Monday 27 February 2017

The English victim ambushed minutes after greeting wife

Irish patriot and British consular official Sir Roger David Casement (1864 - 1916). Following the Easter Rising he was tried by the British and executed for high treason. (Photo by Central Press/Getty Images)
Irish patriot and British consular official Sir Roger David Casement (1864 - 1916). Following the Easter Rising he was tried by the British and executed for high treason. (Photo by Central Press/Getty Images)

It is not just Irish families for whom tales of 1916 were passed down through generations: descendants of British soldiers sent across the Irish Sea to quell the rebellion also came to learn of the events in Dublin that Easter.

Nicola Wilson's grandfather, Frederick Dietrichsen, was a prominent barrister in Nottingham at the outbreak of the World War I. When German airships started bombing the city, he sent his wife and two children to live in Dublin with her family, the well-known Mitchell's wine merchants.

Dietrichsen signed up for the army and fully expected to be sent to the front in France, but in April 1916 he found himself in a boat with fellow Sherwood Foresters en route to Dublin. When they landed, they found they were welcomed through the city's more salubrious districts and remarkably, his wife Beatrice and children, were among the onlookers. Dietrichsen broke ranks and embraced his family.

It would be the last time they exchanged words together. On turning on to Northumberland Road, Ballsbridge, Dietrichsen and his men were ambushed by rebels led by Michael Malone, and he was shot. He died instantly.

"My grandmother would have found out about it very soon after, I should imagine," Wilson, a retired doctor, says. "She returned to live in England with her family. My grandfather's grave is in Dublin.

"It was a story that I learned from an early age and I wasn't the only one who had a connection to the Dublin Rising. There was someone at my school who was related to Roger Casement."

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