While most of their comrades were fighting on the battlefields of France, a battalion of the Sherwood Foresters found themselves fighting on the streets of the second city of the British Empire.
This film tells the previously unknown story of how these young men, who had signed up to go to France, ended up dying on the leafy streets of Dublin.
It is a unique film which does not sit comfortably with the traditional lionised imagery of the 1916 Easter Rebellion and is the first film to tell the story from both the Irish and British perspective.
The first-hand accounts of the ‘ordinary’ participants; British Soldiers, Irish Volunteers and the innocent civilians of Dublin caught up in the fighting, offer a fresh perspective on these key events and challenge some traditional views of what took place.
When the Sherwood Foresters arrived in Dublin early Wednesday morning April 26 1916, they had been told they were facing an ill-disciplined poorly armed rabble. Instead they faced well trained fighters, in heavily barricaded houses, with home advantage. Within hours over 220 of the Sherwood Foresters lay dead or wounded, their injuries inflicted by just 17 men of the rebel Irish Volunteers. The men of Derbyshire had been sent to their slaughter.
The young men of the Sherwood Foresters were not supposed to die on British soil. They are part of the hidden story of a conflict lost in the chaos of the First World War. Their names are not remembered on any monument, their deaths unrecorded in the official war records, their sacrifice forgotten.
Among them was Cresswell born Charles “Charlie” Faulkner. In November 1914 he was one of the many eager recruits who joined up at the Notts and Derbyshire Regiment’s recruitment centre in Derby, ready to fight for King and Country. A clever and able soldier, by Easter 1916 Charlie was a Sergeant in the 2/8 Battalion.
Like many of the soldiers dispatched to Dublin that Easter Monday, he had no idea he was going to Ireland, instead the men believed they were going to fight in France. Sgt Charlie Faulkner’s first battle would come not in the trenches but on Mount Street Bridge, on the outskirts of Dublin City. Faulkner was one of 1,000 Derbyshire lads who fought in that Battle. His unit was on the front line, capturing the bridge and defeating the rebels while taking huge casualties in the process. Faulkner was one of the lucky ones, he lived to tell the tale.
The Battle of Mount Street Bridge was the British Army’s first major experience of urban warfare. At the end of 6 hours fighting 220 men lay wounded and dying on the bloody streets of Dublin.
Their losses were ignored by those in Westminster – the whole Battle of Mount Street Bridge was seen as a debacle for the military authorities. The casualties were forgotten, their losses brushed under the carpet.
The names of those who were killed in Dublin where condescendingly listed as having “died on the home-front” as if their deaths’ had been no more than a training ground accident. Only the bereaved families in Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire would remember their bravery and sacrifice.