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Ireland And The First World War.

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[image002.gif] [image004.gif] Ireland And The First World War When war broke out in 1914 there was a huge impact on Irish politics. Both unionists and nationalists supported Britain's war efforts. The Protestants of Ulster saw the war as an opportunity to show patriotism. They expected, in return, that the British government would exclude most of Ulster out of Ireland's home rule plans when the war was over. The leader of the British military, Lord Kitchener, was happy to allow Ulster Protestants into the army but they had to join existing regiments. A leading unionist, Edward Carson, disagreed with this. He said that they should be kept separate like the UVF. This would give good publicity to the unionist cause. After a while Kitchener allowed this to happen. Kitchener was looking for a brigade (about 3,000 men) from Ulster but Carson promised he would give him a division (three brigades). Carson managed to get a brigade together and the 36^th Division was created, The Ulster Division. ...read more.


Asquith, the Prime Minister, told the unionists that special arrangements had been made for Ulster. At the time nobody thought that the war was going to last long. No one expected the four years of blood shed and millions of deaths that were to follow. Never before in the history of man had that number of soldiers from nations all across the globe gone into battle at the same time. For the first few weeks there was rapid marching and when the armies settled there was four years of fighting in trenches and vast loss of life. Occasionally troops with rifles were ordered to attempt a breakthrough but they only became entangled in barbed wire and butchered with artillery shells and machine-gun fire. About 170,000 Irish men, whether they were nationalists or unionists, Catholics or Protestants, joined regiments in the British army. In August 1914 the Royal Munster Fusiliers were nearly completely wiped out in the Battle of Mons in Belgium. The 10^th Irish Division suffered the loss of 5,000 men on the Gallipoli peninsula. ...read more.


This was not a very popular idea. The British Labour Party and the German Democratic Socialists weren't against the war. At the start of July 1916 the 36^th Ulster Division suffered over 5,500 casualties. Out of these 2,000 died in the first two days of the Battle Of The Somme. The Somme attack was supposed to break through the German defences and lead to victory. Britain thought that a huge artillery bombardment would destroy the German defences and the infantry could capture the trenches with little opposition. At the start of the attack the Germans were already prepared and were waiting with machine-guns and they cut down many British Troops. The 36^th Ulster Division captured their objective but suffered from German crossfire and this resulted in many casualties. A lot of Ulstermen received rewards for their bravery and four of them received the highest honour, the Victoria Cross. Due to the amount of lost lives and the impact it had in the community in Ulster the Somme is an important moment in Irish history. ...read more.

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