1916, the Poppy and Ulster Unionism: A More Rounded Memory in the Decade of Centenaries

Fergus O'Farrell with a piece on remembering those who died during World War 1. The article featured in Irish Left Review.

Whether you agree with wearing a poppy or not, all Irish people who fought between 1914 and 1918 deserve to be remembered. Since the 1990s and the Peace Process in Northern Ireland, the Irish nationalists who went to fight for the British army in the Great War have re-entered the public’s historical consciousness. However, we are still slow to recognise the role that Ulster unionists played in the war.

The 1916 Easter Rising is a central event in modern Irish history, and is particularly significant in the development of Irish nationalism. Equally, the massive losses suffered by the 36th (Ulster) Division at the Battle of the Somme in 1916 were a formative event in the development of Ulster unionism. 1916 is a crucial year in history for both communities on the island of Ireland. Loyalties were consolidated and identities were crystallised in the GPO in Dublin and in the trenches at the Somme. While considerable differences existed between the two communities before 1916, the events of that year polarised them. Both nationalists and unionists would look back on the events of 1916 as moments of great sacrifice which were endured to assert the rights of their respective communities.

As Professor Keith Jeffery has convincingly argued, the First World War was the single most significant event of the Irish experience of the twentieth century. 210,000 catholic and protestant men from the island of Ireland enlisted in the British Army, 50,000 of whom were killed. Despite this, there persisted what historian F.X. Martin referred to as a ‘collective amnesia’ regarding these events in the Republic. Historical research, public discourse and political commemoration focused on the military events which happened at home during this time. The 1916 Easter Rising was regarded as more important than the experiences of Irishmen who fought in the British army on the continent between 1914 and 1918. About 2,000 rebels took part in the insurrection against British rule, while up to 105,000 Irish nationalists were fighting for Britain on the continent.

In the more inclusive atmosphere of the 1990s, fostered by the Peace Process, historians began to examine the role Irishmen played during the First World War. One fascinating aspect of the war was what it meant to the different confessional communities on the island. Nationalists were encouraged to enlist so that Home Rule would be implemented upon their return, while unionists joined up to prevent the implementation of Home Rule. There was also a new found appreciation of the difficulties faced by Irish nationalists returning home to a country where an armed rebellion against the British had taken place while they had been in Europe fighting for the King. This more inclusive analysis of the 1914-1918 period has deepened our understanding of the complexities of life and loyalties in Ireland at that time.

However, in the Republic, there is still a gap in the public understanding of the events of the period. The Ulster unionist experience of the Great War needs to be further explored and this is particularly pertinent as we approach the 100th anniversary of 1916. Less than three months after the Rising in Dublin, 5,500 men of the 36th (Ulster) Division were either killed, wounded or declared missing in the first two days of fighting at the Battle of the Somme. The 36th was drawn from the Ulster Volunteer Force, established in 1912 to prevent the imposition of Home Rule in Ireland. The wartime contribution and sacrifices made by Ulster unionists left an indelible mark upon the psyche of that community. Murals of the Somme can still be seen on Belfast gables and the battle is commemorated every year. If we are to fully grasp the dynamics and complexities of this period, it is essential that the Ulster unionist experience of the war be further explored and remembered.

The first stages of the Peace Process allowed for a reinterpretation of recent Irish history, resulting in a new found appreciation of the role played by Irishmen in British uniform during the First World War. But the role of Ulster unionists, their motivations for enlisting, the sacrifices they made and their commemoration of the war are aspects of the Irish experience are unknown in the south. While the 1990s provided the impetus for the exploration of the forgotten aspects of Ireland’s wartime past, this decade of centenary commemorations is the perfect opportunity to explore the Unionist experiences of the war. With the 100th year anniversary of 1916 approaching, there needs to be a greater awareness of the sacrifices made by those at the Somme. Just as the Rising was a formative event in the history of Irish nationalism, the Somme is equally important in the development of Irish unionism. A more comprehensive historical understanding of the divisive year of 1916 can foster empathy between the two communities on the island. This is critical for the development of the Peace Process.

A better understanding of the formative events in the histories of both nationalist and unionist communities is required if the Peace Process is to continue. 1916 is the fulcrum around which ideas of loyalty and badges of identity have been based. In this decade of commemorations, and as we approach the 100th year anniversary of 1916, a more rounded assessment of this period of Irish history is needed. In order to achieve this, we must – in the words of playwright Frank McGuinness – ‘Observe the Sons of Ulster Marching Towards the Somme.’


  1. This past number of years there appears to be a conserted campaign to re write history. In this country of ours there are two basic types of people,one unionist the other nationalist. This has been the case for hundreds of years. Nationalists see themselves as Irish with their allegiance to an Irish state,unionists see themselves as british with their allegiance to a British,protestant monarch.there has always been anamosity between the two sections of our community, quit often resulting in a lot of trouble and death. Both sides can come up with hundreds of reasons as to why they are right and the other side is wrong,but that is a discussion for another day.
    To get back to the original article and what it appears to me to be trying to do,that is convince the reader that those Irish men who fought for the British monarch in what is being called THE GREAT WAR,deserve to be in some way honoured for their deeds in other foreign countries. Those who rushed to their local orange halls to sign up hoped for a walk in the park were they would give the German a jolly good thrashing and be home for tea and bickies in a few days. Fritz and Jhonny Turk had other ideas.
    I cannot in all honesty join the two words Unionist and Irish. They are two entirely different beings. Those so called Irish who joined the British war machine were as British as Churchill. The majority who joined were shunned by their families and communities who saw them as traitors to Ireland. Redmond and his cronies were unionist to the heart and no doubt hood winked some with promises of home rule and some who returned fought to remove the British invaders from Ireland. But in general those who joined this outfit were joining to fight for king and someone else's country. I can see no difference in them and the B Men or the UDR. Around were I come from I remember a few old soldiers, they never spoke of this GREAT WAR they had fought,they kept themselves to themselves and I feel tried to hide their shame. I feel they should be pitied more than scorned. Maybe they thought the same.
    It is important that history is not allowed to be falsely re written to suit someone's agenda.
    Maybe in a hundred years time the streets in Derry will be named after the para,s and Cappagh will be prefixed with London.

  2. @ Pat Murphy
    I couldn't disagree more. You make the mistake of judging history from the future looking back. 1914 in Ireland was a different place from what it was just a few years later. You also say there are 2 types of people in Ireland, I would say 3. If nationalists and republicans were the same there would have been a UI years ago. You are also scathing of those who went to war. Who knows why young men go to war? Romance, anger, boredom? The nationalists who fought for Britain were overtaken by events at home. You can judge them all you like but you are being unfair. When I go to remembrance Sunday I go to remember the privates and corporals, the sergeants and LTs not the politicians, or the policies, or the generals and their tactics. We must remember those that fell. On this site last week there was an article about a remebrance event for a young IRA man. They didn't gather to debate if a 16 year old should be running about town with a bomb, or the tactics employed in Derry at that time. They just remembered the boy and that is what is important.

  3. It is important to note that the people with Pat Murphy's attitude in Ireland have always been in a tiny minority. The numbers of Irish people who fought in WW1 vastly outnimbered those who joined the IRA.

    They were not ashamed of their sevice, but were bullied into hiding it by people who had absolutely no compunction about murdering them.

    People now are able to step back and look dispassionately at events from that time and their sympathies are increasingly with those who fought in the war. Especially given that Adams and co are busily comparing themselves to the IRA of 1919 - 1923.

  4. Pat Murphy,

    fast forward a few years to the Spanish civil war that is a good indicator of the mindset of the people at the time.

    Eoin O’Duffy and his merry band of fascists with the blessings of the RCC, who eventually boarded a German ship to the cheers from well wishers and a wee sacred heart as a parting gift from the local clergy seen them off, should we remember them?

    Frank Ryan and his men didn’t get the same send off. Even de Valera gave the quiet nod For God and Spain. Even in the North the chant was we want Franco

    Should we be critical of both Irish factions going off to fight for a foreign country while their own country was still occupied by foreigners from across the water?

    Rewind to the Great War and you will find that religious belief was stronger then; many would have seen fighting on the front as their duty to god others would simply have seen it as a means to send a few shillings home to feed and help out their families.

    Should we be critical of the many Irishmen who went to the front or did most just consider it the lesser of two evils the Ottoman Empire would have been viewed as godless and a foreign culture that may have been reason enough for many to join in what could be viewed as a crusade?

    Ireland whether we like it or not has always been rigidly conservative. As a republican I honour Ireland’s dead and hold no objections to those who honour their dead, I don’t view it as a religious or political rite but simply as a human observance.

    “Beware that, when fighting monsters, you yourself do not become a monster... for when you gaze long into the abyss. The abyss gazes also into you.”

    Friedrich Nietzsche

  5. taigs shud call derry dublinderry and london derrylondon.

  6. Cue Bono,

    the numbers argument doesn’t hold up well when viewed in scale. The heavy number of Irish dead and wounded might suggest that all was not so balanced or fair with snotty nosed British officers looking down upon the Irish.

    We see a decline in enlistment by 1916 one factor being the high casualty rate amongst Irish divisions
    Massacre at Gallipoli in 1915 and the decimation at the Somme contributed to that decline.
    Many Irish foolishly believed that if they fought alongside the Brits then the Brits would keep their word and that is not how the Brits work.

    Prior to the war the number of enlisted Irishmen was about 50 thousand plus. I would argue that the financial incentive was a great reason for many of them to enlist. If an equivalent financial incentive was on offer to Irish Rebels then we could assume their ranks would swell.

  7. Whilst there is a sense of on-going revisionism in recent times, a thaw in remembrance is not a bad thing. My grandfather was in the Royal Ulster Riffles in WW2 and had a pretty impressive war record. He enlisted with his brother to escape poverty. After walking from Lurgan to Armagh only to be told to come back when they were older, they walked it back next day and said they were older now! I would have no problem wearing a poppy for Irish men who thought Redmond and Home Rule were the way to go. What WW1 and the partition of this country taught nationalists was that British democracy was a fallacy. Redmond and democratic constitutionalism was subverted by the disloyal UVF well before 1916.

    I don't put Irish volunteers going off to WW1 or WW2 in the same bracket as those 'disloyal'-UVF men in WW1 who went off intent to subvert democracy. Or indeed the same bracket as those 'loyal men' Craig talked of in WW2 who stayed at home hiding in the LDV, the B-Specials and any other protected employment they could dive into. The Somme certainly had an impact upon the loyal men of Ulster; they couldn't be enlisted for love nor money in WW2. But they screamed for conscription to soak up the residual labour (ie Irish Catholics) in order to highlight 'Ulster's' loyalty to the war effort.

    The loyalists are not Irish, Pat Murphy is on the money there. They are anti-Irish and set up the UVF in advance of WW1 to thwart a democratic decision by the Westminster Parliament....'lest we forget'.

    The only thing wrong with the Somme is that there weren't more loyal sons of Ulster marching into it. The British sustained an estimated 56,400 odd casualties on the first day of the Somme, so what's all the brew ha-ha about 5,000 dead and wounded UVF men?

    There is a need NOT for revision, but the outing of the truth about what really happened during both world wars and just what role the loyal sons of Ulster played in those conflicts. They have been allowed away with murder in the post war narratives. Time the Irish phobia about our contribution in both conflicts was ended and 'Loyalists' exposed for once and for all.

  8. Peter and Cue Bono thank you both for your replies but both of you do not appear to grasp the point here. At no time did I mention the IRA or republicanism. I contend that an Irish nationalist cannot in any circumstance countenance being part of their oppressors war machine. In 1914 or in 2014. Britain fought an imperialist war which they have decided to call GREAT and now you would like those who they have trampled over for centuries to commend them for their centuries of oppression. To stand and pat them on the back for a job well done. Time does not change fact. Those who fought for the king and his country without doubt saw themselves as British,which they believed they had a right to do. Therin lies the problem I don't believe they did.

  9. pat murphy

    'Time does not change fact. Those who fought for the king and his country without doubt saw themselves as British'.

    Give yer head a shake.

  10. Pat, your opinion of Irish history is highly reductive. In 1914 the vast majority of nationalists were happy enough in the Empire. They wanted a home parliament but also to stay in the Empire. That all changed very quickly in 1916 as we know. The men of 1914 joined up to fight for THEIR Empire, republicans at this time were a small minority. And in every decade since hundreds of nationalists have crossed the Irish Sea to sign up for the BA and still do. I know a Major in the RIR from Crossmaglen! The nationalist relationship with Britain must drive republicans mad, but as Tain Bo said it is a reflection of the deep conservatism in Ireland and republicanisms failure to convince.

  11. Peter no nationalist can be happy enough in the empire as you suggest. This I am afraid is a complete contradiction in terms. Unless my understanding of nationalist and yours is completely different. You seem to be fixsated with republicanism which I have not mentioned in relation to this subject. Believe it or not the two things are not the same. Many may be both but not necessarily so.
    As for the major from Cross,never met him,he,s not Frazer by any chance?
    My last word on the subject being discussed,I cannot comprehend honouring those who with full knowledge agreed to join a foreign(in my eyes) army to destroy another nation and its people at the behest of a few sycopaths who thought themselves superior in all ways,pity them I can.
    Larry,still shaking boss but nothing has changed.

  12. I happened to be in London last week on Armistice Day doing some work when a colleague from the North mentioned she was off that evening to view the installation at the Tower of London later that evening.
    As I had time to kill I too took the short tube ride to have a look. The 900,000+ hand crafted ceramic poppies laid out in a river of blood was a stunning, thought provoking and emotionally moving sight.

    Click here to go to Google Images.

  13. And who shall remember Sarsfield and the Wild Geese?
    And those 10,000's of thousands of Irish who joined continental armies of France, and Spain and Italy AGAINST the British, over the years
    Where are they in this narrative?
    And What is worn to remember these.
    Pat Murphy has been criticised for his comments.
    But I find it disturbing that WW1 is been discussed in a revisionist way and that the real heroes who fought for Ireland are never talked about.
    It's quite clear that those Irish Nationalists who signed up for WW1 did so out of poverty in the first instance, and a sense of adventure and the broken promises of home rule.
    I don't hate these people..but I dO hate that they had rotten choices placed before them/.
    The British Navigation Acts were to Irish Trade and industry what the Penal Laws were to the social aspect of Irish life.
    Lest We Forget (TM) Who made the Irish poor in the first place?
    So, that the rotten choice of joining the Brit army. seemed like a good one.
    As for Irish shouldn't join the British army.
    Other people have mentioned James Connolly.
    But in the 19th Century the Irish Fenian movement activelly encouraged Irish Fenians to join the British Army.
    They did this because the Fenians wanted to face the British army and the British State head on in a "convential war" And they figured that it was best to get professional military training to prepare for this clash. A similar view was taken during the American Civil War ( When are the Irish remberence services for these? )
    In summary the British Army rooted out the Fenians from the ranks of their army.
    But We can see this strategy playing out in Afghanastan where Rebels in that country join the Afghan Police and Army and shot "loyal" soldiers.
    Say what you like it's an effective policy.
    So, I would like to remember all those who fought for Ireland.
    And as Sarsfield said when he died on a continental battlefield..As he was bleeding to death, he said it was a shame the blood he was spilling from him. wasn't for Ireland.
    Remember the Irish of Napoleons Army. Of the Spanish and Italian Armies.
    Those Irish who fought with Mexico against the USA and the Irish in the American Civil War. And the Irish of the French Foreign Legion.
    The Irish in the Brit army are a small piece of history.

  14. Ozzy

    you beat me to it about the wild geese and the rest. Also Wellington at Waterloo had no shortage of Irish muscle. Not to mention McAlpine's fusiliers, for it wasn't the Romans who built the roads in England.

  15. Also Larry.
    The Sullivans.
    The US Navy have named ships the "USS The Sullivans" after these 5 brothers who died on the same ship.
    I believe this was the idea for the film saving Private Ryan although that was army not navy.
    The US Navy also have a ship the USS John Barry named after the first Commodore of the US Navy, an Irishman from Wexford afaik
    Then there is Argentina..Admiral Brown from Foxford County Mayo.These people are remembered in their home Counties..But Nationally they are forgotten.
    For example Why don't the Irish Navy name their ships after admiral Brown for example. Or after John Philip Holland.
    Instead they named their latest ships after bloody Beckett.
    And the only boat he was on was the ferry to Holyhead.
    So, shove the Poppy.
    I have different heroes.
    And If WW1 is to be remenbered than the rest of them should br too.
    They are in Mexico, France and the USA ( with the USS the Sullivans )etc..But the Irish can't be bothered..Except when they are doffing the forelock to the Brits.
    Time to stop cherry picking by the Oirish Media and Oirish State.
    Let's remember them all.

  16. Just a few points from the posts above.

    Young British officers from public schools were proportionately more likely to die in battle in WW1 than any other demographic. Fifty eight British generals were also killed. It is nonsense to suggest that the 'snooty' British officers sacrificed Irish soldiers.

    British soldiers were paid one shilling per day, which I believe in today's money works out at about £2.70. To suggest that they joined up for financial gain is also nonsense especially when Ireland's war time economy was booming and jobs were plentiful. It would have been much more financially beneficial, and safer, to have stayed at home in a peacetime job and to have joined the IRA.

    A cursory glance around any Protestant church war memorials will also soon put paid to the nonsense that unionists shirked either of the wars.

    It is long past time that historians began debunking these collective myths.

  17. Cue Bono

    Doubt very much the employment was that great in either war period for RCs. In WW2 the fear and loathing of another Somme saw 'loyal-men' stay put in protected employments.

    220,000 able bodied men between the ages of 18 and 40 in N.I. in 1939. 110,000 were in protected employment. RUC B-Specials, fire brigade, agriculture, heavy industry, ship-building, engineering, (mostly all in E. Belfast). How many RCs in those jobs you recon?

    Then they refused to set up the LDV/Home Guard on the same basis as in the UK ie voluntary. The N.I. government insisted the LDV be set up around the existing B-Specials (old UVF)and be paid a wage. No Some in WW2, the UVF was staying at home. And no papishes were wanted in it. FACT.

    Out of the other 110,000 38,000 joined the LDV staying at home. Increasing protected employment to 148,000 from 220,000. 38,000 joined the regular army to actually go and fight. 7,000 of these were women and if as stated RCs and Prods joined the British Forces in equal numbers in N.I. we could calculate that roughly 15,000 loyal sons of Ulster put themselves in the firing line in WW2.

    The Irish Free State 'NEUTRAL' issued 175,000 travel permits for people to go to the UK to join in the war effort; another FACT.

    But then sure loyal sons used to insist to me somewhat indignantly that H+W losses of 30 50 and even 70 million pounds per year were only due to the purchase of materials and at the end of the day the yard ran up a profit.
    We all know this assertion was about as true as the N.I. Prods notion of 'loyalty'.

    But you are correct regarding the toffs getting wasted in WW1. Places like Tullymore Forest park have huge monuments up for only sons lost in WW1. The societal elite was all but wiped out. So, it wasn't all bad.

  18. Just some more nonsense I would take those odds 58 generals stiffed over four years not too shabby compared to the enlisted figures that lost more in an hour. Officers on any side would be fair game don’t give me a sob story that somehow implies they should be immune from death when serving in a war.

    I doubt the patriotic fervor was on the minds of many Irishmen that hard earned shilling would have went a long way as I said by 1916 that shilling wasn’t viewed the same as the recruitment numbers declined.

    That is not what I said; I said if the IRA offered a wage they would have seen their numbers rise. Much better we could have all stayed at home and let the kings fight for their own castles.
    What did the Irish get for spilling their blood on a promise of home rule, we got a boot in the arse from the snooty Brits and the loyalists were rewarded with a State. Hypocrisy rules join the fight to liberate Europe but when you come home don’t expect to be liberated.

    Read the overall statistics on the needless slaughter the Brits didn’t come out of it too bad. I didn’t mention anything about anyone dodging the war, though if not one Irishman died for a king then I would view that as prudent rather than foolish.

  19. Larry
    Don't forget the Loyal Son's in those protected industries had the worst level of productivity than the rest of England.
    They had the highest level of abseentism.
    And the aircraft factories and shipyards went on strike four months before D-Day.for SIX whole Weeks!!!!
    I am sure the British squaddies would appreciate that level of loyality!!!!!
    Just one of over 200 strikes during the war.
    With friends like these who needs enemas!!!!!
    "25 February - At least 20,000 workers in the shipyard, the aircraft factory and engineering firms go on strike in
    Belfast. They do not return until 8th April."
    D-Day been on the 6th June 1944.
    It's incredible that the word "loyal" is used.
    Loyal to whom?
    Perhaps that is why the Royal Family stayed away for the centenary of the UVF gun running earlier this year?
    If only the Brits knew

  20. Larry Hughes,

    People in protected employment throughout the UK were not allowed to joined the armed forces. A skilled shipyard worker was of more use to the war effort mass producing ships than he was pushing a bayonet. Likewise with a farmer producing much needed food in a rationed society. That was a lesson learned the hard way from WW1.

    The LDV was not a protected job and in Norhern Ireland they had the additional hazard of a pro Nazi guerilla organisation AKA the IRA.

    The war memorials in Protestant churches throughout NI show us that plenty of men and women from that community fought and died in WW2. As indeed did many nationalists.

    It was the so called republicans who stayed at home rooting for a Nazi victory, and in many cases working for one. Gerry Adams's father for instance.

  21. Ozzy

    STOP beating me to the 'punch' would ya!!!

    Industrial disputes were the norm in 'loyal-Ulster' and in FACT LDV members WERE exempt from military enlistment. That's why 38,000 joined it when Westminster believed the force unnecessary and it was initially estimated by Stormont that 20,000 would be recruited. AND they were to be paid unlike in UK. Something else which differed from the 'Home Guard' in the UK apart from its voluntary nature was the number of young men in the LDV in N.I. Wedged full of them. But they had the presence of mind to suspend Orange parades during the war 'lest they be seen'.

    London government ministers who visited wee 'Ulster' during the war described their feeling of shame and embarrassment at the lack of a war atmosphere there. 'Only half in the war' was the feeling in London regarding N.I. Craig's answer was to scream for conscription to soak up surplus labour....(RCs) THREE TIMES. Cynical scumbags.

    M.P. For Derry Maxwell at an anti-partition rally a few yards over the border in Killeagh Donegal (it was banned in Derry-nothing new there) said of the 'loyal sons of Ulster'... where are they!? Enlistment is open, where is the loyalty, to date 730 have enlisted.

    Considering an estimated 200 per week were turning up from the Free State at Clifton Street recruitment office and that after an initial surge in recruitment after Dunkirk, the figure of recruitment stayed generally below 1,000 per month; it does beg the question, did any prods leave home at all?

    As for the IRA/Nazi threat, de Valera and Gerry Boland dealt with that, swatted the IRA like a fly and sure what threat was there when 300,000 Allied forces were encamped in the 6 counties? The loyal sons had nothing holding them back only the weight of the turds in their trousers!
    The Stormont regime felt so secure it interned most of the IRA prisoners in Derry, an RC city throughout the war...go figure. Any excuse for a few bob is their 'loyalty'. But sure that's why they came here to begin with, A FREE-BE.

  22. Something strikes me on the similarity between the WW2 recruits and the men who for whatever reason, misguided, anger or principle ended up in jail during the troubles and that is:


  23. Cue Bono

    My grandfather was in the British army during WW2 and my da was in the RAF in the 1960s and early 70s. He told me a story about the reduction in the prod population in the Free State after partition which Paisley used to love to rant about. He said they went to parts of the Empire like Rhodesia and other similar colonies where they could lord it over the natives; equality or parity of opportunity/esteem were not an option. (sound familiar?)

    I've made a point of going into COI churches around Ireland (26 counties) and the walls are adorned with plaques in memory of this former parishioner and that one who had died in the likes of Rhodesia or any number of other places in the far corners of the Empire where they had settled after Partition. So my old fella had a point.

    Obviously it just didn't feel like home in Ireland anymore if everything wasn't stacked in their favour. But the loyal sons of Ulster did the Judas on Free State Protestants, and forced that upon them didn't they. It's what they do! 'Loyalty'.

  24. @Ozzy
    "25 February - At least 20,000 workers in the shipyard, the aircraft factory and engineering firms go on strike in
    Belfast. They do not return until 8th April."
    D-Day been on the 6th June 1944.
    It's incredible that the word "loyal" is used.
    Loyal to whom?

    This was nothing compared to what was happening on the mainland. 200,000 miners on strike in South Wales and Yorkshire. 16,000 workers on strike at Rolls Royce in Glasgow. Tyneside shipyard on strike for 6 weeks etc etc. Ozzy you fail to mention any of the massive strikes happening all over the UK, why only Belfast? Were the strikers in England and Scotland disloyal too? Or were they indignant that employers would use the war as an excuse to roll back trade union gains? Were the workers in England all shirkers too? At the beginning of the war the Army focus was on the BEF and then to defence. Strategically the war effort needed more planes and warships of which Ulster played its part. And don't forget we provided the BA with probably its finest soldier, Blair Mayne, who helped make the SAS the finest regiment in the world.

  25. Pater None of these English towns you mentioned have Orange parades and Fleggers "protesting" Loyality.
    And yes I do think there should be no strikes in a National emergency.
    There are other ways of protest.
    In Asia for example it's well know that employees of car factories wear placards to protest and the managament don't like to see this and they do deals.
    The factories keep working though
    Also the Figures that Larry said about recruitment are quitew low. and you also have to consider that since catholics were more likely to be unemployed in the first place that must have made up a large part of that 35,000 who enlisted
    And now, it's time for QUB Belfast to have their say.

  26. 'Blair Mayne, who helped make the SAS the finest regiment in the world'.

    Oh yes Blair Maine, who assisted David Sterling set up the SAS. But only after he was let out of jail first. He used o parachute behind enemy lines with a bottle of bush and a gramophone and Sterling said Main used to laugh when the German convoys were coming. Never received the medals he should have; because he was prone to knocking spark out the odd pompous superior officer. He played rugby for IRELAND and Unfortunately died in a sports car accident.

  27. Larry,

    I fully get that you have nothing but utter contempt for Irish Protestants, north and south, but what I am trying to do is demonstrate to you that it is founded on mythology. Your father's rants appear to confirm the source.

    Was he completely unaware of the violence, intimidation and discrimination that the southern Protestants endured, or did he simply ot care?

    Protected jobs were protected because the people who did them were of more use at home than they were in the forces. The government did not allow them to serve.

    Since there was no conscription here, due to the increase in support for republicanism that the threat of WW1 conscription created,they were under no obligation to join. The protected job status meant that they could not join whether they wanted to or not.

    Meanwhile Adams senior and co were aiding and abetting the Nazi war machine. Perhaps you should reflect on what republicanism was doing during WW2 rather than concentrating your efforts on denegrating the people here who opposed fascism.

  28. @Ozzy
    "None of these English towns you mentioned have Orange parades and Fleggers "protesting" Loyality".
    Wrong, Glasgow and Liverpool had many in those days. I do agree that there should not have been strikes during an emergency but the NILP was big back then, so it can be assumed that many of the strikers were socialists or trade unionists. I understand your indignation with unionism but we are not all bible thumping, bowler hatted bigots or fleg waving flutists.

    At the beginning of the war Britain had a standing army, the BEF, which went to defend France and was roundly trounced, Dunkirk etc. From then Britain went into defence mode, relying on the build up of the navy and RAF together with the Home Guard. Most were encouraged into the factories and farms as Britain was forced to get self sufficient and prepare for the Battle of Britain. There was no mass recruitment at this stage. My maternal grandfather was told to stay in Mackies and joined the Shankill Home Guard. My paternal grandfather, as an auto spark, was told to go to Manchester to work in factory producing army trucks. He served in the Lancashire Home Guard. As far as I'm concerned they both did their bit for the country, neither were die hard loyalists. Unionisms commitment to defeat Nazism may not be outstanding but it is certainly better than that of republicanism, which actively colluded with Hitler.

    Mayne is North Down's finest son. Why there isn't a film about him is beyond me, his biography is just fantastic. From rugby international to punching English chinless wonders, to machine gunning a whole German officers mess, to alcoholism and excess. What a movie that would make!

    @Cue Bono
    Given the nature of this blog I think we can expect and excuse some anti-protestant ranting from time to time. Don't take it to heart.

  29. Cue Bono

    Unless I'm mistaken the armaments factories, buses and all manner of 'men's-work' was undertaken by women in the UK during WW2 which was a huge factor in promoting women's rights in post war Uk, and correctly so!! It also facilitated conscription for the war effort. Not so in 'loyal Ulster' where even teenagers were in the LDV (dad's army)and the loyal sons stayed home and did what was women's work in the rest of the UK. Check out 'Duty Without Glory' by David R. Orr on the LDV.

    You are absolutely correct though, CONTEMPT for loyalist self serving Orange Nazi cowards. Why would anyone have anything else for them? The N.I. LDV was not wanted under British military control unless in the event of German invasion. The top brass wanted nothing to do with the sectarian outfit. In other words, the British army didn't want Orange Nazis assisting it to fight German Nazis.

    My ould fella never ranted. He has been anti-republican his entire life. He just calmly called it for what it was. Prod self interest, wherever and however it could be found.

    De Valera dealt with the IRA threat. Prods did not require 38,000 coolies in the LDV to do keep Ulster safe. They were keeping themselves safe; YOU know it and WE ALL know it. Stormont was that certain they were 'out' of the war the bombing of Belfast was met with a total lack of air defence. Go figure.


    Absolutely agree with you regarding Blair Mayne. It would make for a terrific film, AND A TRUE ONE. Sterling recounted observing Mayne across a road as they lay in ambush of an oncoming German convoy...he said Mayne was laughing in the hedgerow as they waited.

    My oul lad told me about Mayne, and The Irish Marshalls, (I have the book about them too) I think 5 of Chrchill's 7 Generals in WW2 were Irishmen. All fascinating stuff.

  30. cue, "Was he completely unaware of the violence, intimidation and discrimination that the southern Protestants endured, or did he simply ot care?'

    are u aware of the penal laws and good old fashioned genocide.

  31. Larry,

    I think it is touching that you think so highy of your auld fella, but I'm afraid he has distorted your mindset to the extent that you come across as an ill informed ranting bigot yourself.


    I'm well aware of the penal laws, genocide etc, but they are completely irrelevant to the conversation in hand. I'll be more than happy to discuss them in a relevant thread.

    As an aside on Blair Mayne. He was not decking chinless wonders. He decked Mike Calvert who was himself a highly decorated Chindit commander in WW2, as well as being a big lad himself.

    That cost Mayne the VC which he deserved, but he was one Ulster Protestant that the top brass were more than happy to have on their side. They had a bit more wit than Larry's auld fella.

  32. Cue Bono

    Maybe Blare Mayne was welcome because he wasn't hiding under the kitchen table with the 38,000 prods in the N.I. LDV. Ever consider that?


    Loyalists are the epitome of evil, yet expect the world to pander to them. When someone doesn't they cannot figure out why. Cue Bono seems to have a fixation with Adams senior. I suspect Gerry's oul fella only ever saw action 'in' his own kids. Liam continued the family trend.

    The unionists really should do what they can with Marty Mi6 and Gerry 'bullroot' Adams because the next generation won't be pandering I suspect. It must be hard for them watching the demographic trends and having no Empire to slither off into. Happy days these truly are and it can only get better.

  33. observe the sons of ulster not marching towards dunkirk.

  34. Actually there were at least three battalions of the sons of Ulster at Dunkirk and at least two battalions at D Day.

  35. Cue Bono

    Correct and the Royal Ulster Rifles and a Scottish regiment were told to fight to the last man while the British planned their exit off the beach.

    French troops who realised an evacuation, 'scarper' was afoot and complained were opened up on by English troops just before they dived into the sea and broke all records at underwater swimming, not coming up for a breath for nearly 16 miles!!

  36. were they prods or taigs?

  37. Grouch

    Have you any idea how hard it is to type in my oldest skoolbhoy in town, dole-ite bed, whilst choking on laughter?

    I would say Best of British troops who were pioneers of long distance sub-aqua pursuits were totally non-sectarian. They just had a historical penchant for sticking it to the frogs. Sure they swam round to the med-under water of course- and sank the French fleet there too.

    The Ulster and Scots were more tuned into the sectarian theme.

  38. Thak God there is nothing sectarian about you Larry.

  39. Cue Bono

    I don't hate anyone for their religion. But I also don't go along with the 'creed' of the other cheek or pandering to KKK/Orangemen and loyalist extremists. If they want to play ugly as a rule, give it right back tenfold I say.

  40. thats spooky to hear larry, poor frogs. is there a site about that undewater caper.

  41. grouch

    aye its called www.runlikefuckandneverlookback

    try this one


  42. You don't hate anyone for their religion Larry, but you associate thousands of Protestants with the KKK. You aren't that much different from your old friend Gerry. Both of you think that bigotry only cuts one way and of course that you are above it. Try being honest with yourself. You hate the black bastards.

  43. Cue Bono

    Thousands of Orangemen and flegger types insisting on any pretext it is their culture and right to parade through RC districts/streets is not to me a religious exercise or Christian practice. OO/KKK no difference.

    I don't think all protestants are so inclined. In fact I'd be quite certain the majority of them drive to church services and home again. The loyalist scum and bandsmen insisting on going through RC areas are unlikely to even attend the service in question...if there even is one.

    Next phase of the troubles that puts screws and cops back on their gravy train will be those same loyalists. And they'll be banged up with glee by their 'own' again, though likely with more due care regarding evidence.

  44. cue bono, marxist-lennonist sinn fein (the MLSF) are expecting the chinese to sweep over the mountains of mourne any day now. they are going to do to ireland what cromwell did. there will be yellowmen as opposed to orangemen hoofing down the queens highway. they are going to implement the penal laws again against ALL religion. the taigs and prods left will have no option but to band together against the common slopeheaded enemy. in 2816 (after 800 years of tyranny) the native irish (prods and taigs) carry out a shocking rising that manages to get rid of the chinese out of leinster connacht and munster. the yellowmen still manage to keep a hold of ulster. they still want their yellow parades. a civil war ensues. the yellowmen (all fluent irish speakers) get annihilated at the second battle of the boyne. how and ever, when the last boatload of yellowmen leave belfast docks a huge blast of a lambeg drum is heard over the land. from the back streets of the shankhill the sound of marching feet is heard, a flute pipes up, a voice is heard singing
    "Sure l'm an Ulster Orangeman, from Erin's isle I came, To see my British brethren all of honour and of fame,

    And to tell them of my forefathers who fought in days of yore, That I might have the right to wear, the sash my father wore! "

    brits out. chinks out.