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The Disparity of SacrificeIrish Recruitment to the British Armed Forces, 1914-1918$
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Timothy Bowman, William Butler, and Michael Wheatley

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781789621853

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: January 2021

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781789621853.001.0001

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‘Gone for a soldier’: Irish Recruitment to the British Armed Forces, 1903–1914

‘Gone for a soldier’: Irish Recruitment to the British Armed Forces, 1903–1914

(p.16) 1 ‘Gone for a soldier’: Irish Recruitment to the British Armed Forces, 1903–1914
The Disparity of Sacrifice

Timothy Bowman

William Butler

Michael Wheatley

Liverpool University Press

There was a long tradition of Catholic, as well as Protestant, Irish service within the British armed forces. By 1913, 9% of British regular soldiers were Irish, a figure just slightly below the Irish share of the United Kingdom population. Militia, Yeomanry and Officer Training Corps units, which all attracted part-time amateur soldiers, were also well-recruited, though the wholesale disbandment of militia units in 1908 broke this link between some Irish counties and the British army. This recruitment occurred in spite of determined, if localised and unco-ordinated, attempts made by advanced Nationalists to prevent Irishmen enlisting in the British armed forces. Most recruits were from urban areas and were unskilled workers or unemployed at their time of enlistment. Recruitment rates were disproportionately high in Dublin and Cork, and notably low in industrial Belfast.

Keywords:   cadets, emigration, militia, nationalist, urban, yeomanry

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