Ulster Will Fight
- By John Fenna
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- Last updated: 28/02/2017
If you want to know what part Ireland played in the First World War and how Irishmen fought on the Western Front, then look no further than this superbly-researched two-volume set. Irishmen have historically formed the greater proportion of troops in the ranks of the British army; at the turn of the 19 - 20th Centuries on average one-third of recruits came from Ireland.
The period of 1886 to 1922 and the foundation of the Republic of Ireland is covered in the more than 900 pages between these two books. The history of Ireland can be a complicated subject, but these volumes will help unravel the complexities in the social and political upheaval leading up to, and the immediate aftermath, of the First World War.
Despite the divisions across the country, the men of Ireland did not shirk their duty. Irish regiments were formed and even entire divisions, such as the 16th (Irish) Division and the 36th (Ulster) Division, which forms the foundation of this work. Irishmen fought in every theatre of war with various regiments, but it was on the Western Front that the 36th Division forged its history, made its name and left its mark, which today is commemorated by the many memorials along the Western Front. From the Ypres Salient, Messines Ridge and the Somme, the 36th Division was there and the men it left behind are today buried in the many cemeteries along the front.
At the town of Wytschaete (known to the troops as Whitesheet) there are two memorials, to the 16 (Irish) Division and the 36th (Ulster) Division, to commemorate their achievements during the battle in June 1917. Volume two details events at this battle and the many others where the Division fought. There are the stories of the nine men from the Division who won the Victoria Cross and some of the more than 2500 other awards for bravery.
To help in understanding the Division, a breakdown of its structure from battalions to brigades has been included, each with an outline of its history. This is a work recording a proud tradition and reminds readers of a time when British differences were put aside to fight a common enemy. Yet, the conclusion of this work covers the foundation of the Republic, which today is part of the European Union. This is a work that draws readers back time after time because it is a history, which is interwoven with that of so many other units, which fought on the Western Front. The combined price may seem expensive, but for a reference work like this, it is money well spent.