Episode 2 - The Man in the Locket
RTÉ One, Monday 19th September at 7.30pm
A rare memento of the 1916 Rising aroused intense public interest last February when an Edwardian gold locket was sold in Sworder's Auctioneers in Stansted. Described as "incredibly poignant", the locket contained the picture of Guy Vickery Pinfield, the first British officer to be killed in the Easter Rising.
Guy Pinfield was shot and killed outside Dublin Castle but little else was known of the exact circumstances of his death until now. Indeed, the appearance of the locket highlighted several unsolved mysteries surrounding the death of the twenty one year old Second Lieutenant of the Irish Hussars.
When he was killed, Guy Pinfield was hastily buried in a temporary grave in the grounds of Dublin castle with dozens of other soldiers who died during the Rising. Most of these bodies were exhumed and reinterred once the hostilities were over, but not Guy Pinfield. His body lay in the temporary grave, unclaimed and apparently forgotten for the next forty six years. The mystery is compounded by the fact that Pinfield came from a wealthy background and his family were all still alive. So why did they leave him there?
Some efforts were made to ensure that he wouldn't be forgotten. A plaque in his memory was erected in St Patrick's cathedral, the only plaque to any combatant in the Rising, yet no one can tell when it was put there.
There is also a mysterious reference to a "Mr P-" in an anonymous diary written by one of the nurses in the British Military Hospital in Dublin Castle. This famous diary gives a detailed account of the events unfolding in Dublin during Easter week. The nurse tells of her shock upon learning of the death of "Mr P-" of the Irish Hussars. Could this be Guy Pinfield? And who was the nurse who wrote the account?
RÉABHLÓID travelled to England in an effort to shed some light upon these mysteries. We visit his home town of Bishop's Stortford where Pinfield's name appears on a number of memorials, and we go to Marlborough College and Cambridge University where he was educated. And deep in the Cotswolds, we trace the grandniece of Guy Pinfield who shows us a treasure trove of correspondence and memorabilia lovingly maintained since 1916.
The vast array of correspondence from colleagues and friends of Guy Pinfield finally answers many of the outstanding questions surrounding his death and shed a new light on one of the most famous actions of the Easter Rising, the attack on Dublin Castle. The surviving objects taken from Guy Pinfields body, including his wallet with one remaining unsmoked cigarette, serve as a powerful reminder of the common humanity of man.