Catalogue description Lieutenant Commander R E Childers DSC RNVR

This record is held by Imperial War Museum Department of Documents

Details of REC
Reference: REC
Title: Lieutenant Commander R E Childers DSC RNVR

8 volumes of ms diary covering his service as an Observer in the RNAS in the seaplane carrier HMS ENGADINE, August 1914 - March 1915, including the cuxhaven Raid, Christmas 1914, then with the seaplane carrier HMS BEN-MY-CHREE in Turkish and Egyptian waters, December 1915 - March 1916, his service with the Coastal Motor Boats in the Channel, March - July 1917, as Intelligence Officer, the Advanced Seaplane Base, 'Dunkirk', July 1917, then his duties on the Secretariat of the Irish Convention in Dublin, July 1917 - April 1918; followed by a posting to the naval section of air intelligence A.1.26 at the Air Ministry, May - September 1918; then an Intelligence Officer with no. 27th Group HQ, RAF Bircham Newton working on the planned air raid on Berlin September - November 1918, and finally in Belgium preparing a report on bomb damage, November - December 1918; together with official letters concerning his service career and a few interesting letters from him on Irish politics.

Date: 1914 - 1918
Related material:

See IWM Photograph Archive


The collection held in our Archives relates to Childers First World War service. His other papers are divided between Trinity College Cambridge and Trinity College Dublin.

Held by: Imperial War Museum Department of Documents, not available at The National Archives
Language: English

Childers, Robert Erskine, 1870-1922, Lieutenant Commander

Physical description: 1 Microfilm
Physical condition: Original documents
Access conditions:


  • Ireland
  • Egypt
  • Naval personnel
  • First World War, 1914-1918
Administrative / biographical background:

(Robert) Erksine Childers was born in 1870. He served with the Special Battery of the City Imperial Volunteers during the Boer War and began a career as a successful writer shortly afterwards, completing his most famous novel, "the Riddle of the Sands", in 1903. In August 1914 he volunteered for naval service and was appointed as a Lieutenant in the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve. He was ordered to join the seaplane carrier HMS Enga dine where he was appointed the ship's Intelligence Officer. He flew on a number of occasions as an observer and took part on the raid on the Zeppelin sheds at Cuxhaven on Christmas Day 1914. In March 1915 he was transferred to the seaplane carrier HMS Ben-My-Chree which sailed to Gallipoli in May 1915. He won the DSC for his services as an observer during the time the Ben-My-Chree was serving in Egyptian waters.


In February 1916 he was recalled to the Admiralty to take up Intelligence duties but in 1917 he was transferred to a Squadron of Coastal Motor Boats operating near Dunkirk. In July of that year he was sent to Ireland to work on the secretariat of the abortive Irish Convention. This Convention collapsed in April 1918 and Childers finished the war on attachment to the RAF as an Intelligence Officer.


After the war Childers became deeply involved in the struggle of the Irish for independence. In 1921 he became Minister of Propaganda for the illegal Irish Government and he represented the Irish people in negotiations with the English Government in July 1921 and acted as one of the secretaries to the Irish deputation which agreed to the Anglo-Irish Treaty which gave Home Rule to Southern Ireland. Childers opposed this treaty and supported De Valera's anti-treaty IRA faction. He was arrested by Irish Free State troops and tried by a Court Martial for the capital offence of carrying a firearm. He was subsequently executed by firing squad in Dublin on 24 November 1922.

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