IRA Divisions -Civil War

Zyklon B

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Here below are the IRA's Divisions prior to the onset of the Civil War.

I (formerly) believed there were thirty IRA divisions (of whom 16 were Anti-Treaty and 14 Pro-Treaty, although the latter were augmented by Mercenaries). I can only count 16 Divisions, however (I am sure there are a few omitted). I may be wrong, as this link suggests.

Is there an IRA Order of Battle available online? (Lists units, e.g. 1st Eastern Division, 1st Dublin Brigade, GOC Oscar Traynor TD and engagements). The Divisions did not closely follow county lines, as you might think. Does anyone have any supplemental information? All I have is this (from same link):
  • APPENDIX G: Order of Battle of the Irish Republican Army June, 1922.

    AT= Indicates units opposed to the Treaty. PT=Indicates units supporting the Treaty.

    1st Northern Division (PT) (4 Brigades - Co. Donegal) - C/O Comdt.Gen. Joseph Sweeney

    2nd Northern Division (AT) (4 Brigades - Cos. Tyrone and Derry) - C/O Comdt.Gen. Charles Daly

    3rd Northern Division (AT) (3 Brigades - Co. Antrim and the north of Co. Down)

    - C/O Seamus Woods (and Comdt.Gen. Joseph McKelvey)


    4th Northern Division (Neutral) (3 Brigades - Co. Armagh, the west and south of Co. Down, and the north of Co. Louth) - C/O Comdt. Frank Aiken

    5th Northern Division (PT) (Co. Monaghan, and the east of Co. Cavan) - O/C Comdt.Gen. Dan Hogan


    1st Eastern Division (PT) (9 Brigades - Cos. Meath, Kildare, the south of Co. Louth, the southeast of Co. Cavan, and the east of Co. Westmeath) - C/O Comdt. Sean Boylan (Presumably this Division contained the Kildare Brigade - O/C Comdt. Patrick Brennan)



    2nd Eastern Division (Containing PT and AT units) (Cos. Dublin, Carlow, and the north of Co. Wicklow) - C/O Gen. Thomas Ennis

    Among the units that made up the Division were the following:

    1st Dublin Brigade (AT) - O/C Comdt. Oscar Trainer

    2nd Dublin Brigade

    3rd Dublin Brigade (AT) - Comdt. Joseph O'Connor

    South Dublin Brigade (AT) - O/C Comdt. Andrew MacDonnell

    Carlow Brigade (PT) - O/C Comdt. Liam Stack

    3rd Eastern Division (Containing PT and AT units) (2 Brigades - Co. Wexford and the south of Co. Wicklow) - C/O Patrick Flemming

    The Division contained the following units:

    North Wexford Brigade (PT) - C/O Comdt. Joseph Cummin

    South Wexford Brigade (AT) - Comdt. Thomas O'Sullivan

    Midland Division (PT) (Cos. Longford, Westmeath, the east of Co.Leitrim, the middle of Co. Cavan, and the east of Co. Fermanagh) - C/O Comdt. Sean MacEoin (Presumably this Division contained the South Fermanagh Brigade)

    1st Western Division (PT) (Co. Clare and the south of Co. Galway) - O/C Comdt. Michael Brennan (replacing

    AT O/C Comdt.Gen. Frank Barrett)

    Among the units that made up this Division were the following:

    4th Brigade

    East Clare Brigade - O/C Comdt. Michael Brennan (promoted to Divisional O/C)

    2nd Western Division (AT) (the northeast of Co. Galway, the south of Co. Roscommon, and the southeast of Co. Mayo) - O/C Comdt. Thomas Maguire

    3rd Western Division (Containing PT and AT units) (Co. Sligo, the west of Co. Leitrim, and the west of Co. Fermanagh) - O/C Comdt. Liam Pilkington

    Among the units that made up this Division were the following:

    1st Brigade (AT) - O/C Comdt. Seamus Devins

    2nd Sligo Brigade (PT)

    East Sligo Brigade (AT) - Comdt. Tom Deignan

    4th Western Division (AT) (the west of Co. Mayo and the west of Co. Galway)

    - O/C Comdt.Gen. Michael Kilroy

    Among the units that made up this Division were the following:

    North Mayo Brigade

    East Mayo Brigade - O/C Tom Carney

    West Mayo Brigade - O/C Comdt.Gen. Michael Kilroy

    1st Southern Division (AT) (11 Brigades - Cos. Waterford, Cork, Kerry, and the west of Limerick) - O/C Liam Lynch (succeeded by Comdt.Gen. Thomas Crofts after being mortally wounded and captured 10 April, 1923)

    Among the units that made up this Division were the following:

    Waterford Brigade - O/C Col. Patrick Paul (at a later date O/C Brig.Gen. Pax Whelan)

    1st Cork Brigade - O/C Sean Hagerty and Brig.Gen. Pax Whelan (later appointed O/C of the Waterford Brigade)

    2nd Cork Brigade

    3rd Cork Brigade - Comdt. Tom Hales (Acting O/C Comdt. Michael O'Neill)

    4th Cork Brigade

    5th 'West' Cork Brigade - O/C Tadg O'Sullivan (Brig. Ted Sullivan)

    1st Kerry Brigade - O/C Andrew Cooney (succeeded by Humphrey Murphy and, at a later date

    Brig. J.J. Sheehy)

    2nd Kerry Brigade - O/C Comdt. John Joe Rice

    3rd Kerry Brigade

    West Limerick Brigade

    2nd Southern Division (Containing PT and AT units) (6 Brigades - Co. Kilkenny, the east of Co. Limerick, the south and middle of Co. Tipperary) - O/C Ernie O'Malley (succeeded by Comdt.Gen. Seamus Robinson in July, 1922)

    Among the units that made up this Division were the following:

    Kilkenny Brigade (AT) - O/C Brig. Gen. George O'Dwyer (PT)

    East Limerick Brigade (PT) - O/C Brig. Jimmy Slattery

    Mid Limerick Brigade (AT) - Comdt.Gen. Tomas Malone

    1st Tipperary Brigade (AT) - O/C Comdt. Martin Breen

    2nd Tipperary Brigade (AT)

    3rd 'South' Tipperary Brigade (AT) - O/C Comdt.Gen. Seamus Robinson (Comdt. Paddy Dalton also served as O/C for a short time)

    (Nenagh Brigade (PT?) - Col.Comdt. William Houlihan)

    3rd Southern Division (containing PT and AT units) (5 Brigades - Cos. Offaly, Laois, and the north of Co. Tipperary) - O/C Dan Buckley (succeeded by Sean Gaynor 6 March, 1923)

    Among the units that made up this Division were the following:

    Offaly Brigade (AT) - O/C Comdt. Peadar Bracken

    2nd Offaly Brigade (AT) - O/C Brig. Sean Robbins


    (4th Southern Division (PT) - C/O Comdt.Gen. Donncadha O'Hannagain)

    73 Brigades Total

    APPENDIX I: Irish Republican Army: General Head Quarters Staff, and Regional Commands, 1922-23.

    GENERAL HEADQUARTERS STAFF

    Chief-of-Staff - Liam Lynch (Comdt.Gen. Joseph McKelvey between 18 and 30 June, 1922)

    Assistant Chief-of-Staff - Comdt. Ernie O'Malley

    Deputy Chief-of-Staff - Liam Deasy

    Adjutant General - Adjutant Con Moloney (may have served as Chief-of-Staff as well)

    Adjutant General and Director of Intelligence - Comdt.Gen. Tomas Derrig

    Director of Intelligence - Sean Hyde

    Director of Organisation - Comdt. Ernie O'Malley (at one time Sean Dowling)

    Director of Training -

    Director of Operations - Comdt.Gen. Sean Moylan

    Quarter Master General - Comdt.Gen. Liam Mellows (replaced by Joe O'Connor after 30 June, 1922)

    Director of Publicity - Sean McCarthy

    Director of Engineering - Comdt.Gen. Rory O'Connor

    Director of Chemicals - Seamus O'Donovan

    Director of Munitions -

    Director of Purchases -

    Director of Communications - Jim Moloney (Capt. Sean Leamass sometime in July, 1922)

    Director of Medical Services - Dr. Con Lucy and Dr. J.P. Brennan

    General Staff Officer - Maurice Twomey

    REGIONAL COMMANDS

    Northern and Eastern Command - Comdt. Ernie O'Malley

    Western Command - Michael Kilroy

    Southern Command - Liam Deasy




Battle of Killmallock

Free State Army

Other than WRE Murphy, can anyone spot former British Army officers?
  • APPENDIX H: Free State Army, 1922-23:

    General Headquarters Staff , Individual Corps Commands, and Regional Commands.

    GENERAL HEADQUARTERS STAFF

    Commander-in-Chief - Gen. Michael Collins (beginning 13 July, 1922 after resigning as Finance Minister - 22 August, 1922 killed in an ambush at Beal na Blath, Co. Cork, succeeded by Gen. Richard Mulcahy, 27 August, 1922)

    Chief-of-Staff - Comdt.Gen. Eoin O'Duffy (succeeded by the Minister for Defence, Gen. Richard Mulcahy, on July, 1922, who, in turn, was succeeded by Gen. Sean MacMahon, August, 1922)

    Deputy Chief-of-Staff - Comdt.Gen. Eoin O'Duffy

    Assistant Chief-of-Staff - Lt.Gen. J.J. O'Connell

    Adjutant General - Lt.Gen. Gearoid O'Sullivan (beginning February, 1922)

    Assistant Adjutant General - Comdt.Gen. Kevin O'Higgins

    Quarter Master General - Comdt.Gen. Sean MacMahon (officially until 15 September, 1922, but actually succeeded in August, 1922 by Col. Sean Quinn, who, in turn, was succeeded by Lt.Gen. Sean O'Muirtuile in January, 1923))

    Director of Training - Comdt.Gen. Emmett Dalton (this position was amalgamated with the Director of Operations in January, 1923, and was headed by Comdt.Gen. W.R.E. Murphy, who was succeeded by Maj.Gen. Padraig O'Connor on 23 May, 1923)

    Director of Organization - Comdt.Gen. Diarmud O'Hegarty (who was succeeded by Maj.Gen. Eamonn Price who served until September, 1922)

    Director of Publicity - Piaras Beaslai.

    Director of Intelligence - Maj.Gen. Joseph McGrath (Comdt.Gen. Dan Hogan served in this position between March and July, 1923)

    Director of Purchases - (before the outbreak of the war, this position was held by Liam Mellows)

    Director of Engineers - Comdt.Gen. Patrick Kelly (before the outbreak of the war, this position was held by Rory O'Connor)

    Director of Munitions - Col.Comdt. Sean Quinn (appointed 15 May, 1922) (before the outbreak of the war, this position was held by Sean Russell)

    Director of Chemicals - (before the outbreak of the war, this position was held by Seamus Donovan)

    General Staff Officers - Comdt.Gen. Fionan Lynch and Comdt.Gen. Diarmuid O'Hegarty

    INDIVIDUAL CORPS COMMANDS

    Artillery Corps - O/C Col. Patrick Mulcahy (beginning 5 June, 1923)

    Armoured Car Corps (established 14 September, 1922) - O/C Capt. Joe Hyland

    Army Corps of Engineers (established 1923) - O/C Maj.Gen. C.F. Russell (the Army Corps of Engineers absorbed the Works Corps, Railway Maintenance Corps, and the Salvage Corps)

    Independent Signal Corps (established March, 1923) - O/C Col. Liam Archer

    Air Corps - O/C Maj.Gen. W.J. McSweeney

    Military Police Corps (established in 1923) -

    Railway Protection, Repair and Maintenance Corps - O/C Maj.Gen. C.F. Russell and Col. P.T. Naus

    Army Medical Service (established April, 1922) - O/C Maj.Gen. F.J. Morrin

    Legal Section - Lt.Comdt. Thomas Coyne

    Salvage Corps - O/C Col. Michael McCormack

    Army School of Music (established October, 1922) - Instructor Fritz Brase (beginning March, 1923)


    REGIONAL COMMANDS

    5 July, 1922 - General Order No.1 provided for the following organization:

    Eastern District Command - Comdt.Gen. Eoin O'Duffy

    2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th Northern Divisions; 1st and 2nd Eastern Divisions;

    North Wexford, South Wexford, and Carlow Brigades.

    Western District Command - Maj.Gen. Sean MacEoin

    1st Northern Division; 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Western Divisions.

    Southern District Command - Lt.Gen. J.J. O'Connell

    1st Western Division; 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Southern Divisions.

    16 July, 1922 - (According to Harrington, pp.36-37)

    Eastern Command - GOC Maj.Gen. Emmet Dalton

    South-Eastern Command - GOC Comdt.Gen. Prout

    Curragh Command - Lt.Gen. J.J. O'Connell

    Western Command - GOC Maj.Gen. Sean MacEoin

    South-Western Command - GOC Gen. Eoin O'Duffy

    28 July-August, 1922 - The three districts were subdivided by order of 28 July into the following: Eastern, South Western, Curragh, Southern, Western, and 1st Northern. By the end of August the South Western was further divided into the Cork and Kerry Commands. The organization that was finally instituted in August was as follows:

    Northern Command - GOC Comdt.Gen. Joseph Sweeney - HQ Stranorlar

    Eastern Command - GOC Comdt.Gen. Daniel Hogan - HQ Griffith (Wellington) Barracks, Dublin

    Western Command - GOC Sean MacEoin - HQ Athlone

    South Western Command - GOC Michael Brennan - HQ Limerick

    Waterford Command - GOC Maj.Gen. John T. Prout - HQ Kilkenny

    Cork Command - GOC Emmet Dalton - HQ Cork

    Kerry Command - GOC Gen. W.R.E. Murphy - HQ Tralee

    3rd Southern Command - GOC Col.Comdt. Paddy Mulcahy - HQ Roscrea

    24 January, 1923 - General Routine Order No.16 provided for the following organization:

    Dublin Command - Comdt.Gen. Daniel Hogan

    1st and 55th Battalions - HQ Keogh (Richmond) Barracks, Dublin City

    8th and 56th Battalions - HQ Portobello Barracks, Dublin city

    13th and 57th Battalions - Collins (Royal) Barracks, Dublin city

    16th Battalion - HQ Mountjoy Gaol, Dublin city

    24th Battalion - HQ Tallaght, Co. Dublin

    37th Battalion - HQ Gormanstown, Co. Meath

    49th and 58th Battalions - HQDundalk, Co. Louth

    21st Battalion - HQ Clones, Co. Monaghan

    53rd Battalion - HQ Cavan, Co. Cavan

    45th Battalion - Mullingar, Co. Westmeath

    33rd Battalion - Naas, Co. Kildare

    48th Battalion - HQ Navan, Co. Meath

    20th Battalion - HQ Carlow, Co. Carlow

    50th Battalion - HQ Gorey, Co. Wexford

    Athlone Command - Sean MacEoin/McEoin/McKeon (April, 1923)

    5th Battalion - HQ Athlone, Co. Westmeath

    23rd Battalion - HQ Longford, Co. Longford

    22nd Battalion - HQ Boyle, Co. Roscommon

    51st Battalion - HQ Maryboro, Co. Laois

    2nd Battalion - HQ Roscrea, Co. Tipperary

    Donegal Command - Comdt.Gen. Joseph Sweeney (April, 1923)

    3rd Battalion - HQ Drumboe

    46th Battalion - HQ Donegal, Co. Donegal

    35th Battalion - HQ Sligo, Co. Sligo

    Claremorris Command - Michael Hogan

    52nd Battalion - HQ Claremorris, Co. Mayo

    26th Battalion - HQ Ballina, Co. Mayo

    4th Battalion - HQ Galway city, Co. Galway

    44th Battalion - HQ Wesport, Co. Mayo

    34th Battalion - HQ Tuam, Co. Galway

    Limerick Command - Michael Brennan (April, 1923)

    7th Battalion - HQ Limerick city, Co. Limerick

    11th Battalion - HQ Nenagh, Co. Tipperary

    28th Battalion - HQ Gort, Co. Galway

    12th Battalion - HQ Ennis, Co. Clare

    18th Battalion - HQ Tipperary town, Co. Tipperary

    31st Battalion - HQ Newcastle, (either Co. Tipperary or Co. Wicklow)

    39th Battalion - HQ Charleville, Co. Cork

    Kerry Command - Maj.Gen. Paddy Daly (February, 1923)

    27th Battalion - HQ Tralee, Co. Kerry

    19th Battalion - HQ Castleisland, Co. Kerry

    17th Battalion - HQ Kenmare, Co. Kerry

    6th Battalion - HQ Killarney, Co. Kerry

    9th Battalion - HQ Cahirciveen, Co. Kerry

    Waterford Command

    14th Battalion - HQ Waterford city, Co. Waterford

    47th Battalion - HQ Kilkenny town, Co. Kilkenny

    25th Battalion - HQ Clonmel, Co. Tipperary

    36th Battalion - HQ Templemore, Co. Tipperary

    41st Battalion - HQ Wexford city, Co. Wexford

    Cork Command

    10th Battalion - HQ Cork city, Co. Cork

    15th Battalion - HQ Bandon, Co. Cork

    30th Battalion - HQ Bantry, Co. Cork

    32nd Battalion - HQ Macroom, Co. Cork

    38th Battalion - HQ Kanturk, Co. Cork

    40th Battalion - HQ Fermoy, Co. Cork

    42nd Battalion - HQ Youghal, Co. Cork

    Curragh Command - Maj.Gen. Peadar McMahon

    29th, 43rd, and 54th Battalions (Garrison units) - HQ Curragh, Co. Kildare

    59th and 65th Battalions (Reserve units) - HQ Curragh, Co. Kildare

Finally, can anyone fill in any blanks (above)?
 


westkerryblue

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Jan 11, 2008
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A lot of brigades split and so forth.In kerry all 3 IRA units officially rejected the treaty but many left them and joined the national army.Apparently something similiar happened in tipperary but Im not sure.New units were formed on both sides and I doubt if many brigades remained fully intact either way.good luck anyway
 

Zyklon B

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Sep 13, 2007
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Indeed. Note that the 2nd Eastern Division (Dublin and Carlow) mostly rejected the Treaty (other than the Carlow Brigade and perhaps one of the Dublin Brigades). However, several thousand Dubliners served in the 'Dublin Guard' of Major Gen. Paddy O'Daly. I would imagine these people to have been the lowest underclass that had either served in the British Army for pay (and thus joined the 'National Army' for similar reasons, but were characteristically reluctant to contribute to the national liberation effort) or were actuall Britons (or sons thereof: remember one of the largest red light districts were located in Dublin).
 

twtone

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Jan 26, 2008
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Correct. As you know--though many posters may not--the Dublin Guards were the SS of the Free State Army. I think there's a topic for a Ph.D thesis there for some graduate student in history. My family tradition (Dublin, anti-Treaty) is that the Guards had a high proportion of ex-British Army, both Irish and British. I have also heard that criminals were let out of jail in order to join the Guards, though this may be apocryphal. Thier officers were in many cases ex-British Army, with a backbone of the minority of the Dublin Brigade who had stayed loyal to Collins.

Certainly these thugs brought shame on my native city by their behaviour in the Civil War, especially in Kerry, where they were guilty of numerous atrocities. I'd be interested to know what became of them after the Civil War. Obviously they were long gone by the time Dev took over in 1932.

I commend you for the research you are doing. The Free Staters have have had unchallenged domination in the historiography of the past decades. Even Fianna Failers appear to accept that the Free Staters were in the right (well, maybe that's not surprising, coming from Fianna Fail).
Leadership on the Republican side was generally poor. Prudent action by the Executive in the early summer of 1922 could have strangled the Free State at birth. All the grandiose apparatus of Brigades and Commands was so much hot air, lots of areas did nothing either in the War of Independence or in the Civil War.
 

Bakunin

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Jun 16, 2007
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Zyklon, are you publishing, or have you done so already ? I'd be very interested. And do you have a bibliography you could throw up here ?

Good work, fair play to you.
 

Zyklon B

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Eh, not exactly. I was actually looking for information...all of this is from a link I found -an American Ph.D!

I suppose I have an interest..there are a few gaps though (note above).

Also, it's fun to stimulate a little Civil War banter, "Your side were traitors"... etc. It's funny because it's true.
 

dub006

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interesting topic.

Military Divisions are large formations of troops or mechanised Divisions (eg Tanks).
Typically a Division would consist of 20 to 30 thousand troops.

Its difficult to believe there were 16 IRA Divisions amounting to over 200,000 troops.

Most of the brigades and battallions listed were likely paper formations.

I have done some research in the National Archives and the evidence there bears out the above.
This is true from pre 1916 all the way through to Independence.

The population of Ireland was much lower then ,I think somewhere around 3 million.If 50 % were women and not under arms then a fighting force of 200,000 would represent nearly 14% of the male population.

This is a very unlikely scenario.
 

Zyklon B

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twtone said:
Correct. As you know--though many posters may not--the Dublin Guards were the SS of the Free State Army. I think there's a topic for a Ph.D thesis there for some graduate student in history. My family tradition (Dublin, anti-Treaty) is that the Guards had a high proportion of ex-British Army, both Irish and British. I have also heard that criminals were let out of jail in order to join the Guards, though this may be apocryphal. Thier officers were in many cases ex-British Army, with a backbone of the minority of the Dublin Brigade who had stayed loyal to Collins.
My people (on my mother's side) were IRA (though not from Dublin: will keep that to myself). Most of the Dublin IRA went anti-Treaty, although Collins' squad stayed with their master. They subsequently became officers of the Dublin Guards. There were many Irish Ex-British Army officers in the Free State Army and few were from the National Volunteers (of John Redmond), but career officers such as WRE Murphy and JT Prout. I'm sure there were many others (the point of the above post was to ascertain just that. Murphy had one redeeming feature: he was President of the IABA and initiated the scheme to build the National Stadium, which was opened by Frank Aitken. Ironic, no?)
There was a certain minority Pro-British sentiment in Ireland and I reckon there was such in Dublin also: there would've been many people of English descent living there, the sons of navvies or Protestants (who were proportionately higher in number in Dublin than in other counties e.g. Offaly). Also, the Dublin Guards were simply composed of Mercenaries: people who wouldn't lift a finger to free the country, but would fight for anyone that'd pay them ie. the British (or their surrogates).

twtone said:
Certainly these thugs brought shame on my native city by their behaviour in the Civil War, especially in Kerry, where they were guilty of numerous atrocities. I'd be interested to know what became of them after the Civil War. Obviously they were long gone by the time Dev took over in 1932.
As I pointed out above, WRE Murphy was President of the IABA in 1937. There were several British Royal Legion clubs in Co. Dublin (until recently) and I'm sure there was a 'certain overlap' in membership between the FSA and the British Army (the IRA too: don't forget Tom Barry and many others like him. What happened to Irish ex-servicemen after the Great War, asks Mr. Myers? They either: a) joined the IRA in 1919 as Volunteers or b) joined the Free State Army in 1923 as mercenaries or c) stayed home and got drunk in the Royal Legions clubs for ~60 years, occasionally wearing their poppies).

twtone said:
I commend you for the research you are doing. The Free Staters have have had unchallenged domination in the historiography of the past decades. Even Fianna Failers appear to accept that the Free Staters were in the right (well, maybe that's not surprising, coming from Fianna Fail).
Leadership on the Republican side was generally poor. Prudent action by the Executive in the early summer of 1922 could have strangled the Free State at birth. All the grandiose apparatus of Brigades and Commands was so much hot air, lots of areas did nothing either in the War of Independence or in the Civil War.
This isn't really my research. I agree though: the damn IRA was indecisive at the outset of the war. Crushing the Free State garrision in Limerick early (instead of attempting to make peace with them) and likewise Waterford and the rest of the country would've remained in play.

I'm waiting for Round 2....
 

Zyklon B

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dub006 said:
interesting topic.

Military Divisions are large formations of troops or mechanised Divisions (eg Tanks).
Typically a Division would consist of 20 to 30 thousand troops.

Its difficult to believe there were 16 IRA Divisions amounting to over 200,000 troops.

Most of the brigades and battallions listed were likely paper formations.

I have done some research in the National Archives and the evidence there bears out the above.
This is true from pre 1916 all the way through to Independence.

The population of Ireland was much lower then ,I think somewhere around 3 million.If 50 % were women and not under arms then a fighting force of 200,000 would represent nearly 14% of the male population.

This is a very unlikely scenario.
As a matter of fact, the IRA had a nominal membership of about ~115,000 at one stage (although there a certain 'imbalance' in terms of composition of the various Divisions: for example, the 1st Southern Division supposedly had over 33,000 Volunteers!)

I wouldn't call these Brigades 'paper formations': they did exist and were practical. Given the paucity of equipment however, only a fraction were ever actively involved at any one time. Each Brigade would've been composed of almost eight battalions with perhaps another eight companies, or more. Only a third of these might be active at any one time but nominally active at one time or another. I think during the Civil War, the IRA had between 15,000 and 20,000 mobilised men, representing about a third of their nominal manpower (assuming that the ten Divisions above were proportionately representative of the 115,000 comprising the 16 pre-split Divisions. If it was in fact 16 Divisions).
 

mercymercyme

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May 22, 2007
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Firstly, fair play, the organisation of the IRA before and during the Civil war is fairly interesting. As someone said though the formation of divisions, which had occurred on paper at a leadership level in the army often meant nothing on the ground. Ernie O'Malley was appointed to command the second division formed by the IRA - the Second southern. He gives the details in his excellent memoirs. The impression I get is that firstly an IRA division wasn't an actual fighting formation so much as a administrative unit. It was an organization which attempted to co-ordinate the actions of a number of much smaller units which had previously acted with almost complete independence. I think the number for the IRA also included members who would only act in a supporting role - from spotters to people willing to hide arms or volunteers and provide a safe house when necessary to those who might help fell trees or build a roadblock. The Divisions main aim was to keep the actual fighting formations - the Flying columns - in the field and from what I've read a division wouldn't be expected to keep more than one or two on the go at any time. Late war Flying Columns were the IRA's elite, made up of full time insurgents and not people who held down daytime respectable jobs. Such part timers would assist when an ambush was being held in their area. Flying columns don't actually fit into a traditional army organisation . They could be company sized but no battalion or brigade designated a single company to be the flying column of an area. The most motivated, those with least to loose in terms of dependants etc or those who were on the run from the authorities all came together to form a fluid column of men whose numbers fluctuated with the seasons/fortunes of war etc and acted over a wider area than any company sized unit if the IRA had responsibility for. When the state got around to issuing service medals for the War of Independence it recognized the varying degrees of service that people provided by providing a special clasp on the medal of those who were involved in fighting as opposed to support roles. I think the effort to form divisions was to enable the formation of more full time columns throughout the country. I also think the IRA leadership became keen on the idea and created more divisons during the truce period so that the IRA could easily step into the role of national Army for a recognised Irish republic. The IRA leadership didn't expect to fight the Civil war. It was rogue elements within the IRA which actually started the fighting at the Four Courts in August '22.

Oh, and someone mentioned a General Prout of the National Army. He wasn't a British officer though he may have served in the peacetime British army. He had been an officer in the American Army during WW1- My source for this is a memoir of a member of the Dublin Guard who served under him in kilkenny for a while. The book is called Legion of the Vanguard and the guy's name is Pinkman I think. Don't hae it to hand so can't be certain. I also reckon you are being harsh on returned former British Soldiers. Many were not mercenaries but people who had joined the Army because of Redmond's call for volunteers. The person they looked to for leadership failed them by involving them in that bullsh!t war.
 

Zyklon B

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Interesting points above.

mercymercyme said:
Oh, and someone mentioned a General Prout of the National Army. He wasn't a British officer though he may have served in the peacetime British army. He had been an officer in the American Army during WW1- My source for this is a memoir of a member of the Dublin Guard who served under him in kilkenny for a while. The book is called Legion of the Vanguard and the guy's name is Pinkman I think. Don't have it to hand so can't be certain.
I had just assumed he was a former British officer. What was his background? Was he American? Any Irish background? He participated in the invasion of Munster by the 'Staters (via Wateford). Any other former foreign army officers noted above?

mercymercyme said:
I also reckon you are being harsh on returned former British Soldiers. Many were not mercenaries but people who had joined the Army because of Redmond's call for volunteers. The person they looked to for leadership failed them by involving them in that bullsh!t war.
True, as much as 175,000 Irishmen joined John Redmond's National Volunteers which comprised the additional battalions of the Royal Munster Fusiliers, the Connaught Rangers, the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers and the Royal Irish Regiment (amongst others), that in turn constituted the 10th and 16th Irish Divisions. Approximately half a million Irishmen served in WW1 (although this includes Irishmen that served in ostensibly English, Scottish or British-based ethnic Irish units e.g. "Tyneside Irish"), many volunteered and there already were probably several tens of thousands of Irish in the British Armed Forces at the outset of the war. Tom Barry, for example, enlisted in the British army (not the National Volunteers).

However, upon demobilisation there is no doubt that a number of them joined the IRA (remember, it had a nominal, or perhaps "notional", membership of over 115,000) or Sinn Féin and the national liberation struggle. These people, such as Tom Barry and other ex-servicemen. What proportion? That is difficult to estimate -certainly several hundred...I would be inclined to think thousands.

Certainly many more joined the Free State Army: in fact, when the five Ireland-based regiments were disbanded, thousands of them (including officers, no doubt) en masse joined the Free State Army, probably constituting it's bulk (i would be most interested to ascertain the evolution of the Free State Army's units, list above. It is different to that of the IRA, numbered battalions in pre-split IRA Divisions, Brigades. I wonder were they British Army units?) What proportion were initially recruits of the National Volunteers as opposed to career soldiers that had enlisted prior to the first World War? Who knows. Why didn't they desert the British Armed Forces to fight for their country, is the more pertinent question. I give them no credit for sitting on their hands (whether they were currently members of the British Army, stationed in Ireland or sitting at home recently demobilized) during the Tan War only to join the Free State Army in 1923. Where were they before that? Only happy to do the King's bidding again...

There is no doubt, however, that there were those who hadn't fought in either WW1 or the IRA but that had joined the Free State Army, I would imagine less out of a sense of patriotism that for pay.

There were that upon demobilization from the British Army (in 1918) or later in 1923, fought for no-one and spent the next 60 bitterly resenting the new state and its ambivalence towards them.

Therefore, I would have a rather cynical attitude towards those that joined the Free State Army in 1923: only a minority were true IRA men that (misguidedly) joined out of principle; the core of the Free State Army was probably made up of demobilized British units (after all, the British supplied most of their equipment. Why not manpower?); ex-servicemen that forsook their duty to fight for independence during the 1919-1922 period but gladly took up arms against the Republicans (this includes, no doubt, some of Redmond's Volunteers; and finally, a certain 'element' that had up until this point deigned not to fight for anyone but likewise joined the Free State Army for the filthy lucre.

The IRA, of course, was entirely composed of Volunteers.
 

Halo

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Zyklon B said:
Interesting points above.

mercymercyme said:
Oh, and someone mentioned a General Prout of the National Army. He wasn't a British officer though he may have served in the peacetime British army. He had been an officer in the American Army during WW1- My source for this is a memoir of a member of the Dublin Guard who served under him in kilkenny for a while. The book is called Legion of the Vanguard and the guy's name is Pinkman I think. Don't have it to hand so can't be certain.
I had just assumed he was a former British officer. What was his background? Was he American? Any Irish background? He participated in the invasion of Munster by the 'Staters (via Wateford). Any other former foreign army officers noted above?

mercymercyme said:
I also reckon you are being harsh on returned former British Soldiers. Many were not mercenaries but people who had joined the Army because of Redmond's call for volunteers. The person they looked to for leadership failed them by involving them in that bullsh!t war.
True, as much as 175,000 Irishmen joined John Redmond's National Volunteers which comprised the additional battalions of the Royal Munster Fusiliers, the Connaught Rangers, the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers and the Royal Irish Regiment (amongst others), that in turn constituted the 10th and 16th Irish Divisions. Approximately half a million Irishmen served in WW1 (although this includes Irishmen that served in ostensibly English, Scottish or British-based ethnic Irish units e.g. "Tyneside Irish"), many volunteered and there already were probably several tens of thousands of Irish in the British Armed Forces at the outset of the war. Tom Barry, for example, enlisted in the British army (not the National Volunteers).

However, upon demobilisation there is no doubt that a number of them joined the IRA (remember, it had a nominal, or perhaps "notional", membership of over 115,000) or Sinn Féin and the national liberation struggle. These people, such as Tom Barry and other ex-servicemen. What proportion? That is difficult to estimate -certainly several hundred...I would be inclined to think thousands.

Certainly many more joined the Free State Army: in fact, when the five Ireland-based regiments were disbanded, thousands of them (including officers, no doubt) en masse joined the Free State Army, probably constituting it's bulk (i would be most interested to ascertain the evolution of the Free State Army's units, list above. It is different to that of the IRA, numbered battalions in pre-split IRA Divisions, Brigades. I wonder were they British Army units?) What proportion were initially recruits of the National Volunteers as opposed to career soldiers that had enlisted prior to the first World War? Who knows. Why didn't they desert the British Armed Forces to fight for their country, is the more pertinent question. I give them no credit for sitting on their hands (whether they were currently members of the British Army, stationed in Ireland or sitting at home recently demobilized) during the Tan War only to join the Free State Army in 1923. Where were they before that? Only happy to do the King's bidding again...

There is no doubt, however, that there were those who hadn't fought in either WW1 or the IRA but that had joined the Free State Army, I would imagine less out of a sense of patriotism that for pay.

There were that upon demobilization from the British Army (in 1918) or later in 1923, fought for no-one and spent the next 60 bitterly resenting the new state and its ambivalence towards them.

Therefore, I would have a rather cynical attitude towards those that joined the Free State Army in 1923: only a minority were true IRA men that (misguidedly) joined out of principle; the core of the Free State Army was probably made up of demobilized British units (after all, the British supplied most of their equipment. Why not manpower?); ex-servicemen that forsook their duty to fight for independence during the 1919-1922 period but gladly took up arms against the Republicans (this includes, no doubt, some of Redmond's Volunteers; and finally, a certain 'element' that had up until this point deigned not to fight for anyone but likewise joined the Free State Army for the filthy lucre.

The IRA, of course, was entirely composed of Volunteers.
Good post.
 

NEWN

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Catalpa

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A little snippet on General Prout's retirement:

Dáil Éireann
Volume 7
25 June, 1924
CEISTEANNA—QUESTIONS. ORAL ANSWERS.
DEMOBILISATION OF MAJOR PROUT

RISTEARD UA MAOLCHATHA asked the President if he will state when and in what form Major-General Prout was officially advised of his demobilisation.

The PRESIDENT: The demobilisation of Colonel Prout and the other officers referred to by me on 13th instant will appear in next Friday's issue of Iris Oifigiúil, and Colonel Prout will then receive an official notification of his demobilisation.

General MULCAHY: Is the President aware that Major-General Prout read of his demobilisation in the Evening Herald of the 13th June?

The PRESIDENT: I am not aware of that fact, but I am aware of the fact that he could have read it there.

General MULCAHY: Does the President not consider it a very regrettable state of affairs that officers are advised of their pending demobilisation under such circumstances?


The PRESIDENT: It was not officially reported in the Herald. It was reported there by reason of a question being asked here. If there be any lack of courtesy to Major-General Prout it is my responsibility. In the ordinary way this particular notice should have been gazetted at an earlier date. I myself held it up with a view to seeing if it would not be better that [2930] resignations should be asked for from those officers. On inquiry I found that putting that request to the officers in question might admit of complications. If it had not been for my own action in holding up the gazetting of this particular demobilisation, it should have appeared ten days or a fortnight ago, and this particular incident would not have occurred.

General MULCAHY: Will the President take steps to have written notifications sent to officers who are being demobilised some period of time before their names appear in the Iris Oifigiúil as having been demobilised?

Mr. JOHNSON: Will the Minister for Defence explain what is the position of an officer when you speak of him as being demobilised? Does it mean that his commission is withdrawn?

The PRESIDENT: Yes.
 

Catalpa

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Re Irishmen in the British Army in WWI:

The British Army in 1914 contained some 21,000 men serving in the ranks that were from Ireland. In addition just over 30,000 were available from the reserve of ex soldiers. So just over 50,000 soldiers from Ireland were available for duty within weeks of the commencement of hostilities.

Contrary to what some have imagined Irish enlistment in the regular British Army was by this stage not excessive and the percentage of men from Ireland was broadly in line with the proportion of our population within these islands. Before the outbreak of the war, the proportion of Irishmen in the regular British Army was 9.1%, out of the 9.7% Irish composition of the overall population of Britain and Ireland.

Recruitment was low outside of Ulster in the first weeks of the War. Redmond held off endorsing enlistment in the BA until the Home Rule Bill was on the statute books IIRC, even though it was suspended for the duration and the issue of Partition cast a cloud over the whole country. Carson of course had pledged the UVF right from the start and Redmond was peeved that the Loyalist Dublin man had stolen a march on him in winning the gratitude of the British Establishment.

Once Redmond had given the word recruitment into the BA shot up as tens of thousands answered the call. The total number who enlisted during the course of the War was some 134,000.

In addition the Royal Navy contained perhaps 6,000 men from Ireland and eventually the RFC/RAF maybe 4,000 or so. Though those figures are open to further research.

Also Officers would add perhaps another 6,000 to 8,000 to the figures, again open to further research.


By year of enlistment in the British Army in Ireland during the War:

1914: 44,000
1915: 46,000
1916: 19,000
1917: 14,000
1918: 11,000

A total of 134,000 men.

Compared to recruitment in Britain this was low, at around 7% of the eligible male population. In Britain the figure was around 25% overall, with national and regional variations.

Here in Ireland the figures were highest in Ulster with Nationalist rates of enlistment there almost matching those of the Unionists.

In the other three provinces, it was the cities and the towns, especially those with garrisons, which provided the bulk of the men. Those who were amongst the urban unemployed were more likely to enlist than say the farming community working the land. The middle classes both Protestant and Catholic had high enlistment rates too.
The Anglo Irish of course felt it their bounden duty to help the Empire in its hour of need. Estimates for Ireland seem to point towards a 60% Catholic 40% Protestant divide amongst those who served.

In Britain too there were many Irish. No accurate figures are available but my estimate is probably around 40,000 served either through voluntary enlistment or Conscription, which was introduced there in January 1916. That figure could turn out to be higher or lower if it were possible to establish a really accurate database.

So we have 50,000 at the start, 134,000 enlisted in Ireland and around perhaps as high as 40,000 who joined or were conscripted in Britain. That is around 224,000 men who served in the ranks of the BA during the War. With Officers added say 230,000. In addition around 10,000 or so who were in the Navy and RFC/RAF gives a total of 240,000.
How many of these were actually killed in the War is a difficult question to answer.

I estimate of those who actually joined up in Ireland or were already serving the figure would be around 20 to 25,000 KIA. A terrible toll nonetheless but not the ‘50,000 dead’ that we hear so often.

Bear in mind too that the BA took an overall casualty rate of some 48% during the War. An absolutely phenomenal percentage compared to former and latter wars. That could mean around 120,000 Irishmen killed or wounded during the Great War.

I would suggest that of these perhaps just fewer than 50% were Catholic Irishmen from what became the Irish Free State. So around maybe 10 to 12,000 dead from those who were to form the vast majority of the population of the post war Irish Free State. As nearly all were killed and buried abroad this perhaps goes some way to explaining why the memory of such a sacrifice faded so fast.

Of course I am fully aware that the men who volunteered for the British Army were viewed as being led up the garden path by the Redmonites. I think though it was not hate or shame that dictated post War views here but rather embarrassment that once again we had let the British fool us. Counter balancing any negativity was of course the realisation that there was hardly a family in Ireland who did not have a relation who served, so accusations would have quickly led to family rows if the whole matter hadn’t been let drop! It was deemed best to forget about the whole business.

Whatever the true figure their sacrifice was in vain as they ended up cannon fodder for Britain’s Imperial ambitions to smash Germany. The Freedom of Small Nations had nothing to do with it!
 

Zyklon B

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One final point I would make with regard to the supposed mass amnesia of the Irish people concerning WW1: there was a political movement in existence accomodating perhaps those who felt alienated by the Republican movement (I would consider both Anti- and Pro-Treaty wings of Sinn Féin in 1923 as notionally 'Republican') and that was the Irish National League (Parnell's and John Redmond's old party). Whether that party that contested general elections in the 1920s was a legal successor of that movement (or not. The Nationalist Party in the North, was), it was certainly composed of former ex-servicemen as were most of their candidates. Its platform included remaining in the Commonwealth, amongst other proposals. This party attracted negligible support, finally merged with the Farmers Party to form the National Centre Party, which then amalgamated with the National Guard and Cumman na nGaedheal (in 1932 or 1933) to form the United Ireland Party (renamed, Fine Gael the United Ireland Party).

If there were so many ex-servicemen in Ireland (which no doubt there were), holding so-called moderate nationalist views, that felt commemorating the WW1 war dead was so important, then why didn't the Irish National League not attract greater support? I think people holding these views were a rather marginal political persuasion in Ireland (the South anyway).

Concerning Free State recruits: one of the reasons the 'National Army' was drastically reduced from 55,000 to 20,000 so quickly (besides cost), was the poor quality of its recruits. As I pointed out before, a certain proportion of the Free State Army I'm sure were the lowest underclass, loyal to no-one but mammon. The Army Mutiny of 1924 was precipitated by these reductions, which included demobilisation of ex-Tan War era former IRA men (in high Officer positions) that quite frankly did not cut the mustard. The Free State Army post-1924 I'm sure were largely composed of the former 'Irish Command' of the British Army.
 

john scott

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This business of former British Army people serving in the Free State Army is only part of the story. I'm told the Anti-Treaty side has several as well such as Tom Barry. Indeed I'm told many in the IRA in Cork has doubts about him because of his past service in the British Army.
 

merle haggard

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it should also be pointed out that the 4th northern , of which my paternal grandfather and a number of his brothers and cousins were members of were not neutral as is claimed above . They opposed the British treaty and oath but Aiken tried to keep them remote from the fighting . However the free state army attacked them nontheless after requesting a meeting with was only a ruse for an attack upon them .
 

mercymercyme

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Zyklon B said:
Concerning Free State recruits: one of the reasons the 'National Army' was drastically reduced from 55,000 to 20,000 so quickly (besides cost), was the poor quality of its recruits. As I pointed out before, a certain proportion of the Free State Army I'm sure were the lowest underclass, loyal to no-one but mammon. The Army Mutiny of 1924 was precipitated by these reductions, which included demobilisation of ex-Tan War era former IRA men (in high Officer positions) that quite frankly did not cut the mustard. The Free State Army post-1924 I'm sure were largely composed of the former 'Irish Command' of the British Army.
I had always thought the Mutiny was caused by the realisation that the National Army would'nt be heading north to invade the six counties?

As about Prout, I know nothing more about him. I only remember his name at all because he happened to be in charge of the free state forces which took my home town in 1922.
 


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