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Wexflyer

John Redmond, MP 1856-1918

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Wexflyer

Leader of the Irish Parliamentary Party.  The 100th anniversary of his death is today.

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voltaire60

 A small piece of Irish history came my way many years ago as a bookseller-some of the confidential papers of Sir Matthew Nathan, the chief British official at Dublin Castle during the Home Rule episode and  up to the 16 Rising.  Nathan got on very well indeed with both Redmond and John Dillon. The three of them continued tals after the declaration of war to facilitate the introduction of Home Rule  after the war, after Redmond had agreed to it's suspension.  Redmond was invited to come into the coalition when formed but turned it down- Nathan was involved in the negotiations and did the drafting of some of Redmond's replies. In the proposed coalition, the 3 chief law officers  (LC, Att.G and Sol.G) would all be those who had sided with Ulster Protestantism during the Home Rule Crisis and had been prepared to back unlawful armed resistance by the Ulster unionists. Given Redmon'd's generally principled position that Home Rule was something to be achieved by peaceful and parliamentary means this was unacceptable The British. tried to appease Redmond by dumping the proposed Sol.G- he was bumped up to the bench. But it was not enough.

   Nathan kept back some sensitive papers from the general deposit of his papers at Bodley-he was keen to avoid any enbarrassment to either Redmond or  Dillon. These relationships are not covered  either by Stephen Gwynne in his official biography of Redmond, nor in F.S.L.Lyons in his biography of Dillon (Dillon wrote to Nathan on the eve of the 1916 Rising tipping him off that it was about to begin-alas, the Brits. probably knew much more than either Redmond or Dillon-but it's not the done thing for an Irish political leader to tip off the Brits.)

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rolt968

I confess to knowing little of history.

 

Am I right in thinking that the position taken by Redmond in 1914 led to so many Irish Nationalists joining the two New Army Irish Divisions?

RM

 

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Wexflyer
1 hour ago, voltaire60 said:

These relationships are not covered  either by Stephen Gwynne in his official biography of Redmond....

 

Interesting. I will say that Gwynne's biography seems almost unknown and unreferenced these days.  Perhaps because it made painfully clear how the British government played him for a dupe. They repeatedly reneged on commitments, yet Redmond kept going back for more and more humiliation.

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Wexflyer
29 minutes ago, rolt968 said:

Am I right in thinking that the position taken by Redmond in 1914 led to so many Irish Nationalists joining the two New Army Irish Divisions?

RM

 

 

Correct. He has gone down in history as the Irish politician who talked many thousands of supporters into getting themselves shot, in support of the British, for essentially no reward. 

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voltaire60
8 hours ago, Wexflyer said:

 

Correct. He has gone down in history as the Irish politician who talked many thousands of supporters into getting themselves shot, in support of the British, for essentially no reward. 

 

    A small correction. "He has gone down in SOME  history as the Irish politician who talked many thousands of supporters into getting themselves shot, in support of the British, for essentially no reward." 

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keithmroberts

Can we keep this cool please.

 

Keith Roberts

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voltaire60

Certainly. I am  not prepared to re-fight the political battles of yesteryear-the more so as it would be construed as "political" by a Mr. K.R. of Portsmouth. Thus, I merely point out that there are different strands to the historiography and that is it. Full stop. End of thread for me.

............as a cucumber.

 

 

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Hedley Malloch
8 hours ago, voltaire60 said:

 

    A small correction. "He has gone down in SOME  history as the Irish politician who talked many thousands of supporters into getting themselves shot, in support of the British, for essentially no reward." 

 

And how have other histories depicted him?

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voltaire60
46 minutes ago, Hedley Malloch said:

And how have other histories depicted him?

 

      Unable to comment. You will have to read for yourself. Please see  post No.8

Edited by voltaire60

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depaor01

Broadly speaking other histories depict him as a principled Irishman who unfortunately ended up on the 'losing side'  historically.

 

Dave 

Edited by depaor01

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Jervis

"Redmond - A life undone" by Chris Dooley published in 2015 is an very good read and is sympathetic to Redmond. It does cover the period when Redmond was offered a place at the war cabinet and his reasons for refusal. There is also a recent two volume biography by Dermot Meleady - which I have not read yet. 

 

I have never fully understood why Lloyd George collapsed the deal he made with Redmond & Carson for the immediate implementation of home rule in the 26
Counties in the summer of 1916 (I accept there was fudge to the deal). I understand he feared the loss of southern Irish unionists Lord Landsdowne and Walter Long from the war cabinet which risked collapsing the Government during a Great War. 

 

But how real was the risk and what was the pressure DLG was under? how were these men so influential and who was their support base that they could be in a position to collapse the government? 

 

It seems to me the collapse of this 1916 deal effectively ended Redmond and the Irish party, creating a vacuum to be filled by non constitutional means which ultimately ended the union between Britain and Ireland. So also Interested if others view it as a significant event or (as history has done) as a mere footnote to the aftermath of the 1916 rising. 

 

Edited by Jervis

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Wexflyer
1 hour ago, Jervis said:

"Redmond - A life undone" by Chris Dooley published in 2015 is an very good read and is sympathetic to Redmond....

 

 

I would encourage you and anyone else interested to read the biography of Redmond by Stephen Gwynne, ca. 1932. Gwynne was an MP and colleague of Redmond within the IPP.  He was very familiar both with Redmond himself and the events described. Overall the picture he gives is that of a decent fellow, temperamentally or intellectually unsuited to the high-stakes political games being played. Certainly far too simple to be an effective negotiator with an operator like Lloyd George.

 

As for Lloyd George and his maneuvering, I think Fatal Path by Ronan Fanning (2013) may answer your questions.  Personally, I don't think there was any one event leading to the loss of the Union, rather a very, very long line of mistakes: The breaking of the original Union commitment to Catholic emancipation, the 30 year wait for actual emancipation, the racial cleansing by neglect during the Great Famine, the refusal of Repeal, the refusal of Home Rule, the fact the the Union persisted for over a century against the overwhelming opposition of the populace, prejudice, etc. etc.  All coming to a climax in 1916 during the Great War.

Edited by Wexflyer

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Jervis

Thanks for the reading suggestions. Much appreciated. 

 

Coincidentally I passed Hodges Figgis on Dawson st, Dublin and saw this in the shop front! 

IMG_5362.JPG

Edited by Jervis

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Jervis

If my post read as though the failed 1916 home rule deal was the one and only reason for Ireland to leave the union- that was the opposite of my intention. 

 

I agree there was a long list of events leading up to Ireland leaving the union. I am referring to the Great War period; specifically how the IPP went from a peak period of success in 1914 to complete electoral wipeout in 1919. The reason is mostly popularly attributed to single event - the 1916 rising. 

 

In my view the failed home rule deal of 1916 is significant in its own right. How could the IPP have survived the next election having built expectations up to a crescendo in 1912 only to end in another bitter failure and the public humiliation of Redmond. Their 50 year campaign achieved nothing and they and their approach were electorally bankrupt. Obviously Sinn Fein gained significantly on the IPP's demise. (Which leads to the hypothetical and reciprocal  question - if the deal was done would the majority moderate Nationalists have been satisfied and would the IPP have survived as the dominate nationalist party, curtailing the rise of Sinn Fein and more extreme Republicanism). 

 

Which brings me back to DLG. He achieved something very few
Politicians have ever done - broker a deal between Irish Nationalists and unionists. Yet it was the British government who collapsed the deal to retain cabinet unity. 

 

Did they fully understand and accept the implications of the IPPs demise but prioritised cabinet unity and winning the war at all costs? 

 

 I am also wondering did Landsdowne or Long subsequently play any Role or support DLG in his bid to oust Asquith?  

Edited by Jervis

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rob elliott

Lloyd George brokered no deal between the Unionists & Nationalists. The 6 County exclusion had been put to the government in 1914, it is for all intents & purposes the one in place today.

Carson had no choice but to present this as the requirement agreed by the Ulster Unionist Council in 1914, which they would again endorse in June 1916 in written form giving Carson the instruction to do 'all that is necessary' to ensure the government accepts the fact the 6 counties would remain in the Union at the close of the war.

Lloyd George had to sell it.

Redmond's position could not alter things and I believe in 1914 he had achieved the best he could. The fact he does not get the credit for what he achieved is unfortunate.

 

That said, in a television interview in 1966 for the Easter Anniversary, Emmet Dalton, ex British Officer, Dublin IRA Officer & friend of Michael Collins, stated 'we achieved nothing that wasn't on the table in 1914'.

This to some extent would vindicate Redmond's position. Unless anyone can tell me exactly what else did SF get after the war of independence & a bitter civil war.

The biggest mistake the IPP made was not to fight the 1918 election. Going into the electoral pact with SF that was of no benefit to them & probably would not have happened had Redmond been alive I think. All it did was give republicans the false belief they had a mandate to rule the country.

It is not proof positive but in some wards that the IPP stood against SF in Ulster they beat them soundly, South Down & Donegal East, Tyrone North East. In other wards, especially south they faired less well, but SF did not poll a majority of votes, they took a majority of seats, with free passes on 25 of those. This is not a democratic way to get a mandate to change a country's constitution.

The Catholic church was still very anti SF and could have influenced things more had Redmond still been around.

 

No free vote 'in or out' has ever been given to the Irish people, so i do think its incorrect to make a statement that 'an overwhelming majority of the population wanted a break from the Union'.

There is no basis to this statement at all. Home Rule was not a break from the Union, it was more political freedom within the Union.

If you take the 1918 election as an indicator then then there was no majority vote, nearly 30% of the voters didn't bother to cast any vote so possibly not that bothered, or perhaps didn't have much of a choice.....well not in 25 wards.

 

Another reason HR failed to win favour in the North was as much economical reasons, than political. Why should the financially strong North bow to the wishes of an agricultural backward south.

One of the amendments to the 3rd Home Rule bill was to have the ability to raise taxes, it was plain to see this was aimed at the Northern Industries, so as to finance the new Irish Government. Unionists were never going to give up a position of strength for the unknown.

 

Edward Carson did not want to partition Ireland, this was the requirement of James Craig and the business men of the UUC.

The name gives it away 'Ulster Unionist Council', the stall had already been set out as early as 1905.

It was in fact not Unionists who first proposed partition of Ireland it was a Nationalist writer in the late 19th Century, the idea was later taken up by a Liberal MP. This as a four county division.

The bit about perhaps Ulster leaves for 5 years then joins a united Ireland later wasn't ever going to happen, all parties surely realised this.

 

Carson wanted to stop Home Rule, definitely, but by 1914 it was out of his hands, Redmond was in quite a good position had the country supported him, to at least get the 'stepping stone' needed to bring about a future independent Ireland.

 

Perhaps its indicative of the state of the situation in 1916 whereby Lord Leitrim, landowner and leading Unionist in Donegal, returns from service with the 11th Inniskillings as their CO, just before the Somme offensive to take part in talks. He then realises that Donegal will not be included in the exclusion agreement [6 counties], he knew this in 1914 but did not accept it, so he leaves the talks and effectively the Unionist Council.

He would before the wars end start moving his furniture out of the house in Donegal only to return in 1940 to move his family away from the bombing in London. They knew exactly what was going to happen at wars end, it can only be DLG was trying to hold things together by making promises of more talks and playing for time, knowing the Somme was about to start meant bigger issues to worry about.

 

Just for general information, we think Ireland as the 'biggie' on the table before the war.

Well not in Winston's eyes, he saw Sufferagete's, the insurance scheme [for all workers] and the Welsh church disestablishment as more worrying. His words were 'If we can get Ireland out of the way we can deal with these issues'.

 

 

Rob

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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voltaire60

Rob- An informative post- 2 comments only-as this is GWF and concerned with the Great War.

1)  I agree that  there is no evidence as overwhelming support for leaving the Union. I have never seen any evidence to support this view. I think that Redmond reflected the MAJORITY nationalist view until at least the end of the 1917 Convention. But History  often remembers those who shout the loudest rather than those who were the "real" popular  leaders at the time.  I return to the theme of British military policy  in 1917-1918- which I regard as quite sophisticated-neither sparking full rebellion nor alientating the whole population of the 26 counties. An irony of Irish history- more aggravation during the Civil War than in 2 years post-Easter.

2)  Was Irish agriculture that backward?  Certainly the nature of landholding  and the calamitous effects of  monoculture have coloured Irish history irrevocably.  But DATI  from 1899 and the (failed) efforts of Horace Plunkett for cooperation suggest things were on the move. As far as I am aware, Ireland consistently had a food surplus-the more so during the war years- I think the evidence of this is that Irish agricultural products were free for sale, free for export to mainland UK during the war -and obtained by purchase and not compulsion. Nor is there any evidence- by looking at the price indices for the war years, that the prices of agricultural products were rigged in British favour. The war years were a good time for Irish agriculture- Thus, if there was exploitation of Ireland during the war years, then it is a very sophisticated use of economic levers at first remove-"an invisible hand". The British got what they wanted from Ireland during ALL of the war years- food, manpower- what trouble there was was relatively easily contained-- the more so for a country where the population was supposed to be overwhelming against.... 

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Jervis
4 hours ago, rob elliott said:

Lloyd George brokered no deal between the Unionists & Nationalists. The 6 County exclusion had been put to the government in 1914, it is for all intents & purposes the one in place today

 

Thanks Rob for your post - but unless I am missing something - I don't know why you would say above. 

 

The 1912 home rule act made no provision for the partition of Ireland. However there was broad agreement for the need of an amending bill to account for the exclusion of Ulster. But no agreement but could be reached on what Ulster was to consist of - 4,6 or 9 counties or the length of time for the exclusion. The Buckingham palace conference called by the King to debate the above ended without agreement in July 1914 just days before the outbreak of WW1 and the suspension. 

 

The first agreement to my knowledge between nationalist, unionist and the British Gov that Ulster would  consist of the 6 counties was brokered by Lloyd George in the summer of 1916 and subsequently put into effect in the 1920 Government of Ireland act. 

 

 

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Jervis
6 hours ago, rob elliott said:

 

That said, in a television interview in 1966 for the Easter Anniversary, Emmet Dalton, ex British Officer, Dublin IRA Officer & friend of Michael Collins, stated 'we achieved nothing that wasn't on the table in 1914'.

This to some extent would vindicate Redmond's position. Unless anyone can tell me exactly what else did SF get after the war of independence & a bitter civil war 

 

 

Dalton is a man who led a very interesting life, but I don't get his comments. 

 

There seems to me , quite substantial difference between the home rule bill and the free state. The Key being;

 

The home rule parliament was subordinate to Westminster. Westminster had the power to veto or dissolve. 

 

The Free state had control over finances  including the all Important taxation which under home rule was retained by Westminster
 
The Treaty allowed an independent civil
Police force and defence force which was not the case under home rule. 

 

 

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Jervis

According to Churchill the border of Northern Ireland & Ireland was not settled on the 24th July 1914. 

IMG_5402.PNG

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Wexflyer
On 3/10/2018 at 07:35, voltaire60 said:

Rob- An informative post- 2 comments only-as this is GWF and concerned with the Great War.

1)  I agree that  there is no evidence as overwhelming support for leaving the Union. I have never seen any evidence to support this view. I think that Redmond reflected the MAJORITY nationalist view until at least the end of the 1917 Convention. But History  often remembers those who shout the loudest rather than those who were the "real" popular  leaders at the time.  I return to the theme of British military policy  in 1917-1918- which I regard as quite sophisticated-neither sparking full rebellion nor alientating the whole population of the 26 counties. An irony of Irish history- more aggravation during the Civil War than in 2 years post-Easter.

2)  Was Irish agriculture that backward?  Certainly the nature of landholding  and the calamitous effects of  monoculture have coloured Irish history irrevocably.  But DATI  from 1899 and the (failed) efforts of Horace Plunkett for cooperation suggest things were on the move. As far as I am aware, Ireland consistently had a food surplus-the more so during the war years- I think the evidence of this is that Irish agricultural products were free for sale, free for export to mainland UK during the war -and obtained by purchase and not compulsion. Nor is there any evidence- by looking at the price indices for the war years, that the prices of agricultural products were rigged in British favour. The war years were a good time for Irish agriculture- Thus, if there was exploitation of Ireland during the war years, then it is a very sophisticated use of economic levers at first remove-"an invisible hand". The British got what they wanted from Ireland during ALL of the war years- food, manpower- what trouble there was was relatively easily contained-- the more so for a country where the population was supposed to be overwhelming against.... 

 

Interesting points - but essentially lost here in a thread on Redmond? Might make sense to repost in a dedicated thread?

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Wexflyer

I would like to offer my perspective on John Redmond, which may differ from that of some or many of you.

 

In my assessment, Redmond greatest accomplishments lay in the period after the fall and death (1891) of Charles Stewart Parnell, i.e. well before the Great War and the controversy over the Third Home Rule Bill. Redmond led the pro-Parnell fraction of the Irish Parliamentary Party (IPP) – a small minority - in the wake of the famous “split”. He subsequently successfully reunited the party under his leadership in the first decade of the 19th Century. By reuniting the IPP, while keeping the number of nationalist MPs consistently in the 80s, he set the stage for the introduction of the Third Home Rule Bill in 1912.  Those were his greatest and lasting achievements.

 

However, once the Home Rule Bill was introduced, and especially after the start of the Great War, Redmond made disastrous mistake after mistake. This led directly to the eclipse of the IPP in 1916, and its essentially complete destruction in 1918.  The reasons for his failure at the very moment of (anticipated) success are I think clear.

  • He was too trusting of the spurious promises of British politicians. The old saw of “fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me,” was not for Redmond. He repeatedly accepted false assurances and promises, and was humiliated on multiple occasions. He unfortunately comes across as a dupe who was incapable of correctly evaluating his opponents.  This was a failure of political judgment of the first magnitude.
  • He was more of a backroom committee-man or operative type than a commanding national leader.
  • It was his misfortune that his principal opponent was by far the most charismatic and effective Irish politician of the first decades of the 19th Century – Edward Carson. Carson was a born leader, a man who “made things happen,” and a fiery orator. All things that Redmond was not.
  • Redmond was not pro-active, but reactive.
  • He failed to take seriously – until way too late – the challenge and opposition from Carson and the unionist/conservative alliance.
  • Redmond should at the least have publicly insisted on the prosecution and jailing of Carson and Bonar Law for their highly illegal and unconstitutional actions in opposition to the 1912 Home Rule Bill. Instead, he went along limply with Asquith’s invariably preferred option – doing nothing.
  • Last on my list is his crowning blunder. Wantonly sending tens of thousands of Irishmen to their deaths in the Great War, in support of an occupying power which actively denied the application to Ireland of the very principles for which the war was supposedly fought, namely “freedom of small nations,” “self-determination”, etc.

Finally, I should mention that as I write this on my computer, there are here somewhere on the shelves in my library several mementos of John Redmond’s funeral. I also well remember personally attending some of the annual “pilgrimages” to his graveside in Wexford (actually, mausoleum) in the 1960s.

Edited by Wexflyer

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voltaire60
3 hours ago, Wexflyer said:

Wantonly sending tens of thousands of Irishmen to their deaths in the Great War

 

     Wex- I think this is plainly factually wrong.  Redmond was never in a position to control either the recruiting or deployment  of British troops-he was neither a Minister, nor a civil servant in either the Irish or British administration. Yes, he was active in supporting  the "British" (which includes Ireland) war effort. 

    As to Carson, we may be in accord- a deeply deceitful,  manipulative  man- BUT a fixer. It was said of Field Marshall Montgomery in the next war that he wasn't a very nice man but nice men don't win wars. Moralising politicians don't last long in wartime.(let me know,for instance if you ever turn up a copy of a book called "The Moral Wisdom of David Lloyd George") 

     To me, Redmond is very similar to John Morley and John Burns- essentially Victorian  peacetime constitutional politicians at the end of their careers-anomalies in what  came along after 1914.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Wexflyer
7 hours ago, voltaire60 said:

 

     Wex- I think this is plainly factually wrong.  Redmond was never in a position to control either the recruiting or deployment  of British troops-he was neither a Minister, nor a civil servant in either the Irish or British administration. Yes, he was active in supporting  the "British" (which includes Ireland) war effort.

 

I will have to strongly disagree.  Redmond was the leading and most prominent recruiter for the British Army in Ireland in the 1914-15 period. He spoke as the "National Leader" and "Prime Minister in waiting". His motives were probably severalfold, but clearly included a desire to have a counter-force to the UVF 36th "Ulster" Division under IPP control. This was the planned/desired role of the 10th and 16th "Irish" Divisions - plans largely thwarted by the British Army establishment.

There is an interesting article on Redmond's role during this period available online at

History Ireland, 2003 - "The Rhetoric of Redmondism 1914-16"

His leading role in recruitment went so far as his image being used on official recruiting posters. Here is a relatively famous one.

image.png.8e210cc0c78926dc2b9bb810499884f8.png

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Jervis
11 hours ago, Wexflyer said:

 

Interesting points - but essentially lost here in a thread on Redmond? Might make sense to repost in a dedicated thread?


I agree the posts seems somewhat out of place and seems to be addressing issues that war not previously raised in this thread. However I would like to comment on this post, mostly in a urban context. 

 

There was compulsory purchase orders during the war. For example the Military authorities requisitioned all hay and fodder within a 10 mile radius of Dublin and fixed prices. The knock on affect caused starvation for the cities horses and cattle. The diaries were very hard hit and the output of milk dropped and pushed up prices, causing hardship of the city's poor. Consequently the infant mortality rate in the city rose. (From 141 to 155 per thousand). 

 

Restrictive government policy, additional importation and shipping costs (not to mention cost of loss due to German submarines), less bargaining power (relative to England) and good old fashioned war profiteering led to massive price inflation in Ireland and prices were significantly more expensive compared to the English market. e.g. The cost of Sugar near trebled in 1914 and cost 41% more than in London. All Basic food stuffs cost more in Ireland. Example price inflation on Bread (70%) meat (190%) potatoes (250%) between 1914 to 1917. 

 

Inevitably public opinion was inflamed as cattle and horses starved to death. 
In 1916 the fodder crop awaiting export was set alight on the docks destroying 1,400 tons of fodder. 

 

Another point worth making is, as the Government mobilised to a war economy, non war industries were shut down. Outside of Belfast, Ireland had no war industry and was much harder hit by Government policy. All major employers in the cities were shut down (e.g. Guinness) creating large scale unemployment at a time of rising prices. This caused major hardship particularly among the towns and cities. Whether by accident or design the only obvious way out for most urban poor was the army and the coveted separation allowance for family men. 

 

All of the above created resentment against the military authorities and the War became increasingly unpopular as seen in the drop in recruitment from 1916 onwards. This resentment obviously carried over into the post war troubles.

 

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