With the North and South Irish at the Front , Part 2

With the North and South Irish at the Front , Part 2

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Armagh, Armagh City, Belfast, Belfast City Hall, Cork, France, Limerick, The Western Front




1918 (release)


13min 16sec




black and white


Imperial War Museum


Imperial War Museum

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Imperial War Museum

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Part Two of a two-part compilation showing Irish Guards, 16th (Irish) Division and 36th (Ulster) Division on the Western Front between late 1915 and the middle of 1917, and a Canadian battalion touring Ireland, 1917. Source: Imperial War Museum Film Catalogue Vol 1.The First World War Archive, ed Roger Smither, England, Flicks Books, 1993. This footage is particularly interesting because it shows northern and southern soldiers fighting during the one major occasion when they fought side by side. This was during the closing phases of the Battle of the Somme when men of the 16th Division (mostly drawn from the Irish Volunteers formed in November 1913 to defend Home Rule) were with men of the 36th (Ulster) Division (drawn almost exclusively from the Ulster Volunteer Force formed in January 1913 to prevent the imposition of Home Rule). These troops suffered horrific losses together at Guillemont and Guinchy; one of those killed was the writer and former Nationalist MP, Lieutenent Tom Kettle. The final stages were more successful when the northerners and southerners together took the village of Wytschaete (the Irish call it ´White Sheet´). However, Major Willie Redmond, Nationalist MP and brother of the Nationalist leader John Redmond, was killed. His body was brought back by men of the Ulster Division. The film show Redmond´s grave. At 56 Redmond had been the oldest man of the 16th Division.


'With the North and South Irish at the Front' was a compilation film (made from footage taken between 1915-17) which was ultimately released in 1918. Its original release details shed further light on its use as a propaganda piece to demonstrate Irish unity. Parts of it were initially released as a one reel film entitled With the Irish at the Front. Significantly it was released by the War Office on 1 May 1916, just days after the Easter rising as part of a series of Official films. This would have appeared to counteract the display of insurgence by the Irish rebels during the Rising. This first film dealt only with the 16th division, a division made up largely of Nationalist volunteers and appeared days before Topical Budget’s film covering the Dublin Rebellion. This original footage was later re-edited to include material of the 36th Division, comprising mostly members of the UVF, the division which was to suffer heavy losses during the Battle of the Somme the following July. The final two reel version of the film was released in 1918 as With the North and South Irish at the Front. The footage of Irish regiments appearing in the 1916 version was repackaged and juxtaposed with footage of northern soldiers to produce a propaganda film displaying unity amongst Irish soldiers in their support for Britain in the war effort. In the Imperial War Museum catalogue, notes on the second, longer film state 'British propaganda towards Ireland during the war was understated and covert, at least in films. This episode makes no effort to enlist sympathy for the British cause or the Irish soldiers. It merely provides evidence for the fact that the British Army on the Western Front contained a number of organised formations made up exclusively of Irishmen.' Source: Imperial War Museum Film Catalogue, vol 1 The First World War Archive, ed Roger Smither, England, Flicks Books, 1993, p77.

Shot List

00:07 'Ruins of Wytschaete village, captured by the North and South Irishmen fighting side by side.' An area destroyed by battle. Earthen mounds, some wood and metal, small dead trees. Pan across a group of soldiers arranged in three rows, talking and laughing. Pan across a large group portrait of soldiers in uniform and shirtsleeves. Many men are smoking. 03:31 'The Royal Dublin Fusiliers with their trophies.' Large group of soldiers waving German hats, clubs, guns. One man is in full regalia with bayonetted gun. 04:38 'Some of the men who were led 'over the top' by the late Major W Redmond, MP.' Group of men milling around outside tent barracks. They are lining up in front of the camera and waving hats. 05:40 'The Graves behind the Irish lines.' Trenches. Men digging. Sandbags. A couple of white crosses. 05:52 'A memorial service for the dead'. Large group of soldiers standing with their backs to the camera. They are outside a brick building. There is a priest/minister at the front. 06:07 'The last resting place of a great and noble Irishman, Major W Redmond MP.' Two nuns on garden/cemetery (?). Newly filled grave covered in pot plants and flowers. 06:48 'Irish and Australian wounded in Blighty.' Soldiers wearing coats, about 6 men have a bandaged arm. 07:08 'Canadian Irish visit the old Homeland. The citizens of Cork fete the Irish Canadians as they march through the streets.' Bands, marching. Crowd waving white hankies. Officials outside building. 07:55 'Belfast: Inspection of the City Hall'. Soldiers on parade. Bayonettes covered in white. Mayors speech. 08:46 'Blarney Castle: Famous for the Kissing Stone which is on the outerwalls. The Irish legend says that he who kisses the stone, a difficult operation, will be blessed with a fluent tongue.' Soldiers being held to kiss the stone. 09:50 'Fair souvenir hunters at Limerick.' Soldiers and nurses. Nurses removing shrapnel (?) from soldiers shoulders. 10:34 'At Armagh. Cardinal Logue entertains the Officers.' Soldiers wearing coats. Pan along line of soldiers. Cardinal in centre. 11:08 'The visit to Armagh. The regiment goes to mass.' Soldiers and public walking up stairs to the church. 11:44 'Cardinal Logue preaches to the men.' View of inside the church. 'We are all longing for peace, but it must be just peace, it must be a stable peace, it must be a permanent peace, and not a halting one.' 'Leaving the Cathedral'. Band in front followed by soldiers leaving through the gates.


Sponsor - Ministry of Information; Production Company - British Topical Committee for War Films.


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