Recruiting sergeants for John Bull? Irish nationalist MPs and enlistment during the early months of the Great War

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


In September 1914 John Redmond promised Britain that nationalist Ireland would fight Germany 'wherever the firing line extends'. Although the creation of an 'Irish Brigade' was blocked, Redmond encouraged nationalist enlistment in the 16th (Irish) Division. Separatists accused him and his colleagues of being 'recruiting sergeants' for the British army. This charge influenced how the Irish party was seen both during the war and after 1922. This article argues that, as with other core Redmondite themes, the nationalist party was in fact divided over Irish enlistment in Britain's army. It concludes that the majority of home rule MPs did not share Redmond's commitment to recruiting but instead shared the 'mental neutrality' which characterized much of nationalist Ireland during the early part of the war.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)408-428
Number of pages21
JournalWar in History
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2007

Cite this