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Soldier of Fortune - The Tom Reilly Story

Tom Reilly was the son of Margaret Drake from Ballinulty, and Edward Reilly of Molly, whose father was Thomas O Reilly. He had a twin Ned, who died in acar accident, and his sister Bridget who married Peter Donohoe of Lislea, was my grandmother.

Tom Drake Reilly was my granduncle.

While not the only Irishman to have served in two world wars, in two different armies, he is one of the few to possibly have had his sons fighting for the enemy.

A breif outline of his life - he emigrated to America, and made lots of money as far as I know on the buildings, before losing it all through drink and ending up in the Bowery, before being sent back to Ireland to family by generous strangers on at least one occasion.

He joined the US Army in WWI, serving in the cavalry, and after the [eace served in the American section somewhere in the Rhineland. He fell in with a local girl, who gave birth to twins, dying in childbirth.

He gave the twins to her parents, who were shopkeepers to rear, went back to America, back on the drink, lost everything and got into the Bowery and senthome again, where he was in 1935 when he was my mothers godfather.

He went on to England then, and lost his legs and arms in Dunkirk as he joined the British army. He was brought to military hospital where he died of TB in 1953.

A telegram from the British was ignored by my grandmoter who was named next of kin, as it was taboo in 1950's Ireland to have family in the British Army.

My verses "Life to His Kind Was A Game of Chance" and "Telegram Ignored" tell part of his story.

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