One of the last known Irish soldiers granted a pardon after fighting against Nazi Germany has died.
Phil Farrington, aged 94, who served in France and Germany and helped to liberate the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, died yesterday morning at a home for Second World War veterans in Dublin.
The ex-soldier lived most of his life in Ireland, only rarely discussing his wartime service due to thousands being blacklisted by the Irish State for joining up.
Mr Farrington laid a wreath at Islandbridge war memorial in Dublin in June 2013 at a special commemoration after the Irish Government announced a pardon and apology to clear the names of those who served with the Allies.
Soldiers who left the Irish Defence Forces to fight in Europe were denied state jobs and refused pensions on their return home.
His grandson Patrick Martin recalled how the effect of being ostracised by the State still had an impact right into his final years at the Leopardstown Park Hospital for Second World War veterans.
“He did not want to talk about it. I grew up with him and constantly inquired about the war, what it was like – like any young kid would be interested to hear,” he said. “But we really were told nothing.”
Mr Martin recalled how on his grandfather’s 90th birthday he wore medals earned in the war but asked for them to be removed when he saw so many relatives and friends arrive to join the celebrations.
“Speaking to my aunts and mother, it seems to be the way it was,” he said.
Originally from Seville Place in Dublin’s north inner city, Mr Farrington was 19 when he enlisted in the British army.
Thousands of Irish soldiers were dismissed en masse from the Irish Army, blacklisted, branded deserters at home and denied public sector jobs and welfare after going overseas to fight against the Nazis.
About 5,000 who fought with the Allies had been found guilty by a military tribunal at the time of going awol.
Funeral arrangements for Mr Farrington are being finalised for mid-week at St Laurence O’Toole Church in Dublin.