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Observe the sons of Ireland marching towards the Somme - 1 July 1916 - 100 years ago today

Catalpast

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1 July 1916: The Battle of the Somme began on this day. After an immense bombardment lasting a week the British Army launched its Summer Offensive at precisely 7.30 am that morning. General Rawlinson commanded the British 4th Army, which contained 15 Divisions earmarked for the Offensive.

Rawlinson’s tactical plan was to see the infantry advance across no man’s land at a walking pace, carrying a full load of equipment (66 lbs. per man), to take possession of the German trenches from a demoralised and shaken foe. However during the bombardments most of the German troops took refuge in deep bunkers. Once the artillery had stopped firing on the front line trenches and the attack was imminent these men rushed to the surface and manned their posts. It was the failure of the British to anticipate the speed of the Germans reaction to the lifting of the barrage that led to their defeat on the 1 July. The casualties suffered by the attacking forces numbered almost 60,000 men incl about 20,000 dead. Many of these men were from Ireland.

The men of the 36th Ulster Division carried out the most famous attack of the day. They took the German stronghold of the Schwaben Redoubt by storm and overwhelmed the defenders. However due to the almost universal failure of the other attacking battalions on their flanks to take their objectives the Ulstermen were left dangerously exposed. They were out in a salient that the Germans were able to enfilade with devastating results. Despite a grim determination to hold their positions the 36th was forced back and the order was given to withdraw to their start lines. Given that they had suffered thousands of casualties that day this was a bitter pill to swallow - but a legend was born that day that still resonates down to our own times.

The other great attack that day that had strong Irish connections was the series of assaults carried out by the 34th Division. This included the 103rd Tyneside Irish Brigade from Northumberland, in the main consisting of the descendants of Irish immigrants in the 19th Century to the coalfields there. However the connections with Ireland were still extant and these men were proud of their ancestry. That day they met the full force of the German machine-guns as they went over the top and were slaughtered in great numbers. For them there was no success to match the sacrifice made and thousands lay dead and wounded upon the field of battle for no great purpose.

There were also Irish battalions engaged this day within other Divisions and some 14 battalions with definite Irish identities took part in the day’s battle. In addition thousands more served in an individual capacity in various units like those raised in Liverpool, Manchester and London as well as in units with no particular connections to Ireland like the 1st South Staffordshire’s. Thus on 1st July 1916 many men from Ireland met their end in one of the bloodiest days in Military History. The survivors too never forgot that terrible day when so many from this island fought and suffered on the bloody fields of Picardy.

By the time the battle petered out in the November rains some 420,000 British & Commonwealth, 205,000 French and 465,000 German soldiers were killed, wounded or missing- over One Million men had fallen.
 


niall78

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Thanks for your contribution my dear man

PS Very few then or now saw them as Traitors

Misguided perhaps

- but not 'traitors'
'Hungry' might be a better word. Certainly in my area from the local history I've read and researched.
 

Catalpast

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niall78

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It was a factor - but by no means the only one
Certainly not the only factor. The guy living in a city tenement or village shack with hungry kids had different reasons for going than the son of a middle-class Anglo-Irish family.

It played a big role in my area - the dirt poorest areas provided by far the most recruits per capita.
 
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Jack Maher

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happy days that most of the irish who went didnt come back to spawn more traitors
I'll leave it to the undoubted Irish patriot Tom Kettle to reply to your ignorant pea-brained comment;

In wiser days, my darling rosebud, blown

To beauty proud as was your mother's prime,

In that desired, delayed, incredible time,

You'll ask why I abandoned you, my own,

And the dear heart that was your baby throne,

To dice with death. And oh! they'll give you rhyme

And reason: some will call the thing sublime,

And some decry it in a knowing tone.

So here, while the mad guns curse overhead,

And tired men sigh with mud for couch and floor,

Know that we fools, now with the foolish dead,

Died not for flag, nor King, nor Emperor,

But for a dream, born in a herdsman's shed,

And for the secret Scripture of the poor.
 

Truth.ie

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'Hungry' might be a better word. Certainly in my area from the local history I've read and researched.
People these days have no idea of life without a welfare state.
If you were out of work for more than 3 weeks back then you robbed, begged or joined the Army.
 

sgtharper

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I'm happy knowing that people of your persuasion are a diminished and diminishing breed!
Hopefully, any spawn you manage to produce won't alter that trend.
You've identified the kind of inbred, drooling ape you're dealing with here obviously.
 

sgtharper

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Stopping machine gun bullets with the breasts of gallant men.
When you haven't a clue what you're talking about then a cliche is always useful.
 

an modh coinniolach

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Americans fought trench warfare during their civil war. Each side had attached to units military observers from other countries. When the European conflict began these "observers" must have been aware of having to go to ground and the type of warfare this would necessitate. The dreadful conditions. Yet had made no adequate plan for this eventuality in the years that had passed since the American Civil War. Not until the tank had arrived did it begin to be a war of movement again.
One question I was going to ask, as some of you know a good deal about the military is whether the enormous loss of life reflected:
1. The complete disregard of the officer class for their subordinates (complete with social class undertones)
2. The incompetence of the officer class in the face of the size and nature of the conflict.
3. Actually the only available military response within the technological constraints of the time.

Obviously the answer might lie somewhere between these but I'd be curious to see what people think.
 

truthisfree

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Don't be taken in when they paternally pat you on the shoulder and say that there's no inequality worth speaking of and no more reason to fight because if you believe them they will be completely in charge in their marble homes and granite banks from which they rob the people of the world under the pretence of bringing them culture. Watch out, for as soon as it pleases them they'll send you out to protect their gold in wars whose weapons, rapidly developed by servile scientists, will become more and more deadly until they can with a flick of the finger tear a million of you to pieces.

Jean-Paul Marat (1743 – 1793)
 

mangaire2

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It was a factor - but by no means the only one
hunger was indeed a major factor, for the part of the country I come from.
of course it wasn't the only factor.
it wasn't the factor for the Landlord or Castle Catholic classes,
but they were much in the minority, in the part of Ireland I come from.
 


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