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The History of Ulster
Ulster in the War

The record of Ulster in the war is one of which her people have no reason to feel ashamed, and it will compare favourably with that of any other part of the Empire. Both in the actual fighting services and in work at home, the people of Ulster threw themselves heart and soul into the struggle against Germany.

All that was done by the Ulster troops has not been generally recognized, owing to one rather curious fact, that not a single battalion which is recruited in Ulster bears the name of the province. It is quite different with regard to other parts of Ireland. Leinster's two regiments are known as the Leinster Fusiliers and the Dublin Fusiliers. Munster, beside the Royal Irish Regiment, has its Munster Fusiliers. Connaught's solitary regiment is known as the Connaught Rangers. On the other hand, the three famous Ulster regiments, all of them among the most distinguished in the army, are known as the Royal Irish Rifles, Royal Irish Fusiliers, and Inniskilling Fusiliers; where much more appropriate names would be the Royal Ulster Rifles, and the Royal Ulster Fusiliers. Thus it often happened that when war correspondents or commanding officers reported acts of gallantry, as they often did, by the "Irish Rifles" or "Irish Fusiliers", no one outside Ireland understood that these were in fact Ulster battalions. For the same reason, a great many people imagine that Ulster's total contribution of fighting men was comprised in the famous 36th (Ulster) Division, although in addition there were actually six battalions of the regular army from Ulster, as well as five Ulster battalions in the 10th (Irish) Division and five more in the 16th (Irish) Division.

Taking the various regiments and battalions, it may be mentioned that there are eight regiments in the regular army drawn from Ireland, of which three come from Ulster and five from the other provinces. Each had two battalions, so that Ulster contributed six battalions, and the rest of Ireland ten battalions.

Of the Ulster regiments, the Royal Irish Rifles, with depot at Belfast, are recruited from Belfast, County Antrim, and County Down. The Royal Irish Fusiliers, with depot at Armagh, are recruited from Armagh, Cavan, and Monaghan; and the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, with depot at Omagh, are recruited from Derry, Tyrone, Fermanagh, and Donegal.

When the war broke out the Royal Irish Rifles, in addition to the two regular battalions, had three reserve battalions—the 3rd, 4th, and 5th. The Royal Irish Fusiliers had two reserve battalions—the 3rd and 4th; and the Inniskilling Fusiliers had two—the 3rd and 4th. When the new army, composed of what were called "service battalions", was formed, many additional battalions of these regiments were raised. The Royal Irish Rifles gave the 6th (service) Battalion to the 10th (Irish) Division, and the 7th to the 16th (Irish) Division; while it sent to the 36th (Ulster) Division battalions numbered 8 to 16 inclusive. In addition, three new reserve battalions for the Ulster Division were raised, the 17th, 18th, and 19th; while ultimately there was also formed the 20th (garrison) Battalion, though not until a later period of the war.

The Royal Irish Fusiliers sent the 5th and 6th (service) Battalions to the 10th (Irish) Division; the 7th and 8th to the 16th (Irish) Division; and the 9th and 10th to the 36th (Ulster) Division. Subsequently another service battalion, the nth, was raised, while three reserve battalions, the 12th, 13th, and 14th, were formed as reserves for the 36th (Ulster) Division.

The Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers sent the 5th and 6th (service) Battalions to the 10th (Irish) Division; the 7th and 8th to the 16th (Irish) Division; and the 9th, 10th, and 11th to the 36th (Ulster) Division. The 12th (reserve) Battalion was also raised for the 36th (Ulster) Division, and at a later period of the war an additional Service Battalion, the 13th, was also raised.

It may be of interest to point out that by the end of 1914 Ulster had actually contributed 42 battalions out of 82 raised in Ireland. In addition there was the North Irish Horse, whose first squadron went to France at the beginning of the war, and from whom other squadrons were subsequently sent out before the autumn of 1916, when a large section of the cavalry was dismounted and turned into infantry, and the men from the North Irish Horse became attached to the 9th Royal Irish Fusiliers. There were also two depots of the Royal Artillery near Belfast, which, during the war, trained and sent out many thousands of valuable recruits. Nor does this exhaust the records of Ulster's fighting services. Inspired by old family traditions, many Ulstermen chose to enlist in Scottish battalions. For example, in the 6th Black Watch, which formed part of the famous 51st (Highland) Division, there was a whole company of Ulstermen, who for some years before the war belonged to the battalion and crossed every year to Scotland for training. Further, several hundred men joined the 4th Seaforth Highlanders (who for some time had a recruiting office in Belfast), and also fought with the 51st Division, while a considerable number of others joined the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders. In the London Irish there were many Ulstermen, and also in the Church Lads' battalion of the King's Royal Rifles, while considerable numbers were to be found in the Bantam battalions, and the Royal Scots, Cheshires, and Sherwood Foresters. Altogether out of 145,000 voluntary recruits from Ireland, Ulster contributed, in round numbers, 75,000. Besides the Irish recruits, a very large number of men born in Ulster were to be found in the Dominion troops, especially among the Canadians, with whom two Ulstermen won the V.C. It is not possible in a brief space to describe fully the war services of the various Ulster battalions. It may be most convenient to record first the work of the regulars who went on service at the outbreak of war.


The 1st Battalion of the Royal Irish Rifles had been for over seventeen years serving in India, and did not reach France until the beginning of November, 1914, and so just missed the first terrible battle of Ypres. It saw no heavy fighting before the following spring, its first big engagement being the desperate battle of Neuve Chapelle on 10th March, 1915. In the course of this magnificent attack it went right through two lines of German trenches and seized the village of Neuve Chapelle itself, which it held for nearly a fortnight against many furious German attacks, losing during the period 9 officers killed, 9 wounded, and over 400 N.C.O.'s and men killed and wounded. Owing probably to the death of Colonel Laurie, the commanding officer, little official notice was taken in army records of this fine feat, but to show the feeling in the army it may be mentioned that when the battalion was relieved and was on its way back to billets, other troops turned out to cheer it as it passed, in appreciation of its gallantry. Two months later the battalion was again in the thick of the fight, heading a determined attack at Fromelles, in which once more it gained every objective, losing very heavily in the process. Its new commanding officer, Colonel Baker, was among the killed. The battle of Loos was its next big fight. On this occasion it was in the front line, acting in support, and lost about 100 officers and men. In March,

1916, the battalion went south to take over a portion of the line at La Boiselle. Here it successfully beat off a fierce German raid at a cost of 90 killed, wounded, and missing. To show the German opinion of the battalion, a German official order, captured shortly after this engagement, may be quoted: "The regiment of the Royal Irish Rifles created a most favourable impression both by their physique and mode of repelling an attack". In the opening of the great Somme battle of 1st July, 1916, the battalion took an active part, attacking and capturing Ovillers, but sustained exceedingly heavy losses amounting to 18 officers, amongst whom were the commanding officer, Colonel Macnamara, and the Adjutant, with 440 other ranks. Further fighting went on at intervals until 23rd October, when in another fiercely-contested battle the battalion was reduced in numbers to less than 300 men. The rest of the winter and the early part of 1917 was spent in the usual routine of resting in billets or holding the line. 31st July found the battalion once more in the thick of heavy fighting, this time in front of Ypres, where the attack on the ridges was beginning. Here again its casualties were serious, amounting to 16 officers and 350 other ranks, and once more the commanding officer, now Colonel A. D. Reid, was amongst the killed. In the desperate fighting of 16th August the battalion again sustained extremely heavy losses, all the officers but one, including Lieutenant-Colonel M'Carthy O'Leary, being killed and wounded, as well as 230 N.C.O.'s and men. Up till the time when the fierce fighting for Passchendaele Ridge culminated in the attack of 1st December, the battalion continued to share the honour and the sacrifices of this long-drawn battle. For its work during this time it was praised not only by divisional and corps commanders but by the Commander-in-Chief, Sir Douglas Haig, himself. At the end of the year, on the reorganization of the army, the battalion was incorporated with the 36th (Ulster) Division, in the account of which the remainder of its fighting record will be described.


The 2nd Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles, went to the front at the opening of the war in August, 1914, forming part of the 7th Brigade of the 3rd Division. It took part in the first advance and subsequent retreat from Mons, seeing a good deal of heavy fighting, and afterwards in October at Neuve Chapelle was conspicuous in repelling a fierce attack by the Germans. General Smith-Dorrien, then commanding the army corps, in an Army Order stated: " During an attack on the 7th Infantry Brigade the enemy came to close quarters with the Royal Irish Rifles, who repulsed them with great gallantry with the bayonet. The commander wishes to compliment the regiment on its splendid feat, and directs that all battalions shall be informed of the circumstance and of his high appreciation of the gallantry displayed."

During the rest of the winter and most of the following spring and summer the battalion was alternately holding portions of the line and in billets. At the battle of Loos it played a very gallant part, not only piercing the German lines, but holding the position for twenty-four hours until obliged to retire because the troops on both sides had not been able to advance so far.

Addressing the battalion after its removal to another portion of the line, the Divisional Commander said: "You have a splendid fighting record throughout the campaign, being complimented by Sir John French and General Smith-Dorrien in corps orders. The fighting in this part of the line during the last few months has been very severe, and this battalion has made history. When the history of the campaign has been written the name of the 2nd Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles, will be written in large print. . . . Your Brigadier was ordered to hold the Germans in the Ypres salient while the other corps made the attack farther south. You attacked the strongest position in the enemy's line. . . . Your clever demonstration in front of this part of the line brought all the enemy's reserves to this point, thereby facilitating the offensive towards Loos. In fact the enemy was prepared to attack, but was half an hour too late."

During the battle of the Somme the battalion served in various parts of the line, and subsequently, on the Messines-Ypres front, it also saw some very heavy fighting between June and September, 1917. It was subsequently transferred to the Third Army and attached to the 36th (Ulster) Division, to whose record its further history belongs.

Altogether the battalion lost more than 100 officers and 2000 other ranks killed and wounded, while the honours gained amounted to over 400.


The 1st Battalion, Royal Irish Fusiliers, famous as "the Faugh-a-Ballaghs", went to France at the opening of the war, and took part in the retreat from Mons, especially in the heavy fighting at Le Cateau-Cambrai, where it lost 200 officers and other ranks.

After the Marne the battalion was prominent in pursuit of the Germans and in the fighting on the Aisne, losing 8 officers and about 150 men. When the pursuit was stopped on the Aisne, the battalion was transferred north and took part in the heavy fighting at Armentières, in the capture of which it had a leading role. During the stay of the battalion in this district Private Robert Morrow, of Dungannon, Co. Tyrone, who was subsequently killed, won the V.C. by carrying six wounded men in succession into safety, under heavy fire. The 10th Brigade, of which this battalion formed part, was in the thick of the fighting in the second battle of Ypres, in April, 1915, and lost no less than 10 officers and 500 other ranks, receiving the personal thanks of Field-Marshal Sir John French for its gallant resistance.

Again in May of the same year the battalion suffered severely in one of the early German gas attacks, and was sent into billets for a rest, after which it was moved to the Somme. During the winter of 1915 the battalion was engaged holding the line in comparative quiet, but made a name for itself by daring raids on the enemy's trenches, notably on 16th April, 1916, when the battalion was specially thanked by the army corps commander and mentioned in dispatches by the Commander-in-Chief.

The Fusiliers, in support of the Sea-forth Highlanders, fought through the Somme battle on 1st July, 1916, and obtained the warmest praise of Lieutenant-General Sir A. Hunter-Weston, who personally visited the battalion to thank the men for what they had done, and in addressing them said:

"Officers, non-commissioned officers, and men of the 1st Battalion, Royal Irish Fusiliers, it is impossible for me to express fully my admiration for the splendid courage, determination, and discipline displayed by you all. ... I salute each officer, non-commissioned officer, and man of the battalion as comrades-in-arms, and am proud to have such a band of heroes in the corps under my command."

On 12th October, 1916, the battalion was again heavily engaged in the Le Transloy sector, and in a fierce three-hours' fight lost no less than 14 officers and 300 other ranks. Its numbers were now reduced to 8 officers and 250 men, so it was withdrawn for some months to rest and to train new drafts.

On 1st April, 1917, in the battle of Arras, the battalion again suffered severely, losing 7 officers and 360 other ranks, but carrying the German positions for a depth of seven miles. Shortly afterwards it was again prominent in a very gallant attack on a German position which it succeeded in carrying, although at a loss of 9 officers and 230 men. In August, 1917, the Fusiliers were transferred to the 36th (Ulster) Division, with whom the rest of their fighting was done, as will afterwards be described.


When war broke out the 2nd Battalion, Royal Irish Fusiliers, was in India, and reached France only at the beginning of 1915. Most of its early work consisted in holding various positions near St. Eloi. It remained there until September, 1915, and was then transferred to Salonika, where it took part in the operations under the French General Sarrail, and saw hard service. Subsequently the battalion joined the 10th (Irish) Division, its service with which will be dealt with in due course.


The 1st Battalion, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, well known in earlier days as the 27th Foot, was in India at the outbreak of war, and did not reach England till 10th January, 1915. It was then attached to the famous 29th Division and sent to Gallipoli, where it saw some desperate fighting, and where Captain G. R. O'Sullivan and Sergeant Somers, afterwards killed, won the V.C. After the evacuation of Gallipoli the battalion was sent to Egypt with the 29th Division. There it had a period of rest before being transferred to France, where it arrived in March, 1916. In the Somme fighting, commencing 1st July, the Fusiliers played a prominent part. By a curious coincidence, the battalion was on the immediate left of the 36th (Ulster) Division, and more curious still, the 2nd Inniskillings were on the right of the Ulster Division at the opening of the battle. The 1st Inniskillings attacked Beaucourt and Beaumont Hamel, which had been strongly fortified by the Germans, and although the battalion gained most of its objectives, so fierce was the German fire that it was subsequently forced to withdraw with very heavy losses, including that of Lieutenant-Colonel R. C. Pierce, the gallant commanding officer. Lieutenant-General Sir A. Hunter-Weston in a message to the battalion said: "Though we did not do all that we hoped to do, you have more than pulled your weight. It was a magnificent display of courage, worthy of the best traditions of the British race."

The next action of the battalion, still in the 29th Division, was a brilliant attack on the German line at Le Transloy, in January, 1917, in which it broke the German front for a distance of two-thirds of a mile, capturing 200 prisoners and earning high praise from the divisional general.

In the spring of 1917, the battalion was moved northwards and took part in the famous attack on Vimy Ridge, near Arras, on 23rd April, when by sheer dogged fighting a portion of the German line was broken. So severely had the battalion suffered that it was withdrawn for a lengthy rest and the training of new drafts. In the autumn of 1917 it took part in the very heavy fighting round Cambrai. During the great German counter-attacks, the splendid defence of Masnières by the 29th Division was one of the great feats of the war; and Sir Douglas Haig sent a special message to the commanding officer of the division, which included the Inniskillings, for its gallant fighting.

On the reorganization of the army shortly after this battle, the battalion was transferred to the 36th (Ulster) Division, where, on 19th January, 1918, it met its own 2nd Battalion for the first time during the war. The subsequent service of the battalion will be told in the history of the 36th (Ulster) Division.


The 2nd Battalion, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, went to France in the first week of the war, arriving just in time to take part in the retreat from Mons, where it was engaged in some very heavy fighting near Le Cateau, and subsequently in the battle of the Marne and the advance to the Aisne.

During the remainder of the first winter the battalion was engaged in fighting at various parts of the line, never remaining long in any one place, but always showing its characteristic bravery. This battalion had the honour of possessing the first N.C.O. to receive a commission for distinguished services in the field, namely Sergeant H. H. Kendrick, who was given a commission, and within two years had risen to be Lieutenant-Colonel, commanding a battalion of the Suffolk regiment.

After this first winter in the trenches the battalion shared in some stiff fighting near Festubert on 15th May, 1915, when it formed portion of the 5th Brigade in the 2nd Division. In spite of obstacles the battalion carried all the objectives it had been told to capture, and held on grimly in spite of a tremendous German bombardment followed by massed attacks. No assaults of the enemy could force the men to yield an inch of ground. They held their positions until relieved by reinforcements, but only a handful was left. Of 1000 who went into action, no less than 20 officers and 700 men were killed and wounded. Sir Douglas Haig, the Commander-in-Chief, himself sent, through his staff-officer, the following special message to the commanding officer of the battalion, Colonel Wylie: "General Sir Douglas Haig, K.C.B., K.C.I.E., K.C.V.O., A.D.C., General Commanding First Army, has personally desired me to thank all ranks of the 5th Infantry Brigade for their great gallantry and hard work during the recent operations, which, although they did not result in any great gain of country, had other far-reaching effects and achieved important results".

General Sir Charles Munroe, commanding the army corps, also issued a general order to the effect that he "wished to congratulate all ranks of the battalion on their fine performance on the night of the 15th-16th May. He has known the battalion for a long time, and has every confidence that they will do in the future as they have done in the past."

For the rest of the summer of 1915 the battalion was in rest billets, engaged in training the new drafts, and in the spring of 1916 it was transferred to the 32nd Division, sharing in the Somme battle of 1st July, when, as formerly mentioned, it fought to the immediate right of the 36th (Ulster) Division. In the series of fights which lasted for a number of weeks the battalion lost very heavily, and in August, 1916, on the second anniversary of its arriving in France, only one officer was left who was serving at the outbreak of war.

During 1917 the battalion was engaged in desultory fighting, and in 1918 it was transferred to the 36th (Ulster) Division, with whom its subsequent history will be told.


So far we have been dealing solely with the battalions of the regular army drawn from Ulster. As in every other case these troops were not brigaded on any territorial basis, but simply according to the districts in which they were serving at the outbreak of war, or as arranged by the War Office under the war mobilization scheme.

In Ireland, as in Great Britain, the new service battalions were on the other hand raised and grouped on a strictly territorial basis, and served in special new divisions of their own until the army reorganization scheme of 1918, when, as already mentioned, the regular battalions and the service battalions from Ulster were formed into divisions together.

On 4th August, 1914, Great Britain formally entered the war, and the next day the secretary of the Ulster Unionist Council received a telegram from Sir Edward Carson, as follows: "All officers, non-commissioned officers, and men who are enrolled in the Ulster Volunteer Force, and who are liable to be called out by His Majesty for service in the present crisis, are requested to answer immediately His Majesty's call, as our first duty as loyal subjects is to the King".

On the day on which Sir Edward Carson's request was received, General Sir George Richardson, K.C.B., Commander of the Ulster Volunteer Force, issued an instruction to all the County Committees and Regimental Commanders of the Force to take an immediate census of their men, and report how many were ready, first, to enlist for active service; secondly, to serve in Home Defence Corps anywhere in the United Kingdom; and thirdly, how many could give a certain time for Home Defence work in Ulster. The response to this request was remarkable, and within ten days, when a large number of reports had been received at the Unionist head-quarters in Belfast, Sir Edward Carson was able to assure Lord Kitchener that more than ten thousand men were already certain, and that additional reports were coming in every day.

As so many men were then available, the War Office decided that the simplest and best plan would be to create a separate division for the Ulster Volunteers, and as far as possible allow their own officers who were competent, and had already received a military training, to command them, the War Office of course retaining the right to appoint the divisional staff, commanding officers, and the senior officers of the battalions. It should, of course, be remembered that a large number of the men who had been acting as officers for the previous two years in the Ulster Volunteers had served in the army, and many of them were actually on the reserve of officers, while others were young men from the Public Schools, who had already passed through the Officers' Training Corps; also among the rank and file of the Volunteers were a large number of men who had either retired from the army after a number of years' service or were still in the reserve, and the latter of course joined up automatically with the regular army when mobilized.

On 3rd September, 1914, Sir Edward Carson, having completed the arrangements with the War Office for the new division, crossed to Belfast and made a stirring appeal to a crowded meeting of the Ulster Unionist Council and the heads of the Ulster Volunteer Force from various parts of Ulster, in which he said:

"What have we to do and what is the course we have to pursue? It is to assist with our last man in the destruction of the tyrant who has brought this about. . .  And under these circumstances—knowing that the very basis of our political faith is our belief in the greatness of the United Kingdom and of the Empire—to our Volunteers I say without hesitation:

'Go and help to save your country. Go and help to save your country and to save your empire; go and win honour for Ulster and for Ireland!' To every man that goes, or has gone—and not to them only, but to every Irishman—I say, from the bottom of our hearts,' God bless you, and bring you home safe and victorious'."

Following upon Sir Edward Carson's speech the whole machinery of the Ulster Unionist Party and the Ulster Volunteer Force was put into motion. The Unionist head-quarters known as the "Old Town Hall", which was formerly the "City Hall", Belfast, was practically handed over to the military authorities as recruiting offices, and here for the next few weeks there was a continuous stream of recruits, at the rate of about 600 a day, to join the various battalions of the Ulster Volunteer Force.

The recruiting was conducted most systematically. Separate days were set aside for the men of the various districts of the city. They assembled at their own Volunteer head-quarters, formed themselves into military formation, and marched in a body through the city to the recruiting office, each march being witnessed by enthusiastic crowds of the citizens. Sir Edward Carson, accompanied by Captain Craig, M.P., now Lieutenant-Colonel Sir James Craig, marched at the head of several of these detachments to show his appreciation of the magnificent response to his appeal.

Branch recruiting offices were also established at the Volunteer headquarters in the various counties and districts, and here also the enrolling and medical examinations were carried on in a systematic fashion, so that by the middle of September about 12,000 men had been enrolled, enough to supply the infantry contingent of a division, and accordingly the new division was now formally entered on the Army Roll as the 36th (Ulster) Division, which afterwards became one of the most famous divisions in the army.

Mr. Asquith was certainly an unprejudiced authority, with no special bias in favour of the Ulster Volunteers, and he said in the House of Commons on 16th September, 1914:

"He understood that during the past few weeks Sir E. Carson had taken steps to encourage and stimulate the men forming part of his organization to respond to the call of the King and enlist with the colours, and take part in the common defence of the Empire. He certainly recognized the patriotism and public spirit which had been shown by the Ulster Volunteers, and he had the most sanguine confidence that they would be found not only among the most loyal but amongst the most efficient defenders of the honour of the Empire."


The method of the clothing and equipment of the Ulster Division was unique. As is well known, owing to the great rush of recruits in the early weeks of the war, it was impossible to find uniforms and equipment for many of the new divisions as they went to their various training camps. Thousands of men were obliged to drill and work for some time in their ordinary civilian garments, which soon became almost unwearable; while thousands of others had only a rather shabby makeshift blue uniform, which was little improvement on the civilian dress. That there would be this difficulty was realized at the outset by some prominent Belfast business men connected with the Ulster Volunteer head-quarters, and they accordingly took measures to have the 36th Division properly uniformed and equipped from the first. The War Office was informed that if permission were given, these Belfast business men would undertake to procure all the necessary uniform and equipment, under the directions and supervision, of course, of the military authorities—all accounts and book-keeping to be periodically examined by the official War Office auditors. This offer was accepted, and within three days a complete clothing and equipment department was established in a large empty warehouse close to the recruiting office in the old Town Hall, and a staff of forty assistants, clerks, typists, bookkeepers, &c, was installed. There were also competent tailors, boot-makers, and others, able to alter uniforms or boots which were in any way defective or ill-fitting. Through their large business connections in Great Britain, the committee in charge of this department were able to buy and have made up into uniforms great consignments of cloth, as well as puttees, boots, underclothing, and every other part of the equipment necessary for the recruits; all of which were made to the regulation pattern supplied by the War Office, and had to pass the War Office requirements.

The system for supplying the recruits was extremely simple and worked with the greatest success. As soon as a volunteer had been medically examined, passed, and formally enlisted, he was taken to the outfitting department, less than 100 yards away, where he was immediately fitted with uniform, boots, and underclothes, and supplied with belt, haversack, house-wife, and all the equipment which a recruit should receive. He then departed in a company or section to join the camp where his battalion was to be trained. Meanwhile his civilian clothing, boots, and other possessions were dispatched to any address he desired. As recruiting stations were opened in various parts of Ulster, the Clothing and Equipment Department also opened branches where the same procedure was carried out, and as soon as the various camps had been arranged and occupied, branches of the outfitting department were established at each camp, under the charge of competent men. The result of all these arrangements was that while recruits in the United Kingdom had to wait weeks and even months for their uniform, every Ulster Volunteer received his complete uniform and equipment on the day he enlisted, and the whole division was completely uniformed and equipped by the beginning of October. The effect upon a recruit of receiving his uniform and' equipment immediately on enlistment can be easily understood. It made him feel that he was actually a soldier, and thus increased his self-respect, and even his very carriage and appearance improved. There was at once amongst the men of the 36th Division an esprit de corps which it took months to produce in many other divisions. Nor was this the only service that the Equipment Committee did for the War Office. By their practical business knowledge and experience of buying in the best markets, and by the payment of prompt cash, advanced from the Volunteer funds, they were able to purchase to such advantage that the War Office auditors were astonished and delighted, and reported to London in terms of the highest commendation.

Ultimately it turned out that the Ulster Division was not only the first to be equipped in the new armies, but that the cost of its uniform and equipment was many thousands of pounds less than that of any other division.

As Commander of the new division the War Office appointed Major-General Powell, C.B., an officer who had seen a good deal of service in India, with Lieutenant-Colonel Craig, M.P., as his Chief-of-Staff, and Divisional Head-quarters were established in a convenient building in Belfast.

The principle was adopted of enrolling recruits in battalions, each representing a county or counties, while the city of Belfast alone contributed five battalions, one each from the north, south, east, and west—the four Parliamentary Divisions— and another from an organization known as the Young Citizen Volunteers. This was a body composed largely of young business men, which had been formed a few years before to act on ceremonial occasions as Guard of Honour to the Lord Mayor or to any distinguished visitor, such as the Lord-Lieutenant. In general type it closely resembled units of the standing of the London Scottish or the Artists' Rifles; and a very large number of its members subsequently obtained commissions.

As recruits were still coming in the War Office made repeated requests for the establishment of other Divisional Units, every one of which was more than fulfilled by the Division. It was able to enlist and train its own Army Service Corps, in which a large number of the younger Ulster medical men served with distinction. A complete body of Divisional Engineers was raised among the skilled mechanics in the shipyards and engineering works of Ulster; similarly a Divisional Signalling Corps was formed from the signallers of the Volunteers, a remarkably efficient and competent body of men. Then came a complete Divisional Train of the Army Service Corps, a complete Veterinary Section, a Divisional Cyclist Corps, and a special Cavalry Unit, known as the Service Squadron of the Inniskilling Dragoons. The last named was very similar in type to the North Irish Horse. The officers were nearly all men who had served in the army, while the men were mainly sons of farmers, who had been accustomed to riding and to the handling of horses all their lives, and many of them were prominent hunting men. A Pioneer Battalion was also raised, known as the 16th Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles, composed mainly of Volunteers from County Down.


As finally constituted, the various Divisional Units were as follows:—

107th Brigade
(Brigadier-General C. H. H. Couchman, C.B.)

8th Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles (East Belfast Volunteers).
9th Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles (West Belfast Volunteers).
10th Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles (South Belfast Volunteers).
15th Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles (North Belfast Volunteers).

108th Brigade
(Brigadier-General G. Hacket Pain, C.B.)

11th Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles (South Antrim Volunteers).
12th Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles (Central Antrim Volunteers).
13th Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles (1st County Down Volunteers).
9th Battalion, Royal Irish Fusiliers (Armagh, Monaghan, and Cavan Volunteers).

109th Brigade
(Brigadier-General T. E. Hickman, C.B., D.S.O.)

9th Battalion, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers (Tyrone Volunteers).
10th Battalion, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers (Derry Volunteers).
11th Battalion, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers (Donegal and Fermanagh Volunteers).
14th Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles (Young Citizen Volunteers of Belfast).

In addition the division raised a Pioneer Battalion—the 16th Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles (2nd County Down Volunteers).

The various Divisional Units, except the artillery attached to every army division, were also raised by the 36th Division on its own account and ultimately comprised the following divisional troops:—

Service Squadron, Inniskilling Dragoons.
153rd Brigade, Royal Field Artillery.
154th Brigade, Royal Field Artillery.
172nd Brigade, Royal Field Artillery.
173rd Brigade, Royal Field Artillery.
Divisional Ammunition Column, Royal Field Artillery.
121st Field Company, Royal Engineers.
122nd Field Company, Royal Engineers.
150th Field Company, Royal Engineers.
36th Divisional Signal Company, Royal Engineers.
Divisional Cyclists' Company.
108th Field Ambulance, R.A.M.C.
109th Field Ambulance, R.A.M.C.
110th Field Ambulance, R.A.M.C.
76th Sanitary Section, R.A.M.C.
Divisional Train, R.A.S.C.
48th Mobile Veterinary Section, R.A.V.C.
Army Chaplains' Department.

The artillery was of course not raised by the division, as each brigade received the contingent of artillery to be attached to it according to the mobilization arrangements of the War Office.

With regard to the Pioneer Battalion and divisional troops, the 36th Division occupied a unique position in Ireland. In the 10th and 16th (Irish) Divisions these attached units were not raised by the divisions themselves, but were supplied from English depots; thus the 36th Division has the proud boast of being the only purely and exclusively Irish division in the whole of the British army. Even to the divisional cooks and bakers, the 36th Division provided all the men from the Ulster Volunteer Force.

It is also worth noting that in addition to its service battalions, the 36th Division was the only Irish division to maintain several reserve battalions at home which trained recruits as they were wanted for service at the front. These reserve battalions included the 17th, 18th, 19th, and 20th Royal Irish Rifles, the 12th Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, and the 10th Royal Irish Fusiliers.

For the first eight months the division carried out its training in various Ulster camps, several of which, such as Clande-boye, the demesne of the Marquis of Dufferin, and Randalstown, the demesne of Lord O'Neill, were placed at the disposal of the army authorities by patriotic Ulstermen.

The first time for the division to meet as a whole was on 8th May, 1915, when, with the exception of one battalion in quarantine through sickness, the entire division with all its attached units was inspected near Belfast by Major-General Sir Hugh M'Calmont, K.C.B., and subsequently marched through the city, General M'Calmont taking the salute in front of the City Hall. The inspecting officer expressed himself as greatly impressed by the discipline and fine marching of the men, most of whom, it should be remembered, had already the advantage over other new service battalions in the army of more than a year's previous training.

Almost immediately after this review the division was transferred to Seaford, in Sussex, and then to Aldershot for its final period of home training.

A good deal of discussion as to the merit of this division had arisen, and suggestions had been made that it was of very little fighting value. It was inspected by several distinguished officers at Seaford, notably by Lord Kitchener, who, as has since been learned, reported on his return that it was one of the finest divisions he had seen in the new army. Finally, on 30th September, 1915, immediately before its departure for France, the division was inspected by His Majesty the King, from whom, the next day, the following gracious message was received:

"Officers, non-commissioned officers, and men, you are about to join your comrades at the front in bringing to a successful end this relentless war of over twelve months' duration.

"Your prompt, patriotic answer to the nation's call to arms will never be forgotten. The keen exertions of all ranks during the period of training have brought you to a state of efficiency not unworthy of my regular army.

"I am confident that in the field you will nobly uphold the traditions of the fine regiments whose names you bear. Ever since your enrolment I have closely watched the growth and steady progress of all units. I shall continue to follow with interest the fortunes of your division.

"In bidding you farewell, I pray God may bless you in all your undertakings."

Early in October the division went to France and before long was in the trenches. The first private soldier was killed in November, 1915, and only a few days later the first officer fell, in the person of Lieutenant M'Dermont, son of the Rev. Dr. M'Dermont, a well-known Belfast clergyman.

It should have been mentioned that Major-General Powell, being considered not sufficiently robust in health for active service, was succeeded in command of the division just before it left England by Major-General Nugent, C.B., D.S.O., himself an Ulsterman. During the winter of 1915 and the first months of 1916 the division, like other divisions of the new armies, was divided, the different battalions being attached to various regular units for training, but by the end of February it was reunited, and during the remainder of the spring and summer, like the rest of the army, the 36th Division was preparing for the battle of the Somme.


What the Ulster Division accomplished in that contest is now amongst the most glorious episodes in the history of the British army. It had the misfortune, if it was a misfortune, to find itself opposite one of the strongest portions of the whole German front, and yet in spite of all obstacles the division broke through five successive lines of trenches and held its position grimly for twenty-four hours, when, as its flanks on both sides were in the air, it was obliged to retire. So strong were the German defences on the Ancre and at Beaumont Hamel that they were not again entered by the British army until the month of November, and the troops which then gained these positions were astonished at the feat of the Ulstermen.

In his well-known history of the war, Colonel John Buchan says: "North of Thiepval the Ulster Division broke through the enemy trenches, passed the crest of the ridge, and reached the point called the Crucifix, in rear of the first German position. For a little they held the strong Schwab en Redoubt, which we were not to enter again till after three months of battle, and some even got into the outskirts of Grandcourt. It was the anniversary day of the battle of the Boyne, and that charge, when the men shouted 'Remember the Boyne!' will be for ever a glorious page in the annals of Ireland. Enfiladed on three sides, they went on through successive German lines, and only a remnant came back to tell the tale. That remnant brought many prisoners, one man herding fifteen of the enemy through their own barrage. In the words of the General who commanded it: 'The division carried out every portion of its allotted task in spite of the heaviest losses. It captured nearly 600 prisoners, and carried its advance triumphantly to the limits of the objective laid down.' Nothing finer was done in the war. The splendid troops, drawn from those Volunteers who had banded themselves together for another cause, now shed their blood like water for the liberty of the world."

Mr. Philip Gibbs, the famous war correspondent, said: "The attack of the Ulstermen was one of the finest displays of human courage in the history of the world".

On the morning of 1st July over 9,000 men from the division took part in the attack; at roll call on 3rd July scarcely 2500 answered, while of 400 officers, more than 250 were killed or wounded. Some battalions had hardly an officer left. The casualties were as follows: 8th Royal Irish Rifles, officers killed, wounded, and missing, 20; 10th Royal Irish Rifles, 18; 11th Royal Irish Rifles, 14; 12th Royal Irish Rifles, 17; 13th Royal Irish Rifles, 18; 14th Royal Irish Rifles, 16; 15th Royal Irish Rifles, 15; 9th Royal Irish Fusiliers, 18; 9th Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, 16; 10th Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, 12; nth Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, 15; 16th Royal Irish Rifles, 1.

Almost every family in Ulster was left mourning after the battle. In many cases two brothers fell on the same day. Amongst the prisoners was Captain C. C. Craig, M.P. for East Antrim, who fell wounded in the leg while gallantly leading his company.

Two days after the battle General Nugent issued a special order of the day, in which he said: "The General Officer commanding the Ulster Division desires that the division should know that, in his opinion, nothing finer has been done in the war than the attack by the Ulster Division on 1st July. The leading of the company officers, the discipline and courage shown by all ranks of the division, will stand out in the future history of the war as an example of what good troops, well led, are capable of accomplishing."

After the Somme battle the 36th Division was transferred to the 2nd Army in Flanders under General Plumer, and spent the rest of 1916 and the spring of 1917 in the neighbourhood of Messines, where it took its share in holding the trenches and in some lively raids on the German lines.

Then came the famous attack on the Messines Ridge, in which the 36th Division, side by side with the 16th (Irish) Division, which itself actually contained five Ulster battalions, stormed the ridge with the greatest gallantry, but at considerable cost in killed and wounded. The attack penetrated as far as the third German line, which was successfully captured and held.

General Gough, who was then commanding the Army Corps, stated: "In this battle the Ulster Division displayed the greatest courage and dash, as well as the greatest discipline and training. Their conduct was splendid, and I am happy to say the results were as splendid as the conduct which led to them."

After a short rest the division was transferred to Frezenberg, north-east of Ypres, where on 16th August, 1917, there was another fierce battle in which several battalions, especially the 9th Royal Irish Fusiliers, suffered very heavily.

During this time the conditions recalled the first awful winter of 1914-15. The muddy ground was too soft to allow the making of proper trenches, and the men sheltered as best they could in shell-holes and muddy hollows of various kinds, continually raked by German machine-gun fire from a height known as "Hill 35", which dominated the whole position of the division. At last a desperate attack was made on this hill, which the Ulster-men, wading nearly to the waist in mud, almost succeeded in capturing. They were unfortunately weakened so seriously in the process, however, that they were unable to maintain their position against the fierce German counter-attacks.

Sir Philip Gibbs has described the event in his usual graphic way. He tells how the Ulstermen seized the hill, and adds: "Then the counter-attacks drove in the thinned but still determined line of Irishmen, and they came back across the riddled ground, some of them wounded, all in the last stages of exhaustion, pausing in their unwilling journey to fire at the snipers who harassed them, and reaching at last the trenches they left at dawn, angry and. bitter and disappointed, but undismayed—the heroes of a splendid failure". After this ordeal the division was taken out of the line for rest and reorganization, and was afterwards transferred to the southern zone, near Cambrai, to form part of the Third Army.

During the autumn of 1917 in the general army reorganization there was a redistribution of the various Ulster regiments, including both regulars and service battalions. In September the 8th and 9th Rifles were amalgamated, and also the nth and 13th Rifles, to fill the vacancy in the 107th Brigade. The 1st Battalion, Royal Irish Fusiliers (regulars), was included in the 107th Brigade, and the 2nd Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles, was brought to the 108th Brigade, which was also strengthened by the transfer of 500 men from the North Irish Horse into the 9th Battalion of the Royal Irish Fusiliers.

During September and October the new units and the old battalions of the division were engaged in training the drafts which had been sent to replace the losses incurred at Messines. On 20th November the 36th Division played a foremost part in the dashing attack on the Hindenburg Line at Cambrai.

Referring to the attack of the Ulster-men, Sir A. Conan Doyle, in his history of the war, says:

"The British front was cut across diagonally by a considerable canal with deep sides—the Canal du Nord. Upon the north side of this was one division. This flank unit was the famous 36th Ulsters, who behaved this day with their usual magnificent gallantry. Advancing with deliberate determination, they carried all before them, though exposed to that extra strain to which a flank unit must always submit. Their left was enfiladed by the enemy, and they had continually to build up a defensive line, which naturally subtracted from their numbers and made a long advance impossible. None the less, after rushing a high bank bristling with machine-guns, they secured the second Hindenburg Line, where they were firmly established by 10.30, after a sharp contest with the garrison. They then swept forward, keeping the canal upon their right, until by evening they had established themselves upon the Bapaume-Cambrai road."

At first the division was brilliantly successful in winning all its objectives, which it held against fierce counter-attacks. The 107th Brigade did not take part in the original attack on 22nd November, but was thrown in on the 23rd to strengthen the other brigades, when the 8th-9th Rifles specially distinguished themselves, capturing Round Trench and Quarry Wood, near Moeuvres. Unfortunately the battalion became isolated through want of support on both sides, and was driven out of the Wood, but held on to Round Trench until relieved by another battalion. During these actions the engineering sections of the division were specially commended for their heroism and endurance in consolidating positions which had been captured. Unfortunately the casualties once again were very heavy, including many officers, who could ill be spared.

Following upon this fight at Cambrai the division was still engaged in several sharp contests on the Hindenburg Line close to Havrincourt Wood. During the first week of December there was a very fierce struggle at La Vacquerie, in which the 8th Inniskillings (Tyrone Volunteers) suffered considerably, having five officers killed. Amongst them was Second-Lieutenant J. S. Emerson, who was subsequently gazetted to the V.C. which he did not live to receive, this being the fifth V.C. awarded to the division.

At the beginning of 1918 the 36th Division was moved from the Cambrai district and sent south-east, where they took over a certain portion of the line to relieve the French, who were then hard pressed for reinforcements.

Early in the same year there took place a complete reorganization of the army under a new scheme, by which each brigade was to consist of three battalions instead of four. In February the 8th-9th Rifles were disbanded, as also the 10th, 11th-13th, and 14th Rifles, the men being drafted into other battalions of the division. The 10th and nth Inniskilling Fusiliers were also disbanded and transferred to other battalions of the same regiment.

Just before the beginning of the great German attack in March, the composition of the newly - arranged Ulster Division was as follows:—

107th Brigade

1st Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles.
2nd Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles.
15th Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles.

108th Brigade

12th Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles.
1st Battalion, Royal Irish Fusiliers.
9th Battalion, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

109th Brigade

1st Battalion, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.
2nd Battalion, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.
9th Battalion, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

From this it will be seen that all the old regular battalions of the Ulster regiments, except the 2nd Royal Irish Fusiliers who were serving in the East, had now been drafted into the 36th Division, which then formed part of the 18th Corps, under the command of Lieutenant-General Sir Ivor Maxse.

Other battalions of the three Ulster regiments, the Royal Irish Rifles, Royal Irish Fusiliers, and the Inniskilling Fusiliers were still serving in the 10th and 16th (Irish) Divisions, whose history has yet to be related.


On the eve of 21st March, 1918, the Ulster Division held a front of about 6000 yards in the forward zone, and also occupied ground to a depth of about 1200 yards from its outposts. The three battalions of the 108th Brigade met the first weight of the German onslaught. After being bombarded for five hours with a tremendous canonade from all sizes of German guns, they were attacked by the full weight of no less than three German divisions, the odds being something like ten to one. The three heroic battalions were practically wiped out, and it was only from a few survivors of the 12th Royal Irish Rifles, who swam down the canal at night, that Head-quarters learned how a small handful of the battalions was still gallantly holding out. After twenty-four hours continuous fighting the three battalions were represented by a few stragglers, so that the full story of that heroic stand can never be fully told, as the men who escaped had only a confused idea of what actually happened during the fog.

The forward zone held by the 108th Brigade having been thus carried by the Germans, there followed a furious onslaught on the actual battle front defended by the other two brigades, who offered a desperate resistance, although the attacking forces were far more numerous and unfortunately stronger in artillery. The mist formed an additional handicap to our men, making it impossible for the British artillery in the rear to direct their fire with accuracy upon the advancing Germans. Nevertheless only at one point, Contescourt, did the enemy succeed in piercing our line, and the whole front would probably have been held by the men of the 36th Division, but for the fact that their right flank was completely turned at Essigny, where the Germans succeeded in driving back a neighbouring division. The loss of this position and the necessity of forming a new front on its right flank, along with the risk of being completely surrounded and cut off, ultimately compelled the division to withdraw, but it fell back fighting grimly all the time. Here and there some remarkable gallantry was shown by the different battalions. At Fontaine-les-Clercs the 1st Battalion, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, repulsed no less than twelve consecutive attacks by overwhelming numbers of the enemy, and would probably have succeeded in holding the position by fierce counter-attacks, had it not been necessary to fall back with the rest of the division to save envelopment. The withdrawal was carried out in good order on the night of 26th March, and the retreat was quietly and steadily conducted. During this time the 121st Field Company, R.E., aided by the Engineering Company attached to the division, performed splendid service at St. Simon and elsewhere in destroying bridges and otherwise obstructing the enemy, always under continuous fire. So far from being broken or demoralized the division preserved its fighting spirit to the bitter end. Of this there were many notable illustrations, as when the 9th Royal Irish Fusiliers turned furiously on the enemy at Ville-selves, and actually charged side by side with the Royal Dragoons, in a brilliant counter-attack. At another place a small band of less than forty machine-gunners recaptured Erches and took 200 German prisoners, while the 109th Brigade held on to Guerbigny up to the 27th March, when it was almost entirely surrounded by the enemy.

Once again the losses of the division were terribly severe, amounting to more than five thousand officers and men. The number of killed and badly wounded was, however, less heavy than at Thiepval, the majority of the losses being officers and men taken prisoner. Amongst the killed was Lieutenant W. D. Magookin, 12th Rifles, who before obtaining his commission was the first N.C.O. in the division to receive a decoration, having been awarded the D.C.M. in 1915 (when Second-Lieutenant H. M. de la Maziere Harpur of the same battalion won the first M.C. gained by the 36th Division). Second-Lieutenant E. De Wind, 15th Rifles, who had gained the V.C. at St. Quentin, also fell here.

The other St. Quentin V.C, Second-Lieutenant C. L. Knox, R.E., was fortunate enough to survive the retreat. Amongst the officers captured were Lieutenant-Colonel Lord Farnham, commanding the 2nd Inniskillings, and Lieutenant-Colonel C. O. Place, of the Head-quarters Staff.

By this time it was felt that the broken and shattered 36th Division was fairly entitled to a rest, and it was moved north to billets at Cassel for a time. Its period of training and recuperation did not last long. The 108th Brigade, while marching to join the other two brigades, was suddenly called upon to meet the last desperate German attempt to reach the Channel ports. For some days in April, 1918, the fighting was extremely severe, and the 108th Brigade lost many of its best-known officers, including Lieutenant-Colonel Blair Oliphant, D.S.O., who was then commanding one of the battalions; but as usual the Ulstermen accomplished all they were asked to do. The cost, unfortunately, was heavy, and it was only a remnant of the 108th under General Griffiths that survived to join the other two brigades. It was given three months to rest and refit before again going into action.

Early in May, Major-General Nugent handed over the command of the division to General Coffin, V.C, who had greatly distinguished himself right from the beginning of the war. The new commander occupied himself at first with the task of reorganizing the shattered division and once more bringing it up to strength, ready for future work.

During the summer of 1918 there was a good deal of desultory fighting, and the division suffered considerably from continual counter-attacks, but the threatened German offensive in force never developed. The power of initiative had finally passed from the enemy.

During the earlier stages of the last great French and British advance, the northern sector was comparatively quiet. In the middle of August, however, when the Germans were in full retreat on the southern sector, the British offensive was extended farther north. On 24th August the 1st and 9th Royal Irish Fusiliers and the 15th Royal Irish Rifles made a brilliant attack, carrying the whole system of German defences at Bailleul on a front of over a mile, and compelling the enemy to evacuate the famous Kemmel Hill, from which they had since April threatened the British lines. The Ulstermen's onslaught was pressed home with relentless vigour. The 109th Brigade came into the line and took over the new positions which the 107th and 108th Brigades had captured on 24th August. They immediately discovered the German retreat, and by 26th August the whole division was in full pursuit of the enemy.

It was not altogether easy for these troops to carry out the new system of open warfare, after three years of trench fighting, but within two days the division had adapted itself to the new situation. The 109th Brigade, consisting of three Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers battalions, pressing hard on the enemy, drove them at one stroke from the famous Ravelsberg Ridge, and following in pursuit forced them back to a new defensive position at Neuve Eglise. These successes were not won without a considerable number of casualties. The 2nd Battalion, Inniskilling Fusiliers, had to mourn the loss of their gallant commanding officer, Lieutenant-Colonel Knott, D.S.O., who died from wounds received on 30th August.

A good deal of the country now traversed was familiar to many of the officers and men of the division, as they had held it for some time before the capture of the Messines Ridge in June, 1917. In this region further severe fighting was now experienced. The 109th Brigade, after their advance from the 26th to 30th August, dug themselves in on their new position, while the 108th Brigade advanced through their lines and attacked Neuve Eglise. On the morning of 1st September, the 1st Royal Irish Fusiliers, and the 12th Rifles headed the advance, with the 9th Royal Irish Fusiliers in support. The enemy, realizing the importance of their position, made a most stubborn defence, sweeping all the open spaces with fierce machine-gun fire. Nothing, however, could stop the men of the 36th Division, and soon Neuve Eglise was surrounded. At this stage the attack was temporarily held up by the fire from concealed German machine-guns; while the rapid advance of both the 1st Royal Irish Fusiliers and 12th Rifles had left them unprotected on both flanks. Accordingly a detachment of the 12th Rifles was told off to rush Neuve Eglise. The attack, in spite of the heavy fire it had to encounter, was brilliantly successful, and by four o'clock in the afternoon of 1st September the village was taken.

After the capture of Wulverghem on the following day, a halt was made to enable reinforcements to be brought up and to prepare for a renewal of the attack next morning. During the night the Germans were also strongly reinforced, and when the 9th Royal Irish Fusiliers, who were now holding the front line, attacked on the 3rd, they met with a very stiff resistance. In spite of this they captured Hill 36, the most important point of the line, and held it against determined counter-attacks. Further progress, however, was for the moment impossible.

The 107th Brigade next carried on the attack, which encountered desperate opposition on the Messines Ridge, where again the advance was checked. The brigade, however, stubbornly held to the ground it had won, although it was subject to the most intense shell-fire, and lost several of its senior officers, including Lieutenant-Colonel J. H. Bridcutt, D.S.O., commanding the 2nd Rifles; while Lieutenant-Colonel Smythe, D.S.O., commanding the 15th Rifles, was wounded. The 2nd Inniskilling Fusiliers also lost their commanding officer, Lieutenant-Colonel L. de Fitzgerald, while the second in command, Major G. M. Forde, D.S.O., was severely wounded.

A few days later the division was ordered still farther north, where, with the 9th and 29th Divisions, it formed the 2nd Corps, which co-operated with the Belgian army in the final advance. The first fighting of this phase took place on 28th September, 1918, in the Ypres region, the Germans being driven from their positions only to take up a new defensive line a few miles farther back.

Once again the famous 109th Brigade came into action, with the 1st and 2nd Inniskilling Battalions leading, and the 9th in reserve. Operations were entirely successful in spite of the determined defence. Not only was the whole German position captured, but the 2nd Battalion pushed on two miles beyond it, completely surprising the enemy and taking many prisoners. The 108th Brigade suffered many heavy casualties in its gallant attack on a commanding position east of Dadazeele, the crest of which it however attained and held. Farther south the 107th Brigade also met with fierce resistance, and the 12th Rifles and 1st Royal Irish Fusiliers had to withstand some tremendous German counter-attacks. Nothing, however, could move them from their positions, and, although both battalions were reduced to a mere handful, they obstinately refused to retreat, and held their ground until it was time for a further advance.

The next fortnight was spent in the consolidation of the positions and the bringing up of reserves. During this period German shell-fire was practically continuous. The division suffered heavily. Lieutenant-Colonel P. E. Kelly, the gallant young commander of the 9th Royal Irish Fusiliers, was killed on 10th October.

On 14th October the attack was again launched, and the enemy, driven from his positions, was pursued by the 109th Brigade as far as Courtrai, the Inniskillings being the first British troops to reach and enter the town. The principal bridge over the Lys Canal having been blown up by the retreating enemy, the engineers of the division promptly proceeded, with the greatest gallantry, to lay a pontoon bridge under heavy fire. Before the division could cross, however, it was again sent farther north, and eventually made the passage of the Lys at Oyghem in face of fierce opposition,, the 109th Brigade and the engineers again earning great credit. When, on nth November, the Armistice put an end to the fighting, the 36th Division was holding the line of the Scheldt to which the Germans had been driven back.

During these last days casualties were very heavy, and included Colonel Jones, D.S.O., of the 15th Rifles, who was mortally wounded. Two Victoria Crosses were won by the division: one going to Lance-Corporal Ernest Seaman, 2nd Inniskilling Fusiliers, who was killed a few days later; the other to Private Norman Harvey, 1st Inniskilling Fusiliers.

Before the division was disbanded it had the honour of being visited by the Prince of Wales on 30th January and 1st February, 1919. It was quite an informal event, no reviews or regular inspections being held. The Prince visited all the battalions and was able to converse with a large number of the officers and men, including the sick in the Field Ambulances.

In the spring of 1919, all the service battalions but one were disbanded and returned to their depots in Ireland. The 12th Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles, having been strengthened by volunteers from other units, was retained for service, and advanced with the other British troops detailed for the occupation of German territory. At the time of writing it was stationed at Cologne.

Before the division broke up to return home the Commander of the Army Corps, Lieutenant-General Sir Ivor Maxse, issued the following order of the day to General Coffin:

"The 36th (Ulster) Division has been fighting continuously since the 28th September in the operations in Flanders. The spirit, dash, and initiative shown by all ranks have been splendid and beyond all praise. The leadership displayed by yourself and your brigade and other commanders could not have been better. The conditions under which the men have had to fight have been trying, but nothing seemed to stop your gallant division. I have also been struck with the good staff work of the division, and it is very creditable to all concerned. Will you kindly express to the commanders, staffs, and all ranks of the division my heartiest congratulations and thanks for their work?

"When the history is written of what the division has done in Flanders during the past month it will prove to be a record of magnificent fighting and wonderful progress, for, during this period, an advance has been made of about 25 miles over the worst of country and under the heaviest machine-gun fire ever experienced in war. This advance has entailed constant fighting, but the 36th Division has overcome every obstacle and has proved itself to be one of the best fighting divisions in the army—well commanded and well staffed."

The following order was also issued, dated 22nd October, 1918:

"Marshal Foch visited the Army Commander to-day and asked him to send his congratulations to the 2nd Corps and to the 9th, 29th, and 36th Divisions for their splendid work in the operations since the 14th October. Please communicate the above to all ranks.

"The Divisional Commander congratulates all ranks on the splendid fighting qualities exhibited by them which have won this approbation from Marshal Foch.

(Signed) " A. G. Thomson,
"Lieutenant-Colonel, G.S.,
"36th (Ulster) Division."

This ends the fighting history of the famous 36th (Ulster) Division, who have left a record of gallantry and success equalled by few and perhaps surpassed by none of the new army divisions.

The following is the record of honours gained by the officers, N.C.O.'s, and men of the 36th (Ulster) Division, from October, 1915, to the end of the war:

Victoria Cross, 9
Distinguished Service Order, 71
Military Cross, 459
Distinguished Conduct Medal, 173
Military Medal, 1294
Meritorious Service Medal, 118
Foreign (French, Belgian, &c.), 312
Total, 2436

In a message sent by His Majesty the King to Sir Edward Carson in December, 1918, he said:

"In these days of rejoicing I recall the deeds of the 36th (Ulster) Division, which have more than fulfilled the high opinion formed by me on inspecting that force on the eve of its departure for the front. Throughout the long years of struggle, which have now so gloriously ended, the men of Ulster have proved how nobly they fight and die."


The deeds of the different battalions of the 36th Division by no means exhaust the record of Ulster's soldiers in the war. They were very largely represented in other divisions. The 10th (Irish) Division, for example, contained a whole brigade and one additional battalion. The 31st Brigade of the 10th Division consisted of the 5th and 6th Battalions, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, and the 5th and 6th Battalions, Royal Irish Fusiliers, while in the 29th Brigade there was the 6th Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles. This was the first division of the new service battalions formed in Ireland, and it included a large number of Ulstermen who joined up immediately in the first rush to the colours, before official sanction had been obtained from the War Office for the formation of the 36th Division from the Ulster Volunteers.

The division was trained close to Dublin, and afterwards at Basingstoke. Its commanding officer was General Sir Bryan Mahon, a distinguished Irish soldier, who took the division to Gallipoli in August, 1915, after a year of training. The Ulster Brigade of the 10th Division took part in the first famous attack, being amongst the first troops to land.

In front of it was a hillock known as Chocolate Hill, while behind was the main ridge of the Gallipoli peninsula, known as Sari Bair. The disembarking was a terribly difficult business, carried out under a hail of machine-gun fire and shrapnel from the concealed Turkish positions. On landing, the Ulster Brigade, commanded by Brigadier-General F. F. Hill, moved forward by a narrow strip of sand between the sea and the Salt Lake, harassed all the way by machine-guns and snipers. The attack pressed on, however, until with a great cheer the Inniskillings and Irish Fusiliers swept forward into the enemy's trenches, the whole of which were captured before nightfall. Severe but unavailing fighting followed as the defence grew stronger. Besides the many casualties inflicted by the enemy, there were a considerable number due to disease, but in spite of all, the men kept up their fighting spirit. As it was found impossible to advance towards Sari Bair, the 10th Division was ordered to attack along both sides of the ridge known as Kiretch Tepe Sirt, which was held by the Turks. The northern side was the easier proposition and was successfully carried; but on the south the 5th Inniskillings found themselves faced with a practically impossible task, and were almost exterminated in their unavailing attempts to carry it out. The Turks were well supplied with hand-grenades, with which they bombarded our men incessantly. Attacked as they were on front and flank, the Royal Irish Fusiliers, who held the ground nearest the sea, were also almost wiped out, but the survivors stubbornly clung to their position.

On the night of 15th August, the other brigades were brought up to reinforce their comrades, but on the following morning it became clear that the position was untenable, and the 10th Division was ordered to retire. Harassed on all sides by a tireless but well-nigh invisible enemy, without sleep or rest, tortured by thirst and in many cases suffering intensely from enteric or dysentery, the men had held what seemed an impossible position for thirty-six hours, and even in failure had covered themselves with glory.

The 6th Rifles did not share in this fighting, but soon had their own ordeal. They disembarked at Anzac on 5th August, and were held in reserve for a day or two, before being sent to hold the ground already captured half-way up the steep ridge of Sari Bair. Here they were terribly exposed to enemy fire, and ultimately, on 10th August, had to meet a desperate attack from the Turks. Again and again the enemy was thrown back, but fresh masses continued to roll forward. The colonel, adjutant, and practically all the senior officers soon became casualties, and, before the evening of the 10th, a junior officer from Belfast found himself in command of the battalion. Orders came to withdraw, but the men, few in number and worn out as they were, insisted on one last counter-attack. It was in vain, and the remnant was finally withdrawn.

The advent of Bulgaria into the war and the German advance through Serbia had altered the situation in Macedonia, and in September a considerable number of British troops were moved from Gallipoli to Salonika, amongst them the- remnant of the 10th Division. Casualties in the field combined with sickness had terribly reduced its strength. The 5th Royal Irish Fusiliers, for example, consisted of only 4 officers and 160 men. For a short period the division remained at Lemnos and Mudros to recuperate, but in October found itself in the trenches north of Salonika, along the line from that town to Krivolak in support of the French right. On the 27th of the month it was decided to make an attempt to get into touch with the retreating Serbian forces. In that mountainous country, with only one available railway, and scarcely any roads, the task of moving troops was extremely difficult. Every day brought some disheartening news of the Serbian rout and the German and Bulgarian advance towards Salonika along the Struma valley. It was therefore necessary to draw back the Allied forces, and the 10th Division acted as the pivot on which the operation was made, holding the vital spot until the French were able to withdraw from their positions. On 6th, 7th, and 8th December it was attacked in force by the enemy, at a time when it was suffering very severely from the intense cold of the Macedonian mountains. The division at this time was holding the line for ten miles in mountainous and difficult country, including a spur known as Rocky Peak. In the defence of this position the Ulster brigade again distinguished itself. Before daylight the enemy had rushed an advance post of the Irish Fusiliers at Rocky Peak, from which they were able to command a considerable part of our line with machine-guns. For nine hours, however, the Ulster brigade, using rifles almost solely, held off great masses of Bulgarians, sometimes counter - attacking fiercely with the bayonet. Finally the line fell back to the mouth of the Dedli Pass, which they held for three more days until the rest of the Allied forces had been safely drawn back. Then in turn the 31st (Ulster) Brigade and part of the 29th Brigade, acting as the rear-guard, began to retire, with the enemy pressing hard on their heels. On the northern edge of Lake Doiran the Inniskillings and Irish Fusiliers fought some desperate battles to hold back the enemy, retreating all the time through bleak, open country in torrents of rain, while the other brigades, more fortunate, were able to retire by train down the only available railway. Speaking of this rearguard fighting the French general declared, "The rear-guard fighting of the Irish in the Serbian mountains was one of the most striking feats of arms in the whole war. Against ten times their number, they saved the British and French." For nearly six months there was little fighting on the Macedonian front, and the 10th Division was mainly engaged in training new drafts, resting the survivors of the Gallipoli and Lake Doiran fights, and preparing the outer defences

of Salonika, which it was expected the enemy might attack any day. When it became evident that neither the Germans nor Bulgarians had any inclination for an onslaught on these practically impregnable defences, the Ulster brigade, along with their comrades of the 6th Rifles, again advanced into Northern Macedonia, occupying the heights overlooking the Struma Valley. In September, 1916, the 10th Division held the heights on the right bank of the Struma River with the enemy on the other side, and during the autumn various small engagements took place.

In November, 1916, the 5th and 6th Battalions, Royal Irish Fusiliers, were amalgamated, as both had been so badly cut up, while the 2nd Battalion of the same regiment was brought up to replace the 6th Rifles in the 36th Division. The remainder of 1916 and the spring of 1917 was spent in comparative quiet, varied only by occasional raids, and in September, 1917, the 10th Division, except the 6th Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles, was ordered to Egypt for the advance on Palestine, after nearly two years of a very trying experience in the Balkans.

At the end of September the 10th Division reached Alexandria, and after a week's rest joined General Allenby's army. The Sinai Desert was safely crossed, although the troops suffered considerably from want of water. In the first advance the 10th Division was told off to attack the enemy's line between Gaza and Beersheba. The first fighting took place on 6th November, when the Ulster brigade was opposite a network of strong and well-constructed Turkish trenches, which were speedily captured, the 2nd and 5th Irish Fusiliers leading the attack. On the following day Haneira Tefe redoubt, one of the strongest enemy positions, was taken by assault, and the Turks were completely driven out of their line.

The 10th Division then marched westwards across the desert near the coast. By the end of November it was advancing northwards through the land of Goshen and the Valley of Agalon, and on 9th December took its full share in the great attack which enveloped Jerusalem. When the Turks made an equally-determined reply, the division counter-attacked with a view to cutting off the enemy's communications. The Ulster Brigade carried a series of heights overlooking the region known in the Bible as the Valley of Elah, the scene of the historic encounter between David and Goliath, and very soon sent the Turks into headlong retreat. After a Christmas rest most of January and February was spent in road-making, bringing up ammunition and supplies, and in other preparations for the next advance. On 9th March, 1918, a new offensive began towards Tiljilia (known in Scripture as Gilgal), and in this the 2nd Irish Fusiliers, the 5th Irish Fusiliers, and the 5th Inniskil-ling Fusiliers particularly distinguished themselves, while the 31st Brigade had the honour of being the only one which captured all its objectives within the allotted period. Then for a spell the division was once more engaged in road-making and other work behind the front lines, and just as a fresh offensive was about to commence the greater portion of it was suddenly transferred to France to assist in stemming the last great German offensive.

No longer, however, did the 10th Division operate as a unit. The 5th and 6th Irish Fusiliers were sent to the 14th Division in the Merville sector, and afterwards to the 30th Division, then to the 66th, and finally to the reorganized 16th (Irish) Division, which it joined in August, 1918. It took part in the subsequent advance along the La Bassee-Haute Deule Canal and as far as the Scheldt, which was crossed on 10th November, the day before the signing of the Armistice. The Inniskilling Fusiliers were in the Cambrai sector, and did their share in the fighting in October, which has already been described.

One of the Ulster battalions of the 10th Division, the 6th Irish Rifles, never served in France, remaining in the Balkans until the close of the war, and assisting in the ultimate defeat of the Bulgarians.


In the 16th (Irish) Division, as in the 10th, there were five Ulster Battalions— the 7th and 8th Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, the 7th and 8th Royal Irish Fusiliers (which formed the 49th Brigade), and also the 7th Royal Irish Rifles, which formed part of the 48th Brigade. There were also in the 6th Battalion Connaught Rangers (another unit of the 48th Brigade), several hundred Ulsterman, chiefly from Belfast; while the 6th Royal Irish Regiment, in the 48th Brigade, also contained several hundred men from Londonderry and Tyrone.

The 16th Division was trained at Fer-moy, County Cork, and before leaving for England in 1915, the 49th Brigade spent a short period at Finner Camp in County Donegal. Training was completed at Aldershot, and in December, 1915, the 47th and 48th Brigades went overseas. The 49th, or Ulster Brigade, was not at full strength, because 1700 men had been taken from it to fill up vacancies in the 10th Division when it went to Gallipoli. In January, 1916, however, it had again been brought up to full strength, and was inspected by the Queen before proceeding to join the other brigades.

For the first two or three months the division held the line at the Vermelles sector, and soon made a name by its smart raids on the German trenches. The first serious ordeal took place on 27th April, 1916, when it was subjected to one of the most intense gas attacks which up till then had been launched by the Germans. Unfortunately the gas-masks and other defensive appliances were not then as good as they afterwards became, and the division, especially the two Inniskilling battalions, suffered severely. In spite of the gas these battalions held their lines against fierce German onslaughts both on 27th and 29th April, not a man giving way.

During the next two months, the division, like so many others, was busy preparing for the Somme battle. It was not actively engaged in the first fighting on the Somme, but in September, 1916, made a splendid name for itself by its attacks on Guinchy and Guillemont. Guillemont was first attacked on 3rd September, and was carried with splendid gallantry, although it was well known to be one of the strongest fortified positions in the whole of the German line, and in less than a week Guinchy was captured in a similar fashion, the Royal Irish Rifles specially distinguishing themselves, and this was followed up by another victorious rush by the two Fusilier battalions just north of Combles. The 49th Brigade and the 7th Royal Irish Rifles suffered very heavily in this fighting, their casualties going well into four figures. Colonel Dalzell Walton, Commander of the 8th Inniskillings, was killed; Colonel Young, of the 7th Inniskillings, dangerously wounded; Major A. B. Cairns and Major Nash of the 7th Rifles were killed; and also Lieutenant-Colonel Lenox Conyng-ham, a gallant Ulsterman who was commanding the 6th Connaught Rangers.

During the rest of 1916 and the spring of 1917, the division was in the northern sector in Flanders, where it held the line next to the 36th (Ulster) Division. In the great attack on the Messines Ridge on 7th June, 1917, the 16th Division fought on the left of the Ulster Division, and thanks to the excellent work of the artillery the casualties were much less than on the Somme. A wood captured by the "Skins" in the course of the battle was subsequently, with the permission of the Commander-in-Chief, named Inniskilling Wood, in memory of their valour.

Two days after this engagement the division was relieved and given six weeks rest. On 31st July a season of fierce fighting began and lasted until 16th August, the 36th and 16th Divisions fighting side by side. The Inniskillings and Rifles of the 16th Division found themselves opposed to a powerful system of German concrete blockhouses. As they advanced they were received with terrible machine-gun fire from these defences, and lost very heavily. Nothing daunted, however, the Rifles advanced a considerable distance, capturing a number of prisoners; while the Inniskillings seized two strong redoubts and Hill 27, one of the keys of the position. Here both Inniskillings and Rifles hung on grimly for many hours, but owing to the intense machine-gun fire from the still uncaptured blockhouses it was impossible to advance farther or even to hold the ground already gained. Not only were the battalions subjected to heavy fire from the "pill-boxes", but also from German aeroplanes. Finally the order to retreat was given, and slowly, still fighting, the 49th Brigade fell back, losing many men in killed and prisoners. Among the killed were Colonel Boardman of the Inniskillings, Lieutenant Coombes, the famous army boxer, and many other officers.

After this action certain amalgamations took place amongst the greatly reduced battalions of the 16th Division. The 7th and 8th Inniskillings were joined, as were also the 7th and 8th Royal Irish Fusiliers; while the 7th Rifles were disbanded and the personnel drafted into other Rifle battalions.

For the next three months the division rested, but on 2nd November, 1917, it captured the heights of Croiselles, taking nearly one thousand prisoners, and putting a complete German division out of action. This position was held until the spring of 1918. When the Germans made their last great attack in March, the 7th-8th Inniskillings suffered severely, a large number of men being taken prisoners. The entire division was reduced to less than the numbers of a brigade. It was then disbanded and the men distributed among other Irish regiments, to be reorganized towards the end of the war in conjunction with the battalions of the 10th Division, which had arrived from the East. It was ready for action once more when the Armistice was signed.


The work of Ulstermen in the fighting services was not confined to the army. As was natural in a province so much given up to shipbuilding and shipping, a large number of men joined the navy, and there was scarcely a sea fight during the war which did not bring bereavement to Ulster families.

When the cruiser Hawke was sunk in the North Sea in 1915, over fifty Belfast men were drowned. In the battle of Jutland an Ulsterman, Commander the Honourable E. B. S. Bingham, the brother-in-law of Lord Clanmorris, won the V.C. for a very gallant exploit. The following is the official record of the award:

"For the extremely gallant way in which he held his division in their attack, first on the enemy destroyers and then on their battle-cruisers, in the Jutland battle. He finally sighted the enemy battle fleet, and, followed by the one remaining destroyer of his division (Nicator), with dauntless courage he closed to within three thousand yards of the enemy in order to obtain a favourable position for firing the torpedoes. While making this attack, Nestor and Nicator were under concentrated fire of the secondary batteries of the High Sea Fleet. Nestor was subsequently sunk."

When Lord Kitchener went down with the Hampshire a number of Ulstermen, including the ship's surgeon, also lost their lives.

Ulstermen played their part in the famous battle of Zeebrugge. Lieutenant Oscar Henderson, son of Sir James Henderson, former Lord Mayor of Belfast, was an officer on the Iris in this battle, and received the D.S.O. for his bravery in heading a party to extinguish a fire which every moment threatened to blow up the magazine. When the captain was mortally wounded Lieutenant Henderson took command, and with great skill and bravery brought the vessel safely out of action. In this battle also a number of Ulster officers and men lost their lives.

In the mercantile marine many thousands of Ulstermen were serving in the three or four steamship lines which have their head-quarters in Belfast, and also in many other ships.

In the two great shipyards, Messrs. Harland & Wolff and Workman, Clark, & Co., nearly 11 per cent of all the navy shipbuilding and ship repairing during the war was carried out. Both firms gained special credit for the rate at which they accomplished all the work given to them. They never exceeded the contract time, and in many cases, thanks to the energy and patriotism of the men, it was accomplished in two-thirds and even half the time allowed by the Admiralty. Mr. Lloyd George on more than one occasion paid a special tribute to the wonderful work of Belfast shipyards.

It was in these yards that the famous "Dummy" ships were constructed. They were fourteen in number, called after famous vessels actually in the Royal Navy, and when they had served their purpose in misleading the Germans as to the strength and size of our fleet, they were converted into cargo and oil carriers, in which capacity they did most valuable service. One was utilized as a balloon ship.

It is worth mentioning that the workers in the Belfast shipyards from the beginning of the war agreed to what is known as "dilution" of labour—that is the introduction, for temporary work, of men not Trades Unionists.

Having finished with the "Dummy" ships, the Belfast shipyards turned their attention to the building of "Monitors"—vessels of light draught—which were of great use off the Belgian coast. The first of these was turned out in the remarkably short period of four and a half months. Altogether seven of these vessels were built at Belfast. From Belfast also came the Glorious, which at the time of her launch was the fastest and most powerfully - armed naval vessel in the world.

A great amount of engineering work was also done in Belfast, including the engines for a number of the largest submarines. Here also the great White Star liners like the Britannic and Olympic were fitted up for use as hospital ships.

A remarkable feat accomplished by Workman, Clark, & Co. was the conversion of four cruisers into monitors, by an ingenious shell placed along the side of the vessels to protect them from torpedo attacks. By the same firm seven of the famous "Q" or "Hush" boats were constructed, also the first oil-tank steamer for use in the war, and a series of small hospital ships, while they also did a great deal of repairing work. The average output of Workman, Clark, & Co. was almost one vessel per day during the war, while Harland & Wolff perhaps did even more.

During this period the workmen in Belfast shipyards held all the world's records for speed in riveting. Messrs. Workman, Clark, & Co. also made a world's record by finishing a "standard" ship of 8000 tons in less than four days from the date of its launch.

Other useful work was done by the North of Ireland Shipbuilding Co. at Londonderry, and by the Larne Shipbuilding Co.; while two Belfast firms opened a yard at Warrenpoint, County Down, where the concrete ships for the Admiralty were built.


In the Air Service Ulster played a prominent part. She contributed a number of the most brilliant young airmen, such as the two brothers Tyrrell and the brothers Cowan, who were all killed after distinguished service ; as well as many others whose names appear in the list of honours. It is also worth mentioning that Flight-Lieutenant Warneford, who destroyed the first Zeppelin, although born in England, was by descent an Ulsterman.

It is not an exaggeration to say that without Ulster there could scarcely have been any Air Service, because from the Ulster linen factories came 95 per cent of all the linen used for aeroplanes by Great Britain and her Allies. A specially-woven cloth was necessary, combining lightness and strength, which could not be produced anywhere else in the world but in Ulster. At one time the output would have been sufficient to equip something like one thousand five hundred aeroplanes per day. Some of the largest and most powerful engines were built at an aeroplane factory equipped by Messrs. Harland & Wolff, who also constructed, a few miles from Belfast, a splendid aerodrome for trial flights.

Many other Belfast and Ulster industries were of great value in the war. The Belfast Ropeworks Co., the largest concern of its kind in the world, was almost entirely engaged for four years in turning out cables of all sorts and kinds for the use of the Admiralty and the mercantile marine. Many other firms were engaged in turning out tents and all sorts of linen articles required by the Government.


It is not possible to get a complete record of all the distinctions won by the several Irish divisions and battalions, but the following is a complete list of the V.C.'s which were won by Ulstermen in the army during the war:

34419, Sergeant (afterwards Major) David Nelson, L. Battery, Royal Horse Artillery. For helping to bring the guns into action under heavy fire at Nery, on 1st September, 1914, and while severely wounded remaining with them until all the ammunition was expended, although he had been ordered to retire to cover. He went to France as an N.C.O., and died of wounds there in April, 1918, having risen to the rank of major.

1053, Private Robert Morrow, 1st Battalion, Royal Irish Fusiliers. For most conspicuous bravery near Messines on 12th April, 1915, when he rescued and carried successively to places of comparative safety several men who had been buried in the debris of trenches wrecked by shell-fire. Was killed in action a few months after winning the cross.

1539, Sergeant-Major Frederick William Hall, 8th Canadian Battalion. On 24th April, 1915, in the neighbourhood of Ypres, when a wounded man, who was lying some fifteen yards from the trench, called for help, endeavoured to reach him in the face of a very heavy enfilade fire which was being poured in by the enemy. Sergeant-Major Hall then made a second most gallant attempt, and was in the act of lifting up the wounded man to bring him in when he fell mortally wounded in the head.

10512, Sergeant James Somers, 1st Battalion, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers (29th Division). For most conspicuous bravery on the night of July 1-2, 1915, in the southern zone of the Gallipolli Peninsula, when, owing to hostile bombing, some of our troops had retired from a sap, Sergeant Somers remained alone on the spot until a party brought up bombs. He then climbed over into the Turkish trench and bombed the Turks with great effect. Later on he advanced into the open under heavy fire, and held back the enemy by throwing bombs into their flank until a barricade had been established. During this period he frequently ran to and from our trenches to obtain fresh supplies of bombs. By his gallantry and coolness Sergeant Somers was largely instrumental in effecting the recapture of a portion of our trench which had been lost. Sergeant Somers was subsequently invalided out of the army and died in 1918. Captain (afterwards Lieutenant-Colonel) John A. Sinton, Indian Medical Service. For most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty at Orah Ruins, Mesopotamia, on the 21st January, 1916. Although shot through both arms and through the side he refused to go to hospital, and remained as long as daylight lasted attending to his duties under very heavy fire. In three previous actions Captain Sinton displayed the utmost bravery.

Lieutenant Geoffrey St. George Shilling-ton Gather, 9th Royal Irish Fusiliers (Ulster Division). For most conspicuous bravery near Hamel, France, on 1st July, 1916. From 7 p.m. till midnight he searched "No Man's Land", and brought in three wounded men. Next morning, at 8 a.m., he continued his search, brought in another wounded man, and gave water to others, arranging for their rescue later. Finally at 10.30 a.m. he took out water to another man, and was proceeding farther on when he was himself killed. All this was carried out in full view of the enemy, and under direct machine-gun fire and intermittent artillery fire. He set a splendid example of courage and self-sacrifice.

14/18278, Private William Frederick M'Fadzean, 14th Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles (Ulster Division). For most conspicuous bravery near Thiepval Wood on 1st July, 1916. While in a concentration trench, and opening a box of bombs for distribution prior to an attack, the box slipped down into the trench, which was crowded with men, and two of the safety pins fell out. Private M'Fadzean, instantly realizing the danger to his comrades, with heroic courage threw himself on the top of the bombs. The bombs exploded, blowing him to pieces, but only one other man was injured. He well knew his danger, being himself a bomber, but without a moment's hesitation he gave his life for his comrades.

12/18645, Private (afterwards Sergeant) Robert Quigg, 12th Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles (Ulster Division). For most conspicuous bravery, near Hamel, France, on 1st July, 1916. He advanced to the assault with his platoon three times. Early next morning, hearing a rumour that his platoon officer was lying out wounded, he went out seven times to look for him under heavy shell and machine-gun fire, each time bringing back a wounded man. The last time he dragged one in on a waterproof sheet from within a few yards of the enemy's wire. He was seven hours engaged in this most gallant work, and finally was so exhausted that he had to give it up.

Captain Eric Norman Frankland Bell, 9th Battalion, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers (Ulster Division). For most conspicuous bravery at Thiepval, on 1st July, 1916. He was in command of a trench-mortar battery, and advanced with the infantry to the attack. When our front line was hung up by enfilading machine-gun fire, Captain Bell crept forward and shot the machine-gunner. Later on, upon no less than three occasions, when our bombing parties, which were clearing the enemy's trenches, were unable to advance, he went forward alone and threw trench-mortar bombs among the enemy. When he had no more bombs available he stood on the parapet, under intense fire, and used a rifle with great coolness and effect on the enemy advancing to counter-attack. Finally he was killed rallying and reorganizing infantry parties which had lost their officers. All this was outside the scope of his normal duties with his battery. He gave his life in his supreme devotion to duty.

3/5027, Private Thomas Hughes, 6th Battalion Connaught Rangers (16th Division). For most conspicuous bravery and determination at Guillemont, France, on 3rd September, 1916. He was wounded in an attack, but returned at once to the firing-line after having his wounds dressed. Later, seeing a hostile machine-gun, he dashed out in front of his company, shot the gunner, and, single-handed, captured the gun. Though again wounded he brought back three or four prisoners.

Second-Lieutenant John Spencer Dunville, 1st Royal Dragoons. For most conspicuous bravery near Epehy, France, on 24th and 25th June, 1917. When in charge of a party consisting of scouts and Royal Engineers engaged in the demolition of the enemy's wire, this officer displayed great gallantry and disregard of all personal danger. In order to ensure the absolute success of the work envtrusted to him, Second-Lieutenant Dunville placed himself between an N.C.O. of the Royal Engineers and the enemy's fire, and, thus protected, this N.C.O. was enabled to complete a work of great importance. Second-Lieutenant Dunville, although severely wounded, continued to direct his men in the wire cutting and general operations until the raid was successfully completed, thereby setting a magnificent example of courage, determination, and devotion to duty to all ranks under his command. The gallant officer has since succumbed to his wounds.

Second-Lieutenant James Samuel Emerson, 9th Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers (Ulster Division). For repeated acts of most conspicuous bravery north of La Vacquerie on 6th December, 1917. He led the company in an attack and cleared four hundred yards of trench, though wounded; when the enemy attacked in superior numbers, he sprang out of the trench with eight men and met the attack in the open, killing many and taking six prisoners. For three hours after this, all other officers having become casualties, he remained with his company, refusing to go to the dressing-station, and repeatedly repelled bombing attacks. Later, when the enemy again attacked in superior numbers, he led his men to repel the attack, and was mortally wounded. His heroism, when worn out and exhausted from loss of blood, inspired his men to hold out, though almost surrounded, till reinforcements arrived and dislodged the enemy.

681886, Sergeant Cyril Edward Gourley, M.M., Royal Field Artillery. For most conspicuous bravery when in command of a section of howitzers, at Little Priel Farm, east of Epehy, France, on 30th November, 1917. Though the enemy advanced in force, getting within four hundred yards in front, between three hundred to four hundred yards to one flank, and with snipers in rear, Sergeant Gourley managed to keep one gun in action practically throughout the day. Though frequently driven off he always returned, carrying ammunition, laying and firing the gun himself, taking first one and then another of the detachment to assist him. When the enemy advanced he pulled his gun out of the pit and engaged a machine-gun at five hundred yards, knocking it out with a direct hit. All day he held the enemy in check, firing with open sights on enemy parties in full view at three hundred to eight hundred yards, and thereby saved his guns, which were withdrawn at nightfall. He had previously been awarded the Military Medal for conspicuous gallantry.

75361, Company Sergeant-Major (now Lieutenant) Robert Hanna, Canadian Infantry. For most conspicuous bravery at Lens, France, on 21st September, 1917, when his company met with most severe enemy resistance and all the company officers became casualties. A strong point, heavily protected by wire and held by a machine-gun, had beaten off three assaults of the company with heavy casualties. This warrant officer, under heavy machine-gun and rifle fire, coolly collected a party of men, and, leading them against the strong point, rushed through the wire and personally bayoneted three of the enemy and brained the fourth, capturing the position and silencing the machine-gun. This most courageous action displayed courage and personal bravery of the highest order at this most critical moment of the attack, and was responsible for the capture of a most important tactical point, and but for his daring action and determined handling of a desperate situation the attack would not have succeeded. Company Sergeant-Major Hanna's outstanding gallantry, personal courage, and determined leading of his company is deserving of the highest possible reward.

6/17978, Private James Duffy, 6th Battalion, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers (10th Division). For most conspicuous bravery at Lerlina Peak, Palestine, on 27th December, 1917, displayed whilst his company was holding a very exposed position. Private Duffy (a stretcher-bearer) and another stretcher-bearer went out to bring in a seriously-wounded comrade; when the other stretcher-bearer was wounded he returned to get another man; when again going forward the relief stretcher-bearer was killed. Private Duffy then went forward alone, and, under heavy fire, succeeded in getting both wounded men under cover and attended to their injuries. His gallantry undoubtedly saved both men's lives, and he showed throughout an utter disregard of danger under very heavy fire.

Second-Lieutenant Edmund De Wind, 15th Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles (Ulster Division). For most conspicuous bravery and self-sacrifice on 21st March, 1918, at the Racecourse Redoubt, near Groagie. For seven hours he held this important post, and though twice wounded and practically single-handed he maintained his position until another section could be got to his help. On two occasions, with two N.C.O.'s only, he got out on top under heavy machine-gun and rifle fire and cleared the enemy out of the trench, killing many. He continued to repel attack after attack until he was mortally wounded and collapsed. His valour, self-sacrifice, and example were of the highest order.

Lieutenant - Colonel Richard Annesley West, D.S.O., M.C., North Irish Horse, attached Tank Corps. For most conspicuous bravery, leadership, and self-sacrifice at Courcelles and Vaulx, Vraacourt, France, on 21st August, 1918. During an attack, the infantry having lost their bearings in the dense fog, this officer at once collected and reorganized any men he could find, and led them to their objective in face of a heavy machine-gun fire. Throughout the whole action he displayed the most utter disregard of danger, and the capture of the objective was in a great part due to his initiative and gallantry. On a subsequent occasion it was intended that a battalion of light tanks under the command of this officer should exploit the initial infantry and heavy tank attack. He therefore went forward in order to keep in touch with the progress of the battle, and arrived at the front line when the enemy were in process of delivering a local counter-attack. The infantry battalion had suffered heavy officer casualties, and its flanks were exposed. Realizing that there was a danger of the battalion giving way, he at once rode out in front of them under extremely heavy machine-gun and rifle fire, and rallied the men. In spite of the fact that the enemy were close upon him he took charge of the situation and detailed non-commissioned officers to replace officer casualties. He then rode up and down in front of them in face of certain death, encouraging the men and calling to them, "Stick it, men; show them fight; and for God's sake put up a good fight". He fell riddled by machine-gun bullets. The magnificent bravery of this very gallant officer at the critical moment inspired the infantry to redoubled efforts, and the hostile attack was defeated.


While doing their share in the actual fighting and other forms of war work, the people of Ulster were not behind in their support of war charities.

The first large fund raised during the war was the Prince of Wales Fund, to which over £50,000 was subscribed in Ulster. Then came the Red Cross Fund, to which, during the war, Ulster subscribed £150,000 — considerably more than was raised in the other three Irish provinces combined. Large sums were also raised for the Belgian and Serbian Relief Funds; for Lady Jellicoe's appeal on behalf of the Sailors' Funds; for the French War Charities, and for other minor funds.

At the three Belfast railway stations and at the Belfast Docks, buffets were established during the war at which over two million men received free meals. The docks buffet was opened every day in the year from five o'clock in the morning till eight o'clock at night. A devoted band of ladies took their turn, even in the most severe weather, to be present and receive the men arriving off the various cross-channel steamers. Motor cars were also provided so that the men with only a few minutes to spare were able to catch trains for distant parts of the country, in many cases allowing them a whole day longer at home out of their brief leave. Upwards of £5000 was subscribed for these buffets in addition to very large contributions of food supplies.

In the city of Derry nearly 200,000 men were similarly entertained, including over 5000 men from 96 torpedoed ships, who were all given free board and lodging until they could be sent home. In many cases they were equipped with a complete outfit of clothing, having lost their own.

Three great enterprises, however, stood out above the others in Ulster. There was first, the Ulster Volunteer Force Patriotic Fund, amounting to over £100,000, which was established during the second year of the war. It was realized by some of the leading business men connected with the Ulster Volunteers that a large number of demobilized soldiers might find it difficult to take up their former work after the war on account of wounds or sickness, and as the pension allowed by the Government would not be equal to their former wages, in many cases they would have difficulty in supporting their wives and children. Accordingly, it was decided that a fund should be provided under the auspices of the Ulster Volunteer Force Head-quarters to assist all Ulster soldiers who might be in need after the war. An official committee was formed, including many of the foremost business and professional men in the province, who undertook the collection and management of the fund, which in about a year had exceeded £100,000. This sum was lodged in the bank in the names of several trustees to await the end of the war. Since the Armistice, committees have been formed in each county to undertake the distribution of the fund, which will be used to supplement the Government pension. Men unable to take up their former work will be assisted to learn suitable trades; grants will be given to educate their families, to pay apprenticeship fees, and to help them in other ways as the committees may think fit. It is clear that the fund will prove of the greatest possible value and assistance to hundreds of demobilized men.

Another remarkable enterprise was the Ulster Prisoner of War and Comforts Fund, which was established in the first autumn of the war. From that time until the end of 1918 a sum of at least £150,000 was spent in sending regular fortnightly parcels to every Ulster prisoner of war. A suite of rooms was granted to the committee in the old Town Hall, the head-quarters of the Ulster Volunteer Force, and a large number of ladies voluntarily undertook the work of packing and dispatching the parcels, with the advice of competent business men. Contracts were entered into for supplies of all the necessary articles, and many of the large manufacturing houses gave the materials at cost price, and some at even less.

As the number of prisoners increased, the work, of course, became more and more strenuous, and in the summer of 1918, after the last great German attack when many Ulstermen were captured, the staff of voluntary workers had risen to almost two hundred, and the work went on steadily until at least ten o'clock every night. Anyone who visited the rooms of the committee might easily have imagined that he was in the packing and dispatching department of a huge grocery and provision establishment, as the work was conducted on exactly the same lines, everything being checked and entered with the greatest care and correctness. The work was hard and monotonous, but the workers felt amply rewarded by the letters of thanks and by the visits which they often received from repatriated prisoners, who one and all assured them that the receipt of these parcels was the only thing which kept them alive.

The third great Ulster war charity was the organization of the Ulster Volunteer Force Hospitals. In the autumn of 1914, when the list of casualties became so great, the heads of the Ulster Volunteers decided that something should be done to provide accommodation for the large number of wounded in the various Ulster battalions. Accordingly, an offer was made to the War Office that the Ulster Volunteers would equip, and maintain as long as necessary, a hospital of one hundred beds, preferably for Ulster soldiers, but also for any men the War Office chose to send. The offer was accepted, and within a remarkably short space of time a large building, the property of the Corporation, was acquired. The Corporation allowed its use free of rent, only stipulating for its return when no longer needed. The situation was an ideal one, as the building was bounded on one side by a public park, and on the other by the grounds of Belfast University.

The hospital proved a great success, and before long the War Office asked if the accommodation could be increased, and, confident in the support of the Ulster people, the committee at once agreed.

The university authorities granted a considerable strip of ground beside their own buildings, on which additional wards were erected. As time went on, still further requests were made for an extension, until finally the buildings had spread over a large area and were able to accommodate nearly six hundred patients.

From all quarters came most valuable assistance. A house was granted free as a residence for the matron and nursing staff by Mr. (afterwards the Right Hon.) J. C. White, Lord Mayor of Belfast. The students of the university gave up their fine union club as a recreation and reading room for the men; the theological students of the Presbyterian College close at hand also voluntarily evacuated their fine range of residential chambers to be converted into a home for the V.A.D.'s and nurses.

The Corporation assisted the hospital by every means in its power, allowing the necessary structural alterations to be made in the buildings, and the university senate also gave up some of the class-rooms. Still the work increased, and, thanks to the support of the Ulster people, funds were never wanting. Two houses were afterwards taken as a separate convalescent home for officers. Then two large mansion houses were acquired in County Down, to be used as convalescent homes to which men could be sent to complete their cure in the fresher air of the country. Motor ambulances were provided for transporting the patients to and from the different hospitals. Then followed a special orthopaedic branch in which limbless men were carefully treated and equipped with artificial limbs. Next came a splendidly equipped department for massage and electric treatment. Through the generosity of Colonel Sir James Craig, M.P., his beautiful residence, "Craigavon", in a suburb of Belfast, was handed over to the hospital committee as a convalescent home for men suffering from shell-shock, the treatment of whom in the other hospitals was not advisable. This was the first home for shell-shock cases established in the United Kingdom outside London.

Up to the end of the war, in all these different branches, the Ulster Volunteer Force Hospital Committee was able to treat several thousands of patients. They were not confined to Ulstermen. Wounded soldiers were sent from all parts of the Kingdom, and were unanimous in declaring that there was no hospital superior to the one organized by the Ulster Volunteer Force in Belfast.

Up to the end of 1918, about eight thousand men had passed through the different departments of the hospital, and while some of the branches had been given up as the number of patients grew less, the limbless, orthopædic, and massage departments were still in full operation at the end of 1919, as well as the Craigavon neurasthenic hospital. Practically all the leading physicians and surgeons in Belfast gave their services free to the hospital, each taking it in turn to visit the wards, prescribe for the patients, and perform all necessary operations.

Not only was upwards of £100,000 subscribed to the hospital, but also other assistance was given in many ways. The master-butchers of Belfast undertook to supply weekly a large quantity of meat free to the hospital. The master-bakers and their men made an arrangement whereby the masters supplied the materials while the men gave an hour or two overtime several days a week, and so supplied nearly all the bread free to the hospital, using for this purpose, by permission of the Corporation, the admirable model bakery attached to the Belfast Technical Institute. Many of the leading business houses also undertook to send weekly or monthly contributions of food, clothes, and such like, while fruit, flowers, and vegetables were regularly supplied from all over the country. Some of the heads of the Army Medical Service inspected the hospital at various times, and without exception stated that in its perfect organization, efficiency, and success it had no superior.

This was not the only hospital in Belfast. The committees of the Royal Victoria Hospital and the Mater Hospital both set apart wings for the reception of wounded soldiers. Another hospital was established in what formerly had been an asylum from which the patients had not long been removed to another building, and this was devoted to men suffering from mental breakdown and other nervous troubles. The Red Cross and St. John's Associations established and maintained for a considerable time a convalescent hospital in a suburb of Belfast for men who were not yet reported fit for duty, although not requiring regular medical or surgical treatment. Here also a large mansion house belonging to a prominent Belfast family was lent to the committee for so long as it should be required, and a very considerable number of patients were treated.

The end of the war and the new era of peace thus find the people of Ulster, while sorrowing over their many bereavements, yet proud of their record in imperial service, and fully determined to maintain that high position which they have won amongst the loyal subjects of the King, and as citizens of the Empire to which they are so faithfully attached.

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