See Six Artefacts from Soldiering Abroad

Learn some of the stories of Irish soldiers in foreign armies, from the Soldiers & Chiefs exhibition.

Model of Von Banfield's Löhner Seaplane

Model of Von Banfield’s Löhner Seaplane

Gottfried von Banfield (the son of Richard Banfield from Cork) shot down nine enemy aircraft during the First World War. An Austrian Navy officer, he was the last person to be awarded the prestigious Order of Maria Theresa. Gottfried von Banfield died in 1986 in Trieste, Italy, the last of the Austrian Wild Geese.

Zulu Umbhumbhulosu Shield, 1879

Zulu Umbhumbhulosu Shield, 1879

Armed with a cowhide shield and long thrusting spear, Zulu warriors were organised into distinct and permanent groups of men with individual identities and visual symbols, a structure not that different from British regiments. The more white on the individual warrior's shield, the greater his relative seniority in his unit, called an 'impi'.


Fenian Uniform from circa 1866

Fenian Uniform, c.1866

Organised by the revolutionary Fenian movement, they decided to attack Britain by launching a raid north into Canada. If they could not capture Canada, the Fenians hoped at least to provoke an international incident between Britain and the United States.


Cocked Hat of Assistant Surgeon BackhorseCocked Hat of Assistant Surgeon Backhorse

Medical care was provided to soldiers, but whether you survived depended largely on luck. A wound that penetrated the body was a probable death warrant.

If your arm of leg bone was shattered, the surgeon’s best option was to cut off the limb, hopefully using a sharp saw. If the stump did not become gangrenous, you would probably recover.

Presentation snare drum of the 1st, battalion Royal Muster Fusiliers

Snare drum of the 1st, battalion Royal Muster Fusiliers

Drummer Luttrell carried this drum throughout the Boer War, beating time of the marching soldiers of the 1st Battalion, Royal Dublin Fusiliers. A photo in this gallery suggests both the youth of many drummers (they could enlist at 14) and one of the uses to which a snare drum could be put in the field – a desk to write a letter home.