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04-12-2019, 12:13   #16
Snickers Man
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Originally Posted by LennoxR View Post
According to Padraig Yeates, a historian of Dublin in this period, the relative resurgence of recruitment in 1918, was mostly to non combat units such as the engineers and motivated by the fact that conscription had been introduced (though not implemented in Ireland in the end) and men were trying to avoid being drafted combat units.
This sounds very plausible. I know of a similar case in another time, place and war. I had a distant cousin in America who joined the US Navy immediately on hearing that he was about to be drafted into the Army during the Vietnam War period.

He had to serve a longer period of time. And indeed his destroyer was deployed to the coast off Vietnam for part of his service. But as he said himself: "At least I was out of the mud."
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09-12-2019, 20:57   #17
The Dargle Hood
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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.
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15-12-2019, 02:34   #18
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People are ignoring the extent of former British Army soldiers among the Irish Volunteers who'd previously served but were then on the Reserve list.

Case in point, previously highlighted by the venerable Eamonn Phoenix: Sean Cusack, who would later be O/C of the Belfast IRA at the outset of the pogrom - at Easter 1916, he was stationed at Carrickfergus as a reservist in the Royal Irish Rifles. He was also in the Irish Volunteers and the IRB.

Come Easter 1916, he went AWOL, swapped his British Army uniform for an IV one and went off to join the rebellion. MacNeill's countermanding order came through calling the whole thing off so poor Sean had to leg it back to Carrickfergus.

He got caught rotten, was arrested and left the British Army on "medical grounds" mar dhea later in 1916. But Cusack wasn't the only British Army / Irish Volunteers duallist.

My favourite example is Paddy Barnes. He too was called up as a reservist in 1914 and was awarded the Mons Star. Later invalided out of the Army. Came home to Belfast and joined the IRA. Was in it during the pogrom. Then listed as a member of the anti-Treaty "Executive Forces" in the MSPC nominal rolls for July 1922. Was then Training Officer for the "pro-Treaty" northern IRA in the Curragh from Aug 1922. Went on a visit home to Belfast, was lifted and interned on the Argenta. The 17th Battalion of the Free State Army wrote to Craig's NI government saying he was one of theirs and should be released. Didn't wash.

So Paddy was a member of each of: the British Army, the pre-Truce IRA, the anti-Treaty IRA, the pro-Treaty IRA, the Free State Army and an internee.

If Paddy had been playing revolutionary bingo, he would've been going "Full house!"
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