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Friday, 2 November 2012

2 November 1920:  Private James Daley [above] was executed by a British firing squad in India on this day. Daley had been one of the leaders of the so-called ‘India Mutiny’. A member of one of the oldest Irish Regiments in the British Army – the Connaught Rangers – he and his comrades had been angered about reports from home of the conduct of the Crown Forces there during the War of Independence.

The Mutiny in the Regiment had started at Jullundur in the Punjab, India at the end of June that year but then spread to the hill station of Solan. It was here that Daly was based. He played a leading part in the protest but after two of their comrades, Privates Patrick Smythe of Drogheda and Peter Sears of Neale, County Mayo were shot dead the men surrendered. They were all arrested and over 70 men were court-martialled. After handing down heavy sentences 14 men were sentenced to death but all bar one of these were commuted to life imprisonment. James Daley was the only soldier whose capital punishment was carried out.

 In his final letter to his mother he wrote:

It is all for Ireland, I am not afraid to die.

He was executed at Daghshai Prison, Solan and buried in India. In 1970 his remains and those of Privates Smythe and Sears and were returned to Ireland. James Daley was re-interred in his hometown of Tyrellspass, County Westmeath.