“If I Was Ordered To Do It, I Would Have To Do It”

Bertie Offiler was a member of the Sherwood Foresters. He was one of thousands of recruits that arrived in Kingstown (Dún Laoghaire) on 26 April to put down the Rising. His unit suffered heavy losses at Northumberland Road and Mount Street bridge.

He was later stationed in the Royal Hospital, Kilmainham, Headquarters of the British Forces which was very close to both Richmond Barracks and Kilmainham Gaol. Soldiers from the Sherwood’s were chosen to guard those leaders who had been sentenced to death. The firing squads who carried out the executions were also made up from the Sherwood Foresters.

Offiler was chosen for the former and amongst those he guarded were Countess Markievicz and Joseph Plunkett whom he was in charge of at the time of his wedding to Grace Gifford in Kilmainham Gaol. Plunkett was executed a few hours after his wedding and this seemed to have a impact on Offiler.

It seemed a terrible thing to do.

Offiler did not take part in the executions. He did not volunteer to take part and did not want to take part but admits that if he was ordered to do it he would have had no choice but to follow orders.


Bertie Offiler was interviewed for the television series 'Ireland A Television History', 24 September 1979.

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