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:

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This chapter discusses discipline and morale in the Irish regiments during 1914–18 and illustrates that, during the Great War, Irish soldiers committed a large number of disciplinary offences. This, in turn, questions the conclusions of some previous works on this subject. In general, it appears that the number of men tried by courts martial was generally higher in Irish than in English, Scots or Welsh units. It also appears that Irish soldiers were more likely to be involved in crimes involving drunkenness or serious indiscipline, and that the number of mutinies committed in Irish units during the Great War appears to be out of proportion to the number of Irish units in the British army. While the numbers of soldiers tried by courts martial in Irish units were generally higher than those in other British units, this does not necessarily mean that discipline was generally worse in Irish units. This study also suggests that morale remained high in the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) throughout the war, questioning the views of other historians that crises of morale occurred in the BEF during the winters of 1914/15 and 1917/18, and during and immediately after the German Spring Offensive of 1918.

Keywords: Great War; Irish soldiers; British Expeditionary Force; British units; Scots; Welsh units; Irish units

Chapter.  2849 words. 

Subjects: Military History

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