Patrick Roche joined the Munster Fusiliers regiment and Michael Kehoe joined the Royal Regiment of Ireland. He was transferred to Clonmel barracks Co. Tipperary, one of his training officers was Captain Butler. He would meet Captain Butler again many years later while Kehoe was in disguise in Cologne, Germany 1919.
Later in 1913 he was transferred to Raglan barracks in Devonport England, while there he was court-marshalled for sedition and received 28 days in military prison for arguing politics in barracks. In July of 1914 his unit was in Falmouth, there was an American schooner in dock and he taught of skipping back to US but decided against this for some reason. Day’s later war was declared and his unit was shipped out of Southhampton to Boulogne.
As part of the British Expeditionary Force on 22nd August at Mons in Belgium they meet the foremost German Uhlan [cavalry Regiments] patrols and the battle began. He says in his journals large numbers of British troops were killed in those first few hours with a very high portion of Irish among them. They were out-manoeuvred by the German forces and on August 23rd the British retreated. Kehoe’s unit and several others could not retreat; those that survived the next few hours were soon out-flanked front and rear and captured.
Bering in mind it was almost 100 years ago, many Irish men joined the British army for many different reasons mentioned below and looking back now one can reflect on those reasons and hopefully learn from them. Remembering it’s the solders of all nationalities that fight and die in wars and many for brave patriotic reasons, some politicians tend to incite war and of course world bankers and munitions manufactures profit from it. Michael Kehoe shares his thought’s with us while the bombs and bullets were flying on the battle field at Mons “The Germans made good use of cover; brains and tactics moved in unison so far as they were concerned. The British commanders, on the other hand, were in the fog, merely groping in the dark, except in a very few instances. Summing up the situation at Mons, Lovat Frazer, the English war critic, truly wrote that the English expeditionary forces were composed of “lions led by asses”. At what a cost of human life: 500 Irishmen of one battalion lay dead and wounded or prisoners of war within the space of a few hours. Every foot of Mons told its own weird story. I stuck it out until late in the evening when, completely at bay, outflanked front and rear, it was a case of “Hande Hock!” which meant “Put them up and quick at that!”
The one thought that remained uppermost in my mind through this inferno was that in war time, England’s enemy was Irelands friend; therefore there was less reason why I should throw away my life for the British Empire than fall into the hands of those most likely to cripple that empire of tyranny. In a word we made the best of a bad job, submitting philosophically to the fortunes of war. Four days later, I found myself, along with some 250 other soldiers – Irish, English and Scottish – in Sennelager Camp, Westphalia, Germany. En route I paid a visit on shanks’ mare to Halle, Waterloo, Louvain and Liege in Belgium. I was now a passive spectator in the historic cockpit of Europe”.