Ulster's Stand For Union eBook

Ronald McNeill, 1st Baron Cushendun
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 329 pages of information about Ulster's Stand For Union.

Thus it happened that the Amending Bill was never seen by the House of Commons.  Four days later the United Kingdom was at war with the greatest military Empire in the world.  The opportunity had come for Ulster to prove whether her cherished loyalty was a reality or a sham.

FOOTNOTES: 

[88] Annual Register, 1914, p. 110.

[89] Annual Register, 1914, p. 114.

CHAPTER XX

ULSTER IN THE WAR

More than a year before the outbreak of the Great War a writer in The Morning Post, describing the Ulster Volunteers who were then beginning to attract attention in England, used language which was more accurately prophetic than he can have realised in May 1913: 

“What these men have been preparing for in Ulster,” he wrote, “may be of value as a military asset in time of national emergency.  I have seen the men at drill, I have seen them on parade, and experts assure me that in the matter of discipline, physique, and all things which go to the making of a military force they are worthy to rank with our regular soldiers.  It is an open secret that, once assured of the maintenance unimpaired of the Union between Great Britain and Ireland under the Imperial Parliament alone, a vast proportion of the citizen army of Ulster would cheerfully hold itself at the disposal of the Imperial Government and volunteer for service either at home or abroad!"[90]

The only error in the prediction was that the writer underestimated the sacrifice Ulster would be willing to make for the Empire.  When the testing time came fifteen months after this appreciation was published all hope of unimpaired maintenance of the Union had to be sorrowfully given up, and only those who were in a position to comprehend, with sympathy, the depth and intensity of the feeling in Ulster on the subject could realise all that this meant to the people there.  Yet, all the same, their “citizen army” did not hesitate to “hold itself at the disposal of the Imperial Government, and volunteer for service at home or abroad.”

In August 1914 the U.V.F., of 100.000 men, was without question the most efficient force of infantry in the United Kingdom outside the Regular Army.  The medical comb did not seriously thin its ranks; and although the age test considerably reduced its number, it still left a body of fine material for the British Army.  Some of the best of its officers, like Captain Arthur O’Neill, M.P., of the Life Guards, and Lord Castlereagh of the Blues, had to leave the U.V.F. to rejoin the regiments to which they belonged, or to take up staff appointments at the front.  In spite of such losses there was a strong desire in the force, which was shared by the political leaders, that it should be kept intact as far as possible and form a distinct unit for active service, and efforts

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Ulster's Stand For Union from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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