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New Hibernia Review 7.3 (2003) 136-139
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The Publication History of On Another Man's Wound
Cormac K. H. O'Malley
After having spent three years on the run fighting the British Army in the Irish War of Independence and six months during the Truce preparing for a continuation of the armed struggle, my father strongly opposed the December, 1921, Anglo-Irish Treaty. Captured in November, 1922, after his struggle on behalf of the Anti-Treaty section of the IRA, he was eventually released from a Free State military prison in July, 1924.
Father traveled abroad to recover his health; he wrote his personal account of the Anglo-Irish War (up to the Truce) and the civil war while in New Mexico, Mexico, and Peru in the years 1929 to 1932. The initial draft of his memoirs ran to thirty-nine chapters. When my father returned to Ireland in 1935, Peadar O'Donnell helped persuade the firm of Rich & Cowan of London to publish the first twenty-two chapters under the title On Another Man's Wound in 1936. The remaining chapters, covering the civil war, lay undiscovered for years until they were eventually published by Anvil Books in 1978 as The Singing Flame.
An American edition of On Another Man's Wound was published by Houghton Mifflin of Boston in 1937, although the publishers felt that it would sell better if the title was changed to Army Without Banners: Adventures of an Irish Volunteer. The book received impressive reviews. The New York Times called it "a stirring and beautiful account of a deeply felt experience." The New York Herald Tribune hailed it as "a tale of heroic adventure told without rancor or rhetoric." The American edition included seven pages covering torture scenes in Dublin Castle when British Auxiliary officers had used their persuasive techniques—including fists, a red-hot poker and a revolver with blanks—to try to persuade my father disclose his own identity and other information. These passages had been deleted in the English edition,
In the 1960s, I was able to continue the publication of an edition in England with Four Square Books Ltd., but could not persuade an Irish publisher to reprint the memoir. In the early 1970's, I tried in earnest to interest an Irish publisher [End Page 136] but several distinguished publishing houses turned me down. Eventually, Dan Nolan of Anvil Press agreed to publish both books as a series. Since then both books have been republished several times.
In the late 1970s, Mary O'Donnell, the Irish dress designer, presented me with an extraordinary copy of father's book. She had asked Hanna's Bookshop in Dublin to locate a copy of On Another Man's Wound. Hanna's could not find one, but shortly thereafter an assistant phoned O'Donnell to ask if a copy of the American edition, Army Without Banners, would do. She bought it and on receipt discovered an inscription written by my father that read, "With love to my Cormac." She immediately sent a telegram to me in New York. This inscribed book had probably been unintentionally included in an auction of father's library.
This particular copy was notable not merely for the inscription, but also because my father had annotated the pages throughout. He had used the American edition because it included the pages deleted in the Rich & Cowan edition. In his additions to that episode, he named the Auxiliary officers involved in his 1920 Dublin Castle interrogation. He also corrected certain facts, added names and expanded descriptions. One such addition was a comment about Michael Collins: "We who had given up drink had always a soft spot for Michael's use of drink."
Another note disclosed that in January, 1921, a Dublin Castle official had tried to track down father's older brother, Frank Malley:
There is a notorious rebel and officer of the IRA, who has been concerned in many attacks on barracks, named E Malley. He has a brother, I believe, named Frank L. Malley, 1st K...