Learning Curve, The Great War
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Useful notes: Source6
Photo of a raiding party of the 1/8th (Irish) King's Liverpool Regiment at Wailly, April 1916
(Courtesy of the Imperial War Museum: Q510)
  • This photo was taken the morning after a raid on the night of 17-18 April 1916. It shows a trench raiding party of the King's Liverpool Irish Regiment. These men were probably a mixture of Liverpool and Irish troops.
  • Around 200,000 Irishmen joined the British Army in the Great War, although the figure may have been higher because many joined ordinary non-Irish regiments.
  • By 1914, Ireland was on the verge of civil war between those who wanted to be ruled by their own parliament in Dublin and those who wanted to continue being ruled by parliament in London. Each side had their own private armies of volunteers. When the Great War started, the Irish called a truce on their fight and asked men to join the British army to fight Germany.
  • Some Irishmen joining up may have travelled to Liverpool to enlist. Liverpool also had a large population of people born in Britain with Irish parents.
  • The picture seems likely to have been taken after a raid for several reasons. It is daylight and most raids were at night. Several of the men have trophy helmets that may have been taken on the raid (or taken earlier in the war and brought out for the camera). Also, one of the men has a fresh bandage on his hand.
  • Raids were used to find out information, capture or kill enemy soldiers and disrupt enemy preparations and plans. Raids into enemy trenches were incredibly violent and usually involved vicious hand-to-hand fighting. The bayonet was a key weapon, but many soldiers improvised weapons like the club on the left hand side of the picture.
  • Notice that the men are all wrapped up warm, which suggests it is winter. They are also wearing woollen hats even though metal helmets were introduced in 1915. The woollen hats were probably worn in the raid to avoid the risk of a metal hat making a noise and exposing the raiding party to enemy fire.
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