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Female Volunteers from Eire

Discussion in 'The Women of WW2' started by Bart150, Oct 18, 2013.

  1. Bart150

    Bart150 Member

    At the beginning of 1942 the British government began conscripting women who were aged 20-30 and not married. Most joined the ATS.

    In early 1942 a female relative of mine aged 20-30 and not married joined the ATS. But she was a citizen of Eire living in county Cork. Therefore she can’t have been conscripted, she must have volunteered.

    Therefore it occurs to me: At the same time as conscripting British women in Great Britain, did the British government perhaps run an advertising campaign in Eire to get Irish women to volunteer? Did they perhaps even send mail-shots to Irish women such as my relative who met the criteria?
  2. dbateson

    dbateson Junior Member

    I'm wondering if your Irish relative had any strong connections to Britain? That might have made a huge difference.

    The reason I say that is I have recently acquired a copy of the ATS service records (from Glasgow) of a good friend of my late father in-law. Margaret Denys-Burton who was born (1921) in Dublin (or perhaps Co. Carlow) joined the ATS in early 1941, in Ballymena, Northern Ireland. Pre-war she lived in Dublin, and was an Irish Free State citizen, according to her ATS records. She came from an Anglo-Irish family, who had land in Ireland and England, her father was a British Baronet and her mother is also listed as British (born in Ireland, I think).

    I'll see what I can turn up on what moves the British Government made to encourage Irish women to sign up.

    BTW: You can apply to get your relative’s (deceased) ATS records at https://www.gov.uk/requests-for-personal-data-and-service-records#service-records-of-deceased-service-personnel

  3. Bart150

    Bart150 Member

    Thanks db.
    Yes, I have her service record.
    Strong connections to Britain? Well, just before Independence the family split, and one lot moved to England. Maura was born just before Independence and her lot stayed in Cork, but four of her male cousins with British nationality served in the Royal Navy, not to mention a whole lot more distant relatives with British nationality who were retired from the Royal Navy.

    I was reading Fisk’s book about Ireland in the War today. You may be interested in this note I made for my file.

    From Fisk’s book p522f
    There was no conscription in Northern Ireland.
    Thus any Irish people, from North or South, who served in British forces did so of their own free will.
    Some sources in Eire, often politically motivated, produced figures to show that more people from neutral Eire served in the British forces than people from Northern Ireland. In America some Irish sources gave ludicrously high figures for the number of volunteers from Eire.
    The Northern Ireland government resented this and, at their request, the British government investigated the matter. Several different branches of government produced different reports with different figures. Out of all this the best guess seems to be that:
    • About 40,000 persons from Northern Ireland served, and from Eire, with twice the population but neutral, also about 40,000.
    • Of these about 2000 women from Northern Ireland served, but 3000 from Eire – in each case almost all in the Army.
    Fisk says that one factor out of many which caused confusion in the counting was that some volunteers from Eire travelled to Belfast to sign up, and therefore those who compiled the total figures – whether mistakenly or mischievously - counted them as being from Northern Ireland. (Fisk says this but I’m not sure about it. I’d have thought that all those from Eire had to travel to Belfast or England to sign up. Or were there British recruiting offices on Irish soil? In Cork, for example. I doubt it.) Anyway, Maura’s papers show that she signed up in Belfast.


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