soon and to prepare. He asked each single man to go home to Ireland and prepare for revolution. The assembled men answered with ringing cheers. 

I was delighted at the reception given to Roger Casement and I looked forward to getting many new recruits for the National Guard and for Ireland. 

But no! The following Sunday I canvassed for recruits and could not get a single one! I asked about the answer they gave to Roger Casement the previous Sunday and how they were to fulfil their promise by only wearing an Irish uniform but with no rifle or ammunition.

I approached the officers of the Irish Club but they were as bad. I got no support. Here was the city with plenty of young men who could have followed Casement’s advice (as was happening in Boston and New York and many other US cities.)

Casement instead had to ask Irish prisoners of the British Army to do the needful.


… more later …




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