This is the story of Major Geoffrey Compton-Smith DSO, of the Royal Welch Fusiliers, about whom Richard Mulcahy, Chief of Staff of the IRA, declared during a landmark speech in December 1921 that he wanted an end to the war of Irish Independence ‘because I wish to have no hand in killing any more such Englishmen’.
It describes his brief time at The Slade School of Art where he met his future wife, and also his experiences during many of the major battles of The Somme where he fought alongside Siegfried Sassoon.
His last letters to his wife and regiment were written moments before he was due to be executed and help explain why Compton-Smith became known as ‘The IRA’s beloved Englishman’. After his last words were read out to a hushed House of Commons, Michael Collins remarked that he would have stopped the shooting had he known of it beforehand.
2021 is the centenary year of Compton-Smith’s death and to mark the occasion the Irish Broadcaster RTE has produced a documentary telling the story.
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