Reported in the News Letter during this week in 1916


Here are some of the stories reported in the News Letter 100 years ago:

Railway Tragedy

[July 31]

A painful tragedy occurred on Saturday afternoon at the Kinnegar Halt, Holywood, when a fifteen-year-old girl named Annie Dinsdale, who resided with her stepmother at 100, Hyndford Street, Beersbridge Road, was knocked down and killed by a Belfast and County Down Railway train.

The deceased was crossing the permanent way with the intention of going to the Palace Barracks to see her father – a soldier belonging to the Royal Irish Rifles – and was killed by the 12.45pm train from Bangor to Belfast, which was running through from Holywood to Sydenham, the accident taking place about 1.05pm. The train was quickly brought to a standstill, and the mangled body was conveyed to the Belfast terminus, whence it was removed in the ambulance to the Royal Victoria Hospital. An inquest will be held in due course.

Greenwich Time for Ireland

[August 2]

In the House of Commons yesterday, the Home Secretary asked leave to introduce a Bill to assimilate Irish time to that of Great Britain.

He said there was a general demand for this alteration on the part of Chambers of Commerce and other representative bodies both in Ireland and Great Britain.

Nationalist and Unionist members from Ireland had requested that a Bill should be brought in, and it was proposed to make the change when the clocks were put back in October next. All that would be necessary then would be to put back the Irish clocks by 35 minutes instead of one hour as in England.

Mr Dillon protested that the Nationalist party had not been consulted about the introduction of of the Bill. Surely Ireland might be allowed to keep its time. (Laughter). He declined to be a party to any alteration until he had consulted his constituents, and would divide against the motion.

Some amusement was caused by the Prime Minister crossing the floor and entering into conversation with Mr Dillon while the House was waiting for the division.

The motion for leave was carried by 178 to 54, and the Bill was brought in and read a first time.

The Kaiser’s Manifesto

[August 2]

According to a Berlin telegram, the Kaiser has issued the following proclamation to the German forces on land and sea:

“Comrades, the second year of the world war has elapsed.

“Like the first year, it was for Germany’s arms a year of glory on all fronts. You have inflicted new and heavy blows on the enemy. Whether the enemy retreated borne down by the force of your attacks, or whether, reinforced by foreign assistance, collected and pressed into service from all parts of the world, he tried to rob you of former victories, you have always proved yourselves superior to him. Even where England’s tyranny was uncontested – namely, on the free waves of the sea – you have victoriously fought against gigantic superiority.

“Your Kaiser’s appreciation and your grateful country’s proud admiration are assured you for these deeds, for your unshaken loyalty and your tenacious bravery. Like the memory of our dead heroes, your fame also will endure through all time.”

Execution of Casement: The Final Scenes

[August 4]

The Central News says: Roger David Casement was executed at Pentonville Prison yesterday morning.

A small crowd gathered at seven o’clock, and remained until the hour appointed for execution.

At twenty minutes to nine a telegraph messenger arrived, and there was keen speculation as to whether this meant a reprieve at the eleventh hour. The death bell tolled, however, at eight minutes past nine, and there was a burst of cheering, which was renewed at intervals.

There was a dramatic scene in the condemned cell shortly before the execution. Casement expressed a desire to be received into the Roman Catholic Church, and a messenger was immediately despatched to the Catholic chaplain, Rev Dean Ring, of Commercial Road, who, with Rev Mr McCarroll, arrived quickly to visit the condemned man, and for about a quarter of an hour the two priests remained with him preparing him for the final scene. His confession was heard, and he was given Holy Communion.

A few minutes before nine o’clock Ellis, the executioner, entered the condemned cell. Thereupon Casement stood erect and made a slight gesture towards him. On the stroke of nine the little procession, headed by the two priests, with Casement following, beside the two warders who have looked after him since his incarceration, left the cell and walked towards the execution shed, only some four or five yards away. The litany of the dying was recited by the priests, Casement responding in low tones, “Lord have mercy upon my soul.”

As they reached the execution shed Ellis approached the condemned man, and he was quickly pinioned. The chaplains, the governor of the prison, the Under Sherriff of London, and the Under Sherriff of Middlesex, then took up their positions in front of the scaffold, and Casement took his place on the dropboard.

The next moment the lever was pulled, and Casement had paid the penalty of his crimes.

A touching scene was witnessed at the back of the prison, where a group of some thirty Irishmen, among them an MP, and women had assembled. Just as the tolling of the bell intimated that the execution had duly taken place they fell on their knees, and with bowed heads remained a few moments praying for the repose of the criminal’s soul.

The Exchange Telegraph Company says Casement’s last words were – “I die for my country.”

Fresh Evidence of Treason

[August 4]

The Press Bureau is instructed to place the following statement at the disposal of the Press:

All the circumstances in the case of Roger Casement were carefully and repeatedly considered by the Government before the decision was reached not to interfere with the sentence of the law.

He was convicted and punished for treachery of the worst kind to the Empire he had served and as a willing agent of Germany. The Irish rebellion resulted in much loss of life both among soldiers and civilians. Casement invoked and organised German assistance to the insurrection.

In addition, though himself for many years a British official, he undertook the task of trying to induce soldiers of the British army, prisoners in the hands of Germany, to forswear their oath of allegiance and join their country’s enemies.

Conclusive evidence has come into the hands of the Government since the trial that he had entered into an agreement with the German Government which explicitly provided that the brigade which he was trying to raise from among the Irish soldier prisoners might be employed in Egypt against the British Crown.

Those among the Irish soldier prisoners in Germany who resisted Casement’s solicitations of disloyalty were subjected to treatment of exceptional cruelty by the Germans. Some of them have since been exchanged as invalids and have died in this country regarding Casement as their murderer.

Any suggestion that Casement was out of his mind is without foundation.

Materials bearing on his mental condition were placed at the disposal of his counsel, who did not raise the plea of insanity. Casement’s demeanour since his arrest, and throughout and since his trial gave no ground for any such defence, and, indeed, was sufficient to disprove it.

King’s Message to Allied Rulers

[August 5]

The following telegram has been addressed by his Majesty the King to the sovereigns and head of Allied States:

“3rd August, midnight.

“On this day, the second anniversary of the commencement of the great conflict in which my country and her gallant Allies are engaged, I desire to convey to you my steadfast resolution to prosecute the war until our united efforts have attained the objects for which we have in common taken up arms. I feel assured that you are in accord with me in the determination that the sacrifices which our valiant troops have so nobly made shall not have been offered in vain, and that the liberties for which they are fighting shall be fully guaranteed and secured.”