First World War In Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland History First World War

Both sides were now armed in Ireland and it was almost inevitable that these two armed forces would meet at some stage.  In August 1914 war broke out between Britain and Germany which for the period it lasted deferred any imminent signs of conflict.  

Due to the inability to resolve any of the root causes of the war, Hitler was in a prominent position to impose his thinking on a decimated country suffering from a deep depression.  The so called “Great War” impacted right across Europe and created three dictators, Hitler, Mussolini and Lenin.

In Ireland both Redmond and Carson had put to one side their respective campaigns and agreed to support the huge war effort.  During the war Carson had convinced the authorities to allow the UVF into the regular army and was known as the 36th (Ulster) Division.  Lord Kitchener, the Minister of War began to build an army composed of civilian volunteers as the war drew to a close. 

By the end of 1914 the 36th Division had grown to just over a million men and were known as “Carson’s Army”.  At the Battle of the Somme, this unit lost over 5,500 men in a single day on the 1st July.  This event remains significant as the people associated with those who paid the ultimate sacrifice of life, believed that to deviate from such loyalty to Britain, and would be an insult to the fallen at the Somme.  

Redmond had also encouraged the Irish Volunteers to enlist and many did, believeing that their support would also bring with it the benefit of Home Rule when the war ended.  These National Volunteers were not set up as a single unit but were dispersed throughout the regular army units.

What is important to note here is that Northern Ireland as a country or state did not exist. The state only came into being in 1921 and by that stage the First World War had come to an end.