A full house and an appreciative audience saw the fourth episode of All My Brothers, the Story of the Irish Brigade in the Second World War at the Strule Arts Theatre in Omagh on 14 January.
The film covered the role of the Irish Brigade in the Adriatic Campaign in October-December 1943 and in front-line duties in the upper Sangro river valley in the subsequent two months.
Corporal Marshall, who may have been an acting sergeant when he died, joined the 6th battalion of the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers earlier in 1943. He originally enlisted in the Royal Ulster Rifles.
The film was introduced by its co-producer and director Edmund O’Sullivan, co-founder of the Irish Brigade website. O’Sullivan told the audience that the Irish Brigade was one of the finest fighting formations ever to have originated in Ireland.
The 28-minute film was followed by a presentation by David Marshall about his uncle, the circumstances of his death and new information he has recently received including a copy of a letter sent to the family of Corporal Marshall’s platoon commander Captain Joe Beglin. Beglin, known as “Tiny” in an ironic comment on his great height, was from Dublin and an accountant until volunteering to join the British Army.
David Marshall read out the letter which said Beglin, though himself mortally wounded by the explosion that killed his corporal, inquired about the health of David Marshall while he was being taken to be treated for his injuries. Beglin died on the journey. Marshall is buried in the Moro River Canadian War Cemetery and Beglin is interred at the River Sangro War Cemetery.
David Marshall told the audience about his unplanned encounter with Richard O’Sullivan, co-producer and presenter of All My Brothers, at a First World War commemoration in Belgium in 2017. This led to him making a journey to the Adriatic coast in May 2019 to find out more about his uncle’s role in the Irish Brigade in the company of his son Dwayne.
In September 2019, David Marshall led a pilgrimage comprising members of the Omagh Orange lodge to the Adriatic coast, the Cassino battlefield and Rome. They visited Capracotta, laid a poppy wreath at the place where Corporal Marshall was killed in 1943 and visited the graves of both his uncle and Captain Beglin.
David Marshall’s presentation was followed by an overview of the Irish Brigade in the Second World War and pen portraits of some of its members by Richard O’Sullivan.
This set the scene for a presentation by Patrick Butler, son of Lieutenant Colonel Beauchamp Butler who was commander of the 1st battalion of the Royal Irish Fusiliers when he was killed in the attack on San Salvo on 27 October 1943. Butler was eight months old when his father died.
A letter about his father’s many qualities as a leader of soldiers written by Fusilier Martin Johnston, a Royal Irish Fusilier from Belfast who served in the Second World War, was read out by Edmund O’Sullivan.
Dwayne Marshall recited a poem by an Italian writer about the River Sangro War Cemetery where most of the members of the Irish Brigade killed in the Adriatic campaign are buried.
David Marshall closed the event by thanking the speakers and audience.
All My Brothers, The Story of the Irish Brigade in the Second World War was made by Irish Brigade Films, an independent filmmaker based in London. It was directed by Edmund O’Sullivan and presented by Richard O’Sullivan. Cameraman and film editor was Harry Thompson. Original Music was by Robbie Thompson.