World War I also helped to precipitate two revolutions: the Russian and the Irish. British recruitment of Irishmen to fight in the war (see poster image above) was a factor leading to the Easter Rising of 1916. As the rebel song "The Foggy Dew" declared:
Right proudly high in Dublin town"Suvla" and "Sud el Bar" were disastrous amphibious landings on the Turkish coast in which British troops, including many Irish, took terrible casualties. Another verse, not included in the lyrics on the linked post, has the words
Hung they out a flag of war.
'Twas better to die 'neath an Irish sky
Than at Suvla or Sud el Bar.
'Twas England bade our wild geese roveThe second line is ironic. One of Britain's appeals to prospective recruits was to fight for "small nations," in particular Belgium (again see poster above) that had been or might be invaded and occupied by German troops. The irony is that Ireland was a "small nation" that wanted to be free, but Britain would not allow it to be. The term "wild geese" in the first line was originally applied to the Irish Jacobite army that was allowed to go to France following its defeat by the army of King William in 1691. It was later used for Irish soldiers who served in the Royal Army in European wars.
That small nations might be free.
"The Green Fields of France," sung in the clip above by Liam Clancy and Tommy Makem, is one of the saddest songs I know. The line "Did the pipes play 'The Flowers of the Forest'?" at first suggested to me that Private McBride served in a Scottish regiment, as "Flowers" is a traditional Scots lament, but the notes to this YouTube clip say it has become "[t]he traditional lament for the fallen in forces of the British Commonwealth." So, the song was co-opted, after excising the lines
Sad day for the Order,We all live in the world the Great War (I still call it that; the Second World War was vastly more destructive, but the effects of the First include the Second and much more) created. I pray we do not have to see its like again.
What's happened to the border?
The English, by guile,
For once won the day.
Addendum: When I posted this, I speculated that Private McBride was likely Protestant, because William would not have been a popular name among Irish Catholics given the unfortunate role of King William in their history. Dermot McEvoy corrected me on this, noting that William was a common name in his (Catholic) family, and that Liam Clancy was christened William, later changing his name to its Gaelic version. William is a popular name among Ulster Scots Protestants, probably because they revere King William for his victory over the Catholics. Many Ulster Scots emigrated to America, where they became known as "Scotch Irish." Many of these settled in Appalachia, and the term "hillbilly" reflects the prevalence of the name William among them.