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ianmccallum

Irish Service Battalions Colours

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ianmccallum

Hi Guys

There appears to have been some controversy over the presentation of colours to " Service " battalions that were seen as Irish Nationalist battalions, particularly those serving within the 16th (Irish) Division. According to a book on the life of Nationalist leader John Redmond by Stephen Gwynn, after Gen. Parson's commanding the 16th Division asked nationalist women to make colours for his battalions which they duly did, Kitchener or the War Office then ordered the battalion colours to be withdrawn. The British Prime Minister LLoyd George also mentions the incident in his war memoirs " When Lord Kitchener heard of the green flag and its Irish harp he ordered that it should be taken away. But the Ulster Flag was allowed to wave gloriously over the head of the Orange soldiers of the Protestant north. I am aware of the possible political reasons behind the War Office or Kitchener's decision, but is anyone aware of any military rule or tradition that would see the presentation of colours to one battalion but not to another. Or does anyone have any information on discussions at the war office on the matter of colours for the Service battalions, or anything in King's Regs covering the presentation of colours. You'd think the War Office had more to concern themselves with around the time of First Ypres. As far as I am aware the British (for want of a better word) Service battalions were not allowed colours until 1919.

Ian

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rob elliott

Ian,

Which Ulster flag was carried by the 'Orange' soldiers? The white with red cross/six pointed star flag didn't exist until partition [six points six counties] and if they carried the old yellow Ulster Province flag as used by the GAA then that would be for all Ulstermen not just Protestants.

Rob

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sw63

Hi Ian,

Can't speak for all service battalions, but the four Liverpool Pals battalions did have colours. They were laid up in Liverpool Town Hall on the 26th March 1923. They were taken down in 1990 due to their poor state and Liverpool City Council has never had the money to restore them. (Maddocks, "Liverpool Pals" page 217).

Simon

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corisande

The Ulster Division used the Red Hand

Given the Covenant was 1912, and the Red Hand was associated with that, it became a Protestant symbol

(I am not trying to stir controversy here! )

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ianmccallum

Hi Guys

Thanks for the replies. No intention on my part to pick at old scabs,the term "Orange soldier" is quoted directly from Lloyd George and I presume he meant the original 36th (Ulster) Division. I am simply trying to ascertain if there was army regulations (King's Regs) that laid down the criteria

for the presentation of colours and the carrying of unofficial flags. Any colours or flags carried by any battalion or unit unless officially presented must be unofficial, therefore how could Kitchener enforce his order that the "Green Flag" to be taken away. By the time of the Great War, regimental

colours would not be carried into battle so the colours were symbolic. The Irish Nationalists' Green Flag colours would be symbolic of an Irish Nationalist Army, while the 36th Division's flag would symbolise Ulster Unionism. The latter was of course much more acceptable to the British

establishment and the Army General Staff than the former. The consensus of opinion appears to be that the "Service" battalions did indeed get colours, but not until 1919. The Glasgow Civic battalions of the HLI received colours in 1914/15 but I don't think the battalions themselves were

actually presented with them until 1919.

Ian

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BrendanLee

I think you might be looking at Irish Nationalism and Ulster Unionism out of context for 1914. In 1914 Irish Nationalism meant Home Rule, the National Volunteers were formed to defend Home Rule against the treat from the Unionists who opposed any break with the Union. The only people advocating a complete break with the Union was Sinn Fein and in 1914 they were a tiny minority who would have had no association with the British Army. Within the Irish Volunteers very few supported the views of Sinn Fein. When the National Volunteers split less than 14,000 of the total 175,000 went with Irish Volunteers the rest remained with the National Volunteers. Only about 1000 Irish Volunteers supported the Easter Rising, in 1916 there was little support for a complete break with the Union. Of the remaining National Volunteers about 24,000 joined the British Army which was a big disappointment to Redmond, I would suspect Lloyd George and others may have been more upset by the poor show rather than fears of an Irish National Army. The idea of partition was not seriously considered until the Irish War of Independence, there was a large Unionist population in Dublin and many more Unionists throughout Ireland, the National Volunteers would have either supported Home Rule or the Union, the symbolism objected to may have been overtly Irish but I think would not have been pro-independence or anti-Union.

Ironically the Red Hand symbol is probably the least Unionist symbol you could get, it was used by the O’Neill clan during the Nine Years War in 1594 – 1603, the O’Neill clan were probably the most anti-English clan ever. Legend has it that when Ulster had no King a boat race across Strangford Lough between two potential Kings was organized, the first to touch the shore on the Ulster side would be made King, when one contestant saw he was going to lose the race he cut off his hand and threw it ashore winning the race and becoming King.

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rob elliott

Ian,

BLee has outlined it pretty well. There is still the misconception that all Catholics were anti-British. In my research of the North West of Ulster i am of the strong opinion that many Catholics were not even sure of Home Rule due to the economic implications. The Lower Middle & Middle Classes were doing quite well for themselves & there was little reason to alter the status quo. Erskine Childers had written in 1910 that the Industrial North would have to be taxed to pay for the Agriculural South. This would benefit no-one in the Northern Counties.

In the 1913 Londonderry City election the Nationalist candidate, Hogg, a protestant shirt factory owner, didn't even mention Home Rule in his election campaign. He won the seat and had support from some Liberal protestants.

The only thing i would correct of BLee's post is that parition [in what became its final form] was agreed by July 1914.

Redmond had accepted this, although he was led to believe it would be temporary. Carson agreed in private with Lloyd George, it would be permanent. Hence the offer of the UVF when war broke out.

The Ulster Division did not carry any flags deemed to be 'Unionist' although they did use the 'red hand' as the Divisional emblem, as the 16th used the shamrock.

A number of flags were carried in the 109th Brigade but these were unofficial Inniskilling and YCV. There are a few photos after Messines where they have them.

Partition had been first muted in the 1890's, based on the 'two nation' theory. In 1911 a liberal MP Aggar Robertes had suggesed 4 counties. Carson called for all 9, knowing this would not be acceptable to Redmond or any good to Unionists as the populaion of 9 counties was even, four counties could not function so 6 counties was the strongest option.

In mid 1914 Carson realised his primary plan to use Ulster, to defeat Home Rule completely, had failed and he bowed to the wishes of the Ulster Unionist Council to fight for exclusion.

By July 1914 everyone knew the war was coming so the government just had to hold on until circumstances changed. When war was declared Home Rule [with it's ammendments] was suspended.

Through the war an 'Irish Council' met to discuss various things and agree [or not] on what happened after the war. These came to nothing. Therefore after the war Carson took the line of what had been agreed in 1914 and the government rubber stamped it.

One important reason for the war of independence was because the government would not accept the 1918 election was a referendum for a Republic. As it was not by any standard.

Sinn Fein did not take the majority of the available vote. They won a majority of seats, not the same thing as the popular vote. If people had no choice at the polling booth they wouldn't vote, so the 'pact' between Sinn Fein & the IPP didn't exactly give much option for liberal catholics in many places.

It is argued that if SF had stood in the 20 odd seats they were given 'bye's' in they would have taken the majority of electors anyway as these were strong seats for them.

However as i have menioned in previous posts if the IPP had stood against them across the country they could have taken a number of seats off SF, as was proved in Down & East Donegal. Therefore it is not reasonable to use 'ifs'.

The IPP benefitted nothing from the pact and ultimately conributed to the war of independance by allowing SF to be seen as the voice of the people.

The government could have defered the election and put the IPP in as the government of the Southern Parliment based on pre war discussions.

The red hand was being used before the O'Neill's. They just took it as a propaganda symbol the same as the Unionists did.

Weren't the two kings brothers? Supposedly Milesian [from Spain]?

I will say things are never straighforward in Ulster. I was shown a small Union Flag with a sacred heart sown onto it carried by a Catholic soldier from Londonderry, it seems to have brought him good fortune as he came home ok and the family still hold it. Clearly he had no problem being associated with the flag.

Rob

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Nickmetcalfe

Great posts by BLee and Rob.

"There is still the misconception that all Catholics were anti-British."

The language that we use today is tainted by Partition, the creation of the Irish Free State and, subsequently, the Republic of Ireland. In 1914 very few could comprehend the idea of a republic, let alone desire one. The argument of the day (half-century!) was pro and anti-Home Rule. Even that was only seen as truely achievable after the Parliamentary Act of 1911. I think it is truer to say that if anyone was 'anti' a people rather than a cause or ideology they would be anti-English! Perfideous Albion.....

The iconography of the new divisions was complicated by tradition. The Ulster Division did indeed have a Red hand as its symbol, but it was very often shown surrounded by shamrocks. Christmas cards from the war years show this clearly. Shamrocks featured in the crests of 'northern' regiments, just look at the symbols associated with the Royal Irish Fusiliers. The best example of tradition winning out was the short-lived 'Dixie Badge' - formally approved for wear but removed due to the desire of the battalions and other units of 36th (Ulster) Division to wear regimental badges.

To return to the main theme of the thread - unofficial flags were not borne as Colours proper by the Ulster Division.

Finally Ian, "But the Ulster Flag was allowed to wave gloriously over the head of the Orange soldiers of the Protestant north." There is so much wrong with this sentence that I don't really know where to begin.

I hope this was helpful.

Nick

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ianmccallum

Hi Guys

Great replies and I agree with and take most the points, particularly the fact that most Irish nationalists in 1914 did not want a republic and would even include Sinn Fein in that. Arthur Griffiths was happy enough to see Ireland remain part of the Empire like Canada and Australia and certainly did not want a republic. In 1914, he and Sinn Fein were almost bankrupt. As I said in my post the quote of "Ulster Flag flying gloriously over Orange soldiers" was Lloyd George's and not mine. From additional period sources there was still a very definite impression amongst Irish nationalists at the time that Kitchener and the War Office was not even handed when it came to the Ulster and 16th Divisions, and that it affected nationalist recruiting. Whether it was true or not is what I am trying to ascertain, but a legend has certainly grown that a nationalist green flag was forbidden while a Unionist or Orange was allowed. See 16th (Irish) Division website and the Forbidden Flag. Was it true and if so what regulations would apply. Reference LLoyd George and Kitchener, Lloyd George had his own run in with K over the creation of a Welsh Corps at the same time as Redmond was trying to create an Irish Corps. Redmond wanted the three Irish divisions to fight together in an attempt to bring the north and south together.

Ian

P.S. I thought the 16th (Irish) Divisional sight was a combination of the letters L and P after Gen. Parsons and that the shamrock was just a shoulder flash.

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Murrough

As far as I can recall in Ray Westlake's book "Kitcheners Army" he ascertains that the monogram LP was used on HQ boards,transport etc and the sign on the mens uniform was the shamrock but in the pic attached you can see the shamrock on the trucks returning from Guillemont in Sept 1916.I can highly recommend Terence Denmans " Irelands Unknown Soldiers" the story of the 16th Irish Division.

post-10169-0-00519200-1358373449_thumb.j

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rob elliott

Ian,

That 16th Division web site is full of inaccuracies, such as 'the men of the Ulster Division had to sign the Covenant'. Completely 100% false. You didn't have to sign the Covenant to be in the UVF.

The comment about the flag came from Lloyd George's memoirs. This is the man who did insider dealing and sold Honours while PM. Truly a man who's opinion is of value, especially as he had no love of the Orangemen, somewhat biased then?

He clearly had an axe to grind and took a pot at a number of people. Kitchener not being around to defend himself.

What flag did the women of Ulster sew for the the 36th? All the women or just a select few. An odd statement. It's quite possible the un-official flags mentioned above were made for individual units by ladies associations but no Official flag was done this way.

Just a point regarding the golden harp on green flag. It was reported that one of the ships that relieved Londonderry 1689 had a harped green flag, with the cross of St George in the top left corner, the Apprentice Boys of Derry now fly this flag each August and i think its on their website mention of it being recognised in 1783 as being an 'ensign' flown by some ships. There is a little picture from some flag identification book.

Players cigarette cards of the Divisions shows the 16th as a shamrock on green circle and their christmas cards used this image too.

Although the Ulster Division used the red hand as it's symbol only particular units within the Division were allowed to use it on shoulder flashes, REs', Ambulance and MGC, but not the infantry who used plain colours with various shapes [triangle, half circle].

The YCVs' used the shamrock with red hand on various badges.

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Dublin Fusilier

I am not an expert on this subject but Fr. Browne of the Irish Guards saved a green harp flag the Headquarters company in April 1918 , as far as I remember the position was about to be overrun. There was also the recuitment poster with the piper in the foreground that had a harp flag being carried in the background to appeal to the Irish Nationalists.

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Nickmetcalfe

This may not add to the debate about flags but it certainly shows the iconography used by the Ulster Division - something for everyone. This is a Christmas card from 1915, with all that that implies about the make-up of 36th (Ulster) Division.post-14766-0-64956200-1358388192_thumb.j

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ianmccallum

Hi Guys

Thanks again for the replies. It is apparent that the iconography surrounding all the Irish divisions is complex. I have also come across references to what would be regarded as Irish Nationalist battalions (10th Royal Dublin Fusiliers) carrying large green banners. The Christmas Card is interesting in that it is an attempt to be inclusive, but the Ulster, rather than Ireland for Ever is the prime message. It also opens up to question the general impression that the UVF and Ulster division regarded themselves as exclusively British or English rather than Irish.

Ian

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Murrough

From the London illustrated News which mentions an action in Sept 1914, it seem individual men sometimes carried national flags.

There are moments in the hard pressed Battle when the spirit flags and the arms weaken under the continuous physical strain. Then suddenly an incident takes place fires the blood, lights the eye, gives a new strength to the arm and causes a renewal of the effort that proves irrespirable. Such an incident occurred when some Irish Brigades were been pressed by overwhelming masses of Germans constantly renewed. There were Irish Guards, Munsters, Leinsters and Connaught Rangers in the Battle and it looked like defeats or retirements were unavoidable. Then suddenly the tall figure of an Irish Guardsman rose from the firing line waved the old flag of Ireland with enthusiastic ardour and shouted excitedly “Erin go Bragh”. This was the match that set the ranks aflame. With a cheer that astonished both themselves and the enemy they rushed at them with the bayonet, bore through them and there was a German rout in that part of the field.

I have also attached some pics from Collins barracks Museum Dublin which include a flag from a confederate regiment and the shamrock on a uniform.

And another one from the Museum can't recall what it is but someone may know.

post-10169-0-95834000-1358423024_thumb.j

post-10169-0-48658300-1358424792_thumb.j

post-10169-0-89259400-1358424815_thumb.j

post-10169-0-74775800-1358424998_thumb.j

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Murrough

Hi Guys

Thanks again for the replies. It is apparent that the iconography surrounding all the Irish divisions is complex. I have also come across references to what would be regarded as Irish Nationalist battalions (10th Royal Dublin Fusiliers) carrying large green banners. The Christmas Card is interesting in that it is an attempt to be inclusive, but the Ulster, rather than Ireland for Ever is the prime message. It also opens up to question the general impression that the UVF and Ulster division regarded themselves as exclusively British or English rather than Irish.

Ian

I think the 36th considered themselves British but Irish as well,but you would have to look deeper into the composition of the 36th to ascertain if it was all inclusive,Questions would have to be asked, were there any catholics in it ? if so,how many ? how many Catholic officers were there? How many officers with Nationalist/Home sympathies were in it?There must have been some Catholic Unionists( I heard they did exist) in the Division but I cant seem to find any accurate information regarding same.As for the symbols, it most likely that they have their origins in the military history of Ireland and that political/tribal significance was attached to them at a later date.

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Nickmetcalfe

I think the 36th considered themselves British but Irish as well,but you would have to look deeper into the composition of the 36th to ascertain if it was all inclusive,Questions would have to be asked, were there any catholics in it ? if so,how many ? how many Catholic officers were there? How many officers with Nationalist/Home sympathies were in it?There must have been some Catholic Unionists( I heard they did exist) in the Division but I cant seem to find any accurate information regarding same.As for the symbols, it most likely that they have their origins in the military history of Ireland and that political/tribal significance was attached to them at a later date.

Again, there is use of language based on modern politics and not on the language of the time. The British vs Irish vs English thing is very modern. No-one in Ulster thought themselves to be English (unless they actually were!). There is merit in those interested in this thread reading the newspapers of the time to get a feel for the language. Everyone in Ireland was Irish. There was no feeling that being 'British' was more important; that terminology didn't exist. The issue of the day was Home Rule and after 1911 a growing division between being from the North (largely Ulster and largely Unionist) and the South, more aligned with the Irish Parliamentary Party (the majority party in Ireland at the time). But even that is too simplistic.

As regards the comment about the Christmas card - "it is an attempt to be inclusive" - I don't think that this is the case. As I said in an earlier post, the symbols of the regiment were very important to these men. Mixing them up in a new way was a natural evolution. The Union Flag does not simbolise 'British', it says 'Union'. These men were not being inclusive of Irish Catholic Home Rulers!

As regards Catholics in 36th (Ulster) Division - in February 1916 there were one officer and 13 other ranks (see Hansard - this was the answer to a Parliamentary question). All of this debate is moot following the attack on 1 July 1916. After that the Division was reinforced piecemeal by recruits from Ulster who came from the reserve battalions of the battalions in the Ulster Division (and were, therefore, of the same ilk as those original members of the Division); men from other reserve battalions of the regiments that made up the Division (and, therefore, men of both traditions and including recovered wounded from the regular battalions, who were mostly Catholic) and English soldiers rebadged in the Base Depot. The first Catholic mass held in the 9th Royal irish Fusiliers was in September 1916. Certainly by the Autumn of 1917 after the catastrophe of 16 August, both Divisions were very far removed from the original in terms of make-up.

Sorry I should have quoted both Ian and murrough in my last post.

Nick

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ianmccallum

I take the point regarding modern language, however, I would think the Union Flag would symbolise different things to different people as indeed did the Union itself and the Empire. From an Irish Nationalist Catholic point of view the Union Flag would be a very definite symbol of British or English Imperialism. Even today and more so then, "English or England" was often spoken of when the speaker actually meant British or Britain. "They'll always be an England." "England expects etc." Curiously enough at the end of August 1914, the editor of the English ‘Daily Dispatch’ sent a telegram to Sir Daniel MacAuley Stevenson the liberal Lord Provost of Glasgow. The editor wished the Lord Provost to have published an appeal to the “Youth of England” to do their duty and enlist. Sir Daniel took great exception to the use of “England” when the editor obviously meant Britain. In a very frosty reply he reminded the editor under no circumstances was Scotland to be assumed to be part of England. If the reference is to the entire country the term “Britain or British” is to be used. The Scots were so concerned about the use of English or England, they formed a committee to oversee the writing of the official history of the war to ensure Scotland's part was fully recognised. Regarding being British or English or Irish, I think it was more important than you think. Race hierarchy and class was at the epicentre of national life in the Victorian and Edwardian period. The average middle class Englishman would most certainly think himself racially superior to an African or an Irishman for that matter. I think the Protestant Irish landed classes would most certainly regarded themselves as English, which Irishman was it that said, "Just because you were born in a stable doesn't make you a horse." I think the Home Rule debate was about more than what was simply a very basic degree of devolution for Ireland, and involved vested interests, class, race, religion and heritage. Was one Irish-British or Irish-Irish. As usual with Ireland we are wandering into politics, religion etc and I didn't really want to go there. All I really wanted to know was if there any evidence that Kitchener did indeed order a green flag to be removed and if so what was the circumstances. My interest is in the men, once they had enlisted their loyalty to their mates and regiment usually superseded national politics and religion.

Ian

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ianmccallum

Hi Guys

Just came across this. Sorry it is not a better photo but the original is in a period newspaper and is pretty ropey.

post-37214-0-90731100-1358456102_thumb.j

Apparently made by nuns in Newcastle in 1917. Anyone know what happened to banners such as this. I know the colours of the disbanded Irish regiments went to Windsor in 1922.

Ian

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Dublin Fusilier

Hi Guys

Just came across this. Sorry it is not a better photo but the original is in a period newspaper and is pretty ropey.

post-37214-0-90731100-1358456102_thumb.j

Apparently made by nuns in Newcastle in 1917. Anyone know what happened to banners such as this. I know the colours of the disbanded Irish regiments went to Windsor in 1922.

Ian

I have seen of a similar flag from the Royal Munster Fusiliers. Its brightly coloured with Quit Et Deus on the back with Shamrocks in each corner with 1916 on it.

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BrendanLee

The South Irish Horse colours which are in Saint Patrick’s Cathedral Dublin.

post-53649-0-84653600-1358506968_thumb.j

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BrendanLee

These also hang in Saint Patrick’s Cathedral Dublin, not sure what they are, up too high to get a good image, they hang with several other Union flags, possibly RIR as there are several large memorials to RIR officers in the Cathedral.

post-53649-0-30286400-1358507507_thumb.j

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Nickmetcalfe

I take the point regarding modern language, however, I would think the Union Flag would symbolise different things to different people as indeed did the Union itself and the Empire. From an Irish Nationalist Catholic point of view the Union Flag would be a very definite symbol of British or English Imperialism. Even today and more so then, "English or England" was often spoken of when the speaker actually meant British or Britain. "They'll always be an England." "England expects etc." Curiously enough at the end of August 1914, the editor of the English ‘Daily Dispatch’ sent a telegram to Sir Daniel MacAuley Stevenson the liberal Lord Provost of Glasgow. The editor wished the Lord Provost to have published an appeal to the “Youth of England” to do their duty and enlist. Sir Daniel took great exception to the use of “England” when the editor obviously meant Britain. In a very frosty reply he reminded the editor under no circumstances was Scotland to be assumed to be part of England. If the reference is to the entire country the term “Britain or British” is to be used. The Scots were so concerned about the use of English or England, they formed a committee to oversee the writing of the official history of the war to ensure Scotland's part was fully recognised. Regarding being British or English or Irish, I think it was more important than you think. Race hierarchy and class was at the epicentre of national life in the Victorian and Edwardian period. The average middle class Englishman would most certainly think himself racially superior to an African or an Irishman for that matter. I think the Protestant Irish landed classes would most certainly regarded themselves as English, which Irishman was it that said, "Just because you were born in a stable doesn't make you a horse." I think the Home Rule debate was about more than what was simply a very basic degree of devolution for Ireland, and involved vested interests, class, race, religion and heritage. Was one Irish-British or Irish-Irish. As usual with Ireland we are wandering into politics, religion etc and I didn't really want to go there. All I really wanted to know was if there any evidence that Kitchener did indeed order a green flag to be removed and if so what was the circumstances. My interest is in the men, once they had enlisted their loyalty to their mates and regiment usually superseded national politics and religion.

Ian

Great post - I do, however, disagree with you re the Irish/English thing. Let's leave it there. As you say, your original question is the one we need the debate about. I can't help re the order to remove a green flag from battalions of 16th (Irish) Division but I will continue to dispute your statement that "the Ulster Flag was allowed to wave gloriously over the head of the Orange soldiers of the Protestant north".

Later this year I'll be beginning a history of the 7th and 8th Royal Irish Fusiliers - it will be interesting to see what turns up in that research about flags and emblems in 1914/15. Both battalions were presented a King's Colour; both were laid up in October 1920.

Nick

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ianmccallum

Hi Nick

Great idea, we'll agree to disagree, it always helps. A last comment on the Ulster flag and it waving gloriously over Orange soldiers, the quote was LLoyd George's not mine. I have absolutely no idea which flags waved where and over who, hence my question. In my opinion, irrespective of who or what they were, they were ALL in the end soldiers fighting for what they believed in and therefore deserve our respect.

Ian

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Nickmetcalfe

Ian,

This topic has really piqued my interest. I have done some digging through my library and I hope these will be of interest. See here (note that the term 'Irish Brigade' in this context means 16th (Irish) Division, explained earlier in the book):

http://archive.org/stream/irishonsommebein01macd#page/128/mode/2up

and

http://archive.org/stream/irishonsommebein01macd#page/138/mode/2up

and

http://archive.org/stream/irishonsommebein01macd#page/144/mode/2up

There is also a section in 'Ireland and the Great War' (Gregory & Paseta; Manchester University Press; 2002) in Chapter 10 by D G Boyce 'Nationalism, Unionism and the First World War on Page 202 where he discusses "popular assumptions about the war (are) being revised and challenged". Sorry I don't have the time to quote the whole piece, which is well worth reading.

in 'Irish Regiments in the Great War' (Timothy Bowman; Manchester University Press; 2003) on page 78 he quotes a letter from Maj Gen Parsons to John Redmond (who had wanted distinctive badges and uniforms) in which Parsons expresses his opposition. He also refers to the short lived 'Dixie badge' of the Ulster Division as "a silly badge".

There is much in these to reflect on, which might lead you closer to an answer to your original question.

Finally, I came across this on my hunt and thought that you might like to read it. http://www.erudit.org/revue/jcha/2009/v20/n2/044397ar.pdf

Nick

PS: Now I really am keen to start on a history of the 7th & 8th Royal Irish Fusiliers in 16th (Irish) Division!

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