The First World War had an enormous impact on Ireland. Over 240,000 Irish men and women volunteered to serve with the Allied forces, suffering almost 40,000 casualties. The Irish contribution to the air war remains overlooked, not just in Ireland, but also by historians generally. Although just 6,000 Irish served with the Allied flying services at a cost of 500 casualties, their impact was out of all proportion to their numbers. The contribution of Irish aces of the RFC and RAF to the Allied cause was enormous, just over thirty of whom accounted for 400 enemy aircraft. Irishmen such as Mannock, McElroy and Hazell were among the highest-scoring pilots of the war. Some were revered by their men, others were controversial figures – reckless with their own lives and those under their command – but many of their stories remain untold. This book seeks to restore all those who were written out of Irish history, while also providing for their achievements to be considered in the overall context of the first air war.
Joe Gleeson was born in Dublin. He graduated from University College Dublin with a BA in History and Politics in 1994 and an MA in Political Philosophy and Political Theory in 1997. He has lived in Dublin, London and Brussels at different stages of his life. Gleeson currently lives in Dublin, working in the Irish civil service. In addition to researching military and aviation history, he also assists local history societies with their research on Ireland's role in the First World War.