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Bart150

Civilian Travel England-Ireland

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Bart150

Could ordinary civilians travel easily between England and Ireland during the War?

Were ferries running more or less normally Holyhead-Dun Laoghaire and Fishguard-Cork?

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Wexflyer

Travel easily: No, from 1916 on, at least.

Ferries running: Yes.

 

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Bart150

Thanks very much, Wexflyer. I don't quite understand you. If the ferries were running, in what way could civilians not travel easily?

I'm wondering if members of a family could have travelled from one country to another to attend a wedding.

Edited by Bart150
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Wexflyer
30 minutes ago, Bart150 said:

Thanks very much, Wexflyer. I don't quite understand you. If the ferries were running, in what way could civilians not travel easily?

I'm wondering if members of a family could have travelled from one country to another to attend a wedding.

 

As in WWII, a travel permit system was introduced - could not travel absent a permit. Before that travelers were screened in some undefined way.

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Bart150

OK, Wexflyer, thanks. I'm getting the picture.

The question arises: How difficult was it to get a permit?

Could a woman who lived in England get a permit to go and attend her daughter's wedding in Ireland in 1916?

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Wexflyer

1916 probably predates the permit system, when there was less structure to the travel screening process. I don't know how easy it was to get a permit, once they were introduced. As for the screening, I my guess is that they were looking for deserters and patriots.

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Bart150

Thanks, Wexflyer, I don't want to take up too much of your time, but there's just one other aspect: the danger from U-boats.

I suppose that this might deter people from travelling, but that rationally speaking the danger was small. I don't recall any reports of ferries being torpedoed.

Presumably, even if you were going to Cork, the Holyhead-Dun Laoghaire crossing, being shorter, would be preferred to Fishguard-Cork.

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Wexflyer

No, one of the ferries was sunk by a U-boat, the Leinster, in October 1918. Over 500 perished.

RMS Leinster Sinking

Also, don't you mean Fishguard-Rosslare, not Fishguard-Cork?

Edited by Wexflyer

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corisande

The RMS Leinster passenger list gives you an idea on the makeup of passengers between civilian and military in late 1918

 

For example Wikipeda gives " The ship's log states that she carried 77 crew and 694 passengers on her final voyage under the command of Captain William Birch. The ship had previously been attacked in the Irish Sea but the torpedoes missed their target. Those on board included more than one hundred British civilians, 22 postal sorters (working in the mail room) and almost 500 military personnel

 

RMS Leinster.com gives "she carried 771 passengers and crew. ....on board were 22 postal sorters from Dublin Post Office, working in the ship's onboard postal sorting room. There were 180 civilian passengers, men, women and children, most of them from Ireland and Britain .

 

What it means is that roughly 75% of the passengers were military and 25% civilian

 

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corisande

In my opinion a woman would not have normally had problems travelling to her daughter's wedding in Ireland in 1916

 

The permit system was introduced until  21 May 1918

permits-may-1918-times.PNG.0f4ea2fe30d42ca78e460e9e5125fa87.PNG

From London Times

 

permits-may-1918.PNG.be7817f3fe780b19406df82ba2642881.PNG

From Freemans Journal

 

 

permits-may-1918-waterford.PNG

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Wexflyer

Yes, the permit system was not introduced until 1918, but from Hansard it appears that there was a less formal system for checking passengers in place from at least 1916.

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Bart150

Thanks, Wexflyer and Corisande, very interesting and useful. From that I get these impressions:

 

Ferries continued to be available for civilians throughout the War (subject to screening and permits) but tended to carry more troops than civilians.

Taking the ferry was more dangerous later in the War. The U-boats’ preferred targets had been merchant ships in the Atlantic. When that campaign went badly in late 1917 the Germans put more stress on indiscriminate attacks on shipping around the coasts of the British Isles.

 

From 1917 on ferries were camouflaged and had a gun.

 

BTW The wedding was in Queenstown Cathedral. That’s why I mentioned the Fishguard-Cork service, operated by the B&I Line. That was how I travelled in the 1960s, and I assume the service already existed 1914-18. But there’s very little trace of it on the internet now, except a mention that the route was changed to Swansea-Cork in 1969.

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voltaire60

   The whole matter of controlling   civilian  movement by sea was the crux of British security operations during the Great War. There was a difference in  outlook between emigration beyond the British Isles and migration within- primarily to and from Ireland to England.

   The whole matter- couched in "official-speak" is dealt with in the series of reports in The National Archives  on port control in KV1-which is Security Service records. In the Great War, the activities of German spies was small but well documented in the history. But port control for vital for larger reasons. By restricting outward migration almost to zero- against an outward flow of some half million per annum in the century before the Great War, this added as a boost to recruitment and employment in war industries. It was particularly improtant vis a vis Ireland-where the lack of conscription mean that the "pull" of war industries in the rest of the UK drew many Irish to the areas of war prduction-esp, the metal bashing industries of the West Midlands and the heavy industries of the Clyde.

  Some screening of Irish inward migrants must have taken place- given the flow of workers inwards, then there were checks on Irish agitators and a cursory run of British Newspaper Archive suggests that there were few incidents of anything "Troubles" related among Irish workers in war industries in the UK. Given the troubles, by comparison, with the IRA in the mainland UK in the late 1930s-esp. around the Coventry bombings- then ,it looks as though Irish nationalist agitation in mainland UK ,esp. from 1916 onwards was effectively managed and controlled.

  Files and reports, which are mostly a postwar history of the subject, are all available for download

 

( A speculation- port control applied only to  civilian travel-not to HM Forces in uniform. Thus, -a question that intrigues me- why did Ireland not explode into full-blown civil war after Easter 1916 until after th end of the war?. One factor may have been that the capacity and organisation of Irish non-state organisations was severely restricted. And a possible irony-it may have been the return of subsstantial numbers of Irishmen who had served in HM Forces that boosted the escalation of violence in Ireland from 1919 onwards. The involvment of ex-British Army men in the Troubles on the nationalist side is nothing new-nary a history is published without remarking on the backgrounds of the assassins of Henry Wilson.  But with substantial numbers of traumatised, armed men of military experience in a pretty grim war, then that may have escalated a sort of "Freikorps"  way of protest, agitation and violence in the immediate post-war years-the reputation of the Tans is well-known-and where they were recruited. But the boost of ex-army Irish on the nationalst side  is something I have not tripped over in the scholarly literature)

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