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Apology has finally vindicated my dad for fighting Nazis

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Gunner Paddy Reid [ on Left]   pictured in Burma, while serving with the Anti Tank Regiment in the British Army. Gunner Reid recieved a Pardon from the Irish Government yesterday , after Gunner Reid  deserted the Irish Army to serve with the British Army during World War 2.

Gunner Paddy Reid [ on Left] pictured in Burma, while serving with the Anti Tank Regiment in the British Army. Gunner Reid recieved a Pardon from the Irish Government yesterday , after Gunner Reid deserted the Irish Army to serve with the British Army during World War 2.

Gunner Paddy Reid [ on Left] pictured in Burma, while serving with the Anti Tank Regiment in the British Army. Gunner Reid recieved a Pardon from the Irish Government yesterday , after Gunner Reid deserted the Irish Army to serve with the British Army during World War 2.

Paddy Reid was the son of a deserter and grew up in Dublin an outcast.

He was shunned as a schoolboy and branded a traitor because his father fought the Nazis for the British army.

Now, at 62, the soldier's son has nothing but pride for his father of the same name.

His one regret – that Paddy Reid senior died before legislation was finally passed vindicating him and others for their bravery during the Second World War.

"Those men did what they believed to be right and they are now vindicated," Mr Reid said. "They did nothing wrong and they paid a high price for it throughout their lives."

Defence Minister Alan Shatter said yesterday that the courageous men had ensured the safety of the very people at home who disgraced and branded them deserters.

Passing historic legislation in the Dail to grant amnesty to thousands of former troops almost 70 years after the end of the war, Mr Shatter insisted their families should be proud.

"These individuals contributed in no small part to the allied victory against tyranny," Mr Shatter said.

"Their efforts, in an indirect way, also contributed to the safety of their home country.

"If the United Kingdom had fallen to the forces of Nazi Germany, the same fate would almost certainly have been visited on this island."

Around 60,000 Irish citizens fought on the allied side during the war – some 5,000 of whom were found guilty of going absent without leave from the Irish Defence Forces.

 

Blacklisted

Barely 16 when he enlisted, Paddy Reid senior was blacklisted and branded a deserter for serving as a gunner for the British Royal Artillery. He returned home in 1946 and struggled for years to find work.

His wife died at just 39 as the struggle to feed their eight children took its toll, and it was 15 years after his return before he was granted proper employment, driving a horse and cart for a steamboat company.

"It took all those years to find work and when he did, he never missed a day in his life," Mr Reid said of his father, who died in 1984 aged 64.

"He worked through every sickness. He was just so relieved to be employed – the sort of thing you take for granted."

The family lived like social pariahs right up to the 1960s.

Gerry O'Carroll, Page 27


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