Archer, William (Liam) Aloysius (1892–1969), Irish Volunteer, army officer, and chief of staff, was born 18 June 1892 at 19 Aughrim St., Dublin, son of Edward Archer, post office telegraph inspector, and Susan Archer (née Matthews). Educated at St Peter's national school, Phibsborough, after leaving school he worked as a post office clerk in the GPO until 1922. In May 1915 he joined the Irish Volunteers and was attached to F Company, 1st Battalion, Dublin Brigade, under the command of Piaras Béaslaí (qv). He was active during the Easter rising in 1916 and subsequently served as captain of F Company's engineering section during the war of independence. Promoted to commandant, he also worked on the staff of Rory O'Connor (qv) and was ideally placed as a postal worker to assist Michael Collins (qv) in gathering intelligence. On 7 March 1922 he joined the newly formed National Army as a lieutenant-commandant at Beggar's Bush barracks, Dublin, and was given command of the Independent Signals Corps. Promoted to colonel (January 1923), he served as director of the Signals Corps during the civil war. With the postwar reduction in the size of the army he was demoted to major in April 1924. He subsequently served as director of the Volunteer Reserve and Officer Training Corps (1929), supervising the training and commissioning of the first group of reserve officers. In July 1931 he was promoted to colonel, and in October of that year was appointed to command the Dublin military district, later redesignated as the Eastern Command.
Appointed director of intelligence in March 1932, he was largely responsible for the section's reorganisation in the 1930s, and forged links with his counterparts in England. His intelligence experience became more relevant after the outbreak of the second world war, and in May 1940 he attended a secret meeting in the Dominions Office in London to discuss with British military officers plans for the defence of Ireland in the event of a German invasion. A series of such meetings resulted in General Defence Plan no. 1, which outlined combined Irish and British strategies. In June 1941 he was appointed assistant chief of staff, and worked tirelessly for the remainder of the war overseeing the training and equipping of Ireland's wartime army. After the war he also served as acting officer commanding of the Curragh Command (1946–7), while still serving as assistant chief of staff. He was promoted major-general in January 1949 and succeeded Daniel McKenna (qv) as chief of staff. While he was less confrontational than McKenna, he was still opposed to postwar reductions and outlined in a series of reports his concerns about the reduction in manpower and the quality of equipment. He also made great efforts to create links with foreign military powers, visiting US army and air force bases in Germany (October–November 1951). Promoted to lieutenant-general in January 1952, he retired at the end of that month having served in the army for thirty years, not including his pre-1922 service in the Irish Volunteers. In 1941 he had been presented with the 1916 Medal by the taoiseach, Éamon de Valera (qv), and was the first serving member of the Defence Forces to receive this medal. He was also awarded the Active Service Medal and bar and the Emergency Service Medal. Remaining active during his retirement, he was involved with ex-soldier and old-IRA welfare groups and the Michael Collins Memorial Foundation. He died 22 July 1969 and was buried in Deansgrange cemetery, Co. Dublin.
Liam Archer married first (1923) Mary Carr of Maynooth, Co. Kildare; they had three children. After her death he married Nuala Buckley (September 1945). A document entitled ‘Recollections of Easter week 1916’, written by Liam Archer, is held in the NLI.