Jump to content
Great War Forum

Remembered Today:

Sign in to follow this  
MJROB

Irishmen as officers?

Recommended Posts

MJROB

Hi Great War Forum,

I was wondering whether anyone had any suggestions with regards to information/reading material/ primary documents with regards to Irishmen becoming officers during the Great War.

Was it possible and, if so, how regular an occurance was it? I'm assuming it would be little to negligible but would warmly welcome some feedback on it.

MJ

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
connaughtranger

Plenty of officers born in Ireland but to landed gentry for the most part. Kitchener was born in Ireland

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
centurion

There does not appear to have been any specific discrimination against Irishmen any more than Scots or Welsh (or even Cornish)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
depaor01

Look at Irish Life magazine. Gave a biog of Irish officers who were KIA or MID.

Thousands listed in a supplement called "Our Heroes" for each year of the war.

Not as negligible as one might think.

Dave.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
bill24chev

In the late 18th,19th and early 20th centuries Ireland was an important source of officers for the British Army, as Connaughtranger says mostly but not exclusvly from the Protestant gentry. Wellington was Iris( although he dis apparently say aboutis Irish birth "if you are born in a barn you are not neccessarily a horse"). Roberts, and Montgomery and o'Connor of WW2 North Africa fame, both young officers in WW1, were born into Irish families but not actualy in Ireland.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
centurion

In the late 18th,19th and early 20th centuries Ireland was an important source of officers for the British Army, as Connaughtranger says mostly but not exclusvly from the Protestant gentry. Wellington was Iris( although he dis apparently say aboutis Irish birth "if you are born in a barn you are not neccessarily a horse").

I think it was "being born in a stable doesn't make you a horse". Works both ways my cousins (RAF father) were born in Singapore, Colorado Springs and Germany but would never think of themselves as Singaporean, American or German Wellington's family weren't Irish

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest

Unless I am mistaken, the OP question is about Irishmen rather than religious persuasion. The answer to your question is thousands. Irish born or descended from Irish families.

The Irish battalions initially raised for Kitchener's Army numbered 24 .... 12 in each of the 10th (Irish) and 16th (Irish) Divs and there were another 12 in the 36th (Ulster Div) not including pioneer battalions, so 36 battalions formed in the latter part of 1914 each needing 30 Officers. To save you the calculation that makes 1,080 Officers just for the infantry battalions. The vast majority were Irishmen (well over 90%). More battalions were raised later, increasing the numbers.

A significant proportion of Kitchener battalion junior officers were like all other Kitchener units; drawn from the educated classes, but generally speaking drawn from the local population. A glance at the Army list for May 1915 would indicate from the surnames alone that the vast majority were Irish.

There are plenty of stats. MG

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Airshipped

There are too many sources to quote re the socio-economic, socio-cultural and religious profile of Irish officers. However, if one were to bear in mind that the National University of Ireland did not have an OTC, unlike Queen's, Trinity etc and that these would be a useful starting point. Bear in mind also that the UK had an undersized army and oversized navy for much of the preceding century. The rapid expansion in WWI was an unprecedented mobilization, requiring an intake of officer cadets far in excess of anything previously undertaken.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Airshipped

One could probably generate several hundred examples at each officer rank but as an example of a prominent Irish family and senior rank then why not go to the top to Field Marshal look at the Waterford/India Roberts?

http://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/384527/

Even if one were to bin Burke's Irish Families and restrict your selection to Irish-born families you'd still end up with several hundred examples.

To take a few egs at Lt Col and have a glance for exotic locations then see Malta:

http://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/115676/

or Iraq:

http://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/637880/

Even Essex:

http://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/2757036/

But France is always going to be where your research should focus:

http://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/44307/

http://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/515166/

http://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/578705/

Inevitably you'll find Irish officers buried in Ireland:

http://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/662834/

With the volume of information out there it'd be like holding a glass under a waterfall. Pick a figure of what you'd have in mind as an adequate sample size, perhaps based upon the percentage holding officer rank in the Irish regiments relative to those who served in British regiments of the UK forces. However, you'd probably need to bear in mind the high attrition rate from the early and mid war years that left the profile of the Irish regiments quite Anglicized with conscripts by the final stages of the war. (Recruitment in Ireland remained voluntary).

I'd say a sample size of 500 Irish officers would give you a good insight into their background. (Oh and be careful with the flying services: the British accorded higher rank to their flyers than the French and Germans, hence Major Robert Gregory or Major Mick Mannock etc). Stick with the army and it should produce an interesting mosaic.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest

An important feature of the Irish Officer training was the early formation of an Officer Cadet Company in the 7th Leinsters, which processed thousands of young men, many plucked from the ranks of Kitchener's (Irish) battalions. MG

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Murrough

In the late 18th,19th and early 20th centuries Ireland was an important source of officers for the British Army, as Connaughtranger says mostly but not exclusvly from the Protestant gentry. Wellington was Iris( although he dis apparently say aboutis Irish birth "if you are born in a barn you are not neccessarily a horse"). Roberts, and Montgomery and o'Connor of WW2 North Africa fame, both young officers in WW1, were born into Irish families but not actualy in Ireland.

That quote has been misattributed to Wellington, it was actually said by Daniel O'Connel about Wellington.Today wellington would be described as Anglo/ Irish.

http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Arthur_Wellesley,_1st_Duke_of_Wellington

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Old Owl

An Irishman by birth:

Theophilus William Seale was the son of Mr and Mrs Richard Seale of 24, Parnell St., Clonmel. He was educated at the Methodist College, Belfast and subsequently worked for the Bank of Ireland. He enlisted in the South Irish Horse in 1914 and was soon given a commission into the 7th Bn.Royal Munster Fusiliers, 7/8/15. Proceeding to the front in 1916 he had only been in the frontline treches for two days when he was killed in action on 22/8/16. Age 32.

On the other hand Lawrence of Arabia's father was an Anglo-Irish Baronet.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Waddell

If you are looking at building a reading list, Monk Gibbon's autobiography Inglorious Soldier is worth looking out for. Written very much from the perspective of a young Irish subaltern serving in the ASC on the Western Front and his experience prior in the Easter Rising. It is a dense read but interesting.

Scott

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Let Erin Remember

Irishmen have been prominent in the officer ranks of the Army for more years thanI care to remember. From Wellington through Roberts, Kitchener, French, Gough, Wilson, Montgomery, Alanbrooke, O 'Connor, Dorman /Smith to name a few of the generals.

The first VC of the Great War was won by an Irishman, Lt Maurice Dease.

As listed in post 11

An important feature of the Irish Officer training was the early formation of an Officer Cadet Company in the 7th Leinsters, which processed thousands of young men, many plucked from the ranks of Kitchener's (Irish) battalions. MG

Séamus

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Michael Pegum

Look at Irish Life magazine. Gave a biog of Irish officers who were KIA or MID.

Thousands listed in a supplement called "Our Heroes" for each year of the war.

Dave.

Were there any issued after July 28th, 1916? I have a copy of 'Our Heroes' in hard-back form up to that date, and it does say, on the penultimate page, that "Part XI of this Album will be issued shortly, in which will be included photographs received too late for this number."

Michael

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
corisande
Was it possible and, if so, how regular an occurrence was it? I'm assuming it would be little to negligible but would warmly welcome some feedback on it.

A strange question to ask, and I am unsure why the question would be asked ! Ireland was at that time part of the United Kingdom. I go with Centurion's response "There does not appear to have been any specific discrimination against Irishmen any more than Scots or Welsh (or even Cornish)"

I took a look in a couple of books I have "Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of Ireland in the Great War." and "Bank of Ireland Staff in the Great War". A generous supply of Irish Officers shown from both sources - as you might expect the percentage of officers who were Masons was very high!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
depaor01

Were there any issued after July 28th, 1916? I have a copy of 'Our Heroes' in hard-back form up to that date, and it does say, on the penultimate page, that "Part XI of this Album will be issued shortly, in which will be included photographs received too late for this number."

Michael

Hi Michael,

Yes they were issued up to 1918. I can do lookups if you wish.

Regards,

Dave

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Michael Pegum

I took a look in a couple of books I have "Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of Ireland in the Great War." and "Bank of Ireland Staff in the Great War". A generous supply of Irish Officers shown from both sources - as you might expect the percentage of officers who were Masons was very high!

I would be interested to know where this statistic came from. As a single example, there are 24 officers named on the war memorial of the Kildare Street Club in Dublin - which was the epicentre of Unionism, and largely (but not entirely) Protestant. Only two of them appear in the above-mentioned Roll of Honour of the Freemasons of Ireland!

Michael

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Michael Pegum

Hi Michael,

Yes they were issued up to 1918. I can do lookups if you wish.

Regards,

Dave

Thanks, Dave,

Are any of them available in libraries? It's the sort of resource I need to use frequently on the Irish War Memorials Project, and I would like to get copies, if possible.

Michael

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
corisande
A generous supply of Irish Officers shown from both sources - as you might expect the percentage of officers who were Masons was very high!

Sorry, my grammar. I meant to say that in the book of Masons who served, a large proportion were officers. Alternatively that there were many Irish officers who were Masons.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
depaor01

Thanks, Dave,

Are any of them available in libraries? It's the sort of resource I need to use frequently on the Irish War Memorials Project, and I would like to get copies, if possible.

Michael

I believe there's a set in the National Library. I'm involved in a project to create a searchable version which should be ready next March.

Dave

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Let Erin Remember

Am I correct in inferring that "Our Heroes" would give a figure for the number of "Irish" officers who died on the Great War or as a result of wounds / illness received while on active service?

It would also be of interest to quantify the total number of Irishmen who served as officers.

Séamus

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...