Approximately 150,000 Irish officers and men joined the British Army during the First World War. What happened to them when they returned home? What determining role (if any) did they play? Most importantly, did they fall victims of selective revolutionary violence and face the wrath of the IRA for having fought for the British Crown in 1914-1918?
The centenary of the War of Independence and the Civil War represents an unexpected yet welcome moment to challenge traditional narratives and shed light on the contribution of Great War veterans to the Irish Revolution. What happened in Ireland was far from being an isolated case in European history. Re-mobilisations and re-engagements of Great War veterans characterised the internal dynamics within other European countries and states undergoing post-war transformations, revolutions or civil conflicts. Drawing on archives in in England, Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, and on hitherto unsolicited testimonies, Emmanuel Destenay tracks the trajectories of these shadows from the trenches, unveiling their hopes, expectations and uncertainties.