Physical fitness and age would probably have ruled out a substantial proportion of the membership of the National Volunteers from service in the regular army. Photos of Volunteer parades from the period suggest a significant number of members were middle class gentlemen of a certain age and quite unfit for war service. Lt General Sir Henry Wilson, no fan of the Irish Divisions not drawn from Ulster, had some harsh words about the 16th;
"Until March 1916 the 16th Division was part of IV Corps, commanded by the staunch unionist, Lieutenant General Sir Henry Wilson. Wilson, who had called the division "Johnnie Redmond's pets", inspected them over the course of a few days over Christmas 1915, noting that they "appear to be inferior" and that "at least 50p.c. are quite useless, old whiskey-sodden militiamen". Hickie agreed that he had "a political Divn of riff raff Redmondites". Wilson thought the 47th Brigade had "old officers, old & useless men, very bad musketry, rotten boots, and altogether a very poor show". Wilson reported to the Army Commander, Lieutenant General Sir Charles Monro (6 January) that the division, despite having been training since September–October 1914, would not be fit to serve in an active part of the line for six weeks. Although–in the opinion of Wilson's biographer Keith Jeffery–political prejudice probably played a part in these views"
Discounting this substantially to take account of Wilsons' known prejudice, there is nonetheless an echo of truth in part, at least, of his description, although this was probably equally true of other 'Pals' formations made up of enthusiastic amateurs in the early days of the Great War.