Posted in Military

Cannon Fodder?

I came across this card for the “Royal Hibernian Military Academy” on eBay recently and was intrigued as I had never heard of it before. A synopsis of the Academy’s foundation in Dublin in 1769 until its transfer to England following Independence in 1922, may be found here.

There’s a strong sense of pathos about an institution set-up for the orphaned children of British soldiers itself becoming a feeder school for the army! The school buildings are still extant in the Phoenix Park, and after a period as an Irish military hospital became St.Mary’s Hospital in 1948 – a role which it still serves today.


Posted in Military, Troubles

Centenary of 1916 Rising produces a frenzy of postcard selling

In recent months as the centenary of ‘The Rising’ approached a plethora of cards have been appearing for sale online and in salerooms. The black and white cards produced at the time do little for me as the pictures have appeared in numerous publications over the years. However, I include a selection below.

The destruction of Sackville/O’Connell Street

The Imperial Hotel Dublin - Copy

Much of the destruction of the street was – apparently – caused by British shelling in particular from the “Helga” gunboat on the Liffey. Miraculously the Nelson Pillar came through unscathed despite its proximity to the rebel HQ in the GPO.

1916 Sackville St in flames

An Eason & Son card using a Daily Sketch photograph presents a nightmarish scene. Note the incorrect date on the card.

Sinn Fein Rebellion

Dublin’s citizens survey the aftermath of the rebellion.

Daily Sketch photo Eason card possibly1916 Captured Flag

Two very staged cards published by Eason & Son. I can’t identify the street on the first card but the flag scene is clearly at the base of the Parnell monument.

I’m all 1916-ed out now, but for those of you who want more information¬† “Easter 1916: The Irish Rebellion” by Charles Townshend is highly recommended.



Posted in Military, Troubles

Larne gun-running postcard fetches a hefty price!

Larne Gun Running FINAL - Copy

The Larne gun-running incident saw a major importation of weapons from Germany to equip the recently formed Ulster Volunteer Force. The UVF were determined to prevent the implementation of Home Rule in Ireland and urgently needed weapons for their 90,000 strong ‘army‘. Thus it was that in the wee small hours of the 25th April, 1914 almost 25,000 rifles and 5 million rounds of ammunition were landed at Larne, Bangor and Donaghadee.

This artist card, posted barely two weeks after the event, captures well the scene as it must have unfolded at Bangor Harbour. Unsurprisingly no artist or publisher is indicated. The card was sold on eBay on the 18/3/16, fetching a tidy £148.66, and probably would have gone for more in an Irish saleroom. Start searching the attic!

Further information here: Larne Gun-Running

Yesterday (17/5/16) I spotted another card from the same stable on eBay, but of poorer quality and condition. Here it is below for your delectation.

Ulster Gun Running

Posted in Curiosities, Military

The Lost Legion…

Legion of Frontiersmen - Copy

I came across this extraordinary card on eBay last night, and despite having more than a passing interest in Irish/British history I had never heard of The Legion of Frontiersmen before. Card by H.Grahame Glen, Wortley, Leeds.

This is the clearest synopsis of the Legion that I could find online:

The Legion of Frontiersmen is a paramilitary group formed in Britain in 1905 by Roger Pocock, a former constable with the North West Mounted Police and Boer War veteran.

Prompted by fears of an impending invasion of Britain and the Empire, the organisation was founded as a field intelligence corps on a romanticised conception of the “frontier” and imperial idealism. Headquartered in London, branches of the Legion of Frontiersmen were formed throughout the empire to prepare patriots for war and to foster vigilance in peacetime. Despite persistent efforts, the Legion never achieved much official recognition.

Casualties in the First World War devastated the Legion of Frontiersmen, and except for a brief resurgence in the interwar period, a series of schisms and sectarianism prevented attempts to reinvigorate the movement. In the late 1930s, the Legion of Frontiersmen in Canada was formally affiliated with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, but after a schism split within the Canadian Frontiersmen, the RCMP severed formal ties. Various Legion of Frontiersmen groups still exist throughout the Commonwealth, but as a whole, it has been unable to define its niche in the post-imperial world.

An Irish branch was established on the 21st January, 1907 but more than that I can’t ascertain.¬† A handbook of the Irish Organisation of the Legion of Frontiersmen may be viewed at the National Library.

Surprisingly, the Legion has outlived the Empire it was set up to protect and still exists in a number of incarnations today.