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Irishman James Daly: Member of Connaught Rangers in 1920

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L.M.Reid is an Irish writer who has published many history articles online and in magazines.

Learn about James Daly and much more in this informative historical piece on the Connaught Rangers mutiny in Jullundur, India in 1920. The image above shows the home station of the Connaught Rangers in Galway City, Ireland.

Learn about James Daly and much more in this informative historical piece on the Connaught Rangers mutiny in Jullundur, India in 1920. The image above shows the home station of the Connaught Rangers in Galway City, Ireland.

James Daly and the Connaught Rangers

James Daly was an Irishman who was 22 years old when he died. He was executed for mutiny in India. The 1st Battalion of the Connaught Rangers was an Irish Regiment in the British Army. In June 1920 they were stationed in India at Wellington Barracks in Jullundur.

Most of them had fought for England in the First World War. The mutiny did not occur because of any mistreatment of the men out there in India. It was events in England and Ireland that were to cause the men to protest.

James Daly (left) of the Connaught Rangers was executed in India in 1920. The lettered slab on the right commemorates those who died during the mutiny in India that Daly partly led.

James Daly (left) of the Connaught Rangers was executed in India in 1920. The lettered slab on the right commemorates those who died during the mutiny in India that Daly partly led.

The Situation in Ireland in 1920

Irish men and women were still fighting for their freedom from Britain in 1920. The Easter Rising in 1916 failed to free Ireland from British Rule. But sixteen of the leaders were executed after they surrendered. This so outraged the Irish people that many more took up arms and joined the fight.

The British knew that the ordinary British soldiers and the Royal Irish Constabulary (the Irish police under the control of the British Government) were losing control of the Irish War of Independence.

The Black and Tans in Ireland

In England in 1920, there was a problem with many unemployed men who had spent four years in the First World War and were restless and troublesome. They were recruited back into the army and sent to Ireland on 25th March 1920. The people soon gave them the name of the Black and Tans because their uniforms consisted of a khaki coat with black trousers, boots and cap.

Rumours in Britain

In India, they heard stories about the activities of the Tans In Ireland. Some did not believe them; others thought the stories were exaggerated. The Tans became more vicious as the months went by. When some of them were ambushed, they retaliated, often shooting indiscriminately into the crowd. They had the power to enter and search any house they felt was hiding rebels.

The people were often bullied in the hope that they would fight back, giving the Tans an excuse to shoot them. Their activities did not go unnoticed in the English press. And soon, the papers, including The Times, let the English people know what was going on. The Daily News called it 'organised savagery.'

Occupation of Ireland

Occupation of Ireland

King of England

George V also protested to the Prime Minister about how the Irish people were treated. As the men of the Rangers in India received more letters and newspapers from home, they began to realise that their own families were in danger from the Black and Tans in Ireland. These soldiers were out in a foreign country helping the British Government suppress those who wanted independence for India. None of the Irish regiments in the British Army were stationed in Ireland for obvious reasons.

The Mutiny

On the morning of 28th June 1920, four men presented themselves at the guardroom and refused to continue serving as British soldiers as long as their own country was being terrorised by the Black and Tans.

These were Joseph Hawes, Patrick Sweeney, Stephen Lally and Patrick Gogarty. About an hour later, the remainder of the soldiers in the barracks were on parade. They had heard about the four in the guardroom.

As they stood to attention, Tommy Moran stepped forward and asked permission to join the others. He was marched to Major Payne, who tried to talk him out of it; he was brought to the guardroom when this failed. Twenty-nine other soldiers broke ranks and followed him. A guard on duty dropped his weapon and joined them as they arrived.

The Penalty Was Death

B Company had been out on the practice range and knew nothing of what was going on in the barracks. When they marched past the guardroom, they heard the men inside singing rebel songs. They stopped outside and stood to attention, refusing orders to go to their huts. Colonel Deacon arrived and took the men out of the guardroom to talk to them.

He told them they were committing mutiny, and the penalty was death. He did not want the regiment to ruin its reputation or the men to get into trouble. He told them that no punishment would be given if they gave up now and went back to their huts. The men refused and returned to the guardroom.

They Refused the Orders

B Company, who had been standing to attention as this was going on again, refused the order to move. The officers gave up and left them alone. The soldiers and all the men from the guardroom returned to their huts to plan their next move. They selected a committee of seven men to act as spokesmen for the group: Hawes, Gogarty, Sweeney, Moran, Davis, McGovan and Flannery.

At 2 o'clock that afternoon, the Irish Flag, the Tri Colour, was flown in the Barracks instead of the Union Jack. Frank Geraghty and Patrick Kelly had gone into the town and purchased green, white and orange material to make it.

The Irish Flag

Most of C Company were stationed about twenty miles from Jullundur, at Solon. Two of the soldiers, Kelly and Keenan, had left Jullundur to tell them of the Mutiny. They were arrested as they arrived but managed to shout a message to James Daly. On 30th June, about seventy men led by Daly marched to their commanding officer and informed him they refused to soldier any longer in the name of Irish Freedom.

Then they took over a hut and raised the Irish Tri Colour. At Jullundur the next day, on July 1st, two battalions had arrived. The men laid down their arms and were escorted to a nearby camp. The men at Solon had agreed to give up their guns at the request of a priest, Father Baker. They kept their bayonets as they waited for news from Jullundur.

Jack Joseph Dawes of The Connaught Rangers

Jack Joseph Dawes of The Connaught Rangers

Actions of Major Payne

The heat in India in July of 1920 averaged 100 degrees Fahrenheit. The camp for the Irish mutineers consisted of a few flimsy tents in which the flies and insects were a constant nuisance. The men suffered from the heat, and the doctor made an official complaint. His superior advised him to retract the complaint, but he refused.

At the camp, the men were ordered out of the tents by Major Payne. He began to call out some men by name for what he said was fatigue duty. The men at first obliged but then realised the names were all of the leaders and the most prominent members of the mutiny. They quickly joined ranks and refused to come forward.

Major Payne became angry and ordered his men to raise their rifles and take aim and threatened to shoot all the mutineers. Just at that moment, a priest put himself in front of the soldiers and told Payne that he would have to kill him first. Colonel Jackson arrived and asked what was going on. Major Payne told the Colonel of the situation. The Colonel ordered the men back to the tents.

On July 4th, the men were transferred back to the barracks and detained in one of the huts. Three days later, forty-seven of the men were forcibly taken back to the camp during the night. The tents had been removed, and the men were left in the open without food or water.

The Doctor's complaints were ignored again. After two days of this treatment, they were given the chance to give up their protest, but they refused. They were taken back to the barracks and thrown into the cells away from the remainder of the men.

The next morning the other mutineers, left without guidance from their leaders, accepted the orders of Colonel Deacon to fall in. They returned to their huts without further punishment. Only one soldier, Corporal Willis, refused and asked to join the others in the cells. That night the remaining forty-eight Irish men were sent to Dagshai prison.

Tea and Dry Bread

Back at Solon, rumours had reached the men there that those in Jullundur had been shot dead. James Daly and twenty-seven of his men raided the magazine, which contained the rifles they had earlier handed over. They only had their bayonets but still attacked the guards. In the struggle, Privates Patrick Smythe and Peter Sears were killed in the attack, and John Egan was badly wounded.

Father Baker

Then Father Baker stood between the men and talked them into returning to the hut. There were only twenty-seven men left by this time as the remainder had given up the protest and returned to duty. The Royal Sussex Rangers arrived at Solon two days later and overpowered the men.

They were put in leg irons and taken to Dagshai prison to join the others, making up seventy-six in all. The food consisted of small portions of tea and dry bread, and soon dysentery was common. Six men escaped to the nearby canteen at Solon, where they loaded up with food and cigarettes.

On their return, the prison was surrounded as their absence had been discovered. One of the men, Alf Delaney, volunteered to get caught so the others could re-enter the prison and hide the food. As the soldiers ran after Delaney, the others went back to their cells, insisting to the astonished guards on discovery that they had been there all the time.

James Daly Is Executed

The trials began on 23rd August 1920. The men who had played only minor roles in the mutiny were given sentences of between one and three years and a few were acquitted. Hawes, Gogarty, Delaney, Moran, and Flannery were given the death sentence.

The remainder of those who played a prominent role at Jullundur received sentences between ten to fifteen years. Of those in Solon, Daly, Gleeson, Oliver, Kelly, Egan, Hynes and Fitzgerald received the death sentence. The others who had mutinied at Solon received long prison sentences.

Of the fourteen death sentences, all but one, that of James Daly, were commuted to prison sentences by the Commander in Chief six weeks later. On 2nd November 1920 at 6 am, James Daly, Regimental Number 35025, was led out of his cell and executed. He asked permission to see his friends before he was shot but was refused. He was buried in Dagshai Military Cemetery and lies in grave number 340. He was 22 years old.

"The Connaught Rangers" by The Wolf Tones

Conditions for the Prisoners in England

Those who escaped execution suffered torture and punishment. As soon as they were convicted, conditions worsened at the prison. The leaders were often put in solitary confinement, with their hands tied constantly behind their backs, including at meal times, which consisted of bread and water.

John Miranda died of dysentery in prison. They remained in Dagshai until the middle of December when they were transferred to ships in Bombay in handcuffs and leg irons for prisons in England. Most of those with the longer prison sentences went first to Portland prison in Dorset and then to Maidstone prison in Kent.

Solitary Confinement

The leaders went into solitary confinement on arrival for three months. As soon as they were released, they refused to obey orders and were returned to solitary confinement for another six months.

Home to Ireland

A year later, the situation in Ireland was changing. In December 1921, the Treaty, which confirmed Ireland as a Free State, was signed in London. By January 1922, the British Troops, including the Black and Tans, were leaving Irish Soil.

All political prisoners held by the British authorities were released. But the mutineers of the Connaught Rangers were disappointed when the Government made a statement that theirs was not a political act and, therefore, they would remain in prison. Six weeks later, the Government relented. The men were released and allowed to return home to Ireland.

James Daly

James Daly was only 22 years old when he received the death penalty and was shot dead at Wellington Barracks in Jullundur in India. He, along with other Irish men of the 1st Battalion of the Connaught Rangers, a regiment in the British Army, died for their beliefs in Irish Freedom.

The young lad of 22 years old did eventually return home to Ireland. In 1970 the remains of James Daly, along with Smith and Sears, were brought back to Ireland for burial.

Connaught Rangers Association Discusses the Mutiny

Sources and Further Reading

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2010 L M Reid


L M Reid (author) from Ireland on June 06, 2020:

Breasal, glad you liked the article, thanks. Anthony, yes they suffered terrible because of their beliefs

Anthony Purnell on May 23, 2020:

Corageous acts of the unsung heroes. Tragic but fascinating history of a birth of a Nation. Had this fella published a book?

Breasal Ó caollaÍ on May 21, 2020:

That is an excellent article and very well written. Well done.

L M Reid (author) from Ireland on May 20, 2020:

Hello Kathleen, thank you for posting your own family history about the Connaught Rangers. Much appreciated.

Kathleen A. Hanlon on May 06, 2020:

Very informative. I do study Irish History. My grandfather John Morgan was from CO. Down, He was conscripted in to the British Army and sent to India. This was in The time was in the mid 1800. He was discharged from The Connaught Rangers in 1886. He went to America and became a citizen in 1889. I have been told that He said the British

were doing the same thing to the poor Hindus as they were doing to the Irish.He was a Drummer with The Rangers. He died in 1937 a year before I wAs born.

L M Reid (author) from Ireland on June 04, 2010:

Thank you theindianblues for reading the article and your comment. Yes it is extraordinary how some people have the strenght to stand up for their beliefs even when it means losing their lives

theindianblues from Some where on the Globe on May 26, 2010:

Good stuff and really being an India, I am not at all knowing these facts. I am with you in this great cause and wish you all get freedom. I have voted this hub and now I am your fan. Thank you for sharing such a nice topic.

Christine from Dublin on May 24, 2010:

Great hub viking,,, learning a lot from your hubs, they are done really well and great information..

look forward to reading more of them soon..

Keep up the good work ... Garlic Angel :-)

L M Reid (author) from Ireland on May 12, 2010:

Thanks for reading the hub and your comment, alternate poet, much appreciated

alternate poet on May 12, 2010:

Excellent piece - well written and clear.

L M Reid (author) from Ireland on April 07, 2010:

Thks for reading The Buckcat. That that bit of info was interesting, I didn't know that James Daly was the last man executed by the British Army.

I appreciate your comment and extra info

L M Reid (author) from Ireland on April 07, 2010:

Thanks iskra1916 for your comment. It is nice to know people are reading and enjoying my work, Thks

The Buckcat on April 07, 2010:

Very informative, I remember reading a book about 40 years ago on this. Daly was the last man executed by firing squad in the British Army. Thanks for the article good luck.

iskra1916 from Belfast, Ireland. on April 07, 2010:

Great hub on the mutiny !

Very enjoyable historical reading!

Top marks!

L M Reid (author) from Ireland on April 06, 2010:

Thanks for the comment billY much appreciated. It's nice to hear when someone enjoys what I wrote, Thanks again

getmyback on April 06, 2010:

Thoroughly enjoyed.

And learnt a great deal.

Thank You


L M Reid (author) from Ireland on April 05, 2010:

Thanks iounn. Yes that morning I was rushing to work and I heard the bird singing. I always have my camera with me, so just had to stop and record it. That is the back of the Arbour Hill Memorial were 14 of the 16 men executed are buried.

The service will be held there Sunday week and will be recording it too. I have quite a lot of hubs in varying stages of progress for 1916 Rising so that will go grand with those. Nothing much up on utube myself but will be putting up other videos i will be using for my hubs.

Thks for the comments

Iðunn on April 05, 2010:

Ah, I had to go back and look for it. I just found it; it's lovely. So lonely and yet proud, with the bird whistles and the wind.

I shall friend you on youtube. I have nothing substantial up there, but this way I can keep up with your videos.

Also, have patience on fans. You are a wonder, waiting to be discovered and I don't doubt that you will be. :)

L M Reid (author) from Ireland on April 05, 2010:

Thanks for your wonderful comment thevoice

I appreciate it

L M Reid (author) from Ireland on April 05, 2010:

Thanks Iounn for your comments. Yes I love history and bringing the facts to life. Finally able to upload the photo, it wasn't working for hours, drove me mad lol. Did you click on the short video i took outside Arbour Hill, very relaxing. Thanks for reading, it's nice to know people are enjoying my work

thevoice from carthage ill on April 05, 2010:

best rated hub I love your work thanks much respect

Iðunn on April 05, 2010:

Quite extraordinary. I had enough researched background in this history to have an emotional investment and you brought so much more to me and put things into better context. Your Hubs are educational and filled with humanity that anyone could relate.

I enjoy great satisfaction to see other people revering people I consider to be my heroes. Other people follow celebrities' lives. My celebrities are people who fight for the human rights of the helpless.