“I’ll mop you up”

“I’ll mop you up”

9 July 1918. Co-founder of Our Lady’s Nurses for the Poor, Captain Father Rev. Edward (Ted) McGra

9 July 1918. Co-founder of Our Lady’s Nurses for the Poor, Captain Father Rev. Edward (Ted) McGrath msc, embarks for the Western Front from Victoria Station, London. Prevented by his order from returning to Australia, he has joined the British Army as a military chaplain. He is assigned to the 1st Cheshire Royal Regiment, an infantry unit that is about to be thrown into the counter-offensive against Germany’s massive ‘spring push’. One day during breakfast, one of his British colleagues enthusiastically exclaims, “When the war is over, we shall go back and mop up Ireland.” Raised in ‘Kelly Country’ in northern Victoria, Father McGrath is an unapologetic Irish nationalist and like thousands of Australian Irish Catholics, he is appalled by the outcome of the ill-fated ‘Easter Rising’ in Dublin two years previously. Father McGrath, then 35 years old, leans across the table and coolly tells the young officer, “No more of that talk or I’ll soon mop you up. I’ve mopped up some of your sort more than once before breakfast.” He isn’t joking. Standing 6’1” and with a long reach, Father McGrath had been a handy footballer and a boxer in his youth. Family legend has it that he once won a bareknuckle fight lasting 20 rounds against his best friend, Jerry Hooper, in front of a large crowd in Devenish, Victoria. This image shows Captain Rev. McGrath (second from the right) with his fellow officers from the 1st Cheshire Royal Regiment.

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