William Joyce (1906-46)


Life
[“Lord Haw-Haw”;] b. Brooklyn, New York; his father, Michael, aprominent in the GAA, who married a Miss Emily Brooke, dg. of an English doctor with Northern Irish relatives who visited Galway for fishing, having made money on the Pennsylvania Railway in youth and later purchased a pub at Rockbarton Park, Salthill, Co. Galway from 1909 [var. 1914]; ed. St Ignatius Jesuit School, Galway; his father deemed loyalist; family moved to England under IRA pressure, chiefly occasioned by William’s custom of travelling with the Auxiliaries in their tenders and, it was presumed, supplying local information, 1922;
 
married and divorced; joined Mosley’s British Fascist Union, expelled 1937; fnd. National Socialist League; travelled to Germany, 1939; broadcast from 18 Sept. 1939 (‘Germany calling, Germany calling’); took out German citizenship, 1940; captured by British at Flensburg nr. Danish border, May 1945, being wounded in the leg; tried at Old Bailey, and hanged for treason at Wandsworth Prison, 3 Jan.; reinterred in Galway, 1979; his daughter successfully campaigned for the reinterment of his body in Ireland in the 1970s; he is the subject Every Man a Stranger (1949) by Ethel Mannin, and Double Cross (1986) by Thomas Kilroy for Field Day Company; a documentary-interview with his daughter and early acquaintances in Galway was broadcast by RTÉ on 15 Sept. 1999. DIB DIH

 

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Criticism
J A. Cole, Lord Haw-Haw: The Full Story of William Joyce (London: Faber 1987); Francis Selqyn, Hitler’s Englishmen: The Crime of Lord Haw-haw (Harmondsworth: Penguin [1992]); David O’Donoghue, Hitler’s Irish Voices: German Radio’s Wartime Irish Service, foreword by J. J. Lee (Belfast: Beyond the Pale 1998); Mary Kenny, Germany Calling: A Personal Biography of William Joyce, Lord Haw-Haw (Dublin: New Island Press 2003), 400pp.; Mary Kenny, Germany Calling: A Personal Biography (Dublin: New Island 2004; 2008), [w/o subtitle in rev. pb. edn.]; Nigel Farndale, Haw-Haw: The Tragedy of William and Margaret Joyce (London: Macmillan 2005).

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Commentary
Ethel Mannin, on Every Man a Stranger (1949) - her William Joyce novel - in Brief Voices: A Writer’s Story (London: Hutchinson 1959): ‘The novel with which I followed Late Have I Loved Thee [1948], starting work on it in the spring of 1947, also had an Augustinian title - Every Man a Stranger: “Every man is a stranger in this life, in which you see that we are girt round with flesh, through which flesh the heart cannot be seen. ... In the sojourning of this carnal life each one carrieth his own heart, and every heart is closed to every other heart.” Originally I had thought of calling it Traitor’s Gate. I had been interested in the career of William Joyce, who was hanged for treason in September, 1945 [recte Jan. 1946], having put the noose round his own neck when he, an Irishman, took out a British passport. That he had reputedly worked with the Black and Tans in 1916 started up in me the idea of a story centring round a man who was faithful to no country, no idea, no person. Later, of course, the Black and Tan story was squashed by inquiry into dates: Joyce was only about fourteen at the time of the Tans. But for my purpose the germ of the idea was incubating - or whatever it is germs do. That Joyce died bravely, fanatically loyal to his last idea, Nazism, whatever else he had been disloyal to, also stirred my imagination. My Fascist secretary [see note, infra] had visited him in prison (after he was sentenced to death if I remember rightly) and had reported to me, deeply moved, as might have been expected, on his courage; in the presence of the warders they gave each other the Nazi salute. / The central character of my novel betrayed everybody and everything - his school friend, his marriage, the man who launched him on his career as newspaper man, and eventually his country. But concerned as I was then with the Christian principle of redemption, I made this man love, without himself being [69] loved, and for this love make the greatest sacrifice one human being can make for another - the sacrifice of life itself. In the one quixotic act of his life he cuts off his own chance of escape from Germany in 1945 - he was himself a citizen of a neutral occupied country - and is arrested, tried for treason and in due course hanged. In his cell the day before his execution he reads a little volume of St. Augustine left him by the priest who visits him at his wife's wish. He tells the priest at the end, a few minutes before the rope is put round his neck, that he is glad he had time to read it; he wished he had more time. The priest tells him there is all eternity, and he replies, “You could be right.” ... / So far as I am concerned the novel succeeded in what it set out to establish, but it was not much liked. It carries no dedication, Elizabeth Rivers having declined it, saying that the theme turned her “sideways with distaste”, and for this reason she also declined to do the jacket for it.’ (pp.69-70.) Note: for details of her ‘Nazi secretary’, see under Mannin, Life, q.v.)

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Nigel S. Fallon writes to London Times (16 Feb. 1995) giving account of his father’s involvement with Joyce as an RAMC surgeon commanding 71 Gen. Hosp. nr. Flensburg in Schleswig-Holstein where Joyce was arrested having been hit point-blank by a pistol shot in the right thigh; Joyce guarded by Irish sargeant with sten-gun whose snoring, Joyce light-heartedly complained, kept him awake, during the period when the surgeon insisted he should not be moved while the wound healed.

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Mary Kenny, Germany Calling (Dublin: New Island), reviewed in Books Ireland (Feb. 2004), incls. information that Wm. Joyce (Lord Haw-Haw) was reburied in his native Galway in 1976 at instance of her daughter Heather; a Mass was offered for his soul at St. Ignatius College (SJ), Galway, at his death.

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Notes
American citizen?: Though born in the US, the prosecution relied on his possession of a British passport acquired in July 1940 and said to have been gained by falsely claiming to have been born in Galway, in order to press treason charges.

Paul Muldoon has a poem, ‘Lord Hawhaw’, reprinted in Soft Day, A Miscellany Of Contemporary Irish Writing, ed. Peter Fallon and Seán Golden (Notre Dame/Wolfhound 1980)

Query: Léon Ó Broin, The Prime Informer: A Suppressed Scandal (London: Sidgwick & Jackson, [1971]), 174pp., ill. [facsim., ports., concerning William Henry Joyce (1850-1928), Arthur James Balfour, Irish pol. & govt. &c. [first pub. in Irish, 1963; COPAC]; cf. The Prime Factor [sic] (1971), re. William Joyce 1906-1946 [COPAC].

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