As the 100th anniversary of the 1916 Rising approaches, the papers and memorabilia of Captain Edo John Hitzen (July 1886 – July 1979), the officer who accepted the surrender of Commandant Éamon deValéra, have been made available for use by Fianna Fáil for commemorative purposes. The items have been made available by the great grandniece of the Captain, Anne Hearsey. Captain Hitzen accepted Commandant deValéra’s surrender at Sir Patrick Dun’s Hospital on Grand Canal Street in Dublin. A number of these items are available for perusal below, while the full exhibit will be viewable at events around the country over the coming months.
Chair of the Fianna Fáil Coiste 1916 Commemoration Committee, Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív commented, “The story of the friendship that evolved between Captain Hitzen, Éamon deValéra, and former members of the Dublin Brigade of the Old IRA is perhaps one of the more peculiar tales to emerge from the post 1916 and War of Independence years. Some twenty two years after the Rising, and during the ‘economic war’, Captain Hitzen wrote to the British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain. In what was an astonishing act of good spirit Captain Hitzen offered to return the field glasses he had acquired from deValéra on his surrender.”
“Mr. Chamberlain was pleased with the offer and wrote to the Captain, “It has given me pleasure to take advantage of your suggestion and this afternoon, at the conclusion of signature of the Agreements between the Governments of the United Kingdom and Eire, I handed the glasses to Mr. De Valera, who expressed his gratification at receiving them back. I should like to thank you for the public spirited way in which you came forward with your generous offer.”
“In reply to Captain Hitzen deValéra commented, “your kind thought in sending them to your Prime Minister for presentation to me on this occasion.”
“On Saturday April 3rd 1948 Captain Hitzen, along with his wife and daughter, were the guest of E and M Companies of the 3rd Battalion, Dublin Brigade of the Old I.R.A. during the presentation of service certificates to former Company members. It was on this occasion that Captain Hitzen returned the Flag of Truce under which deValéra surrendered the Boland’s Mill garrison.
“On the 50th Anniversary of the Easter Rising Captain Hitzen was a special guest at the unveiling of a plaque commemorating the Rising of 1916 by President deValéra. The event took place at Boland’s Bakery.
“In June 1967, Captain Hitzen received a letter which stated, “I have the pleasure to inform you that you have been elected an Honorary Member of “D” Company, 3rd Battalion, Dublin Brigade, Old I.R.A. and received a certificate of his membership.”