7.4 x 9.8
Unskilled urban workers made up the bulk of Irish volunteers who fought in the British army during the First World War, and Sir Roger Casement described them as being "not Irishmen but English soldiers". In this book, the case of an illiterate general laborer, born in 1876 in Waterford city, who enlisted in the 16th (Irish) Division is used to study the motivation of Catholics enlisting in the British army and to assess the credibility of Casement’s judgment which, the book argues, is too simplistic. The decision to enlist resulted from a complex range of external social, economic and political pressures to which men were subjected during the course of their lifetimes. These are examined in detail and arguments are supported with graphs, charts, tables and numerical calculations. The case of the men enlisting in the British army is considered from three perspectives: via a study of Waterford’s community as representative of the social, economic and political relationships of southern Ireland as a whole; through the presentation of ground-breaking evidence and analysis of more immediate reasons for enlistment; through an examination of why, having enlisted, Irishmen remained loyal to the British army and the 16th (Irish) Division in particular.