Irish units on Home Service

Timothy Bowman

in Irish Regiments in the Great War

Published by Manchester University Press

Published in print May 2003 | ISBN: 9780719062841
Published online July 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781781700648 | DOI:
Irish units on Home Service

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This chapter discusses the situation of Irish units and Special Reserve units deployed for home services. Sinn Fein, unlike previous Republican groups, did not seek to infiltrate Irish units in the British army, and there is no evidence to suggest that Irish battalions serving on the Western Front were subverted. However, the decision to remove Irish Special Reserve battalions from Ireland in late 1917 and early 1918 is discussed in more detail. The chapter also demonstrates that there were some doubts regarding the reliability of Irish soldiers. The strengths and weaknesses of the Irish reserve battalions appeared most starkly during the Easter Rising of 1916, although no hints of disloyalty were detected. The widest inference suggests that the decision to restation the Irish reserve battalions to England was informed mostly by problems of discipline and a dire want of quality training. There is little to suggest that reserve battalions harbored Sinn Fein sympathies. The disciplinary problems in reserve units had mostly to do with incompetent officers and the high turnover of personnel. Relocating these troops to England was informed by recruiting and technical needs rather than the apprehension of Senn Fein infiltration.

Keywords: Irish units; Special Reserve units; Easter Rising; Senn Fein; Irish reserve battalion; western front; Irish soldiers

Chapter.  4836 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Military History

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