Irish soldiers in the Great War: Tracing your family history in WWI
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An example of this approach is seen below. Enlist today! The poster below has the same sentiment, it depicts a group of Highland soldiers laughing and smiling as they march in unison.

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Usually each family rented a room in the small, dilapidated houses , squeezed together in a maze of narrow streets, lanes and entries. These men were as patriotically Irish as any Republican and fought for Irish freedom more bravely than those who foolishly died in a vain and stupid effort to free Ireland through bloody revolution. While she was more than able to match the Imperial German Navy at sea, the war on land — not just in France and Belgium, but in Africa, at Gallipoli, in Palestine and in other theatres — required her to undergo a dramatic process of mobilization and military improvements. You need Flash to use this feature. The Irish Volunteers in the south were also ready and armed. As a volunteer and then a conscript army, the BEF was unable to match the professional ethos of the German Army.

This image portrays happy soldiers and a sense of comradery and adventure — heading off for adventure with your pals. The idea of joining the army as an adventure is also seen in an interesting pamphlet I recently came across in our pamphlet collection.

It portrays a positive, attractive view of the army life. It includes extracts from a speech given by Redmond who had recently visited the front:. His words play on a sense of duty and also a sense of Irishness, he is making clear that the British Army has distinct regiments. It is interesting as a piece of propaganda and the fact that it is aimed at Irish speakers. According to a small article in the Waterford News from , this bilingual pamphlet was sent out to all households in Waterford.

The author of the article 'Gossip by a Gaelic Leaguer: Irish for Recruits' seems unconvinced by its content:. There is a description in idiomatic Irish of how Tommy is fed and trained when on active service, together with some of Mr. The poster below shows a figure of a young boy in a scout's uniform looking up at his father with the question 'Father — what did you do to help Britain fight for freedom in ?

The one poster in the collection printed in Dublin and aimed directly at Irishmen attempts to force the viewer to think of how he will be perceived if he does not join the army and fight. Or have you to turn away? The poster depicts a soldier standing in the foreground and a woman and child fleeing from a burning village in the background. To join the army to protect women and children?

To be a man? We can see through this collection the range of emotional, practical and patriotic ways men were called to arms. Thomas P. Dooley, Irishmen or English soldiers? Winter Strachan, C. Hunter Postdoctoral Fellowship R. Read more about the RIA. Fitzpatrick ed. Horne, ed. A large majority followed him, forming the National Volunteers. About 25, of these went on to serve in Irish regiments of the New British Army during the war. The remaining 10, Volunteers under Eoin MacNeill declared they would keep their organisation together and in Ireland until Home Rule was passed.

A further , or more men enlisted from around Ireland in the New Army divisions for the duration of the war, who were not members of the National Volunteers. They were among a group of five Irish MPs who enlisted, the others being J. Esmonde , Stephen Gwynn and D. Sheehan , as well as former MP Tom Kettle. However, the more radical fringe of Irish nationalism, the remaining Irish Volunteers and the secretive Irish Republican Brotherhood , rejected Irish participation in the war on Britain's side.

They actively opposed enlistment and in secret, elements of them prepared an armed insurrection against British rule in Ireland which would later be known as the Easter Rising. This war is undertaken in the defence of the highest principles of religion and morality and right, and it would be a disgrace for ever to our country and a reproach to her manhood and a denial of the lessons of her history if young Ireland confined their efforts to remaining at home to defend the shores of Ireland from an unlikely invasion, and to shrinking from the duty of proving on the field of battle that gallantry and courage which has distinguished our race all through its history.

I say to you, therefore, your duty is twofold. Unionist leader Edward Carson , promised immediate Unionist support for the war effort. He was motivated in this by two main factors, one being genuine identification with the British Empire , another being a desire to demonstrate the loyalty of Unionists to the British government, despite having formed an armed militia in defiance of it over Home Rule. At this time, Herbert Kitchener was in the process of raising a New Service Army in support of the relatively small pre-war regular Army.

The Unionists were granted their own Division, the 36th Ulster Division which had its own reserve militia officers and its own symbols. It was largely recruited from the Ulster Volunteer force and had a strongly Protestant and unionist identity.

What can these records tell me?

Redmond requested the War Office to allow the formation of a separate Irish Brigade as had been done for the Ulster Volunteers. Eventually he was granted the gesture of the 16th Irish Division. However, with the exception of its Irish General Bernhard Hickie and unlike the 36th Ulster Division , the 16th was led by English officers.

Most Irish recruits lacked military training to act as officers.

A Call to Arms

In the judgement of one historian, "Both political camps [nationalist and unionist] expected the gratitude of the British administration for their willingness to sacrifice themselves and the rank and file of their parties. Neither foresaw that in the First World War, all special interests would be expendable". A total of , Irishmen served in the British forces during the war. According to historian David Fitzpatrick, "The proportion of eligible men who volunteered was well below that in Britain [ The voluntary recruitment figures were: 44, Irishmen enlisted in , 45, followed in , but this dropped to 19, in and 14, in Several factors contributed to the decline in recruitment after One was the heavy casualties suffered by Irish units in the war.

At least 43 women from Ireland died on active service between 1914 and 1918

In commemoration of all Irishmen, whether they were Nationalist or Unionist, who uniquely put their religious differences aside and answered the call from King. During World War I (–), Ireland was part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and .. Thirdly, Irish troops in the British Army appear to have been treated with particular harshness even by the standards of the time. .. "to the memory of the 49, Irish soldiers who gave their lives in the Great War, – ".

The 10th Irish Division suffered very heavy losses at Gallipoli in , while the 16th and 36th Divisions were shattered at the Battle of the Somme in A second important factor was the Catholic Church's condemnation of the war in July Pope Benedict XV issued an encyclical calling on all powers to end the war and come to an agreement. As a result, the Irish Catholic Bishops publicly called on Redmond to withdraw Irish support for the war. Thirdly, Irish troops in the British Army appear to have been treated with particular harshness even by the standards of the time.

They constituted just two per cent of the membership of the force, yet they were the recipients of eight per cent of all death sentences imposed by its courts-martial.

Readers share their family links to the Great War with some tips on how to begin your search.

On average one British soldier out of every 3, of their troops that died in the war did so due to being court martialed and executed by firing squad, compared to the much higher one out of every of the Irish troops that died. The fourth and perhaps most important reason was the rise of radical nationalism after the Easter Rising of —an insurrection in Dublin by nationalists that left around dead.

In the British dominion of Canada after conscription began there was a conscription crisis, in , following this, when Irish conscription was proposed in the spring of following the huge German Spring Offensive , it led to the Conscription Crisis of , a mass assembly of civil disobedience and the proposal was dropped in May after the American entry into the War had helped stem the German advance.

In a similar fashion to the nascent Indian Independence Movement , the Irish rebels collaborated with their Indian counterparts and mutually sought help from Germany during the War. After the Rising, they were in communication to send another, much larger weapons cache to Ireland in , but the plan never materialised.

Roger Casement tried to recruit a rebel unit from Irish prisoners of war in German captivity. The " Irish Brigade " drew only 55 recruits, however. Of the Irish men who enlisted in the first year of the War, half were from what is now the Republic of Ireland; the other half were from what is now Northern Ireland. They joined new battalions of the eight regiments existing in Ireland. These battalions were assigned to brigades of the 8th Infantry Division , 10th Irish Division , the 16th Irish Division and the 36th Ulster Division of Kitchener's New Service Army , as well as to brigades of other United Kingdom Divisions during the course of the war.

The British Uniforms of World War 1 I THE GREAT WAR Special

The INV were, even in comparison to the UVF, an inefficient military force in , lacked trained officers, finances and equipment. In spite of these criticisms, the 16th division gained a reputation as first-class shock troops during engagements in The Irish regiments of the three divisions and the BEF as a whole appear to have suffered from few serious disciplinary or morale problems during March to November Raised largely in Ireland from the Irish National Volunteers, it fought at Gallipoli , Salonika and Palestine and was the first Irish Division to take the field in war, under the command of Irish General Bryan Mahon and was the most travelled of the Irish formations.

Some battalions of the division were engaged at Chunuk Bair. In September when the Suvla front became a stalemate, the division was moved to Salonika where it fought Bulgarian troops and remained for two years. The division fought in the Third Battle of Gaza which succeeded in breaking the resistance of the Turkish defenders in southern Palestine. The 10th Division was persistently under-strength due to heavy losses and "sluggish enlistment" and as a result was filled up early on with drafts from England.

A second practical problem for the 10th Division to be split up was widespread malaria, with the likelihood of it being permanently unfit for action.

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The division began forming towards the end of after Irish recruits first filled the ranks of the 10th Division. Initial training began in Ireland. It moved to England for more intensive training in September Wilson reported to the Army Commander Monro 6 January that the division, despite having been training since September—October , would not be fit to serve in an active part of the line for six weeks. Although political prejudice probably played a part in Wilson's views, he also attributed much of the difference in quality between his divisions to training, especially of officers, in which he took a keen personal interest, opposing Haig's wish to delegate training from corps to division level.