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Collins a surprise contender in vote on Britain's top enemy


Michael Collins: 'key to Ireland's military success'

Michael Collins: 'key to Ireland's military success'

Michael Collins: 'key to Ireland's military success'

THE 'Big Fella' is now vying to top a poll to determine Britain's most dangerous enemy.

Michael Collins -- commander of the IRA during the War of Independence -- has emerged as a surprise contender to top the 'Britain's Greatest Foe' poll being conducted by the National Army Museum (NAM) in the UK.

He is lying in second place in the poll -- but is far ahead of other such famous foes of Britain as Napoleon, Erwin Rommel, George Washington and Paul von Hindenburg.

Mr Collins has so far scored almost twice as many votes (795) as Erwin 'The Desert Fox' Rommel (431).

Mr Collins -- who was killed in a west Cork ambush in 1922 -- is widely credited with having played the central role in fighting British forces to a standstill. The Clonakilty native masterminded Ireland's counter-intelligence war, and his campaign against Britain's network of police informers and agents ultimately left Dublin Castle isolated and powerless.

British contemporaries regarded Mr Collins as key to Ireland's military successes -- and, in the years following his death, his blueprint for a guerrilla and intelligence-led war has been adopted in Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

However, it was Mr Collins's willingness to negotiate a peace treaty that won him admirers both in London and worldwide.

The NAM biography says of him: "He made much of Ireland ungovernable with an army that never exceeded more than 3,000 active volunteers at any given time. He also had an instinctive understanding of the strengths and limitations of guerrilla warfare."

The NAM poll leader is Mustafa Kemal Ataturk (1,359 votes), the general who defied the Allies at Gallipoli during World War One and after 1918 to ensure the modern state of Turkey was formed from the ruins of the Ottoman Empire.

The NAM online poll ends on March 30 and the top five commanders will then feature in a celebrity military history event in London on April 14.

Irish Independent