At the outbreak of the Great War, the regiments of Ulster already boasted a proud tradition. The ‘Skins’, the ‘Inniskillings’, the ‘Faughs’ and the ‘Rifles’ had all fought with distinction from Waterloo to South Africa. In August 1914, the number of Northern Irish infantry battalions stood at just thirteen, six of which were Regular units. By November 1918, this had increased to forty-six infantry battalions, thirty of which had been deployed in the spiralling conflict overseas. Of this number, an incredible twenty-four battalions were raised from volunteers.
This book gives a concise thematic account of the complex experiences of the Northern Irish regiments at war, whether they served in the quagmire of the Western Front, the dusty slit-trenches of Gallipoli and Salonica or the baking heat of the Holy Land. Above all, it tells the story of the fighting men themselves. Whether they were veteran Regulars, apolitical volunteers or men who had drilled and marched with the Ulster Volunteer Force or the Irish National Volunteers, they were all swept into the maelstrom of ‘total war’. This study provides a richly detailed analysis of the role played by the Ulster regiments in a conflict which shattered the old world order forever.