The diary of a British soldier has revealed that Patrick Pearse whistled on his way to his execution in 1916 and that Thomas Clark had to be finished off with a bullet to the head.
The Irish Times revealed that British soldier, Sergeant Samuel Henry Lomas was sent to Ireland in the lead up to the Easter Rising and took part in several of the battles in Easter week 1916.
He kept a diary for the two weeks of the Rising and was part of some of the executions.
He took part as the senior noncommissioned officer in the rebellion’s first executions in Kilmainham Gaol, of Pádraig Pearse, Thomas MacDonagh and Tom Clarke.
A year later he was dead himself, killed in France in the First World War.
Extracts from Samuel Lomas’s account of Easter 1916:
APRIL 24th 8.30pm: Watford. Received orders to prepare for a sudden move.
APRIL 25th 3.20pm: Boarded the Royal Mail steamer Ulster for Kingstown.
APRIL 27th Noon: Marched out from the Royal Hospital en route for Dublin Castle. All along the road, constant sniping was going on but the Royal Irish, by keeping up a constant fire in the direction of the snipers, prevented them from concentrating their fire on the column. We arrived at Dublin Castle without any casualties.
6pm: ‘D’ Coy were ordered to proceed along Cappel Street, Parnell Street to consolidate the position held by the Royal Irish. We moved out and on crossing the bridge over the river from Parliament Street, we came under heavy fire from the Sein Feinners. We proceeded up Cappel Street and on entering Parnell Street, at every cross street we were subjected to rifle fire from the enemy. On arrival at Moore Street, I was instructed to make a barricade right across the street.
APRIL 28th, 10am: The men were allowed to rest in the sun when not on duty, taking care to have cover from the snipers in the locality.
Noon: One 18-pounder arrived and laid facing down Moore Street in the direction of the G.P.O. Four shells were fired which caused the rebels to quake, as for some considerable time, the rifle fire was silent, with the exception of a few snipers. The artillery proved most useful, & were in my opinion mainly the cause of the surrender of the rebels.
7pm: Trouble by a man several times coming to the barricades, he being full of beer.
APRIL 29th, 9am: Received instructions to prepare for storming parties of 20 men and an officer, and to provide ourselves with tools of any description to break down the doors etc. To search the houses through to Henry Street and to make a breach when necessary in the walls.
12.30pm: All ready and the assault commenced. My party were allotted to an alley with houses either side. My weapon was a bar 5’6” long 1” strength with a lever end – a beautiful tool for the purpose. I struck at one door such a smack and knocked the door complete for some 5 yards into the house, breaking hinges and lock at the same time. Sweating like the devil! (Rather with fear, excitement or work) It is surprising how the lust to destroy comes over you.
2pm: Orders are passed for us to stand by as a white flag was approaching the end of Moore Street. This was found to be from Sean O’Connelly [James Connolly] asking for terms of surrender. Instructions were sent back up the street for O’Connelly to come down and interview the General in command of our troops. This was done, O’Connelly being carried down on a stretcher, as he was wounded in the leg. Whilst standing by, we came across the dead body of O’Reilly [the O’Rahilly], the acting adjutant.
MAY 2nd, 9pm: I was warned to provide a party of 48 men and 4 sergeants for a special duty parade at 3am the following morning. I was told as a special favour I had been allowed to go as one of the party as senior NCO.
MAY 3rd We paraded at the time appointed, marched to Kilmainham Jail. At 3.45 the first rebel MacDonoghue [Thomas MacDonagh] was marched in blindfolded, and the firing party placed 10 paces distant. Death was instantaneous. The second, P.H. Pierce [Pádraig Pearse] whistled as he came out of the cell (after taking a sad farewell of his wife.) [Pearse wasn’t married, and was visited only by a Capuchin priest, Fr Aloysius.] The same applied to him. The third, J.H. Clarke [Tom Clarke], an old man, was not quite so fortunate, requiring a bullet from the officer to complete the ghastly business (it was sad to think that these three brave men who met their death so bravely should be fighting for a cause which proved so useless and had been the means of so much bloodshed).
5am: This business being over, I was able to return to bed for two hours and excused duty until noon.