A Sinn Fein connection?

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While trawling the database for relevant Commonwealth archival records, I came across an interesting file title; ‘Officers of 56 Battalion with Sinn Fein sympathies.’

We know the 56th Battalion inherited a strong Scottish heritage from its parent battalion, the 4th, but it’s also apparent there were quite a large number of men of Irish heritage.  Indeed as Ron Austin, the author of a recent 4th Battalion history tells us, a pre-war nickname of those militia battalions forming the core of 4th Battalion was ‘The Macks and Micks.’  Of course Irish republicanism came to a head during the war, especially with the Easter Rebellion of 1916, and in Australia, the political situation of Ireland was always an ongoing sensitive issue.

This is apparently a police file held in the Melbourne branch of the National Archives, and is dated 1918.  I’ll have to request a copy and see what it reveals.  Could be interesting…

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One Response to “A Sinn Fein connection?”

  1. Craig Tibbitts Says:

    Well, I just received a copy of this document from National Archives down in Melbourne. It’s only one page and it’s clear that this is definitely the 56th Battalion AMF (militia) based in Victoria, NOT the 56th Battalion AIF in France. Looks like the equivalent of what today we’d call Special Branch or perhaps ASIO were keeping tabs on Sinn Feiners. I suppose it was only a couple of years since the Easter Rebellion and they were seen as a potential threat.

    The document has an unsavoury ‘snitch’ feel to it when you read it. So-and-so told so-and-so that they overheard these men talking over dinner. He’s happy to report it, but doesn’t want to be named as the informant because he’s a fellow member of that unit etc.

    If anyone’s interested I can scan the page and put it up on the blog.

    Craig T.

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